Well, I made a strong bout of progress on the boat before Christmas. As always, I encountered a few unexpected problems, but nothing too serious.

First off, I found the plans that I’d misplaced:

They were located at the bottom of a pile of sawdust and assorted tools that had piled up since June, the month I last worked on the boat. Carelessly leaving the instructions on the floor probably speaks to my level of frustration with the laborious process of fairing the boat. That job definitely sucked. But, given my progress last week, I think the worst is definitely behind me.

After straightening up the garage a bit, I began the next phase of the boat building process — putting the plywood on the frame. First, I cut the plywood down to a smaller width using a plumbline. I always enjoy using this tool:

Then, using a oft-handy clamp, I laid the piece of plywood up along the proper section:

Then, I’d make a pencil mark on the plywood to cut it down to roughly the right size:

Then I’d screw and glue the wood to the frame. I used a bunch of 1″ brass screws for this. They’d be spaced 2″, 3″, or 4″ apart — depending on where they were placed. Luckily, I didn’t have to drill pilot holes — or put in steel screws first — for these screws. So, this job went reasonably fast compared to the chine log and the shear clamp. I attached both of the aft sides (no picture), then moved toward the front of the boat. Here, I noticed a little problem:

The boat’s stem and breasthook aren’t in the right place. As you can see, she’s tilted a little toward starboard. I hadn’t noticed this until now, but I immediately realized that the trouble developed back in June. You see, I was standing on the back of the boat doing a little fairing when one member of the boat form collapsed. Didn’t seem like a big deal at the time because I fixed it pretty quickly. Just lifted the piece of wood that came loose and drove in a few 3″ screws. However, I must’ve missed that the front of the boat had jarred loose and was now off-kilter in a rather serious way.

What to do? Well, I needed pull the stem over to the left about three inches and then nail it down. I thought about this for a while and settled on using one of my tie-down straps as a wench:

I tied one end to my garage door frame and the other to the stem. A couple of strokes of the wench, and she was lined up perfectly:

After re-aligning the stem, I drove a few nails into the brace attached to the breasthook and went back to the task at hand. This diversion probably delayed me by a couple of hours.

In a perfect world, of course, I wouldn’t be using two pieces of 8-foot plywood, but rather one piece of 16-foot plywood. In fact, this distinction was lost on me while ordering the supplies for the boat. I realized last week that I had exactly half as much plywood as I required. The reason? The bill of goods called for 4 pieces of 16-foot plywood, but I’d only order 4 pieces of 8-foot plywood. Had to drive to a lumberyard northeast of Atlanta to find the right kind of marine-grade plywood I required. Nobody had ever even heard of 16-foot sections of plywood.

Anyhoo, to attach these two pieces of wood and make them as strong as a single sheet requires something called a butt block:

The butt block is a short piece of plywood that sits behind the two other pieces. It’s attached with a boatload of screws and coated with copious amounts of epoxy glue. Here’s some glue mixed in my favorite tin can:

By the way, this boatbuilding glue can be quite useful for other projects. The legs of this chair will never be wobbly again:

After applying a ton of glue, I attached this short section of plywood to the back of the first side section, followed by about 20 small screws:

I attached the next section of the side in the same manner, creating a virtual 16′ piece of plywood:

After completing both sides, I then installed the battens. Those are the longitudinal timbers that run down the bottom of the boat on either side of the keel (pictured above). Using a handsaw and chisel, I notched out a 2″ x 1″ section out of each rib and screwed and glued them into place. (This took about a day.)

At the front of the boat, the battens don’t attach to any frame:

The battens at this section are bent down and then the attached to the curved plywood that will be placed above. I used wire and my wench to pull the battens down:

I was a little confused about this part and even called Glenn Witt, the boatbuilder who designed the plans for my boat. He explained that after I put the plywood on, I’ll crawl underneath the boat, release the battens and then attach them to the plywood. These battens will help create a strong hull up front — where a lot of stress is likely to occur.

At this point, I moved on to attaching the plywood to the bottom of the boat, a comparatively simple process. I just placed the wood on top, cut it to the rough size and then screwed and glued:

Of course, this required quite a few screws. I’d say about 250 in all. Even with a power screwdriver, my arm is still a little sore.

After the attaching the plywood, I needed to trim the excess. But, there’s no way to tell exactly where to saw from the top without cutting into the side of the boat. Luckily, my boatbuilding book featured the design for a tool for the job:

This ingenious device took me a few minutes to build and allowed me to scribe a line on the plywood that mirrored the side of the boat. Here’s the scribe in action:

After cutting off the excess, she looked like this:

And, this was as far as I got. Here’s the view from the front:

So, I just need to put that last section of the plywood on the front of the hull. Then, I’ll attach those battens. And, finally, I’ll fiberglass the bottom of the boat. I’m hoping to get all that done by the end of May. After that, I’ll flip the boat and start working on the inside.

I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I can see the tunnel from here.