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Building Gill
by Antoine Baillie antoinebaillie@hotmail.com

I grew up in Scotland beside the North Sea where I learnt to sail with my father and I've been fooling around with boats most of my life.  My father now owns an old (1934) six meter International  here on the lake (Lake Geneva, Switzerland) and does regattas  as often as he can with my brother. I'd been dreaming about building a boat for a number of years ­ I actually wanted to build a Hereshoff, an H-28 ! ! ­ but gave that idea up due to lack of space and I wasnıt too sure of my woodworking skills, I also told myself that I'd better start with something smaller. I then discovered Paysons book, I canıt remember which one it was ­ this was several years ago, and I photocopied the plans given for Bobcat. These plans got filed away and I forgot about them.
One rainy day I rediscovered  them at the bottom of a drawer and as I had some thin wood lying around, I started building a model of the thing, and it came out really nicely. I wrote to Payson to buy the plans and explanatory book on building  but both were out of print ! !

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He sent me back my money but with photocopies of the building of Bobcat as appeared in Small Boat Journal. He wrote that the book would be reprinted in a few months time but I didnıt want to wait anymore  ­ I reckoned I had sufficient information to get started. I translated the whole lot into millimeters  - Iım working from A4 photocopies. I then, through no fault of my own, lost my job and with some of the compensation money I bought the wood to finally start building, to keep me occupied. I of course then found a job within two weeks This is back in November '97. A friend of mine who owns a bar said I could use one of the cellars  underneath it to build the boat on the condition that I give it back to him at Christmas '98.(He needed it to make an extra bar for the Winegrowers Festival in the summer of '99.)
Gill-02.jpg (22229 bytes) I then spent about a month and a half tracing out and cutting my plywood. (I've chosen Exterior Grade Okume, this is the only stuff 6mm thick (1/4") that is readily available, the price of marine quality ply is extortionate here. I tested my ply by boiling it then drying it out in a hot oven a dozen times.  It discolored itself pretty badly but did not delaminate, so I figured it was ok.) After what seemed ages I got to the point where there was nothing left to cut out ­ the BIG moment ­ will it all fit?  Were my measurements correct?  Apparently they were, because the whole thing went together beautifully, well almost, I don't know if I got something wrong, but the butt straps on the bilge panels are right underneath frame  D, so this frame was adjusted to accept them ­
Payson mentions somewhere that if the gaps between the panels are a quarter inch that's fine ­ I was very proud of myself as the boards touched each other perfectly, doubly so as the floor I was building the boat on was nowhere near level.   I'd had to compensate each foot and use a spirit level to find a semblance of being level.
I've found that the hull goes together very quickly but the finishing is taking a long time, maybe I just work slowly ! !  I've been using polyester resin mainly with epoxy resin for the more vulnerable joints (trouble is the resins don't like each other )

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The polyester resin takes literally days to dry if it's over the epoxy, is this normal ? my epoxy is aviation grade, with a mix by weight of 4 :1, the polyester is just normal glassing stuff.  I'd just got the hull glassed  when I was told that I was going to have to get the boat out of the cellar this is when I discovered that the boat was too big to get out of the cellar doors Luckily someone up there likes me, and the owner of the bar had decided to knock a hole in the cellar wall for a serving hatch. We got the boat through this hole and into the next cellar which had a big double door and the boat went into my father in law's garage until I found a new workshop.
Gill-03.jpg (15241 bytes) The project lay dormant for practically 6 months, and now in a new workshop work has started seriously again. I am now at the point of gluing up the deck ready to be laid onto the boat. I have decided  to get the boat into the water for this summer. She will be painted as a classic Beetlecat - or one that I found in one of my books ­ white with a cream deck and blue bootline, the coamings, gunwales and mast partner are in teak and I think I'm going to go for pine flooring and bench. If my boys ­ I have two (5yrs old and 18mths), get hooked on sailing I think I'd like to build a Chebacco or a Ted Brewer Cape Cod Catboat. I love Bobcat's lines, but some of Bolgers designs are too " herring-box " like.
I would like to try my hand at strip planking plywood ­ anyone got any ideas of a traditional looking boat about 20' foot long to build e.g. Catboat, Cornish Crabber etc. ?

One last thing, I am nowhere near the budget that Payson cites in his explanations, I'm really going to have to find cheaper sources if I do build something bigger.

PS The Boats' name is Gill (a gill is a small measure of spirits in Britain)

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Dear Chuck,

A few update photos, progress since last may has been non-existant (I am ashamed to admit) due to personal problems, however, I'm working myself up to attack again this winter...

Kind regards,


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