Sundowner Redux click here to read or make an observation about this  article
By John Welsford - Hamilton, New Zealand

(Click here for Part 1 - here for Part 2)

He’s back, the noises out in the workshop have started again, the pile of shavings is growing, and I have company once more. I’m used to working on my own here but over the last few months have become accustomed to having company so its good to have Charlie back and things happening again.

He’s pretty much got the first layer of planking all faired off, and we will later today be working out the angle and “lay” of the second layer of 8.5mm kauri planking, and getting into the swing of things again.

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The chine and surrounding planking all faired off ready for the next layer to go on over it. The topsides go on first, then the chines and then the bottom so the overlaps protect the edges in case of sliding off some object that the boat is up against.

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click to enlargeEasier than doing a scarf joint in place this fingerjoint has about 4 times the area of a butt joint, not normally enough to be really secure but in this case the joint area is also screwed down to a hardwood cross member that acts not only to spread the stress of the rig and keel but as a backing piece for this join. There is also another layer of 9mm ply and then fibreglass to go on over the top. Strong! The joint itself is easy, Charlie made a pattern to my drawing, just a simple zigzag to the right proportions, traced it on with a pencil and then cut the toothed pattern with a saw.
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These bow chocks will fit into Resolutions toe rail up alongside the bowsprit, there is room enough to drag a big anchor warp, the eye splice and shackle and then the chain in through them and they have good solid bases for fastening them. Good buying!

click to enlargeWorkshops develop their own language after a while, and we have fallen into the habit of describing these as "wrenches" after a well meaning helper filled out the shipping documents for these nice bottom handle winches that way. These "wrenches"will be Resolutions jib sheet winches, good value as brand new ones would be around $800.00!

click to enlargeTop handle winches like this are great for halyards, downhauls and so on, The Sundowners rig being a gaff rig there is a lot of rope, and these are destined for the after end of the cabin top where each will handle a group of halyards ( there are going to be eight plus two downhauls ) through a bank of sheet jammers.

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Thump thump, grin! Solid, the second layer makes a huge difference to the feel of the boat, STRONG!!!!

click to enlargeApplying glue in a controlled film thickness to large areas of wood requires more than just buttering it on, and the notched trowel leaves ridges of set size at set spacings which when squashed out in between two layers of wood give a known and controlled thickness of glue film. In this case we have allowed enough to fill the gaps between the planks and any irregularities. The flat spreader is used to apply a thin layer to the "other" surface so there is full glue coverage to seal the wood.

click to enlargeWe took a day off to go to the big classic boat regatta at Mahurangi, camped in my tent at teh Auckland Regional Council campground at O'Sullivans Bay on the other side from the regatta headquarters. Heres the view from the tent door of Charlie looking out over the estuary mouth, no doubt smelling the salt air and thinking of the voyage to come.

click to enlargeThis is a Band Resaw, quite a small one in sawmill terms but still 25 horsepower and a 100mm wide blade. That big drum alongside the wood houses a power feed that is pulling that lumber through the machine at about 50 ft a minute, and the narrow bandsawblade is only taking out about 2mm. A circular saw capable of doing the same job will take out about 4.5mm and in repetitive cutting that's a lot to lose. Charlies concentrating hard on lining up that baulk of kauri, I'll pick up the two pieces, slide the finish cut piece off and send the other back for the next cut. It took less than 15 minutes to cut 32 pieces!. Thanks Malcom for letting us use it.

If you need this sort of machinery companies such as the bigger joinery companies, millwork and wood machining outfits, sawmills and fingerjointing companies and laminated beam manufacturers all use them. If you phone and are very nice they may do the job for you, don't count on being allowed to use the machine yourself though they need a trained operator on both ends.


click to enlargeMore planks, back to the cordless drill, this is the beginning of the chine panel, port side. Although you cant see it in the photos the second layer is seriously solid, really good. Charlie gives it a thump with his fist now and again and I can "hear" him smiling when he does as its really reassuring. I've been over the completed area with a wooden mallet sounding for voids or hollows, not a one! The system is working!

A view along the bottom showing the bottom panel ready for the next layer of 9mm plywood. The keel goes along the centreline and will be through bolted to the hardwood frame cross members just through the plywood.

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A shot of the intersection of the double side planking and the bottom panel before the second layer goes on, nice tight joints and you can see how solid the side panels are. Its very important in this type of construction to ensure that there are no voids between the layers, that leads to rot, loss of strength and bumps in the hull.

This is one of the panels ready to go on, note the template for the tooth pattern on the panel ends, this zigzag pattern when screwed to the frame cross members underneath are as strong as a scarf joint but is much easier to make in place on a curved surface.

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click to enlargeWorking back from the bow, the second piece on and the screws going in. Across the joints and down the centre of the bow piece the screws are 25mm x 10 g as there is material behind to screw into. But after the glue is applied the main parts of the panel are fastened together with 12mm x 10 c/s head screws on a 200mm grid spacing to ensure that there are no voids between the panels.

click to enlargeWe laid on 200mm wide tapes cut from the same 10 oz biaxial fibreglass as the boat is skinned with, then sanded off the rough edges and spikes. Next we primed the wooden skin where the Kevlar was to be, and pre cut the fibreglass and Kevlar cloths ready to drape on and saturate with epoxy.

click to enlargeWith the fibreglass on and wetted out you can see the Kevlar crash mat between the 'glass and the wooden skin. The Kevlar covers the area most likely to be damaged if the boat hits a floating object, whether a container, a dead tree or ice. The intention is that although Kevlar does not add greatly to the strength, it's very hard to puncture and will greatly reduce the inflow of water; improving the chances of effective damage control should Resolution hit something hard.

click to enlargeGetting a nice even finish on the fibreglass takes a lot of work. I am sure that Charlie's shoulders grew noticeable with the work that he put in over a couple of weeks. This is a short 'longboard" with 60 grit commercial sandpaper contact glued to it. It sands the tops off the bumps and leaves the hollows showing clearly so they can be filled. We used West Resin with 410 Microlite mixed in and applied with a roller, then spot filling with a steel putty knife.

click to enlargeWith the glass on, it's the keel next. Great big lumps of 150mm x 70 mm Kwila. This stuff is HEAVY! There will be about 300 kg of it in the keel structure, plus of course the 720 kg of the lead casting! Here is a view of the area around the propshaft and propellor aperture. There is a lot of shaping to go as yet and although we use an angle grinder with coarse sandpaper to sculpt softwood, it just makes clouds of smoke on this very dense wood so we are looking for a tungsten carbide tipped wood carving disc to complete the job.

Charlie will have this in his hand for a lot of hours, the tiller is laminated from layers of lovely rich red Jarrah hardwood and pale honey coloured Fiji Kauri. It has a nice, reassuringly solid feeling about it and looks stunning.

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Its a slow and noisy job planing the deadwood smooth and getting the beginnings on the foil shape on the leading edge, not only noisy but the dust is nasty stuff to breath so its on with all the protective equipment.

There is a capping to go on that leading edge yet, and another big piece of hardwood to go on the after section of the keel. Lots of shavings, and a lot of freehand work with the planer to get it all smooth and streamlined.

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click to enlargeThe mainsail with its unbattened hollow leach all spread out. Note that this sail has 3 rows of reefing, the storm staysail takes over when it gets beyond this, the boom and gaff can be then strapped down to the gallows and with the small jib the trysail gives enough drive to control the boat in really heavy weather.

Sailmaker Tony Thornburrow ( left) and builder Charlie Whipple under his famous hat talking over colour and cut for the gaff topsail. This sail, although small is set right up high and will make a real contribution to the boats light weather performance.

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click to enlargeTony and I talking over the fitting up of the staysail, there is a set of reefing points on this sail and there are several options as to how the fittings and reef lines will work. With a boat as stable as Sundowner the reef will not be required until its seriously rough so getting the gear easy to use is very important.

click to enlargeLeft to right, Storm Trysail, Staysail (that’s the inner jib) and the storm jib. This high visibility 10 oz cloth is made for use as storm sails, its really tough and the sails are constructed very strongly. These sails are as tough as you will see on any boat under about 40 ft long and the highly visible colour scheme is part of the strategy to make a very ambitious voyage as safe as possible.

click to enlargeMy purchase of an Arbourtech power wood carving tool has made the prospect of having to remove a lot of wood from the area around the propellor aperture a much less daunting prospect. There is a lot to carve out to fair the waterflow in that area, and the Arbourtech when fitted to my little 115mm Ryobi angle grinder made very short work of shaping up an offcut.

click to enlargeWe sliced up the 2ft x 8 ft x 2in ( 600 x 2400 x 50 mm) blue polyurethane foam sheets on the table saw, cut just a couple of mm wider than the lead casting needed to be. Charlie has spent a couple of days up on the boat gluing a stack of these baulks together with Gorilla Glue. Note that this glue foams and swells the joint unless well weighted down so we had to carry in a stack of brick sized blocks of stone to weight it down.

click to enlargeThe rollover cradle doubles as the boats supports and cradle when upright, and it has to be strong enough to enable the hull to be rolled onto its side, then slid sideways to give enough space for the next half rotation. You can see that we have a lot of gear to move in the morning so we can roll the boat.

A long drill bit, the longest hole required is about 850mm, this extended bit is just under a metre long. So far it seems to run very true.

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Starting the drill in one of the holes, you can see the plumb bob in the background and how hard Charlie is concentrating. The drill is to push the drill in about 20mm, pull it out and clear the waste and then in for another 20mm. Takes only a few minutes, perhaps 5 or so to drill 600mm and it tracks perfectly.

One of the temporary bolts in place, just 9mm mild steel threaded rod to temporarily secure the keel while the boats being moved around. You can see the drill has just broken through the surface to complete the second hole of this pair.

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The Arbourtech , mounted in my Bosch angle grinder is doing a fair job of carving the complex shape around the prop shaft tube. I need some more practice but its going to do the job.

To shape the fillet that fairs the keel to the bottom is a slow job, so I got Charlie to make up this little shaped sanding block, its got 40 grit commercial sandpaper contact glued to what is just an offcut piece of two by four, and handles cut with the bandsaw. Useful tool!

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A good shot of the cradle and the block and tackle set used to heave the boat over. A similar block and tackle set was used on the other side to take control as the hull came past the balance point.

I'd eyeballed the ceiling height as being just adequate, and with her part way up it was time to check. We were ok, just! We lost one light bulb when the cradle contacted it, but otherwise we had about a handspan width to spare.

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click to enlargeHalfway - the building frame is about to come off, and the hull can then be moved across on the pipe rollers to position her for the next stage of the rollover. This workshop is only just big enough to flip the boat without having to drag her outside, but with some care it worked out fine.

Up the right way! Yeehah! No accidents, not even any "oops's".

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Done, the happy builder sitting at what will become the galley. How’s that for a big grin!

Ready for the next few months intensive activities, there's lots to be done but its mostly a lot of small jobs rather than huge pieces of lumber and heavy work.

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click to enlargeUse your imagination here. Right up in the bow is the forward crash bulkhead, Charlie beginning the process of bonding it to the skin with wooden fillets and glass tapes. Forward of that will be an anchor well up at deck level, and an awning locker behind a watertight hatch under that. Just in front of the builders knees is a half crash bulkhead ahead of which is to be a chain locker, with sail storage each side of that. The chain will live in a canvas bag slung from supports low down in the boat, and it will run in through a deck fitting and chain pipe. Where Charlie stands there will be a portapotty, and an area set up as a washroom and ablutions area, each side of that there will be big bins with smaller lockers up under the decks for Bosuns stores. Plenty of room up here.

To port with the little bandsaw on it is the galley, not large, just a single burner stove and a bucket for a sink. The KISS ( keep it simple, stupid) principle applies here while to starboard you can see the framing for the chart table and the storage drawer underneath it.

click to enlargeA photo from John Leathwick, looking in where the transom will be fitted soon, you can see the shaft and propellor loose fitted in the stern tube, the supports for the cockpit floor, the seat framing and the back of the engine bay. The after end of the cockpit has a big locker that reduces the cockpit volume and provides secure storage for smellys such as paint, kerosene for the stove and lights, alcohol primer, and spare gas cylinders for a little camping stove that might be used in storm conditions. John Leathwick photo.
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There seems to be a lot of space up here in the forward end of the empty hull, but have a look at the next pic, there are a lot of functions and storage to fit in.

click to enlargeBig deep storage bins each side, mostly for heavy and bulky items, smaller lockers up under the decks, the big space at floor level will be home for the portable head that you see sitting on top of the lockers to port, and of course the navigation table / office. Note that there is a chain locker forward of that half bulkhead, a hanging locker just forward and to port of the galley bench, and the house battery box down low just to port of midships forward of the galley. That empty space is about as crowded as you'd want it.

click to enlargeThe Navigation Station/Office iis a particularly nice space, just the right size to enable the skipper to wedge himself in securely, room for the laptop, a chart, books and all the rest to be laid out. As you read "THE BOOK" ( by Charles T Whipple, there will be one, count on it) you will be able to visualise the Author sitting in here while the boat rests in a tranquil anchorage somewhere, hammering away at his laptop composing the words that you read as you sit in your armchair.

Under the chart table you can see a large tray which is chart storage, I'd guess that it will take about 40 charts if needed. There are a couple of smaller lockers under that, set back to give clearance for knees, and the tall opening is for a rubbish ( trash) sack. Its uncommon to see a decent workspace in such a small boat, and even in one as roomy as this its only the specialised singlehanded layout that will accommodate such a luxury. Nice though!

click to enlargeThis space started out as a narrow access from the main cabin to the forepeak, but with a slight change and that little folding seat its a near perfect workspace for a sailing journalist, so when you read the stories written while away on the voyage you will be able to see in your minds eye the author seated at his desk, pen in hand and hard at work.
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That's Charlie at my big 20inch bandsaw slicing up some more plywood, another piece marked out, cut, sanded, drilled and fitted. One less to do.

click to enlargeThe really keen of eye will see that the camber of the foredeck varies, and yes there is a reason. It is flatter forward where the hatch will be fitted, and the lower camber makes it easier to walk on. There is more camber at the after end to give adequate headroom under the deck where the "Office" is and to allow easier access when going forward. Mind your head!

We expect a big box of silicone bronze keelbolts from Port Townsend Foundry in the next day or so, and when they are in place will be swinging the engine up and over the gunwale to sit in place while the exhaust, fuel tanks and lines, and all the other engine stuff is positioned and fitted. I’ve got to draw the engine beds and the rest of the engine box and will have to get going so all the details are all ready for the installation.

John Welsford,

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