Thursday, December 8, 2016

Didi 26 and Kidz At Sea Program

I have written before about the Kidz at Sea program in Sint Maarten. Guided by Garth Steyn, the program trains school children in the skills of boatbuilding then teaches them how to sail. They are using our Didi 26 design for this wonderful work, starting from CNC plywood hull/deck/bulkhead kits supplied by our CNC sub-contractor.

They launched the first boat, named "Purple Heart", last year and raced her in the Heineken Regatta as part of their program. Their sailing skills have benefitted from time spent on the water since the regatta and they recently had her doing 17 knots under spinnaker.
Garth Steyn speaking at the launching of "Purple Heart", with the woodworking teacher and his students.
Now boat #2 is progressing. Garth sent me photos today of the progress and the new boatbuilding class that is creating her. They plan to have her on the water and racing in the 2017 Heineken Regatta, with two Kidz at Sea crews competing boat-for-boat with each other.
Bulkheads and framing, ready for the hull skin.
Bottom panels being dry-fitted ahead of gluing.
Same stage, seen from the bow.
View of the radiused part of the hull framing. The third stringer from the top is where the junction will be with the side panel.
The students who are building boat #2, with their woodworking teacher.
This is a very worthwhile program and I am proud to be part of it. It is building new skills in a community that sorely needs them to expand their employment options.

To see more of this and our other designs, go to our main website, mobile website or Flickr photo albums.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Pulling the Argie 15 Hull Together

Our new Argie 15 is coming along nicely. Kevin Agee is building it in his garage, shared with the Inlet Runner prototype that he built two years ago.

The hull has a bottom panel and two side panels each side. Assembly starts by joining the lower side panels to the bottom panel and to each other at the bow. This is a stitch-&-glue boat, so the panels are joined with plastic electrical ties threaded through paired holes.
The port lower side panel has been joined to the bottom panel. The ties are left a little loose at this stage, to allow fine-tuning when all panels are together.
Both lower side panels have been fitted and the port upper side panel is going on..
Bottom and sides all connected with electrical ties. The lines that are visible along the upper side panels mark where the stringer will be that supports the side seats. At this stage the hull panels are setting the shape of the hull. When the transom and bulkheads are installed they will reshape the hull to the intended shape. The grey patches on the panels are where the panels have been joined into single lengths with jigsaw joints.
Next step is to fit the transom. There may be a bit of excess length on the side panels, some projecting aft of others. Dry-fit the transom with the bottom edge aligned with the end of the bottom panel and the sides aligned for a "best fit" situation. You will need to press the transom down into the hull so that it presses the aft end of the bottom panel into a slight V-shape locally and the corners of the transom fit into the chines (joints between the panels). The hull panels are then marked along the outer face of the transom to show where they must be trimmed to fit flush with the transom.
Dry-fitting the transom into the hull panels, tied in place for marking the panels for trimming to an exact fit, if needed.
Next the transom is removed from the hull and the panels trimmed along the lines that were drawn. Then the transom is fitted back into position and permanently tied with electrical ties. Now is a good time to check the hull, to make sure that it is straight, not twisted out of shape, comparing the two sides of the hull by sighting over the top of the transom. If out-of-true it can be adjusted now, before tightening the ties.
Panels all tied together and tightened once the hull is straight. Some of these ties are copper wire, where it was found that a bit more tension was needed than electrical ties could provide without breaking.
Installing the bulkheads is next, in positions shown on the drawings.
Bulkheads (seat fronts) secured in position. The planks are temporary stiffeners to keep the plywood straight. 
Our Argie 15 is now starting to look like a nice boat. My next update will be bonding the various panels together permanently.

To see more of this and our other designs, visit our Flickr Albums, main website or mobile website.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

We are Building an Argie 15

The Argie 15 is our most popular design, with builds to date in the thousands, spread all over the world. I designed this boat 28 years ago but have only once sailed one. That was the prototype on launch day, when we did publicity photos for the Cape Argus newspaper that had commissioned the design. Sailing among the rows of moored boats at False Bay Yacht Club, I remember it as a speedy and nimble sailor that also rowed very easily.

Getting the boat to the water was an interesting experience of its own, showing us just how big this big 3-in-1 dinghy is. We didn't have a trailer to move it from the Fishoek home of the builder, journalist Dave Biggs, to the water. Our friend, single-handed sailor Kate Steward, came to our assistance with her bakkie (South African name for a pickup truck) with a fibreglass canopy. We placed the Argie 15 upside-down on the roof of the canopy. The boat was way too big to carry that way, overhanging the roof all round and obscuring much of the windscreen, with the tip of the bow not much more than a foot above the bonnet. It reminded me of a young boy scout with a brand new hat that he still has to grow into.
Argie 15 prototype on the slipway of False Bay Yacht Club.

Me at the helm and Dave Biggs as crew. The first sail of the first Argie 15, between the moorings of False Bay Yacht Club.
We have never had an Argie 15 exhibited on the Wooden Boat Show but that will soon change. We are building one now and expect to exhibit it at Mystic in June next year. The work is being done by my friend, Kevin Agee, working from one of our CNC kits. I will post progress photos over the next few months, through to launching and sailing the new boat. Here are the first few photos of Kevin's project.
Long hull panels are longer than a sheet of plywood, so two panels are glued together to make the full length. If building from a kit, they have jigsaw joints. If building from plans then scarph joints or taped butt joints are used.
Close-up of jigsaw joint after gluing. Once faired and sanded, it disappears into the finished surface.
Kevin will be showing this boat in the "I Built it Myself" section of the 2017 Wooden Boat Show at Mystic. If you have an Argie 15 or other of our boats that you have built yourself and you live on the USA East Coast, why not bring it to Mystic and show off your handiwork alongside Kevin's boat?

To see more of this and our other designs, go to our main website or mobile website.`