Thursday, March 31, 2016

Another Kit for Kidz at Sea

I wrote a few weeks ago about the launching of a Didi 26 in Sint Maarten, built by school children participating in the Kidz at Sea program. The students enjoyed the build process, during which they learned useful woodworking and boatbuilding skills to help them in the future. This program has attracted considerable attention, with the Sint Maarten authorities welcoming the launching of the new boat and supporting both expansion of training of boatbuilders and increasing employment opportunities in the boating industry on the island. Prior to this build, the students have built a few smaller boats and this is their biggest project to date.

Last week Garth Steyn, who started the program, contacted me to order plans and a kit for the 2nd boat. This kit will be shipped to them within the next two weeks. The Didi 26 is a radius chine plywood racer/cruiser trailer-sailer that is available with either a short cruising cockpit that allows a transverse double berth under the broad bridgedeck or a long racing cockpit with port and starboard single quarter berths. The boats being built by Kidz at Sea are the racing long-cockpit version, with a fixed keel.
Garth Steyn speaking at the launch, with the instructor and students of Kidz at Sea.
Garth Steyn and Kidz at Sea students racing in the 2016 Heineken Regatta.
To see more about the Didi 26 and our other other designs for all materials, visit our website or mobile website.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Blue Screen Blues

Every now and then those electronic deities that control all of our lives decide to take revenge on us for some evil act that they consider that we did at some time in our lives. Some of us have many more than one of these beings imposing their will on our lives and the risk of revenge increases proportionally.

I try not to let my computers dictate to me too much but the fact is that it has become virtually impossible to be a professional in the modern world without almost total reliance on these digital marvels/tyrants. I find myself staring at various computer screens for most of my waking hours and try to stay friends with them. But it is when these things instantly morph from marvel to tyrant that our lives change just as quickly.

Last week I installed updated CAD software that uses a hardware lock for security. Whether only coincidence or not I don't know but my laptop went from totally cooperative colourful multi-functioning work partner to the dreaded blue screen of total stubornness, locking me out and throwing all of its play things (really my work things) out of its cot. It allowed me to work in safe mode but refused all attempts to recover the normal mode aside from reverting to as-new condition.

Yes, I maintain multiple backups of my important data in various places to cover a host of possible scenarios of destruction. So, I am now in the very lengthy and frustrating process of rebuilding all that was on that computer. Some of it goes easily enough but other programs are not so obliging as to cooperate.

The net result is a few days and nights of lost work and leisure time. I know that there is a very long list of emails waiting for my attention. I will get to them as soon as I can. If you are waiting for a response from me, please bear with me, I will get to it as soon as I can.

In the meantime, our desktop and mobile websites work hard for us, assisted by our Flickr albums. Our order and payment systems, plan printing and shipping of orders is unaffected. Everything else is working as usual but I apologise for any delays in email responses from me.

Monday, March 14, 2016

And Now One for the Little Ones

Our small dinghies form a huge contrast from our big cats in the last two posts. They are very popular for small family fun boats and for yacht tenders. They are also great little boats for a child's first "own boat", to teach them to sail and gain confidence on the water. With a good grounding like that a young boy or girl develops a love for messing around in boats and a foundation on which to build their future watersport or life in boating. I had use of a boat like that from an early age and it contributed to my intense love of boats and boating.

These dinghies use basic stitch-&-glue methods, within the abilities of most potential builders. They are all built by amateurs, mostly from plans only but sometimes from plans and patterns or a pre-cut kit. Smallest is the 8ft Dixi Dinghy and next up is the Argie 10, named after the sellers of the Argus newspaper in Cape Town, which commissioned the design about 35 years ago.

Morgan MacKay of Vancouver, British Columbia, bought plans and patterns in January for the Argie 10. Today, a bit over two months later, he has sent me photos of the completed boat, ready for launch when warmer spring weather arrives. He says that it took him approximately 100 hours. Looks like a nice standard of finish too. He says that his boys are looking forward to going sailing with him.

In these photos Morgan's boat is on a very basic little trailer. These boats can be comfortably car-topped but there are definite advantages to using a trailer, allowing smaller people to get it into and out of the water.
Very pretty Argie 10. Two-tone colour schemes look good on a boat like this.
Morgan's sons trying out the Argie 10 for size.
Morgan has fitted a Laser Radial rig in his Argie 10, as well as a Laser rudder. The Radial rig is a bit bigger and has a longer boom. I look forward to hearing how well she behaves with this rig.

To see more of our designs, please go to our desktop website or our mobile website.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

More about Plywood Catamaran Kits

Yesterday I posted about the kits for our big catamarans developed by Exocetus Yachts in UK. There has been a lot of interest in these kits, so today I am showing more detail about what is supplied to assist the builder.

First, for those who don't know what these boats look like when complete, here is a photo of the prototype of the DH550 design, "Wild Vanilla". Building the DH550 kit will duplicate this boat and building the Dix 470 kit will produce a smaller sister of identical aesthetic. These are stunningly beautiful boats, among the prettiest catamarans currently available and they can also be built by any competent woodworker.

The DH550 "Wild Vanilla", co-designed by Dudley Dix and Phil Harvey.
Exocetus Yachts did all of the development work for the kits that they are cutting and selling. In the process they have done a tremendous amount of 3D computer modeling to define every piece of plywood that goes into the boat, including every jigsaw joint that connects one piece to another.

They have also broken down the assembly process into the many phases of work that turn a pile of plywood bits into a beautiful yacht. Each of those phases is illustrated in an interactive PDF file that can be opened in Acrobat Reader and shows the boat in a 3D image that can be manipulated on the screen in multiple ways. You are able to rotate it and zoom in to whatever level you want, to see from a broad overview right through to the details of a joint. You can also change the mode of presentation of the image, including rendered and see-through views or to see it as a perspective inked drawing. Different view choices highlight different details of the presented information.

The images below are for Phase 37, fitting the port hull bottom. The bulkheads have all been assembled, set up on the building stocks (which are also part of the kit), the backbone has been installed and the stringers fitted into their pre-cut slots in the bulkheads. This work was all shown in phases 1 to 36.
Broad overview of Phase 37
Zoomed in to see the aft bulkheads, including their jigsaw joints.
Rotated to see the other side of the structure. Here you can see the horns for bonding to the bridgedeck bulkheads.
The same view but set to show as a drawing.
Zoomed in to see details of building stocks, intersections of structure etc.
Same view but in a rendered mode. You view it in the way that will help you most.
This is a very powerful tool for the builder. He can look at any part of the structure to analyse it and understand how it goes together before or during the process. It takes a very large project and breaks it down into much more manageable and understandable stages, removing the confusion that can accompany any complex undertaking. It tells you exactly where and how to start, then guides you all the way through the process until you are ready to launch your new boat.

To see our full range of designs, please go to our main website or our mobile website.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Plywood Catamaran Kits

Exocetus Yachts in UK are building a Dix 470 radius chine plywood catamaran. All plywood components have been modeled in 3D CAD and converted into CNC cutting files to cut them from standard plywood sheets. Exocetus Yachts cut their kits in UK and can ship to their customers wherever they are.

The first kit that was cut, for their own use, had the joints between plywood sheets made with sawtooth stepped scarph joints. More recently they have changed over to jigsaw joints, which are more accurate and more economical in both plywood and computer cutting time, so overall a more efficient option.

They have also developed a kit for the DH550 cat. The first boat from this kit is now being built by an amateur boatbuilder customer in Germany. Latest news is that a kit for the Dix 470 is about to be cut in Australia and these kits for both designs may soon be available to other builders in Australia, cut in Australia for easier delivery.

The photos below show the Dix 470 build in UK and the DH550 build in Germany. See previous post about Exocetus Yachts for more photos.
Plywood sheets being laminated for easier assembly of the radius hull panels.
Radius panel being skinned with pre-formed plywood sheets.
Dix 470 hulls completed and set up on cradles, ready for bridgedeck.
DH550 hull kit en-route to Germany.
DH550 kit being assembled in Germany. Jigsaw joints can be seen on the closest bulkheads.
A catamaran of this size is a very large undertaking for an amateur builder. The CNC kit option cuts the corner on much of the setting out and cutting required in the build, trimming off considerable time from the overall commitment to the project.

To see our other designs, please visit our main website or our mobile website.