Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Dix 38 Pilot "Spailpin" Antarctic Voyage

The yacht "Spailpin" is a steel Dix 38 Pilot, owned and skippered by Barry Kennedy. She is currently in the Antarctic, on her second voyage to that wild and very remote part of our world.

She was built in South Africa by Luke Fisher as his family cruiser, named "Bryana". He competed in the 1700 mile Governors Cup Race from South Africa to St Helena Island in 2012, with his wife and two teenage children as crew. Barry Kennedy bought her from Luke, renamed her "Spailpin" and made upgrades to ready her for more vigorous sailing adventures than she had done with Luke and family.
As "Bryana, when Luke Fisher owned her.
Wikipedia defiles a spailpin as a wandering landless labourer, an itinerant or seasonal farm worker in Ireland. Others also offer a rascal or layabout as alternatives. Seeing where she is now and how hard she and Barry have worked to be there, I don't think that the "layabout" handle will fit. That said, she did hang out for most of 2019 in the Falkland Islands between her two voyages.
"Spailpin" hanging out in the Falkland Islands this year.
Prior to her Antarctic voyage a year ago, Barry and "Spailpin" cruised the fjords of Patagonia. These photos are from that voyaging to some of the most incredible scenery in the world.

Look carefully and you will see "Spailpin" in the middle of that sea of ice.

Moored to ice.
Serene but very cold near to the bottom of the world.
Two weeks ago Barry and I exchanged emails when "Spailpin" was in port in Ushuaia, Argentina, the most southern city in the world. Barry was preparing and stocking her for her voyage back to Antarctica while waiting for two crew to join him. Since then they have reached Antactica and are anchored in the sheltered waters of Enterprise Island.
Wind patterns over the Southern Ocean on Christmas Day 2019, showing the track of "Spailpin" from Ushuaia, at the top, to her location at the red dot, at Enterprise Island.
Their crossing last year was very rough. This year they had much calmer weather, with only a few hours of gales. When passing Cape Horn it was calm enough for them to anchor and go ashore to visit the lighthouse and memorial. You can follow the travels of "Spailpin" at

See more about the Dix 38 Pilot and our other designs on our main website or our mobile website.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Electrics on 27ft Sportfisherman "Dedication"

In my last post we had finished pulling cables and hoses through the ducts to their connection points. Most of the cables ended inside the console, coming up from the ducts under the deck. Also into this area came two hydraulic hoses for steering.
A mess of wires and hydraulic hoses, waiting to be connected.
One side wall inside the console is given over to battery switches, breakers and busbars. These were pre-mounted onto a Starboard panel, then the panel was mounted into the console for wiring.
Battery switches, breakers, busbars etc being laid out on the Starboard panel before mounting in the console.
`The main switch panel is mounted under a hinged cover on the outside of the console alongside the helm. This panel was pre-wired with the positive cables, ready for connecting to the power busbar and clearly labelled.
Switch panel pre-wired and ready for mounting in the console.
With those panels in place, Kevin has been closeted inside the console making all of the connections. All connections are soldered then sealed with heat shrink tubing. All wires are clearly labeled with their purposes to help with later maintenance and fault-tracing.
Wiring in progress. The hole in the side of the console at bottom left below the panel connects to the mounting of the starboard forward leg of the tower. Controls for the crows nest helm will run up this leg and through the hardtop.
Switch panel to the right of the helm, protected by the hinged cover. The ignition switch will be in the open space just to the left of the switch panel. Engine throttle and gearshift will be to the right of the helm.
Making some of the hose connections to the tanks, seacocks and pumps can be challenging. Some of them are awkward to reach and to manipulate the hose, clamp and screwdriver one-handed. Long slim arms and supple hands are a big benefit.
This compartment contains the black water holding tank on the left and the fresh water tank on the right. The black fitting against the other side of the compartment is the Y-valve to control output from the holding tank to either the pump-out or the seacock. Inside this compartment there are five 32mm hose connections, two of 1" and two of 3/4". The order of connecting must be planned because some of the hoses block access to other fittings if done first. 
This design is not yet on our website. Visit our main website or our mobile website to see our other designs.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Tower on the 27ft Sportfisherman

The tower has now been installed on Kevin Agee's 27ft sportfisherman "Dedication", bolted to the deck, console and leaning post. Tubes connecting to top and each side of the console will take wiring and control cables up to the hardtop for engine controls, radar etc.
The tower being test-fitted, with some of the joints tack-welded in position on the boat, to ensure correct fit.
The tower was returned to the workshop for final welding. Here it is back at the boat for final installation.
Tower being test-fitted in place, tack-welded at joints that are critical for proper fit. The hardtop will be bolted to the top of this framework.
This is the crow's nest, which will be a flying bridge on top of the hard-top for fish-spotting. The front feet are hinged and the rear feet secured with removable pins. This will allow the whole structure to fold forward to a stowed position in front of the tower, reducing overall height for road travel.
Recent weekends we have been pulling electrical cables, plumbing hoses and hydraulic hoses through the PVC ducts that run under the wet deck.

We ran the hoses first. Being stiff and relatively large, they could be pushed through the ducts and pulled out at the correct under-deck compartment to connect to pumps, tanks or skin fittings. They had to be helped with an electician's snake to lead them along the correct route. They tended to catch at steps in the inside surface of the ducts at joints between the pipes and the bends and junctions that formed the ducts. The solution was to cut the ends of the hoses at an angle of about 30 degrees to form a taper that could more easily pass the catch points and pass by other hoses that were already in the ducts.

By the time that the cables went in, after the hoses, there were more obstructions to negotiate. We pulled them through the ducts with the electrician's snake, in bundles. We formed a long taper on each bundle by taping them together with the ends stepped back in about 6" increments. So as to not form a fat bundle that would need to find or force a large opening past the obstructions, we taped each new cable to another single cable instead of to the whole bundle. This allowed the cables to spread out and flatten, to fit through narrow spaces. Coating the ends of hoses and cables with dish-washing liquid made them slippery and more easily able to slide through.

Installation of electrical and electronic equipment has started.
Console electronics installed. Just above the radios is a cubby locker and the slightly raised rectangular flat surface below the radios will have recessed cup-holders.
Same view, with covers off. The electrical switch panel is at lower right, concealed under the hinged cover. The open space to the left of the switch panel is where the ignition key-switch will be located, also under the cover. Engine controls will be to the right of the helm.
See our full range of boat designs at out main website or our mobile website. You won't find this design there yet, I am still finding time to finish the drawings.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

27ft Sportfisherman "Dedication"

Launch day gets closer for the amateur project 27ft sportfisherman of Kevin Agee. Aside from the physical progress on the boat, she has also been given a name. She will be named "Dedication" for the commitment that Kevin put into building a high quality boat. That will also be the design name, when I can get around to completing the drawings.

Since my last post we have installed the fuel tank. Kevin has painted the cockpit and deck and connected the fuel filler hose. On Sunday we fitted the cockpit access covers over the fuel tank connections and installed the centre console and leaning post.
Deck & cockpit painted, fuel tank installed. The grey areas are a sprayed non-skid and the white areas are gloss. Rod holders have been installed in the side decks. The two immediately aft of the sheer break each side will hold the bait board supplied by Australian company Stainless Boatworks.
Flush panel over fuel tank, with access covers over connections.
View of aft end of cockpit. Insulated fish box is in the centre, with a locker each side for access to bilge pumps and fish box drain controls. The cockpit drains are at the ends, draining under the lockers then through the transom below the stern platform.
Console and leaning post installed. Each has access to the hinged cover inside, over the tank plumbing.
The leaning post has a large bait tank and aft-facing seat. The bait tank has semi-circular ends to allow the water to swirl rather than splash when surging from wave action.
All painted except for varnishing the toerails.
Work has been ongoing on the tower. Assembly of the tower on the boat will start next week. When the tower, hardtop and crow's nest are complete she will go to the engine shop to have her engine mounted on the bracket.

This design is not yet on our website. To see our design range go to our main website or our mobile website.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Painting the 27ft Sportfisherman

The 27ft sportfisherman that Kevin Agee is building as an amateur project in Virginia is in the painting stage, with final finishing coats going on during the past two weeks. He is using an Alexseal paint system, from undercoats through to finishing coats.

A big bugbear for anyone trying to get a top quality high gloss finish, whether on a car, boat or almost anything else, is dust settling on the surface either during or immediately after spraying. It creates tiny imperfections in the finished surface that can be seen on very close inspection. Dust is in the air all the time, even though we don't see it unless the lighting is just right to highlight it. It is aggravated by painting in a workshop space where woodwork and sanding has been done because the dust produced will have settled on all horizontal and sloping surfaces and even on walls and other verticals. From there it goes back into the air when disturbed by any breeze or draft, including those created by the spray equipment.

Preparing for painting concentrated on making the work space as clean as possible. All tools and materials no longer needed for the final phase of the project were removed for storage elsewhere, partly to clear the work space and partly to remove all potential dust sources. Then the boat was towed out of the workshop before hosing down all surfaces of walls, ceiling, floor and steel structure with water to wash out all dust. All had to air-dry before any painting could begin because of the risk of drips from above.

See the captions of the photos for explanation of what is happening.
This is the final sanding of the finish primer. The turquoise color is a guide coat of food colouring in alcohol. It is sanded until no turquoise remains to ensure a smooth surface with all minor imperfections filled.
Finish primer has been sprayed over cockpit and deck surfaces and sanded, ready for finish coats.
Holes for hardware and instrumentation for the console have been cut and the items dry-fitted to check for good fit before preparing for finish coats.
Console, leaning post and access covers have been sprayed with finish coats. Beyond them is the hardtop, with the bottom facing into the shop. The bottom of the hardtop is the same colour as the hull, the rest of it white. The bottom will be sanded and prepared again because of perimeter imperfections where some masking tape adhesive remained after cleaning with alcohol. A stronger solvent is needed to remove all traces of adhesive.
Three coats of Etheral Blue Alexseal Premium Topcoat, sprayed to a nice gloss.
Transom and outboard bracket, sprayed the same colour as the rest of the hull.
Reflections in the hull side showing the high gloss finish. 
The fuel tank was delivered by the fabricator during the week. It has been pressure-tested and test-fitted into its compartment under the cockpit. Now it has been abraded all over with 220 grit paper, then acid-washed before painting with a heavy coating of epoxy barrier coat. This was all done with TotalBoat products.
The 110 gallon fuel tank, as delivered by the fabricator. It has two baffles, one running fore/aft on centreline and the other transverse at the midpoint. It has spigots for inlet, vent and two outlets, as well as fuel gauge sender unit. The corner brackets on the top are for bolting to the hull girders.
After abrading, acid-washing and drying, the tank is ready for painting.
Tank painted with a thick coating of TotalBoat epoxy barrier coat.
The next step will be to spray the cockpit and deck, so we covered the toerails with masking tape and draped the hull with plastic sheeting, to shield it from white over-spray.
Draped, ready for deck painting.
Kevin's boat is now only weeks away from completion. I will complete the drawings after launch and seatrials. Until then, see our other designs on our main website or our mobile website.

Friday, September 20, 2019

The Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race Shearwater 45 Trophy

The Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race is an annual 118 mile dash from Baltimore MD to Portsmouth VA. It has been raced every year since 1990, after Capt Lane Briggs of the Tugantine "Norfolk Rebel" challenged "Pride of Baltimore" to a race down the bay. It is a charity event, supporting various charity organisations involved with maintaining the health of Chesapeake Bay and its rivers.

The match-up between "Norfolk Rebel" and "Pride of Baltimore 11" was far from even
, a sailing tug against a much bigger and more powerful trading schooner replica. That set the tone for all races since then, with schooners of all types and sizes handicapped to race against each other.

I have sailed in this race on three different boats, all of my design. They were the 60ft "Ancilla 11", the Hout Bay 40 "Adventure" and the Shearwater 45 "Apella". This year there is another Shearwater 45 competing, the near-identical sister "Moonbeam". These two boats were built alongside each other in Cape Town, where they were owned by friends and business colleagues. Now they belong to two different friends, Dan Hall and Mike Ritenour.
Shearwater 45 schooners "Apella" and "Moonbeam"
This race originated as a challenge between two schooners. In that spirit, last year I challenged the two Shearwater 45 schooners to race for a trophy that I would provide. And here it is. It is a floating trophy, to be raced for each time both boats are in The Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race. It is named the "Shearwater 45 Challenge". The winning boat will have the right to mount it on a bulkhead in the saloon and carry it with bragging rights until they next meet on that same course. I will provide the winner's name plate each year, to be attached to the trophy as the historical record.
Shearwater 45 Challenge trophy
I have three people to thank, for assisting me to create this trophy.

1) Hunter Gall, good friend and client. He reworked my 3D model to prepare it for 3D printing as a half model.

2) Philip Gurecki and his company Accurate Machine. He did the 3D printing of the half model.

3) Kevin Agee for the beautiful piece of sapele mahogany for the back board. This is an off-cut from the toerail of his new 27ft sportfisherman that is nearing completion in York County VA.

I will be sailing in the race this year on "Moonbeam" with owner Mike Ritenour, two of my friends and whatever other crew Mike manages to Shanghai on the wharf. My two friends are surfing buddy and cruising sailor Scott Page and accomplished single-handed circumnavigator Anthony Steward.

Dudley Dix

Thursday, August 22, 2019

27 Sportfisherman Tower Begins

The 27ft Sprtfisherman being built by Kevin Agee in Seaford, Virginia, is moving into the final stages. Work has started on the tower, with the metalwork being done by professionals. Kevin has been working on the non-metal components that will be attached to it. I will let the photo captions tell the story.
Foam cored fibreglass roof  being laminated over the hoop of the tower. The hoop has been wrapped in plastic to keep it clean. At this stage the top surface has been glassed to set the camber.
Bottom of the roof, with trenching formed with a router for conduits and recessed lights.
Roof trimmed to final shape and pods added for aftdeck floodlights, almost ready for glassing.
Upper helm pod being glued up from Coosa board. This will be on a hinged crows nest that will fold down in front of the tower to reduce height for trailing.
Completed upper helm pod, ready for hardware and electronics, then mounting on the crows nest.
Hardware for cabin doors and hatch dry-fitted ahead of final finishing. All fastener holes for hardware are being drilled over-size, then filled with epoxy. The cured epoxy is then drilled for the fasteners, keeping the plywood or foam core sealed against leakage and rot.
The console has a recessed panel for key controls and switches, with a hinged cover. The sapele mahogany helm pod, shown in my previous blog entry about this boat, will be mounted to the left of the panel. Electronics will be mounted in the surface above the wheel.
Dry-fitting the trim tabs to the transom, below the wings of the engine bracket. They must be set at the correct height and angle to operate correctly.
The sapele mahogany toerail has been sanded and sealed with three coats of epoxy, Another three coats of epoxy to go, followed by 8-10 coats of varnish.
The bow capping of the toerail has worked out really nicely, hand-shaped from a section of sapele mahogany plank where the grain would sweep part-way around the corner.
This design won't be on our website until after Kevin's boat is in the water and sea trials have been completed. To see our other design, go to our main website or our mobile website.