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.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

DH550 Catamaran "Valerie"

"Valerie" is the newest DH550 catamaran, launched in Durban, South Africa, a few months ago. Now she is in the Seychelles, awaiting her charter licence. Within a few weeks she should be licensed and available for crewed charter among these gorgeous Indian Ocean islands.

DH550 "Valerie" relaxing in an idyllic setting.
"Valerie" with Argie 15 as yacht tender.

A closer view.
Starboard aft cabin.
Galley on port side of saloon.
Settee on starboard side of saloon.
Inside helm and nav station.
Fast, comfortable sailing.
"Valerie" was built from a kit from Exocetus Marine in UK, who supplied a fairly comprehensive kit. It included CNC-cut components for hull, deck, bulkheads and interior joinery, as well as deck hardware, machinery, electrics and many other items.

"Valerie" will have a website in a few months. Until then I can forward any enquiries about chartering her to her owners.

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

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Consoles of 27ft Sportfisherman

In my last post about Kevin Agee's 27ft sportfisherman project I was cutting the parts for the pod on which the helm will be mounted. Kevin glued the parts together while I was away at the Wooden Boat Show in Mystic Seaport, CT. Then last weekend I completed the shaping and sanding. Last week Kevin applied six coats of epoxy, to be followed by at least eight coats of varnish.
The helm pod, shaped with hand tools then sanded, ready to receive epoxy coatings.
Helm pod with the wheel in the approximate position.
The sapele helm pod with epoxy coatings. Many coats of varnish to come.
Kevin has been working on the anchoring system for the leaning post and console and on the hatches that will give access to the fuel tank plumbing connections. The tank will be anchored to the hull structure under a large removable flush panel in the deck below the console. Hinged plastic watertight access panels inside the console and leaning post are fitted into the flush panel for quick access.
Hinged wateright access panel over front of fuel tank, inside the console. A similar one is inside the leaning post, over the aft end of the tank.
The console and leaning post will be bolted to the deck with 2x2x1/4" aluminium angle brackets. These have been cut to fit the spaces, then acid washed before coating with aluminium primer/barrier coat, then paint. The aluminium tank will receive similar protective treatments.
2x2x1/4" Aluminium angle anchors for the leaning post and console, after acid-washing.
Now they have been coated with a sprayed aluminium primer/barrier coat.
Kevin has also laid out and cut the holes for the many rod holders that this boat will have in the sidedecks. Two on each side will serve as mounting positions for the rather nice bait board supplied by Stainless Boatworks in Australia. The others are angled incrementally to fan out the rods along each side.
Console and leaning post in position for checking fastener positions for bolting to the deck. Rod holder holes have been cut through the sidedecks.
This model of bait board has been supplied by Stainless Boatworks in Australia, dropping into rod holders in the sidedecks.
The holes for this hardware will be sealed with multiple layers of epoxy resin for waterproofing, before painting hull and deck.

This design is not on our website yet. See our other designs on our main website or our mobile website.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Sailing the Argie 15

I designed the Argie 15 in 1988 for the Argus Newspaper Group in South Africa. They named it after the street corner sellers of their newspapers, the Argie Boys, as a dedication to them. In the more than 30 years since many hundreds of these boats have been built and they are to be found in 60 countries.

I was the first person to sail an Argie 15, the prototype that was built by journalist David Biggs. He produced the weekly DIY supplement for the newspaper and commissioned the design as a DIY project for his readers.
That is a young me at the helm, journalist David Biggs as crew, on the maiden sail of the Argie 15 prototype.
We sailed among the moored boats of False Bay Yacht Club, in about 8-10 knots of breeze, with the boat behaving beautifully. Many boats were built from the articles in newspapers and magazines, as well as plans bought from us, generating a strong following.

I didn't get to sail an Argie 15 again for nearly 30 years, when we launched our own boat three years ago. In all that time I only heard good reports about the handling characteristics of boats to this design. Then, a few months ago, a new builder asked me about the comments that he had read of these boats having lee helm and how to remedy it. I had not seen these comments and told him that I would do some testing with my boat when on a planned sailing trip to North Carolina in June.

That sailing trip was a few weeks ago. I went out by myself in light and fluky conditions that gradually built to about 15 knots and gusty afternoon sea-breeze. This gave me opportunity to test in a range of conditions.

I like to sail from well forward in my boats in light conditions, so I fitted my long tiller extension, a 6ft length of bamboo connected to the tiller by a short length of flexible hose on a pivot bolt. This would enable me to sail from anywhere in the cockpit, from far aft through to sitting on the centre thwart. I had seen in photos that some owners helm from aft, alongside the tiller, so I needed to test this position although I knew it would create problems.

This proved to be the case, with fore/aft trim having a big effect on helm balance. With weight aft, she trims bow-up and the bow gets blown downwind because the centre of lateral area moves aft. The hull should float close to the attitude shown on the sail plan to get the balance between sails and underbody correct.  If sailing alone, sit well forward, alongside the daggerboard. With other people aboard and sitting toward the front of the cockpit the helmsman can move aft, as seen in the photo of the prototype, keeping the boat fairly level. Just because you can sit next to the tiller is not a good reason to do so, trimming the boat level is what is needed.

Trimming the boat so that it heeled to leeward or windward also had a large effect on the helm balance. Sailing in steady light breeze while sitting on the windward side gave me lee helm but sitting on the leeward side gave me weather helm. In light but gusty conditions, sitting on the windward side, I had lee helm in the lulls and weather helm in the gusts. I then sailed downwind, standing in the middle of the cockpit, with one foot on each side of the cockpit. This allowed me to push down on either foot to change the heel angle. With the rudder on centreline I was able to steer the boat to either side as much as I wanted, with my feet. Pushing down on the windward side heeled it to windward and gave lee helm, pushing the bow toward the leeward side. Pushing down on the leeward side did the opposite.

This results from changes in the shape of the immersed portion of the hull with changes of heel angle. When heeled over to leeward, which is the correct attitude when sailing, the leeward side of the hull becomes more curved and the windward side becomes less curved. The neat symmetrical hull shape when upright changes to somewhat of a banana shape when heeled and that banana shape turns the boat toward the high side.

At the same time the centre of the sail area, through which the wind drives the boat forward, moves off to leeward of the hull. The drag from the water, holding the boat back, stays at the hull. This results in a lever with the sails pushing forward at the one end and the hull holding back at the other end. This causes the boat turn to windward, i.e.to have weather helm.

Those two effects from heel that create the desired weather helm will also work in reverse. Heel your boat to windward instead of to leeward and those effects will move to the other side of the boat and give you lee helm.

The effect of fore/aft trim and heel on helm balance is common to most boats of all sizes that have a fin keel, centreboard or daggerboard. I used these affects on my Didi 38 "Black Cat" to maximize boat speed in light to moderate conditions. In light breeze I had most of my crew to leeward on the foredeck. As the wind increased I gradually moved crew aft and to windward, one person at a time, thereby adjusting the amount of weather helm by changing the fore/aft trim and heel angle. It works exactly the same in a dinghy like the Argie 15.

The take-away lesson from this is that you can adjust the helm to suit yourself, between lee helm, neutral and weather helm, by moving weight around the boat. For the Argie 15 the main points are:-

1) It should not be sailed bow-up but it does not mind sailing bow-down. In light conditions I would sail it bow-down but would trim it level fore/aft for most other conditions. In strong conditions downwind I would get weight further aft, as is normal with most boats.

2) It should not be sailed heeled to windward. Crew don't have to sit on the windward side, they can sit wherever needed to get the nicest feel for the helm in light conditions. In stronger breeze the boat will naturally have weather helm and will need the crew to windward for stability. Again, this is the same for most other boats.

There are also sail adjustments that can affect the helm. More power from the sails increases weather helm. Sails that are full (lots of camber) generate a lot more power than sails that are flat, so they create weather helm. Increase power in the mainsail for light breeze by slacking the foot to increase camber. With a jib that has the forestay inside a sleeve at the luff there should be a line at the bottom of the luff, tying it to the eye of the stay. This line is used to adjust the tension of the luff, which adjusts fullness of the sail. Tighten the line to flatten the sail and loosen it to make the sail more full for more power. If you have Cunningham lines rigged on your boat for jib and mainsail you will use them to adjust luff fullness.

Whether you have an Argie 15 or some other dinghy or small keelboat, you can test these principles on your own boat. When you know the characteristics of your boat you will improve its performance and your racing results.

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

Monday, June 24, 2019

Woodwork of 27ft Sportfisherman

I haven't posted about Kevin Agee's 27ft sportfisherman project for more than a month but work has been continuing. I took some time off for camping, surfing and sailing at Cape Hatteras with my surf buddies but Kevin stayed hard at work, sanding to achieve that perfect paint finish that he wants. The whole boat is now one colour, the light cream of the final coat of high-build epoxy. Next will be the finish primer to seal the epoxy in preparation to receive the high gloss finish coats.

In the meantime, I have been working on the pretty bits, the woodwork that will be bright-finished to set them off from the painted surfaces. Kevin bought 9-10" wide sapele mahogany planks for the toerails, from which I was able to select sections with grain patterns to flow the grain around the curves of the bow. He also found a 12" wide plank of figured sapele mahogany for me to make the helm pod.
All one colour, of high-build epoxy.
Flush lid of the fish box. OK, I fibbed a little, the lid is still a different colour.
Shaping and dry-fitting the pieces of the toerail. Kevin and Michelle glued this next day. The parts slipping and sliding on wet glue made the gluing operation a lot less fun than my experience when dry-fitting.
The finished bow capping of the toerail. It has been glued, edges radiused and sanded to a smooth surface. My high school woodwork teacher, who gave me a failing grade, would not believe that I made these high quality wooden parts without his help.
Scarph joint between two sections of toerail

The completed toerail, awaiting epoxy coatings and varnish
Cutting the components of the helm pod. Once glued up the completed pod will be shaped to a softly rounded shape.
The helm bod will form the base on which the wheel will be mounted.

I will have another break from the boat this weekend while Dehlia and I exhibit our designs on the Wooden Boat Show in Mystic Seaport, Connecticut.

This design is not yet on our website but will be there as soon as plans are ready. That will be after the launch and seatrials. See our range of designs on our main website or our mobile website.