Trimaran Build Wk #5

I do not know if there is a correct decision to be made this week, but never-the-less, I decided to epoxy parts that are going to reside on the inside of the hull.  So we epoxy the first coat on a gazillion pieces and then sand off the epoxy or so it seems, and then add another coat or two of epoxy just because it is soooo much fun to sand again for the finish coats.  Weeks ago, of course, I screwed up by forgetting how to apply epoxy judiciously and with care,  and now I find a need to knock down and clean up spots inside the hull without getting into the fiberglass cloth.  Fortunately, I have a great deal of experience at screwing up epoxy so I have exceptional powers at carefully cleaning it up after it is as hard as Kryptonite.  It takes a great deal more time, care, and greater effort to clean up, then to screw it up, so here I am.  No laughing and no tsk, tsking, please.  I have already emotionally flagellated myself enough to become a monk of huge sacrifice.

But it is not all bad news.  I took a few hours off to reacquire proper techniques of epoxy use thanks to Meade Gougeon, may he rest in peace, in what I can only assume is a fiberglass coffin.  So my efforts have been directed at, well, sanding and epoxy of the inside of decks, soles, and hatch covers.  Yes, that may require some additional sanding at connection points with braces or inwales but I figure better a lot of sanding now then a lot of awkward sanding later.  Besides, these places and sides are seldom seen, hence a good place to practice in regaining epoxying skills.

I do not need to admit any of this but I know others have had the same experiences both good and bad.  In fact, in years past as full-time cruisers, we conducted a popular seminar at various TrawlerFest events titled “The Good, The Bad And Oh My God We Are Going to Die”, in which we detailed our mistakes, fears, misconceptions of cruising.   I have no problem talking about my ability in overcoming or hiding, my three steps forward, and two steps back methods.

Yes, this week is sanding week and my hands are raw and my back hurts and I hate sanding.  Why am I worried about the epoxy?  Two answers.  The first obviously is I do not want the boat to fall apart, but that isn’t likely as I have too much epoxy as a rule.  The second is that Alan has instilled in me the need to measure the weight of the boat in ounces and not pounds.

Speaking of Alan, I have been relentless in asking him dumbass questions.  Questions that are answered right in the plans or are obvious to most but not me.  But in my defense, a very poor one I might add, the plans are developed for big sheets and I can only print 8.5’x11′ so I am barely able to read them and often use a magnifying glass and oh how I wish this was the reason I ask those dumbass questions.  I pray sanding and epoxy week(s) may also give Alan a break.


One day I hope to be smart enough to build a boat without asking Alan any questions.  Assuming he ever again agrees to sell me a kit or plans.

I did do one thing kinda right this week.  I cut a hole, square not oval, (ok, so I already did something wrong again), for the bowsprit.  The rest went very well and I followed the directions by building the fiberglass tube, cutting it to length with a proper index, filleting the tube to the forward bulkhead measuring the proper elevation over the bow and using the aka tubes to center the bowsprit laterally and then gluing it all down.

The pictures below, except for the bowsprit and detail are of, what else, epoxy and sanding.


Deli cups and lids we use for mixing and the lids for resting things with wet edges

living room sole
Bowsprit indexing sleeve below in the indexing position so bowsprit locks in


Aft Deck with Spray Skirt Coaming ready to trim and install after steering cable holes are installed.

Below are the three living room hatch covers.



A Very Long Short Week

I was tired of working in the barn, locked away like a hermit in a backcountry county of Tennessee.  Oh, wait, that is where I live and what I am. I took off a couple of days to catch up on some work around the farm.  Wednesday finds me hard at it.

My first task was to cut and install some inwales on the inside of the upper hull strake which gives the hull support and allows an edge for the decking to rest and be glassed into place at a future time.  The inwales are even with the hull edge aft of the cockpit but are raised some as it goes toward the front of the cockpit to allow it to be shaped to fit the curve of the deck laterally.  


Alan sent me a template for a jig that I can attach to the forward end of the stern deck at the front of the cockpit designed to hold the proper camber of the deck as it is dry fitted.  This allows the cockpit coaming to be dry fitted into the cockpit cutout in the decking.


The coaming requires some careful bending to get and keep the band in that fits inside and against the 1/4″ wood.  Once installed I left it to form a bit then come back and install a thin lip on the band.  It takes forever to get both pieces to play well together and to finally get the proper shape and height using clamps and blocks.  I start to spot glue it into place and then realize it will be better to go right to spot welding with thickened epoxy.


My table saw would not adjust so Thursday I spent time trying to figure that out until I finally just drop kicked it and went on to epoxy some small pieces of boat parts together, repositioned a stern inspection port location, and cut a storage hatch hole in the stern deck about 5″ behind the cockpit.  My final task was to clean up the various bays so I can find stuff when I need stuff.


Friday I got bogged down with reviewing several plan sheets and attempting to determine how things go together as I go forward in this build.  

I also started trimming and filling places that are slightly out of alignment on the coaming installation and planning how exactly I am going to glass this odd set of angles with making a muck of it.  I also looked at the process to install the bowsprit and marked the hull stem or bow where I need to cut out the circle.  Cutting what you recently put together is kinda scary so it will wait until later.

I also set the aka sections and laid the side decks or the sleeping platforms on the akas and later figured out I could simply slip them over the aka tubing into the correct position on the tubing and against the hull. 


Saturday I cut wood by hand way too long in building bracing for the sole to frame the three hatches in the forward cockpit aka living room.

Monday will see filleting and perhaps later glassing the coaming to the stern deck and that looks to be a significant task.




I do not have plan sheets for this section, but I do have a general video for what I am doing now.  The video is excellent but lacks some details that end up on plan sheets.  So to a minor degree, I am shooting in the dark, mostly because as a pretty novice builder I have a difficult time extrapolating into what is an unknown for me.  Thus are the joys of building hull #1 I think.

Vaka Bow is lean and mean

I add some holes and ties to the bow prow specifically down low at the most accentuated curve where it goes to the keel.  There are some small gaps and out of line elements at the garboard and bottom strake.  I think the total problem there is created by a 3” sliver of bottom strake tip that was broken off when the part was loaded into my truck.

I clamp on the stern plate(s) why are there three?

I check for gaps and tight ties and find a gap at mid-ship and a broken tie which I replace.  I take a deep breath, mix up some goop and tack weld the entire hull inside and out.  At a loss for something to do that does not involve touching the hull I take the rudder and the lee-board to the sanding room and give them ago with 80 grit.  I turn the AC up to 85 and the exhaust fan on at the other end of the assembly bay where the hull is sitting.  I learned from the last build the relationship between this epoxy, temperature, and humidity inside the bay and outside.  I have set the room for the fastest drying.  The AC keeps the room relatively dry and the exhaust fan draws air over the hull and out, lowering the odor and maximizing drying.

It is evening.  The tack welds are dry, but not cured.  I cut loose and pull out the ties and the boat does not fall apart.



I do a walk around and discover I missed some bow welds.  I put a couple of ties back in and spot weld the small area that was not locked together.

But look at these bulkheads.  A PERFECT FIT!  These are not tacked or glued in place but merely dry fitted.  Good job on sending the right plus and minus signals to the cutting machine.

Bulkhead with very small gap

 Alans video suggests it is now time to hot glue in the bulkheads then get on with the filleting, and glassing in the fiber cloth.  But is it ever that easy?  The video also suggests perhaps filleting a section of the outside of the chine and round the chine on the inside of the hull in the cockpit area.  In a separate email, I learn the cloth goes over the chine by 1.5”.  The chine in the rest of the hull, therefore, needs to be rounded also to more easily ensure the cloth does not bubble in these areas.  To compound things the first bulkhead needs to be out to properly fillet and cloth the first 12” of the bow.  Sometimes critical thinking is not my forte.

Also, Lynn and I have discussed how it would be easier and cleaner to fillet and glass the entire hull without the bulkheads in place.  Though that brings up the need to take down the bulkheads to properly fit after glass and fillets.  Alan has agreed we can do it either way.  I have made an executive decision on all of this and will proceed with this body of work in the following order:

  • Smooth out a little the cosmetics of the finger joint areas using epoxy and west system 410.
  • Epoxy part 36A to fwd bulkhead part 36
  • Fillet the entire outside of chine. Except at cradles
  • Round over the interior chine at lower topside strake full length.
  • Hot glue in stern plates
  • Hot glue in all bulkheads except bow part 36.
  • Fillet, including chine and glass the bow to 1.5” above the chine. Leave wetted out cloth tabbed for the forward bulkhead.
  • Install bulkhead and hot glue aft side in place then fit. Use a premade tool to run fillets on the front side of bulkhead then smooth on wetted tabs to the bulkhead.
  • Proceed with fillets and glass to remaining bays.

Tuesday afternoon and I have a fillet on the outside chine, epoxied transom pieces together also 36A to 36, the fwd bulkhead, used epoxy with West System 410 on the interior and exterior finger joints to smooth out.  The integrity of the joints is good but there was still some annoying unevenness.


I finish my list from Tuesday including fillets to the stem and installing the forward bulkhead. There is a curve in the bow where the front aka tube sits that calls for a slightly oval not a round hole.  The aft has no curve hull at that location so the aka will fit.

Stuff happens when working on the boat.  It gets bumped, kicked, leaned on, and takes other abuses.  Glad it was spot welded inside and out. 

I was especially glad for the epoxy spot welding when the front cradle fell off the 12″ blocks it was on allowing the bow to crash to the floor as the stern of the boat came out of the aft cradle and pointed up at the ceiling while the middle cradled tittered on its blocks at a 45-degree angle.  The next twenty minutes, (felt like three hours), was a cluster f—getting the boat positioned properly back into the cradles, distanced and mounted back on the blocks. Once more stable I peered into and crawled around under looking for damage.  One short bulkhead was 1/8” to ¼” out of position along one strake.   I put a knee to the strake and it popped back into position.  Spot weld it all I say.  Unfortunately, I did not have the presents of mind to take a picture and I have no desire to stage one at this point.


Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and This Morning.

Going bay by bay our days consist of Cutting fiberglass cloth and dry fitting. Mixing epoxy, and spreading in fillets. Waiting for fillets to set.  Positioning cloth, mixing epoxy,  epoxying cloth into place. Roll a filler coat on cloth.   Over, and over and over in all seven bays of the hull.



Stern Section is a bit sloppy.


Alan has written and sent several plan pages.  This is a good thing.  Now, as soon as I recover from epoxy and alcohol poisoning from swimming in both, I can move on to assembly of the upper hull, cockpits, hatches and bowsprit.