Saturday, April 20, 2013

Building Wooden Boats: The Phil Bolger Gypsy named "Feather"

Feather is a Phil Bolger designed "Gypsy".  She is a wooden Instant Boat built out of plywood and fiberglass with a dash of epoxy resin.

Boat building is a strange occupation and hobby to have, occasionally a boat will crawl inside your mind and take up residence and just won't leave until it is out of ones dreams in the ethereal world... 

To get it out of your mind, you've got to build it... as no amount of sketching, doodling, or talking will remove it from the for-front of your mind. 

Thus, you must build it. 

And yes that is a strange workshop, Feather is a boat built inside a boat.  Those are the front cabin windows of Noel peeking out. There is "just" enough room to build a 15 foot boat, in a 17 foot by 7 foot space.  Turning her over  alone was an exciting experience and required some "boat yoga."

About Feather:

Her hull is 1/4 inch marine grade plywood, Hydrotek Meranti, saturated with west systems epoxy, and skinned in 10 ounce fiberglass cloth.

Her rub rails are salt treated pine, and internal cleats for mounting her deck and stringers are juniper.  

I strayed a bit from the plans, and built a NACA profile rudder and centerboard out of mahogany and fiberglass.  Her rudder is in a cassette that kicks up vertically instead of pivoting on a wing nut.  

Her Daggerboard case is doubly wide, with the idea of a fairing around the centerboard where it meets the water... and perhaps even the ability to tack it to windward with a wooden door stop to set both depth and angle.  Sometimes the day dreams, turn into "Why Not's" when working with wooden boats.  

This is my first attempt at a cassette rudder, similar to the pictures I've seen of the Goat Island Skiff designed by Michael Storer and on Australian racing dinghys.  On past boats I've had a pivoting rudder, with a bolt and wing nut that increases its steering pressure when it kicks up. Then they require hanging over the back end of the boat to put it back down which in and of its self makes sailing off a lee shore beach a bit interesting.  I'm hopeful that the cassette rudder will be an improvement over the more traditional rudder. 

The transom is also a bit off the plans, as its 3/4 divinycell foam with a layer of 1708 fiberglass on each side beveled to fit in place of the plywood and lumber one the plans call for...  Why?  Why not...  I had a drop just the right size.  It is filleted in, and tabbed with 1708 to the rest of the plywood hull.  It might be overkill, but it is light weight overkill.

I haven't sailed her yet, I'm torn between using a wind surfer sail or going with the leg of mutton style the plans call for...  Both make it difficult to strike the sail while on the water, so it may require further thoughts.

- Zach

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