Updated: May 01, 2012

SailboatWeekender Sailboat Project: SPIRIT

  Weekender Sailboat built in Largo Florida by John Brown

Ship's Build Log

Completion Goal
Date : November 22, 2010 -- Actual Completion Date: March 9th, 2011.

      March 5th, 2010
Ordered Weekender Plans.  Plans came about a week later. I spent the next two days doing nothing but reading and studying the drawings and making trips to Home Depot and Lowes checking on materials and parts. Lowes has a marine dept. but it's only a four foot section of in the hardware dept. You can special order a 4x4 at 16 feet long for the mast. The trick is to have a pressure treat supplier pull off one of these before they load the trolleys into the pressure treat vats. Price was only $24 plus shipping. Yeah! I only live 2 miles from the store! (See July 7th below for more on the mast material)

March 31, 2010

Went to Lowes and bought two oak boards, 2 & 1/2. Used them for material to cut out the parts for ship's wheel. Then I realized never bought screws! ... another trip back again for screws.

April 12, 2010
Well I finished the first step, I got the steering wheel done! I wanted to do the most complicated or at least the most challenging thing done first. I didn't want to have a hull finished and them spend another couple of months making the small parts. I think I will go on to the other small parts before I start buying plywood. I bought a couple of more tools at Home Depot in the last couple of days. I needed a detail sander and a Sure Form scraper (wood rasp).

April 16, 2010
I made another steering wheel. This built with pine. It was a lot easier and only took about six hours, start to stain. It came out a bit better but I guess I'm not a real skilled wood worker. It still looks amateurish.

April 19, 2010
I built the rudder box, rudder and hand rails. Spent the day doing that ... well after emails and tweaking up a website template, then all day.

April 30, 2010
Damn! I had an accident and broke my right leg just under the hip joint. Just got out of the hospital with three three inch cap screws in my leg and struggling to get around on a walker. There goes boat construction for awhile.

May 5, 2010
I'm still laid up, recovering after surgery. It's so frustrating to have a bunch of materials in the garage and not be able to do anything with any of it. However, I did acquire an offer of help from a friend, Mr. John Custer, a landlord who does a bit of house remodelling. It will be a pleasure to work on the boat with a partner. That's the whole point of the boat: sharing the fun.

June 23, 2010
Boat construction is moving along sort of. I work a little on it everyday (therapy?) but some days I don't do much since I can't stand for very long at a time. This week, John Custer and I bought keel boards at Lowes (Thank God for those electric shopping carts!) and I worked on spar finishing. I bought a quart of Captain's Spar finish from West Marine. It was twice the price of the Rust-Oleum brand but at least three times the quality. I posted the updates on small parts today also. At least the spars are done and stored for later fitting!

July 7, 2010
Keel was cut and dry fitted this week. After assembling, there was another day spent in shaping the keel and fixing problems, to get the top and bottom surfaces flat and the arcs even, without lumps. This included pre-drilling the screw holes for final gluing. Problem: I couldn't get the 14 foot materials or the untreated sixteen foot 4x4 for the mast, so I substituted 12 foot materials and changed the location of the joints. Somehow that screwed up the final inside keel length. I had to rebuild the stern parts twice to get the 154 3/8s inches called for in the plans.

July 20, 2010
Today we sort of worked on boat stuff. We mounted a light bar on the garage ceiling for better lighting while we build and made Boat Lab videos, Parts 2 and 3. We have a plan to lay in the plywood tomorrow morning. We might not do any more than buy materials.

July, 30, 2010
Last Wednesday, I ordered a Minn Kota trolling motor for those times when you need power on a sailboat. Walmart said delivery would be on Friday or early next week. But, FedEx tracking showed the motor logged into the local distribution center Friday morning at 6am. So I expected delivery on Friday. However, by 7pm it had not come so I went to see my wife at her temporary live in job and gave up the idea of a delivery today. At 9:30 pm, back at the house, the door bell rang. Would you believe it was a happy FedEx driver, soaking wet from the Florida night heat but standing there with a big grin and announced, "It's fishing gear! so I thought you would need it for the weekend!" I was speechless and by the time I could get the big box through the doorway, he was back in his truck headed for another delivery. Gotta love a man who does his job with such enthusiasm and effort!

August 14, 2010
Milestone Day!! We assembled the hull parts into a three dimensional shape: A Boat! Most of our work time was spent doing stringers. Some things just don't want to fit right so we "fudge it." The epoxy paste/glue fills in gaps real well. We have used it to fill up to half inch gaps. However, initial assembly shows us most everything is in pretty close place as we hoped.

September 18, 2010
Today I finally finished the splash guard for the port side and installed the seats. I elected to varnish the splash guard and seats. I really like the look of natural wood finishes although it is a lot of work to do and a lot of planning to avoid screw holes, plugs and other blemishes from showing. I used a lot of brads and staples with TiteBond III. The use of air guns speeds up building with natural finishes, I don't mind some tiny filled holes and the end product is beautiful. See the parts and hull pics for this date.

October 10, 2010
Since Sept. 18th, I have done a lot on the interior. The cockpit is finished with some "shoe" trims. The cabin is built and painted including the sliding hatch. Painting the interior of the cabin was quite difficult with limited head room, especially the roof. I had to get help for that one since my legs don't fold up too well to sit "Indian style" crossed legged, then look up to paint. That had to be done before wiring since the wires follow the cabin stringers. Now the wiring can be finished and underlayment for the carpeting installed. I'm using expanded polystyrene (insulation board) since it has a lot of give to it but expands back to its original shape after compression. It is also useful as "floatation foam." I estimate two 4x8 sheets will support over 500 pounds. Any leftovers from carpet will be glued into empty spaces.

October 20, 2010
I'm getting a little concerned about the completion date. As of this date, the sides are only the port side is dry fitted, carpet not yet installed and I have the starboard side to go. I did get a system going for the rub rails which have to be mounted on the deck to cover the staples I used for the stringers but also mounted over the side for rub rails. I made a jig to laminate wood strips into the side arc build up. I also pre-painted the interior sides of the hull sides after marking where the stringers are located. I haven't even started the reinforcing/decorative shelves yet. I don't know why they intimidate me but they do. Perhaps tomorrow I will get over it and build them.

October 28, 2010
This was a red letter day. Two friends came over and we took the boat off the dolly wheels and turned it over. Now it sits on its mast stump, (I'm using the hinged mast option), and two five gallon buckets. Now it's rework the hull, fiberglass and paint.

November 13, 2010
Today we turned the boat back right side up again. The hull is fiberglassed and painted. On Oct. 28th, I started with a bare plywood hull and sanded, then used penetrating epoxy which is laminating epoxy with a lot of solvents. Over that I laid the six oz. glass cloth and wetted it with laminating epoxy using a squeegee to wipe the epoxy into the weave. A day later another coat of epoxy was applied after sanding out the runs and sags. Following that was four coats of paint. Starting with penetrating epoxy serves two purposes, one it soaks into the plywood thus preserving it, and two is ensures that the wetting epoxy coat does not soak into the wood causing the glass cloth to de-laminate. All in all, over the plywood there are eight layers on the hull.

November 15, 2010
Getting anxious, my self imposed deadline is only a week away. I have not mounted a couple of parts, I'm short some hardware, the chain plates didn't fit as intended and I'm lacking several coats of varnish. Never mind I haven't even made the sails. The trailer is not fully ready to go either. I still need to finish the bunks.

November 20, 2010
We put the boat on the trailer Saturday night. It's not easy getting a boat off the ground, up two feet so it will clear the keel and slide on the trailer. The boat kept wanting to skew off the center track. Eventually we did it and then got a surprise, the mast base was almost three inches too high to clear the garage door. Now it's remove the mast and shorten the base, then reinstall it, all before I can move it out onto the driveway to start the standing and running rigging.

December 5, 2010
Well, I didn't make my deadline of my son's wedding. There was just too much to do. I gave up when I realized that I should have bee doing "sea trials" about two weeks before the wedding. As of this date, the main sail is not attached, the trailer needs a bit of attention and I'm still trying to garage engineer a mast light. That's long after the mast is completed and all the lines are mounted on it. I still haven't traced where some screw or staple penetrated the wiring harness and caused a short. Details, details details!

January 22, 2011
Well, I've been laid up again, had the hardware removed from my leg Dec. 20th, on a walker for 8 days then on a cane. Worse, the weather was cold (for Floridians anyway) so little got done. We worked on the boat only one day and found more problems than solutions with some of the build decisions. Try again next month.

February 20, 2011
We only worked on the boat one day this month but we solved a few problems. I abandoned my idea of using rope to lash the main sail to the mast and made the rings per plans. We checked the wiring and found that my repair to the short was secure so we hooked up the rest of the circuits. Then we made an anchor light we could run up the mast when needed. That about does it.

March 1, 2011
We did a test dry run in the driveway to see how efficient we could be in getting the boat ready to sail at a marina. Hummm, not so good, need more practice. We'll get the bugs worked out. Next time in the driveway, we'll probably have to tighten the wires on the mast too. At least I've retired the cane for good! Next: figure out how to get into the boat, gracefully.

March 9, 2011
My son and daughter-in-law came over and the lady applied the paint to letter the name and port of origin. Yeah!! (See Hull Pics, page 6) Now I can call it FINISHED! Weather permitting, we'll get it wet Saturday (March 12th) for its first sea trial. I'm hoping for no surprises, especially with the built in sail drive.

March 15, 2011
Last Sunday we got the boat wet the first time. It didn't go well. (See video #8) The fore-stay clamp loosened and the jib landed in the water. Never mind I was nervous as mouse in a cat house ... acting like a scared dad over his daughter's first date. However, we did get the boat into the water and got it out again, a first experience for me. The next few days were spent in repairs, adjustments and hopefully implementing better ideas for rigging.

April 21, 2011
A second dunk faired little better than the first. My idea for the trolling motor sticking out of the bottom of the boat cost us a grounding that opened up the hole where the shaft went through the hull and then it leaked badly. After that I decided that my saildrive idea just was poor so I decided to build the motor into the rudder. That also meant coming up with a new idea for the speed control. Some lines bound up too so the 3/8" lines were changed out for 1/4" lines and color coded so I could say, "pull on the green rope" instead of the "...left!, the left one, no your other left!"

 April 28, 2011
Finally, I finished the rebuild of the rudder, motor and steering. The last time out, the steering broke again and I grounded the motor on launch. So see the new pics in "parts pics" and "hull pics" for April 15 and 24. I changed the fender set up and the gaff jaws are modified. I also changed out all the lines and even changed the method of holding the boat down on the trailer.

May 29, 2011
We took the boat out again. This time nothing broke! However, I should have charged the trolling motor battery before we left. We nearly couldn't make it back to the launch dock due to a depleted battery. This was only another shake down run to check out if the changes made were sound. So far, so good. Eventually we will get all the kinks worked out and start actually having fun. Soon, we can have a christening party to make the boat's name and use official... or at least that's what my friends seem to think. I'm not really a party person and I would be just as happy without the party but I live in a social family so .... party on!

June --> September 2011
It's Sub-Tropical Hurricane Season! Yep, rains and storms almost daily and it's hotter than Hades! This season is not such a good time to be out on a sailboat in Florida. The boat stays in the garage. See ya in the Fall.

October --> November 2011
Very little happened until Thanksgiving Day when my son and daughter-in-law came over and we took out the boat. This time, my extension to the tiller arm snapped off. I forgot to use epoxy on it. Now it's epoxied and wrapped with a steel strap. I also built a new mount for the electric motor. Then I had to take it off again to adjust the mount to get it straight on th angled stern. Finally, (maybe) the boat is secure and I can use it without things breaking ... ruining a good day.

December 2011
Not much happened this month either. Holidays ya know and all that.

January 2012
New year! Full of expectations but they don't seem to include taking the boat out.

February 2012
Not much going on. I had this idea to share my boat with others. I located a Sea Scouting unit (part of Boy Scouts of America). They are hoping I will start a new unit or "Ship" as they call it. That is a lot of work and organization. We'll see.

March 2012
This month started out with a bang, a literal bang! I totaled my minivan on the 7th. My wife and I are all banged up but healing. I will have to replace my tow vehicle. By the end of the month, I had salvaged the minivan and bought a 1999 Toyota 4Runner compact SUV. This will serve and a much better tow vehicle anyway. Too bad I had to got through so much trauma to get into a more suitable vehicle.

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