As I sit here in the pre-dawn contemplating the day's work ahead, the people of northern Queensland are being battered by Cyclone Ita. Whilst I'm preoccupied with filling out smAll blemishes, light sanding and tipping off, sailors 3 000 k north are worrying about chaff on their anchor cables as they sit hunkered down hidden in the far reaches of mangrove-lined creeks.

I've read earlier, the Lapita Voyage blog, where James Wharram, Hanneke Boon and others sailing two catamaran from the Philippines to Tikopia and Anus Islands in the western Pacific. They sailed the northern Arafura and Timor Seas, by the Bismark Archipelago and north of the Coral Sea; each of which are getting severely ruffled as we speak. I was struck that real sailing is about adjusting sails to  calm or gusty conditions, getting food and water on-board, navigating and keeping dry. It was NOT about choosing polyurethane of enamel, or even whether or not to fill and sand  a certain blemish in the bow fillet. O need to put this sailing canoe build into perspective, I've no doubt that when building 'Larapita Anita' and 'Larapita Tikopia' that due attention was  paid to their aesthetics, but there's a need to prioritise function over beauty, to get sailing and avoid bogging down under too much detail.

I also have sense that a Wharram design takes us to a lovely place more free from market-induced confusion. It's the task of the builder to build this philosophy into their worldview, their daily practices.



I couldn't swallow the expense of two-pack polyurethane, so I went with a top quality domestic energy..election ie "houseplants". Sometime  I get extravagant,champagne taste o.   Beer budget, but today I forced myself to stay with I. Budget and go the non-marine paint route. It's.more.wharram anyway.

I've had to recover for. A botched go ish coat.with 25% .microbaloons, when I rolled it on the balloon s Sat PROUD, th hadn't mixed in?! So that had to b Sanders off before applying the paint. One more coat to go after a light sand in between.


"Across Islands and Oceans" - james baldwin, kindle evook $3.69

A Robin Lee Graham type story written by the the sailor as an older man. This dynamic lends polish to the narrative, a gentle tale about embracing culture as well as journeying within. I especially liked parts about his travels through Polynesia and Melanesia.

Typically our voyager takes particular attention to going ashore and getting dirty; learning the language and traditions, walking the trails and climbing the mountains.

I find here a kindred spirit, in that same era, equally disillusioned with Western lifestyles, I singlehanded along much of Australia's east coast, extraordinarily James sails off and around the globe in a liesurely couple of years. A great read.


Hull sanding

DONE: Sanded outer hull for final coat of epoxy. Russell Brown recommends using 80 grade paper here, but I found 120 quite enough. The purpose, after all, is to scuff the surface for the next coat to adhere onto.

I also, of course, sanded the small patches that I filled yesterday. Strangely, the mix dried  white, usually a sign of water in the mix, but I'm sure that wasn't the case. Anyway they came out looking very smooth and felt solid.

Inside the hull, I used a paddle wheel type sanding drill attachment to tidy the little fillets on the frames in the bilge.

TO DO:  Roll on a final coat of thickened (25% microbaloons) epoxy on the outside. Then
 three coats of two-pack polyurethane to finish.

Inside,  a scuff sand and final coat of epoxy, then painting. But before this I need to glass in two bulkheads for and aft as watertight buoyancy chambers.

LESSONS: This pfaffing about is actually great practice for my future boatbuilding projects. I'd much rather makes small-scale mistakes at this time than big expensive unrelated on.

A Note About the Use of Power Tools:
Early on I stated that I would build without power tools and now I'm using them daily. I think it's because the power is there (at my previous build site I had none bar a petrol generator), also I am getting impatient and believe that an orbital would provide a better product long term than if I merely sanded by hand. It's worth noting that many larger and beautiful Wharram's have been built without electricity.


Choosing Paint Colour.

I'd be the first to assert that we consumers are faced with too much choice, but it appears that the manufacturers of two-pack polyurethane paints are bucking the trend. There are so few colour choices, that choosing gets hard.
It seems that International/Interlux Perfection comes in red, blue, green black and white, while Northane have 18 tones, but is a lower grade product by all reports. I prefer Platinum, and a litre will cost $98 and cover 6 square metres. The salesman reckons there is no need for varnish protection which will save $60 and a stack of work.

Epoxy Basics ebook recommendation

Okay, here I am sanding my hull ready for painting, but I am not 100% satisfied.

Being an old surfer, I have a high standard when it comes to the finish of watercraft. A small bead if resin on a surfboard fin sends out a most annoying hum due to cavitation caused by a droplet of unwanted resin the size of a match-head. Whereas a smooth profile looks, feels and performs beautifully.

Looking for answers to resolve my PROUD SEAMS, I realise there is little I can do NOW. But there are options you can take to avoid getting to this point BEFORE YOU LAY UP YOUR SEAMS..

One easy way for me is to steer you towards the "Epoxy Basics" e-book at PT Watercraft. For $5 it will save you work, provide you hard prescriptions for crafting a beautiful hull.

Some of the tips for a seamless build (pun intended) are:-
  - before stitching,ensure all hull pieces are epoxy coated in and out.
  - before laying your chine seams sand the outer perimeterof the ply to create a "swallow" which allows the tapes to lay into.
  - Don't use manufactured seam tape. Or if you do, cut the tape to remove the outermost longitudinal fibres. This sounds complicated but it's not; basically when cloth is woven you get a doubling of weave on the edges, this is called selvedge. When you are trying to have an I visible edge to you seams, this double edge needs to be removed. Simply cut the outermost. Edge of your tape by one fibre.
  - when you finish coat: use 25% filler in your mix, use a roller and tip off with a stiff brush.

AFAIK Wharram literature will tells you none of this stuff. Go to PT Watercraft, with son of plywood trimaran builder Jim Brown, Russell at the helm. One look at their finished craft with have you salivating. Guaranteed. BTW I have no financial ties with that company.

Proud seams = not happy.

monohull sail

Yesterday the kids and I took off to Port Stephens with our 19' trailer sailor for a spot of sail meditation. It was a foggy still morning when we left home and an hour's drive east we found a clear sky with a slight NE breeze.

The "gentlemen racers" (no spinnaker) are heading off as we arrived, a mixed fleet from Lasers to 40' grp cruiser-racers, even a large cat ... there may have even been some women too! Ye gads.

And into a strong east flowing ebb tide with 8 knots of noreaster and we are covering ground fast in a calm if swirling bay. The racers darted back and forth upwind as we hooked in using our genoa and full main, wheeling, but not so far as the kids could read on deck without any spray. I saw the cat upwind, and judging our speed I thought I'd like to get a closer look at her speed.

We tacked onto starboard and as the grand headsail swept the fordeck it swiped 2 pages from Mia's worn copy of Plutarch. She looked at the dampening yellow with age pages floating behind us,with a cute wry smile, a  we chased off after that cat. Notably at this time, the cat was having trouble doing a 270 degree turn around the wingmark. Yes, sailing backwards! Recovered only by curling the headsail and otherwise stuffing about.,

We flew along on a tight reach and I was impressed (very) with our speed. Nevertheless as we had gone in behind the headland east of Salamander Bay we are in foul air and that cat got away. We did however get in between   36'grp cruiser-racer and a Northshore 25,both pretty speccy. From mid-bay to home, about 1 //2 miles, we held speed with them on a broad reach and later goosewinging it home. Back off the ramp I chatted with several  sailors and was invited to come Wednesday racing.   I've been chortling at myself all night with the prospect of sailing in my t/s for a few months building up local knowledge, then launching my Melanesia and blowing them away!

(Typed on kindle, my apologies)