July 2016

In my head I imagined that as soon as Spring hit I would be outside working on the boat, but the reality is that I always forget that between yard, garden plot, work and finishing school, Spring is really busy. But July finally came and I only had one thing on my mind.

Last fall I was excited to get the frame together but now I’m just seeing all the places where the parts didn’t exactly fit. The seats were the next step, but first everything under the seats had to be flat. Lots of tiny additions and subtractions.

I also found several places where the wood stringers had snapped, either during the assembly last fall or sometime over the winter. These all needed to be repaired and cleaned up.

On one seat section I made a pattern of cardboard, then transferred the shape onto the plywood. This was a long tedious method that eventually yielded the right shape.

This was fun. The front of the boat (stem) needs a curved piece, but you can’t bend a one-inch piece of oak. So I cut it into many thin pieces (which do bend) and laminated them together. Gooey but successful!

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At last, planking. I started on the rear left. The process has many steps. I cut an oversized piece of ply, clamp it in place and mark the edges. Off the boat to make cuts, back on to see if it fits, then off and on until it’s right. Then glue and clamp and screw in place. The first piece was small and straightforward, but piece number two was not. Because of the length of the plank, the curve of the boat and frame obstructions on the bottom, this was the hardest plank for me. It seems like I took it off and put it back on the boat twenty times just to get it close!

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The final bottom plank is the one that other Navigator builders dread, but it went on pretty easily. The challenge is that it starts almost horizontal at the rear, but bends dramatically to vertical in the front. As I slowly tightened the clamps to force it into shape I kept expecting to hear the crack of snapping wood, but it went on without a hitch.

Then the starboard side goes on.

Day by day, plank by plank. 24 in all.

And finally to the top! Now I have a boat.

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The last plank is called “The Whiskey Plank” no doubt to celebrate the completion of this important task. And I would never disrespect hundreds of years of naval tradition . . .

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