Teach-A-Man Teach-A-Man 2012

April 2012

This could be a bit of a short update. Not because nothing’s happened; in fact despite being away for nearly two weeks since our last post, March has been one of the most eventful and exciting months in our project so far. But to be honest (and I did promise to be), after a long day in the workshop I’m too tired to be anything except concise, and my hair is too full of sawdust. That doesn’t really affect the writing, but it is true all the same.

Here’s what spring has brought us so far…..

Firstly, a workshop! We had spent a while looking for somewhere to build our boat over the last few months as Si finalised his design, but as we got closer to getting the first panels cut we were beginning to despair a little. Everywhere we’d found was too small, or too far away or just unavailable and it was starting to look likely that we’d be sharing our living room with several sheets of plywood and a couple of vats of epoxy. Pretty much standard then…. Fortunately we were saved in the nick of time and very kindly offered the use of an ideal workshop in Portscatho by the Nicholls family, perfectly situated between our house and the sea! The building has not been used for a few years so had naturally become a little overgrown and we spent a few days cutting back brambles and excitedly uncovering the workshop and its surroundings. The space is a great size for our boat and was already equipped with good workbenches. So after patching a few holes and fixing up some lights and a kettle, we moved our newly cut jig panels in, and made a start.

Simon designed the jig for the boat to be profile cut along with the frames of our boat, as a purpose built platform to support the hull as we build it. Once Simon finished his design for the boat, he converted it into kit form, nesting the component pieces for the jig and frames onto a collection of sheets the same size as a standard sheet of plywood. This way the boat could be accurately cut by a three axis router with a minimum of wastage and a maximum of precision, speeding up the build considerably. So having tested the pattern with a fifth scale model, as I mentioned last month, Si sent his files to be cut at full size and the next day picked up the components for the jig from Fibrefusion, the profile cutting company in Falmouth. Two hours later he had assembled the whole jig, and our empty workshop had become a boat shed!

The timber for our frames arrived, and it took Fibrefusion’s router just four days to cut the frames for our boat from eleven full sheets of plywood. Si went over to Falmouth to see how the cutting was going, and ended up arriving back with the entire boat flat packed into the boot of our car, having made it safely home in the pieces intended and no fewer. Oh, if we’d had a hatchback this story could have been so different….

The next few days in the workshop were spent sanding any rough edges and planing bevels onto the edges of the frames, ready to assemble when we got back from our trip to Cairo. And after a fantastic week with our friends in Egypt, and a lovely time visiting Si’s family in Lancashire we were really excited to get home this week and start putting the frames together and seeing our boat take shape.

Si spent Tuesday gluing the frames together (each in two symmetrical pieces and attached with a butterfly joint for ease of cutting) and on Wednesday we were able to go down to the workshop and spend the day constructing the rest of the framework. Despite a couple of pieces that were tricky to fit until we worked out the best order in which to do it, we managed to get all eleven frames fitted by the end of the day and have the huge satisfaction of seeing our boat grow to her full size within a matter of hours.

We’ve had some visitors up to the workshop to see what we’re up to and we are hoping to be able to show our boat off to more people over Easter as the hull begins to take shape. We love it that the kids who see our boat in the workshop now will grow up with a memory of watching a boat being built in their village, and one that we hope will still be sailing and fishing when they’re old enough to tell the story to their friends. How long is it since a fishing boat was built here? Perhaps it’s not as long ago as we think? If anyone can shed any light, we’d love to know. In the meantime, enjoy this beautiful sunshine – long may it last!

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