Early September, 2020.

So now I had the plans, and the plywood. But I also had a wee problem.

My housemate, the primary tenant in the house we rented, had just purchased a house out in the country, and had given notice to the landlord. I was in no position to take over the lease by myself, and had no interest in taking a stranger in to help cover the rent. I’ve had my share of “housemates from hell” over the years, and had no desire to repeat the experience. So I’d be looking for a new home, in a month or two.

My housemate asked if, since we had gotten along well for several years now, would I be interested in moving into the new house as a tenant of theirs? I liked the town and region where the house was, and awesome though it may be, I wasn’t overly attached to Melbourne city life, so I agreed.

The only catch was, there wasn’t much point getting stuck into building the dinghy until I had relocated. Moving a partly built boat a few hundred kilometres would be a massive pain in the rear. But for that matter, relocating 4 thin sheets of 1440mm x 2880mm plywood (4′ x 8′ for the metrically impaired) in a removals truck was just asking for them to be damaged in transit.

So my best option would be to cut out all the panels and pieces, then bundle them all up for transporting to the new house.

So.. first step, lofting. Which, for those who don’t know boatbuilding terms, means to transfer the lines from the plans, onto the plywood sheets at full size. This involved first of all drawing a grid of 1′ squares onto each sheet. (Yes, being from America, the plans are in feet and inches, not metric. A bit of a pain, but thankfully nothing too bad to deal with.)

Next, all the various dimensions have to be plotted onto the grid, and connected by lines. Curves are drawn by driving small nails into the plotted points, taking a thin flexible strip of timber (called a batten) and placing it so that it is pressed against all the nails, forming a nice smooth curve, and then running a pencil along the length of the batten.

Sheet of ply with drawing tools and plans.
The first of the ply sheets after lofting.

Lofting all four sheets took about 16 hours, all told. Cutting the panels and pieces out with a jigsaw took an additional 5 hours to complete.

When I was done, I laid them all out on the lawn in roughly their proper relationship to one another, climbed up on the bench, and took some photos of it all. (Ignore the long grass.. I figured that if we were moving out soon, then there was no point in cutting the lawns until we were out.)

All the panels and pieces making up the hull, seats and buoyancy tanks laid out on the lawn.
All the panels that make up the basic hull, seats and buoyancy tanks. The funny-looking jagged bits on some of the closer vertical edges are just artifacts created when two separate images were stitched together in software. They don’t really exist.
Panels for rudder, daggerboard and daggerboard trunk.
The panels that make up the rudder, daggerboard, and daggerboard trunk.

Total time spent on the build to this point: 23 hours.

Next: Construction begins!

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