Home - Project Just Right
Chapter 1 - My goals and Requirements
Chapter 2 - Choosing the Boat to Build
Chapter 3 - Preliminaries, What I Did Before Starting
Chapter 4 - Setting up Frames and Building the Hull
Chapter 5 - Interior
Chapter 6 - Deck and Exterior
Chapter 7 - Topside Details
Chapter 8 - Keel, Centerboard, and Rudder
Chapter 9 - Mast, Rigging, Sails, Outboard & Anchors
Chapter 10 - The Electrical System
Chapter 11 - The Trailer and Trailering
Chapter 12 - Sea Trials and Cruising Pictures
Chapter 13 - Future Projects ... When is a Boat Finished?
Chapter 14 - Useful Information... Sources and Links
Chapter 15 - Questions and Answers
Chapter 16 - Other Vagabond Builders and Aficionados
Chapter 17 - A Few Good Ideas
Chapter 18 - Chapter 18 - Specifications and Equipment

Chapter 6 - Completing the Deck and Exterior

This thing is beginning to look like a boat now. I'm getting excited about actually getting her finished and in the water. The structure seems very stiff. I could easily lift one end of the boat hull. With much of the interior in, I weighed the boat at about 500 pounds. Well, I can't lift it anymore. I hope I haven't added too much weight.

Apply Barrier Coat to Interior

The interior surfaces were filled, faired and smoothed with fillers and then flow coated with epoxy. After a long cure, the surfaces were washed and sanded with 80 grit. After spitting out lots of dust and sweeping up, I rolled and brushed on a two part epoxy primer to serve as a barrier coat between the epoxy and succeeding paint systems. This is the last look at the interior before the deck goes on. You'll notice that I stopped painting about six inches from the sheer chine since the tape will cover this area.



Attach Deck to Deck Beams

I cut the deck panels from 9mm plywood. Each panel was saturation coated, washed, and sanded. The panels were trimmed to shape and placed in position to check for alignment with the side deck panels.


I located positions for winches and lifeline stanchions and glued pads to the underside of deck panels to spread the load. Each of the deck beams was coated with a ribbon of epoxy/wood flour/silica putty and the deck panels positioned and clamped in place. Your eyes aren't deceiving you, the forward hatch is located 2 inches off center to port. This gives a little more head room over the head and leaves room for the trash compactor on the starboard side.



With the deck in place, I filleted the joint between the deck beam and deck and then taped the joint on both sides with the DB120 tape. Working overhead with gooey resin and tape took some patience and a little different technique. I mixed the filleting putty just a little stiffer and found that my filleting tool made with a flexible circle of polyethylene plastic worked well. Instead of wetting the tape out in place, I wetted the precut strips on a board covered with a sheet of plastic. I thought that I would waste a lot of resin on the board but was surprised to see how little stayed on the board. These tape joints probably have the highest glass to resin ratio of any of my joints. The tapes stuck in place surprisingly well. I had only a small amount of resin in my hair that night. I can't wait to fill and sand those tapes!


Add Cockpit Coaming Frame

While the deckside was in place, I laid out the top member of the cockpit coaming. The piece is tricky since it curves in two directions. I made a pattern from thin scrap plywood and cut the frame from some clear 1x4 fir. I bent it in place and glues it down with the usual putty. When I removed the drywall screws holding it in position, I was somewhat surprised to have it stay in place considering the small glue area. That epoxy is strong stuff. I applied a little tape underneath just to make myself feel better. You can see the tee shaped cockpit with the two spaces for gas cans port and starboard. I don't plan to store any gasoline below. Two six gallon containers should give me a range of over a hundred miles and provide a small charge to the battery. The second picture shows the gas tank space with a baffle in back and holes for retaining straps. In the picture looking aft, you may notice a slight reverse camber in the cockpit sole. The sole also slopes aft. If the boat is upright, the cockpit should drain through the transom drain. The hole looks small but appears to exceed the offshore requirement is size. Don't ask me yet what happens when the boat is heeled and I get a wave in the cockpit. Some details remain to be worked out.



I decided to mount the bilge pump in the cockpit coaming. Either the helmsman or crew can operate the pump from the deck. The intake hose is coiled in the compartment below the cockpit seat. I glassed in a 90 degree elbow which connects to the pump. The outlet hose will go overboard through the deck side. The pump will be bolted to the cockpit seat with wing nuts so the pump can be removed if it becomes clogged.

Here's my philosophy about bilgewater. If the boat is holed or takes on serious water, the bilge pump has lots of capacity to pump out the interior. Since the boat is expected to have positive floatation it should stay afloat while some kind of patch is applied and the interior pumped out. The pump is not going to be effective for small amounts of water. All of the compartments in the forward and aft part of the boat are scuppered and will drain into the central part of the boat. Since the boat has no bilge, this casual water can be sponged into a bucket and tossed overboard.


Add Skirt Structure

The added skirt is what makes a Vagabond a Vagabond Plus. The skirt adds waterline length when heeled. It gives a very solid and inexpensive, trouble free motor mount. It gives a place on starboard to mount a boarding ladder for use on land or at anchorage. Finally, the compartments add buoyancy chambers or storage. The drawback is that the rudder movement is limited. I cut the rudder slot in the bottom plank first. Next, I added the transom pieces and the side plates. I coated the inside of the boxes with a pigmented epoxy flowcoat, same as the area under the cockpit sole. Two coats of pigmented epoxy create a nice hard smooth, almost paintlike surface. The top plate has a cutout for an inspection plate. Rather than foam in the floatation chambers, I provided an O-ring sealed inspection cover. I can add foam blocks if I get nervous or I can use the space for storage. I spent enough time sanding the fillets so there are no sharp edges. If water accumulates, I can open the cover and sponge it out. The motor bracket is extended over to the side plate as you can see below. The motor bracket is extremely rigid.



Time to Roll the Hull

Before rolling the hull, I used two bathroom scales and weighed the boat. The hull weighed about 600 pounds. I weighed the glass fabric I previously precut for the hull and doubled the weight to account for the resin. That brought the weight up to about 660 pounds. That's a little more than I had hoped for but certainly acceptable. The inside of the boat is totally smooth, no cloth weave shows anywhere. The inside of every locker is smooth, no slivers. Perhaps this is overkill but it demonstrates the quality of finish that I was striving for.

My original plan was to get twelve strong friends to carry the boat out to the front yard a roll the boat over on the grass and then restore it to the garage. My friend Bear suggested that I screw some eyebolts into the ceiling and use the spinnaker blocks and heavy lines from his boat to turn the boat in place. Edith and I jacked up the boat with my car jack, one end at a time and wrapped the ropes around the hull. We could get the boat almost over but it stuck on dead center. I called six of my friendly neighbors who helped finesse the boat into the inverted position. With all that help, we lowered the boat onto 2x4 blocking.



Finishing the Hull

Since the glass on the outside of the hull really holds the boat together, I was very careful with the glassing. These are the layers that I applied starting from the plywood panels:

  1. Flowcoat
  2. DB120 seam tapes
  3. DB120 bottom, chine, and side panels. Fabric overlapped giving 36 oz. of glass over the chines.
  4. Fill with microballoon, silica, and resin.
  5. Fill with West 410, silica, and resin.
  6. Flowcoat with resin
  7. Prime with Interlux 404/414 two-part epoxy primer.

We were especially careful to scrub the blush off the epoxy before sanding. I used my shop vac to sweep up as much dust as I could. I found I could buy a "fine dust" collector bag for the shop vac which did a much better job of cleaning up the dust.


Much of the initial sanding was done with my random orbital sander with 80 grit paper. Once the filling and fairing started, I used my homemade longboard. I used 80 grit adhesive backed pads cut to fit.


I discovered that it paid off to aggressively sand and fill the tapes before applying the next layer of cloth. Laying up cloth-on-cloth left rather significant voids in the layup. After the last flowcoat, we followed the advice of the paint manufacturer by scrubbing with soap and water, sanding, and then washing again. The final cleanup used Interlux 202 solvent to clean up dust. The primer sands out extremely smooth. I plan on two coats of primer as a barrier coat between epoxy and paint and as a final fairing coat. The pictures below show the hull in the fairing stage, with the flowcoat and finally with the primer. For what it's worth, the hull structure seems very solid.


Finish Underside of Deck

No pictures here, just lots of groans and bumped heads. I taped the inside chine joints and deck beams and filled and faired. I will apply a coat of the two part epoxy primer while the boat is upside down. It's a lot easier to work on the underside of the deck in this position, but still not my favorite task.

What's Next

  1. Make sure the keel bolts line up
  2. Scribe the copper line
  3. Sand with 150 and apply another coat of primer, then sand with 220 in preparation for the top coat.
  4. Turn the boat upright and go back to work on the cockpit and deck.

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