Fafnir

Fafnir sailboat building project.

One year already since I let my domain name expire. I was lucky to get it back. A lot of things changed of course, not all for the best. My health isn’t very good right now. I am not quite sure what is going on, but it isn’t good. I started thinking about my build projects, the Fafnir sailboat and the Hornet gyrocopter. I love building stuff, but let’s face it, it takes an aweful lot of time. So I was browsing the sailboat ads last year, just out of boredom one day, and thought that I might just be able to afford a small boat, one already built that I wouldn’t have to wait three years to sail. Because who knows…

I hate not finishing projects mind you, but sometimes better things come along and you need to let go. I sold the gyro project. The Fafnir jig and keelson are still under my car port, and I have the floor board, a bulkhead, stringers and other pieces of wood which were going to be used in the construction. If anyone is interested, let me know. I might get back to boat building in a few years, but I had to look for a boat I could use now, or at least, soon.

It wasn’t going to be easy because my requirements were pretty specific. The boat had to be able to cross an ocean in relative safety. For me, that meant a somewhat heavy displacement hull, full keel, and double-ender if possible. So I kept on browsing.. I saw a Pacific Seacraft 25 at a good price, but it was in California. I had a Southern Cross 31 surveyed in St. Petersbug, but unfortunately the deck was soaked with water and the cabin had been attacked by a wannabe electrician with a one-inch hole cutter.

Then there was one ad for a Morris Frances 26. I hadn’t heard of that model before, but knew the designer’s reputation, Chuck Paine. And a reputable boat it certainly is. It is said that at least one has circumnavigated. The boat was named “Carol Anne” but had changed names before from “Rachael” and “Fancy.” Now she is “Dagny.” When I saw it the deck had just a coat of grey primer. The inside was fine, except for three small rot spots. The single cylinder Volvo Penta 2001 model ran fine. We took it on a short trial with the owner, the surveyor and my friend Patrick.

Awesome lines! There is no standing headroom, and that is a problem for me being 6’2″ (188cm). Have a look at the inside before I started any work:

Then the deck needed attention. I started by sanding it lightly, with the help of my friend Shane, then applied one coat of epoxy to seal the plywood. Then, my friend Brooke and I applied two coats of Pettit white EasyPoxy paint; the one-part kind. It was also a good time to glue solar panels on deck. I chose Aurinco because they seemed to be getting good reviews and are assembled in the United States. They aren’t cheap but can be walked on. I now have two 26W panels and two 18W. Solar charge controllers are two Genasun 4A models.

The deck once painted was very slippery so I bought some KiwiGrip, which is an awesome product and very easy to apply.

I’ll spare you the minute details of little projects that went into making the boat ready to sail. Let’s just say that I intended to leave for a long cruise in April, and we are now in mid August. It still isn’t finished, but the light is visible at the end of the tunnel. My friend Christine painted the name on the stern last month.

There is still quite a bit of painting to be done on the inside, a few square feet of KiwiGrip to apply, a couple small spots of rot left, and unfortunately the companionway hatch is warping, so that will be another project. The rudder is at my house, being 40% repainted at this time. But really, aside from a few electrical details and finishing touches, it is almost ready.

So, where am I going? Well, the Bahamas for a start, since it is only forty miles from the East Coast. Then South to the Turk and Caicos, then who knows.. The Panama Canal, French Polynesia? I am dreaming here, but let’s just say I will go as far as I feel comfortable and safe at the time.. It might end-up being a few miles from my dock, or around the world, I have no idea. I certainly hope to leave in October at the latest. You can follow the preparations, and hopefully the trip at SVDagny.com.

Numerous people have helped me work on the boat, given me rides, advise, gear and encouragements. I can’t thank them enough. I must mention, in no special order, Patrick, Ted, Christine, Brooke, Michael, Shane, Ed, Phil, Dave, and I am horrified right now about forgetting anyone. I even had to refuse help at times. You guys don’t even understand how much it means to me. I have been living here for more than twenty one years now, and leaving for an undetermined lenght of time, leaving my best friends behind is going to be very hard. If I get to leave… So many things can go wrong. The last straight line before the finish is always the longest and most treacherous, so I am crossing my fingers…

Finally the bottom plate and bulkhead zero (bow) were cut today at my friend’s Marc Elite Woodwork shop. Once the files were loaded into the machine it took a mere ten minutes per sheet. The results are of course extremely precise.

I dread having to scarf those two large planks to form the bottom plate. The bulkhead needs a lot of filing because the stringers come at an angle and I want maximum contact for the epoxy. We added another doubler to add strength to the bow.

The laminated Keelson is now in place. It is made of two ten-millimeter planks glued together in the jig. The two scarf joints are near the ends. They aren’t perfect, but I will inject some epoxy in them later. Fortunately there are only tiny gaps. I am not going to worry about them since they are backed by another one-centimeter plank. I admit, I was worried about the planks popping out of the jig when I removed the clamps! All is fine however. The next step will be the bottom plate.

Having the plans digitized and the parts CNC cut has been great, but it does raise the issue of having to wait for others. It has been more than two weeks since I’ve worked on the boat and that is alarming. The time gain was swallowed up by waiting periods. Yet, since I need to work to pay for materials and a bit of labor, doing it that way is still advantageous.

The bottom plate will be cut tomorrow. I will film the process and post the video. Progress is a bit too slow for my taste right now, but the key is to keep at it no matter what. That is the only way to finish..

Here is what happens when you order 14′ planks and they deliver 13′ lengths. Thanks to Real-Woods in Sarasota. They did a good job with width and thickness, but what a F-Up on length! I didn’t want to wait any longer for new planks. Didn’t get a reply to my complaint email.. Lesson learned, verify deliveries before the truck leaves.

The Jig I made isn’t working well but it got the job done, this time at least:
(Reload the page if the video doesn’t show..)

About my hatch, I received a message from John Welsford (Thank you Sir!) letting me know that each pound that high would need four extra pounds in the keel.. Ah.. That is a problem.. The original hatch weights 9Lbs. So, (35-9)x4=104Lbs. I intend of having a couple batteries on-board for lights and my Ham radio, say maybe two 20Ah SLAs at 15Lbs each, placed down low. That’s still 74Lbs of wasted load carrying capacity. Not to mention the bronze ports I wanted. I need to reduce their number significantly without making the cabin too dark. It seems invariable that my hatch choice will cost me a 100Lbs or more penalty. Well, there is always time to reconsider, it won’t be until next year that I’ll get to that part of the boat..