Nights are getting colder. It takes a little longer to get that fire raging and the shop up to heat. But we get there. First thing on the agenda this morning was to determine the side panel shape. Of course a CAD program might have told us what we needed to know but where’s the fun in that. Instead we stand all our frames up in our strong back and wrap a huge piece of plywood on and see where it hits the ribs. The amazing thing about this boat? The side actually hit all the ribs first try.

Next we crawl around inside and mark the precise points where the panel hits sheer and chine at each rib. By “we” I mean Cricket and Janek. There are certain benefits to being the boss. And certain benefits to having younger, more flexible people with better near-sight to do this sort of thing.

We only mark one side, though. No matter how perfect a strong back is, there will be some variation from side to side. So we picked the north side for our master panel pattern. Next we cut two identical panels. Because the sheer–or gunwale line–is so critical we leave a bit of extra up there to just precisely where we will cut the top. A million calculations will never tell you just where the perfect lines are. Only the eye-cromiter can tell you that.

Before we unclamp them from each other, we calculate the screw placement and drill all the shank holes.

Because this boat is being made as a commercial vessel, and I expect the hatches will get a lot of heavy, hard stuff bashed around inside, I am violating one of my guidelines. Instead of leaving the inside of the hull un-glassed and merely oiled, so that the wood can dry after it’s inevitable moisturizing, we are going to glass the interior. But no paint or pigment in the hatches. I really want to be able to see any problems in the wood as they develop.

With both side panels and the bottom glassed and flow-coated, we pause to ponder.

Pat has brought by the South Fork–a beautiful Briggs boat we built in this spring’s boatbuilding class. Pat finished her off quickly after the class ended and has taken her down the Yampa and Grand Canyon. That’s what they are for. So cool to have had a hand in birthing these wonderful boats.

Well. Time to see if this is really going to work. First we affix the panel to the side we patterned off of. That one should go on pretty nicely. And by god it does.

There are true advantages to being small. Cricket gets to hang out in the boat with a screw gun as we work our way along. Okay, maybe that’s not an advantage for her, but it certainly is for me.

We don’t pause for more than a few moments before we launch into side two. This may be interesting: It was patterned for the opposite side. Can we make it fit?

Several of the ribs have to be unfastened from the strong back in order to match the precise contact marks we drew. As we work along my mind wanders, as always. If we are using things up and down and back and forth to fasten them, how will we get the boat true and level and centered before we put the bottom on? I guess we burn that bridge when we get to it.

This requires a lot of oversight.

Well, we did’t have to tweak it that much. And it looks pretty good. The bevels came in so well it blows my mind. A nine agree rolling bevel meeting perfectly from top to bottom. Thank you Greg Rössel and WoodenBoat School. 

It’s late though. Time for a celebratory beverage and go to bed. Tomorrow we will try to level each rib and make the centerline straight.

Pat and Janek go to bed. Cricket and I stare a while longer. Finally Cricket can’t stand it, grabs a level, and crawls into the boat, checking rib after rib. Each progressive rib brings another giggle. Every one is perfectly level. Not to be outdone, I grab the mega-straightedge from it’s perch high on the wall. We plop it on the boat. Wow. Really. Wow. The boat is perfectly centered as well. As I said yesterday, this never happens.