How very thrilling, my own blog. Just another space for a blithering idiot to post pointless information for those who are entirely too enthused with other’s lives instead of their own. Ah well, at least I have a purpose for this (somewhat). Bear with me in the beginning, I will be learning the ropes of this blogosphere as best I can.

I have started building a boat designed by Jacques Mertens-Goossens down in Florida by the moniker NINA. It is a 22 foot lobster / picnic boat in the style of a handful of different boats. Those that are familiar with W.M. and John Atkin will see a tremendous resemblance to NINIGRET, which is why I decided to build it.

Mindless banter aside, here is the info:

A link to the boat designers page:

LB22 Nina

Gorgeous boat eh?

So after ordering a lovely $450 of marine ply, off we go!

Today included putting down lines on the ply for the internal frames and cutting a few out. I have just a few main frames and one stringer cut (except the small plans error that was found earlier by another builder, thats tomorrow’s project). As this boat is a stitch and glue design, it will be built on a very basic strongback using the frames as a mold. Ingenious little bit of design that both JMG and Sam Devlin use.

Laying lines:

Using a batten hung around nails makes the nice fair curves of the deck camber:

Frames A, E, F, and both transoms:

The Issues Begin:

So I go to pick up the second round of ply from my local supplier Windsor Plywood, and discover that the 9mm ply I was supposed to recieve turned out to be 6mm. As such, I didnt realize that until I had 2 stations and 2 transoms cut. All of the work accomplished up to now may be for naught. I am getting ahold of the designer to see if I can utilize any of the pieces cut. Beauty eh?

Not a huge concern, but just a big hassle. They are cutting me a deal on 2 more sheets of ply to replace the 2 screwed up ones, but whatcha gonna do. At least the guy was willing to work for me. Its a constant struggle with a little of this and a little of that, but the boat always seems to come together.

On the flipside, I am stoked to be seeing some sawdust on the floor, as any self-respecting boat type should be (unless you bought your boat with termites).


Alright, the world is restored to its normal splendor. Windsor made good on the price difference in the wood (a free sheet of 10mm ply is a nice fix), and on top of that a friend bought the remnant 6mm sheets that had been cut (thanks Chris). So then, back to our story…

I was able to use the cut pieces as templates to cut the correct ply. Thus saving HOURS of laying lines again and having to re-establish the right layout. Pretty handy. So for the first two sheets, I decided to recut the stringers and the C frame. Stringers went great. Now about that C frame.

I cut it, measure twice, etc etc, like a good little woodworker. I stand back. I grab my camera to bestow the newest progress to the blog readers. I notice an “error”. I had done the following math, and you will see the problem:

1050 x 2 = 2010 Hm, no.

1050 + 1050 = 2010 Hm, still no.

&*%# ))@#*%& ))()^$#@!@%#^. And the camera case goes flying….

I discover that 2100 is a better answer to the above. Anyone still trying to figure out the title of the blog “A complete idiot….”. And thus I prove the axiom measure 4 times, cut once idiot.

I would swear, but this is a “family” show, and its tougher literarlily (is that a word? Google it) to come up with adequately descriptive ways to express anger.

Well, as it turns out, I can fit the transom template inside the disproportionate C form, so thus the redemption begins. As I feel a bit better the next day, I get the remaining stringer pieces cut, a new C frame, and both transoms. Excellent! I feel so good about myself I throw together a strongback with kiln-dried Doug Fir 2×6’s. Nice and square, but a little curve in one board that lifts the corner. Looks like I will be taking my measurements from the concrete floor instead of the strongback boards.

To the photos!

The second C frame:

The stringer/motorwell sides.

Der strongback:

An idea I have since Im using a metal tape to measure my form locations. I marked my origin dead-square on both sides with a T square and a scrap piece of teak. I then cut a notch on the OUTSIDE of the line (away from the center) so that the tongue of the tape measure has a place to park and makes the measurements uniform. Please hold your applause until the curtain.

Good idea or bad? YOU BE THE JUDGE!

Slow Progress:

Today, my friendly reader(s) , I accomplished very little. Rough double at work means I got home later, didnt have ambition, and was just generally tired and hungry. Sob story…

I have discovered a minor measuring error in the stringer upright. Should be an easy fix and back underway when the two new sheets of ply arrive to start the jig. I did however get some stuff around the house realigned, and clamped up the true (motor supporting) transom:

At least something got done……….

Tomorrow, a row with my bride, mountain bike with some friends, and back to work for a shift sunday. I will have 3 days next week with which to build, and am in hopes of having the jig somewhere near built by next friday.

And the wheels begin to turn slowly:

Per plans the D form and if you so choose the B form are both scrap forms for the initial layup of the hull, so off I went. Bought some garbage ply for $16 and some of that extra I had around from the work skiff mission to get moving again. We now have all frames built, and as soon as my ply shows up I will have the stringers built and glued ASAP. Sick of waiting, ready to start laying up some hull panels and trying to figure out how to warm them up enough to get the epoxy to set.

An interesting aside, cutting the B form, I used a circular saw with a thin kerf blade set right at the thickness of the wood to cut fair curves. You really must try it, as it makes the curve very linear and fair, with little extra fiddling to make it clean. It was an interesting combination of carpentry and woodburning! Please note the mui excellente saw:

B form, decent ply, note the curve cut with the circular saw:

The monster throwaway D form:

BTW, thats the bow of my Thames Rowing Skiff, in for a little repair and a refit on the footstretchers. Yes, the scarf joints suck (first try ever!), but that breasthook is GORGEOUS!

Maybe your not-entirely-humble writer should clean his camera lens?

Plywood is in:

5 weeks people, 5 weeks. First the shipment missed the truck, then got on the next truck but was hung up because that truck wasn’t full for 2 weeks. Then to add insult to injury, a load of flooring couldn’t pass customs. Another week on the loading dock. Finally, it trickled into the store, and I happened to get there BEFORE they unloaded it. I helped the stockers unload 15 other sheets of ply before we could get down to mine in the stack. Ugh.

Of general importance on this episode, is working with epoxy in an unheated shop. I chose not to heat the shop as it is uninsulated, but to heat the materials to cure the epoxy. 70 degrees is our target, but 40 is the working temp to achieve. Using a 1500 watt quartz electric heater teamed with a pair of 250/500 watt quartz worklights we had a nice random looking assembly which successfully got a solid cure on the epoxy overnight with outside temps in the teens.

The menagerie:

Though strange looking and a half-assed job of hanging everything, it was relatively effective. Relative in that your humble narrator is an idiot and managed to leave both lights on at 250 watts. Eh, yeah, im retarded. There are times that my boatbuilding is more like a college basketball game. Whoever makes fewer mistakes wins, and Im on the losing team.

This is the stringer assembly per plans, and finally in the flesh:

Seeing that after all this time makes me tingly in ways boatbuilding shouldn’t. Don’t tell my wife. Oh wait, she reads this too. And her brother. Ah well.

The ladder framed strongback is nice and square, moved to the most advantageous place on the relatively small floorspace I have. Then we mix in those bulkheads I cut EEONS ago to start the building jig. I only had time to notch and put up the C frame as well as the E frame which will be the bookends of the main passenger compartment. Add a liberal dose of stringers and we have the makings of a 3 dimensional structure!

Cmon, get excited! I know I am!

For our next installment, I will try to get the frames up and leveled in, make several mistakes, cost myself some money, screw up at least one cut, throw a tool or two, some strange concoctions of nouns and sware words, and out will pop a completed jig!

Stay tuned. Same boat time, same boat channel.

Massive mistake, but disney ending.

Well the weather gods have shone down upon the ski slopes poorly, with rain up above 6000 ft, followed by cold. Makes more of a skating rink than a ski hill that way. Bad news for skiing, good news for the boat! Actually lucked out with some almost-50-degree weather, which is nearly unheard of in this area.

Double post this time!

Firstly, for those who work alone all the time, this might be a helpful tip. Having some car tools around made this exceptionally helpful remedy for my lonesome boat shop. Lifting the forms to the correct height while clamping 2 uprights to not only the form but also to the strongback can be a challenge. BUT! We have a solution!\

If we can lift from the center while balancing on the upright 2×4’s, we only need one set of hands for clamping, thus:

Senor car jack to the rescue! What a time and labor saver! It is nearly micro-adjustable, will go precisely where it’s told, and has wheels to boot. Odds are at least half of the readership have one of these nearby or borrow-able, so keep it in mind. It is a little heavy to move in and out of the strongback, but well worth it.

Here is the finished product of the jack’s labors:

And now for the bad news:

I had one helluva time figuring out why everything was measuring up PRECISELY (less than 2mm off in all directions), but the transom was lining up 20MM CROOKED. I take the jig apart, I put the jig together. I take the frames out, I measure, I put it back together. I take the stringers out, I put it back together. NOTHING CHANGES! I finally have deduced it to the transom or clamping boards. Tape measure here, tape measure there, T square. Son of a…….

Turns out, while the bottom surfaces of the transom lined up perfectly, I was 9mm off on one side of BOTH clamping boards. &**)@#&%^*@&^#. After said swearing tirade, I hung up the apron for the night. Slept on it, thought about it, and out came the circular saw. Set to the depth of the clamping boards but just above the transom, a cutting we will go.

Atrocious photo, I know. Coming up from the bottom you will see a dark line sloping downward from right to left. Thats the error. After some cutting, we spent a little quality time with the 1/2″ chisel getting the last of the goo off the bottom without damaging the transom. All happy.

Let this be a lesson to any builders. Be willing to fix those errors no matter how tough it may seem. Try fixing it first before you rebuild. This error would have cost about $185 to rebuild the transom, but a little extra labor made it perfect.

With said error on the mend, let’s get back to the 3D part of our saga. Over the past 2 days the forms have gone up, the stringers were set, and the first (A) frame is all thats left (which I will be doing as soon as I get done blathering on here). To the photos!

Superjig 5000:

This is how Jacques has designed the motorwell to go together. These motorwell sides are essentially screwed in place while the jig is built, since disassembly would be impossible as it holds the clamping boards into a notch. Pretty fancy if you ask me:

Another shot, of the nearly complete jig, transom and all:

Dead nuts straight and flat, eh:

We Have Power:

I managed to find a 2004 50hp Yamaha 4 stroke tiller engine for the price of $3000 (By the way, if anyone is interested, please contact me, there are more available). It needs to be converted from a tiller handle to a remote controlled motor (steering wheel and remote throttle), but thats a bridge we will cross when we get there. Im sure its nothing a Yamaha dealer can’t help with. These are used motors from RIB’s used on tour boats. 400 hrs, industrial use, but with industrial care. It’e all you can ask when the motor is $1000 below book value.

One of the best cowlings:

For those who have had a pint or two, this will look normal. For the sober, this is the best I could do with the dead camera battery:

But for the exterior’s poor appearance, check out the powerhead!

With the designer’s blessing this is the largest motor the boat can handle. Though she’s designed to move at around 15-18 mph, I am targeting 30mph based on a similar boat built in the UK to an older design (Atkin’s NINIGRET). Their boat saw 27kts over land, and we are hoping to see similar results.

Really, this post is more of a gloat, O my readers. My apologies, but it will be a fundamental part of the build later on. We are expecting weather next week that will be unpleasant at best to work in, being that the high approaches 15F and the lows near zero. Ugh. What I wouldn’t give for a real shop, with INSULATION! HEAT!

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