Prepare to take your seats (and a minor disaster)

Impatience is the mother of all problems.

I was making great progress. The sanding and interior taping of the seams was going fine, the inwale had been jammed in without major problems or cursing,  the clamping was without incident, and for once the epoxy seemed to be mostly in the proper places. The Strengthening braces to the bow and stern transom were the work of only a few minutes. I was very pleased with myself for getting the shaping of the mid-thwart cleats just right to match the curvature of the sides.  I had even managed to cut the seat to just the right length and pop it in to place. Damn – things were looking good. In my imagination I was already rowing my tight and tidy little craft across the harbour.


At that point I should have folded my arms in satisfaction and shut down for the day. But no, there were the thousand and one little details and finishing touches that would have to be done sometime so why not get a start?  I trimmed off the ends of the outwales which I had left long to ease the fitting. I started planing to remove the irregular surface of the gunwale tops and while I was at it I might just as well start to trim the ends of the planks where they met the transoms.  I had left these long as well to make it easier and give some wiggle room as I fit the transoms into place.  I would have to do this to finish the epoxying of the joins on the transom which were still only tacked in place.  

With that, the boat suddenly slid off the saw horses and crashed on the concrete floor. The tacking on the starboard side of the bow failed and suddenly  I had an inch-wide gap  between the planks and the transom.  Further movement and damage was prevented because most of the planks had already been taped in place and the curve of the wales was already established.  I am somewhat chagrined to admit that this has happened before with other boats that I have built so I knew what could be done.  (An earlier dinghy blew out of the back of a pick-up while on the highway, but that’s another story)  I simply screwed in a couple of sturdy blocks of wood into the inside of the transom and using long screws forced the planks back into place, this time with plenty of epoxy in the voids of the join.  Another long screw is driven in from the gunwale to the wood of the transom itself. When the epoxy has set the cleat blocks can be easily removed and the joint can be taped inside and out.  It is now just a matter of walking away until the epoxy has fully set and resisting the urge to do just a little more.

Could this have been avoided? You betcha! Earlier I actually had a third saw horse under the boat which would have kept it off the ground in the case of slippage but I had removed it while cutting the seat  The two remaining saw horses were the folding portable kind bought on sale at Canadian Tire.   I am afraid I can’t recommend them for boat construction – there may be a reason why they were on sale.  But it is indeed a poor worker who blames his tools and the reality is that I just failed to make sure that I had a sturdy support for the boat – and I failed to keep an eye on the effects of my vigorous efforts while planing and cutting – and I should have quit about fifteen minutes earlier.  Still I am relieved that the damage was repairable. Both and wood and epoxy are very forgiving of the wood butcher.

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