I received a message today from a thoughtful follower asking if everything was OK. Yes, we’re fine, and the project is progressing – although the past two weeks haven’t been without their surprises (in and out of class). My family mourned the passing of a much-beloved mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother just a week ago yesterday (her 91st birthday would have been today), which left little energy in reserve for blogging. Work continues in the shop, but we have run into a few hiccups.
Last week the Five Guys crew discovered that their mid-plank was several inches too short. After checking the length of their plank against the plans, we confirmed that their plank length matched the plans. I searched the internet for some information about the issue and discovered nothing. Will figured the best course of action was to taper the end of the plank and scarf on a new section of 1/4″ ply to make the plank long enough, which he did. This past week they attached their modified mid-planks to the ladder frame.
As I was working with another group this week, a Five Guys crew member sought my input on a task he was doing. I walked over to the boat with him and my heart sank. He had planed the overlapping portion of the mid-plank even with the garboard plank. (The Shellback is based on a lapstrake construction that leaves a slight overlap on adjacent planks). Aside from the extra work that misstep created and the extra materials it necessitated, I was troubled by the fact that it could have been avoided if the plans and build book had been consulted. For some reason, there is the occasional – and apparently overwhelming and irresistible – desire to improvise on this project, it would seem. We discussed possibilities and ultimately decided that it was best to remove the (epoxied) plank and start over. While the crew member carefully removed the plank and sanded away the pieces of ply epoxied to the joint, another member cut a new plank. Although the setback was just that, the young man handled it with grace. I was proud of his calm ownership of the mistake and his quick and pleasant readiness to make it right. Mistakes happen; That’s just part of life. How we deal with our mistakes is what makes the difference. If this young man continues to apply that kind of humility and positivity to life’s exigencies and inevitable setbacks, he’ll do well.
The other three groups spent the majority of the week finalizing placement of their midship frames and attaching the bottoms. Each bottom is positioned, pre-drilled, and then screwed to the transom and the stem. Once fit is confirmed, the bottom is epoxied to the stem, the midship frame, and the transom. The edges of the bottom are then beveled so that the garboard plank fit flush with the bottom from stem to stern. The kids have used both a hand plane and an electric plane to accomplish this, taking their time to ensure an accurate bevel and fit.
Matt and Ryan have their mast section nearly tapered properly on both sides. Soon they’ll taper the other two sides of the section and begin planing the corners to create a round spar section. (Sorry, no pictures of that).
Attempting to maximize their productivity, groups have multiple tasks underway. A few kids have been shaping the tapers on their rudders and cutting out the daggerboard. The plans are not nearly as detailed for these pieces so the process is, as we’ve termed it, “organic.” I’m impressed by the quality of the parts these kids are turning out so far.
Sunday I’m meeting a few students who are eager to keep things moving. I’ll provide an update on our progress after the weekend.
Thanks again for following along!