Παρασκευή, 26 Μαρτίου 2010

Traditional boatbuilding

The productive and full of enthusiasm days of September, October and November gave way to the infertile boatbuilding days of this years’ winter. People from the boatyard undertook a major project: the building of a 60ft traditional vessel (karavoskaro), which will be used as a touristic coastal cruiser in Crete. Their deadline is by the end of May 2010. The wooden framework of the Golayath took over all the free space in the boatyard so there was no longer space for my tiny catamaran. We had to move it yet for another time. The two hulls were lifted to a balcony high under the yard’s roof, whose floor was used for lofting. I could now continue to complete some small tasks like painting the interior of the lower hulls and installing the floors and banks, while supervising from above the progress in the construction of the large kayki.

The completion of a traditional wooden boat of this size in only seven months is an operation that required all the men power the yard had available. Forty (40…!!?!) tons of hardwood logs (Iroco and eucalyptus) were cut and about 60% of that was used for the keel, stem and sternposts and for the rest of the framework. Every single rib of the boat needed a clark to lift it and hold it in place until it was glued-bolted. The more I watched the progress on this vessel the more I was impressed by the massive construction, but, also, the more the different approach of Wharram’s catamarans to the sea made sense to me. These lightweight crafts, though basically wooden, required only a fraction of the wood needed to build a wooden monohull of the same length (even if the monohull was constructed in the same wood-epoxy method) and based their seaworthiness on their ability to follow the motion of the waves rather than force their way through them. Lower aspect rigs with less sail area are needed to take them sailing in higher speed and only a small outboard is usually enough to maneuver a 30-40 ft long boat in and out of the harbor or motor with low gas consumption for miles and miles. No wonder why this combination of seaworthiness and economy in construction-maintenance has made these vessels so popular.

To my disappointment and also to disappoint the last few (bored to death) readers of this blog, only little progress was achieved in the hull construction during the last couple of months (..sorry Hector!). I managed to cut the banks and floors of starboard hull, reinforce them with pitch pine frames underneath and coat them with epoxy. The area under the floors was sanded and coated with two coats of clear epoxy, then three more layers of Hempels’ Light (epoxy) Primer was applied, before the floors were glued in place. No top paint was used in these areas since they will never be exposed to the sun light and Hempels’ Light Primer is said to be very durable to water and other liquid material that may fill the bilges. The areas under the banks as well as the rest of the inside of the cabins are being painted white with a satin finish, using Hempels’ Multicoat (three layers on top of a total of three coats of clear epoxy).

Meanwhile there was encouraging progress in the construction of the crossbeams which are now finished except for a few triangular section pieces. I am very pleased with the result as first quality Oregon pine in full lengths was used and the crossbeams are relatively light, though very strong! I haven’t yet decided if I will cover them with glass cloth before I paint them as I have heard controversial comments on this technique and Wharram doesn’t recommend it in the plans. Two more beams will be constructed next week to support the fore and after netting, but these will be hollow, round or oval section beams with the same construction as the masts (no plywood frame). The masts themselves will be constructed by the end of April along with the gaffs, tillers and various other small parts as it is my decision to finish with all these time consuming small tasks before the end of May. Then, as soon as the yard staff is available again, I will be able to focus entirely on the finishing of the hulls and the assembly of the boat before the end of the oncoming summer.


Only a third of the hardwood used for the framework!!

Constuction of the keel, stem and sternposts





Ribs in place (stern view)

Ribs (bow view)

Tiki before being lifted to the lofting balcony

Sanding and applying the last coats of clear epoxy on the inside of the lower hulls



Floors and banks reinforced and coated with epoxy before installation






Floor installation


Painting the area under the banks



Crossbeams almost finished!