Moby Dink building log
Michalak, my favorite boat designer, created
the plans for Moby Dink. I started Moby Dink in the fall of
2001, completing the hull but not the spars or sail stuff such
as the daggerboard and rudder, because I also wanted to start
before the cold and snow started.
The interesting thing about Moby Dink
is its gaff rig. I love gaff rigs. And dinks. The boat has high
sides and pram ends.
I am planning some sort of modification to the plans for floatation.
The plans show a block of foam, but that doesn't make sense
to me. I'll either get a truck inner tube or frame in some space
with plywood and make a port for ventilation between outings
to cut down on the moisture threat. A port would also make the
framed-in space useful for personal items such as camera and
water and snacks.
Right now, the dink sits on its side in the garage. The hull
is of 5 mm lauan plywood, with external chines. I've glassed
the bottom and ends. So far it looks like I can finish the boat
bright if I wish. That's the plan for now, anyway.
The way that Michalak operates, plans are
cheaper until a prototype is built. He built the prototype
himself, so this design has more than the usual amount of
building instructions, especially given its small size.
complete building log follows:
left: The bow plate in place.
Above left: The dink in the last year became a storage
bin for poly tarps and such.
When I cut away stock to make room for the stern
plate, the clamp separated from the plywood. That's
19 September 02: I've decided to try to finish Moby Dink this fall before
the snow flies. Tonight I finished fitting the bow plate
and epoxied it in. Also fixed a boo-boo when the sheer clamp
separated from the side of the boat. I've decided to use
the mast that I made for The Weekend Skiff, since I don't
plan to do any sailing in the skiff any time soon. The mast
happens to be the same size and specs as are called for
in Moby Dink's plans. I had to take everything out of the
garage and switch the Harmonica to the other side (there's
a partition down the middle) so I could work on the dink
on the side that has power, lights, and my tools in place.
It was hotter than blazes that day, too. We've been having
hot, fine weather lately, though not as hot as the summer
was. I have a gaff sail that I made for the skiff but abandoned,
so I may use that as well at least to get on the water sooner.
I was trying to remember why I started two boats -- Harmonica
and Moby Dink -- in the fall of 2001. Madness, I guess.
September 02: Worked on the bow plate this afternoon.
Epoxied it in place and had a bit of epoxy left over so
also began to coat the inside and the transom. The next
step is to cut and fit the skeg, the rear seat and the fitting
that goes over the bottom board of the frame to hold the
leeboard in place when it is being used as a rowing seat.
Then grind off a lot of the fiberglass tape and re-tape
the chine and ends. The day last fall when I applied fiberglass
tape to the clines was cold and wet. The bond was poor and
it pooched in many places. I'm going to cut into the edges
so it will lie flat, sort of like cutting the fat on the
edge of a steak so it will lie flat on the grill -- if you
know what I mean, and I hope that you do.
to sand the fiberglass.
September 02: Two sessions with the grinding power tools,
including a new angle grinder that made short work of the
fouled up fiberglass tape on the chines. There's white dust
everywhere, and I'll have to vacuum endlessly to get it
all. This is my least favorite part of the process. The
sides are a mess, too, because of runs of epoxy mixed with
cabosil. I don't use anything but wood flour anymore. Cabosil
is a bitch to sand, and microballoons stain the wood, and
the result is a bitch to sand, too. I'm toying with the
idea of coating the hull with another coat of epoxy and
putting a bead of thickened epoxy on top of the chine clamps,
instread of using that freaking fiberglass tape again. The
chine clamps are external, so there is an inch-wide epoxied
joint, with a good seal on the inside. I'm also toying with
the idea of finishing the hull bright inside and out. Especially
out, since this is a boat that I will lift in and out of
the truck, promising a lot of banging and scraping. The
Weekend Skiff looks like it has been antiqued after last
season's abuse at our hands before we got the trailer.I
think that the varnish over epoxy will hide the scrapes
much better, and I can't see painting the inside if the
outside is finished bright. I don't like painted interiors
much. I regret painting the inside of the Harmonica.
of fiberglass tape.
September 02: I worked into the night and coated the
outside with a layer of epoxy after doing a few more hours
of sanding in the afternoon. I decided to put fiberglass
tape on the box and stern where they meet the bottom, and
the stern is good and the bow is fair. I cut slits in the
tape on the stern, but I'm not sure that's the difference.
I'm going to apply some heat next time to see if that helps.
September 02: Spent the day working up the skeg and
installing it, which meant giving the hull another sanding
to level the epoxy I put on yesterday. It was a lot hotter
today; I lost a lot of the epoxy tht I mixed. It was smoking,
even. I took a lot of pix of the skeg sequence. Click
here to see 'em. There are 12 pix in the
September 02: Put a coat of high-build marine varnish
on the outside of the hull. One more coat and I'll flip
the dink to finish the interior. It sure looks pretty now.
I sanded for a while to touch up here and there, then rubbed
down the hull with mineral spirits. I usually sand with
a 60-grit paper, and I don't worry overmuch about the dustiness
of the shop when I paint or varnish. My eyes aren't good
enough to see any defects in my approach, though all the
best authorities say to make the environment dust-free
and spit over your left shoulder and say hinkum-dinkum three
times forward and three times backward, while balancing
on one foot and crossing your eyes. No one has ever complained
about my finishes.
October 02: I made the rear seat and dry-fit the parts.
Then I sanded the interior, gunwales and bow and stern plates.
Then coated the inside and other prepped surfaces with epoxy.
And sanded the hull lightly to smooth the varnish. The weather
was weird -- warm and humid, then rain, heavy at times, into
the late evening. The rear seat was not too hard to make.
Used poplar, my new boat wood. It works up nice, but it doesn't
have that pine smell. Oh well.
left: Looking aft.
right: Looking forward; clamp holds oops with screw
gun until glue sets.
Looking down on the yoke.I offset the uprights to
accommodate the screws and to make a positive stop
for the seat
Rowing seat dry-fit.
02: I made the little holder for the rowing seat
that goes over the frame like a yoke. It's of poplar.
Also cut out the three pieces of lauan that I'll laminate
to make the leeboard, with is also the rowing seat,
if you catch my drift. I'm close to a launch day for
the rowing version, probably in about a week. I used
3M 5200 bedding compound and screws to put the rowing
seat yoke together. I wanted to see how the bedding
compound would work as a glue, and because I didn't
want to mix a small amount of epoxy, though I will coat
the whole thing with epoxy, which will add some strength
and also some additional waterproofing. I was tempted
to just screw the thing together, then coat with epoxy,
figuring that the epoxy would penetrate into the joints,
but I think that this is a better option, since the
joints are coated before the epoxy enters into the mix.
The bedding compound is perfect for dipping screws into
before driving them home. I got that idea from an article
in a recent issue of WoodenBoat. The stuff is great
for that purpose. I also have used a bar of soap to
coat screws so they drive easier, but introducing soap
into the boat didn't sit well with me for some reason.
left: The pieces that got epoxy coatings.
left: My Moaning Chair (absolutely necessay for boatbuilding;
it also doubles as a Victory Chair).
The setup of angle grinder and variable-speed unit.
The unit has a clip so you can put in on your belt.
October 02: I ordered a variable-speed unit for routers
from the Phillips
Bros. builder's supply store. I got a call that
it was in, and I went to get it because I was planning
to sand the epoxy on the inside of the dink. The unit
works well. It slows down the tool without reducing the
torque. I basically have the functionality of a unit costing
as much as $150. I got a 4.5-inch angle grinder for $40
and the vari-speed box for another $40. It's a winner.
The angle grinder spins at 10,00 rpm. At that speed, I
could grind through 5 mm lauan in a few seconds.
With the vari-speed dialed down, it's still aggressive
-- but also manageable. I find, though, that my grinder
of choice is still the random-orbit sander. I've had a
Makita for about five years, and it's wonderful. This
other setup will be good for globs and big jobs where
I need to take a lot of epoxy down quickly. Can't have
too many tools. I also epoxied the little stuff that I
made yesterday, such as the yoke for the rowing seat and
the rear seat. I also laminated the three pieces of lauan
that I cut out yesterday for the leeboard/rowing seat.
I used drywall screws spaced about 4 inches apart to clamp
the pieces together. First I coated each face except the
outer faces, then hit the mating faces with epoxy thickened
with wood flour.
two pieces per side, in place with clamps.
October 02: I worked long and late to cut, fit, and
install inwales on the dink. I opted for two pieces on
each side, bisected by the frame uprights. The doubled
gunwales give all the strength and rigidity I need, so
using shorter pieces of poplar for the inwales allowed
me to use a six-foot board I've been saving. I used screws
spaced six inches apart to hold the inwale pieces, and
I thought that that would be enought, but I had to scramble
to throw on clamps to keep from having a lot of gaps.
Leeboard ready for a coat of epoxy -- as soon
as I decide how to treat the edges.
left: The dink to this point.
Detail of the inwale pieces showing the bisecting
upright of the frame.
October 02: It's been a lot colder lately, so the
epoxy is still setting up from the work of yesterday.
I worked on the leeboard, running the laminated blank
through the table saw to fair the long edges, and I faired
the short sides with the cutoff saw. It ended up about
1/8 of an inch shy of the width called for in the plans.
The problem was that I didn't cut the three pieces of
lauan a little wider to start. Just wasn't thinking right
at the time. No harm done, though. The inwales look OK,
but I wasn't able to work on them. The epoxy gummed up
the block plane to the point where I had to take it apart
and clean all the pieces. I'm shooting for a rowing-version
launch this coming weekend. All I need to do is epoxy
in the rear seat and install the oarlocks. I'm still hoping
to finish the inside of the hull, too, with a couple of
coats of varnish. I also may do one more coat of epoxy
on the inside, too. I'm researching how best to bevel
the edges of the leeboard. The plans call for a 2x2 block
on the leeboard to support a pivot bolt. Instead of ripping
out a 2x2 from a poplar 2x4 piece I have, I laminated
two smaller pieces to achieve the specified dimension.
I figure that will be stronger. This was one of those
days when a lot of people noticed that I was building
a boat. One buy stopped and talked for a while. He said
he wanted to build a cigarette boat. You would have admired
my restraint. I just nodded, and offered to resource him
on designs. A kid from the neighborhood sat on the floor
of the shop and asked a bunch of questions. I had the
dink out in the driveway, and I enjoyed all the double-takes
from people driving by. The sun was warm and wonderful.
It was a good day just to be sitting in the Victory Chair,
let alone building on a boat.
ready for finish.
October 02: Spent the evening until late on the dink.
The most time went to shaping the edges of the leeboard.
After reading up on the subject, I rounded the leading
edge and made the trailing edge blunt. Most of the time
I used the wood rasp, finishing up with the belt sander
and the random-orbit sander. I also cut the ends of the
sheer clamps to make the profile more pleasing. That was
a good job. Looks much better. Then I rasped the tops
of the inwales and gunwales. I was working hard in hopes
that I would be done when I launch on Saturday, which
promises to be a warm and sunny day, according to the
forecast. However, I won't be able to varnish all, but
all surfaces will be epoxied.
shows placement of oarlocks -- two per side, for
solo rowing and rowing with a passenger.
October 02: I donned dust mask and ear protectors
and sanded the inside of the dink and the gunwales and
inwales. The old back hurts. Tomorrow I'll take the dink
rowing on the canal. I decided to put varnish on the surfaces
I prepped. I can always add a coat of epoxy if I decide
it is needed. Put on the oarlocks, a pair. One position
for solo rowing, and one position for rowing with a passenger
October 02: We launch the rowing version of Moby Dink.
For pix, go