Interior Work

The 12-foot sailing Dory is really taking shape. I am working on the interior this week. I took a deep breath and cut the slot in the hull for the centerboard. Who cuts a hole in their boat? Anyway, you can see it in the photo below. Thanks to Arlys for helping to flip the hull.

We flipped the boat again and I epoxied the centerboard case in place over the slot in the hull. After much careful placement and sighting down the line, I believe it is just fine. The midseat will be above all of this and it will have to have a matching slot also.

I went beyond the plans a bit and included a floor for the aft portion of the boat. This allows easier seating – and drier seating – and is removable by just lifting it out. Look at the pic below and visualize the floor on its attached runners covering from under the midseat to near the transom. Any little amount of water in the boat will be in the space under this floor. It adds some weight, but should make for a nicer boat!

Back to the Project

Last night the extreme heat broke and we received a welcome inch of rainfall. It is more comfortable in the boat shop now – kept me out of there for awhile. Today I put 4-oz fiberglass cloth over the bottom of the boat- and six inches up each side. I rolled and squeegeed one coat of epoxy into the cloth. It looks very nice – I must be getting better at this stuff. You can see it in the photo below – you can also see the blue painter’s tape I put around the hull. I epoxy the cloth down onto the tape. Then tomorrow morning I will cut off the cloth just above the tape, which will give me a nice clean line to feather in to the hull. I will then apply another coat of epoxy to hide the weave of the cloth, then work on several of the pieces of the project – rudder, daggerboard, trunk, etc. Onward!

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OK – we had a good weekend, which included some time on the water! Now it is time to resume building the Dory. It is getting hot again, but this morning wasn’t too bad, so I rolled epoxy on the bottom and the port side of the boat. Tomorrow I can put the fabric on the bottom, which will give it some abrasion protection.

I also worked on some of the pieces today, as you can see in the photos below. I epoxied the two halves of the daggerboard trunk, in preparation for gluing that together. I also shaped the daggerboard and gave it a coat of epoxy.

I shaped the rudder, also. This process will help the foils be more aerodynamic in the water. Without this, they could flutter and wobble in the water. Basically, the front edge is rounded, and the aft portion is tapered to a fine line at the back edge. Below you can see a test fitting of the rudder and the tiller. Progress!

A Sunday Sail

We took advantage of a beautiful Sunday afternoon to do some sailing at Pleasant Creek State Park, northwest of Cedar Rapids, IA. The Puddlecat was back on the water, and did a nice job in the warm sunshine and moderate breezes. It was not a windy day, but there was enough breeze to allow us all some enjoyable time sailing back and forth across the wind.

I added a small trolling motor to the boat, for those times we find ourselves becalmed or otherwise befuddled far from the dock! We used it today, and it was handy to have. If I can keep my mainsheet from wrapping itself around the tiller handle, we will really have something good. More adjustments……………

I took a GPS unit on the water today. We clocked the ‘Cat at a little over 4 knots a few times. That’s pretty good for an 8-foot boat.

You can check out all our videos, including one from today’s action here, or by clicking on the YouTube link on the right-hand side of our home page.

We also made the acquaintance of a fellow retired sailor with a very nice West Wight Potter 15.He was kind enough to say good things about the PuddleCat, and we had a great conversation when he came in shortly after we finished for the day. Anyway, here are a couple of pictures of his boat.

All in all, a fun and tiring afternoon out on the waters of eastern Iowa!

New Boat Project

EPOXY TIME – yes, we are back to that phase of boat building. Today I was able to plane and sand smooth the edges of the boat bottom. I filled a few spots with epoxy putty, then put down a coat of resin, followed by 4-inch fiberglass tape. I then wetted that out with more resin. I went ahead and rolled epoxy resin on that side of the hull, just to make sure there were no runs or drips from the tape application.

This morning I also made the mast. Using my block plane, I worked on the mast, taking off all the sharp square edges, and sizing it down to the two inch diameter needed. The mast is that size up to the mid-point, then it tapers down to the top end. This mast is 8′ 4″ in length. The Optimist sail will be lashed to the mast. A couple of passes with my orbital sander, and I put on the first coat of epoxy. I will sand this lightly, apply another epoxy coat, then three coats of spar varnish and the mast will be done!

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PROGRESS! 7/19/2012 – We got lucky with the weather today, as it stayed cloudy and was cooler. We finished the inside seams on the boat – all epoxied and taped. We then turned our attention to the many other details awaiting our focus. We cut out and fit the midseat, which you can see in the pictures below. The section of this protruding forward will have the daggerboard slot in it. We ripped the laminated boards for the mast and the sprit boom. Using the table saw, we began the process of making them round instead of square. This is always a long endeavor. We cut out the rudder, and the rudder cheeks. We also fashioned the daggerboard and the daggerboard case. Suffice it to say that much glue is drying now! Kyle also fine tuned the tiller and got it sanded nice and smooth.

Tomorrow we flip the hull, sand the edges of the bottom, tape and glue the outside seams, install the skeg, and seal the boat with epoxy! Enjoy the pics below.

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MORE NEWS: 7/18/2012 Today Kyle and I got the bottom glued together with a butt block to make it 12 feet long. Then we attached it to the hull, flipped the boat, and got busy with epoxy and fiberglass tape. We have about half of the inside seams done. It just got so hot we could not keep the epoxy from kicking off. Tomorrow may be a bit cooler and less humid. We hope so! Enjoy the pics!

UPDATE: 7/17/2012 This morning Kyle and I started stitching the boat together. It took some doing to get the frames in place. Thanks to extra hands on the job, we got this done. The next tricky part is tracing the bottom of the boat onto the plywood so that when it is cut out, it fits. This was done and all is well.

I had trouble getting the tape to stick around the perimeter of the boat bottom – probably due to our heat and humidity. So a few stitches with copper wire will take the strain off.

Tomorrow we will be epoxying and taping the inside joints. This will stiffen up the boat and lock everything into place. Here are the promised photos of our progress so far!

I am back in the boat shop! Kyle & I are building a 12-foot dory/sailing dinghy. The plans come from www.bateau .com. It is a simple boat design, a double-ender with a sprit sail rig. A photo is here. We hope to nearly complete it in the next week.

This will sail or row one or two persons well enough for fun. This boat will spend its sailing time on Clear Lake. Pics tomorrow as we begin to get it stitched together!

It’s Not the Heat, It’s the…..

OK, OK – it’s the heat. Much of our country is baking and, unfortunately, burning under the summer sun. Here in Iowa, we don’t have wildfires, but we do have triple-digit temperatures and very little wind much of the time. This has river levels falling, sailboats sitting idle, and kayaks gathering dust. I have seen brave souls out on our local Maquoketa River in kayaks, but where you can actually go is limited by sandbars and rocks exposed by falling water levels. Then there is the heat.

I have high hopes that the weather will change – and that much-needed rains will fall. And could I get a gentle 10-15 mph breeze for my sailboat? Thanks!

SHOP NOTE: Next week, Kyle & Casey & I are building a 12-foot sailing dinghy from Looks like a hot week in the boat shop! Onward!

Clear Lake Sail!

UPDATE! Kyle and I put the boat back in Clear Lake on Sunday, June 24. We sailed from the Main Avenue boat ramp on the east end of the lake around to South Bay, at the south side of the lake. Winds were favorable and the boat performed very well. The link below will show you a topographical map of the area:

Clear Lake, IA

This photo shows a row of sailboats ready and waiting by the Main Avenue boat ramp and docks. The ramp is just off to the right of the photo.


We made it to Clear Lake, IA and had a great time. We had to chase away some raindrops during lunch, but it soon cleard up and became a beautiful summer afternoon. We put in at the south shore, which is a wonderful area with parking, boat ramp, docks, restrooms, and a shelter house. Shelter, however, became the key word as this part of the lake is pretty quiet. It was a little ‘too’ quiet for sailing. In the video, you will see the guys tacking upwind. If you watch the far shoreline you can verify that they are moving.

The whole gang was there and we enjoyed kayaking, as well as sailing. Later, we switched sites to the north side of the lake at McIntosh Woods Park. Kyle & Casey did a downwind run across the lake – much speed and wind! They made the 2.6 miles across the lake in about 25 minutes, pulling up safely to the dock at McIntosh Woods. We struggled with some shallow water that interfered with our leeboard, but , all in all, a great day on Clear Lake!

Enjoy the brief video and the pics!

Clear Lake Bound!

Thanks for all the kind words after our initial splash of the PuddleCat 8-foot sailboat! I appreciate it all very much.
This weekend we are all heading to Clear Lake – where there is always a breeze. I hope to have some good video and photos for the blog.

I have made some changes and improvements, based on last Saturday. The first picture shows an added seat bench on each side. This will move our center of gravity forward. This was sorely needed, and was something I had never considered. We left a big wide wake with our stern so far in the water!

I also moved the halyard block a little further up on the mast. This will have the net effect of getting the sail a bit higher. This will make it easier to duck under that pesky boom when it comes swinging over. The red streamer is just for fun. Hopefully, it will look cool as we plow to windward. If you look closely, you can see dark blue rub rails I added to the sides for some protection from docks.

I had trouble locating all the materials I needed in order to change the leeboard mounting/fastening system, so it will wait till next time. I did add a bungee cord to help keep the board down when underway.

Stand by for updates…………… Onward!

Sail Away!

We did it! The Maid of Plywood PuddleCat got wet today – Saturday, June 16.

The launch was a success. We struggled a bit through the afternoon at Pleasant Creek Lake, as the wind was fickle and tended to die off.

The whole Team Kayak gang was there to support and participate- thanks to everyone!

More later – catch our short video here! Launch


Here it is – sail raised and filling with a gentle morning breeze. We are really looking forward to its maiden voyage tomorrow. Check here for pics and video from that event!

Final Week!

OUTSIDE! The boat is now on the trailer and able to be wheeled outside where there is actually room for the mast. I wanted to rig the sails and all the lines today, but it was a bit breezy, plus I wanted to have some help. Hopefully tomorrow… Enjoy the pics! (Sorry about the fat finger on the lens.)

Boat is even legal now!


UPDATE! Today was a busy and productive day in the boat shop. Early today I put on the final coat of white paint on the deck. Later I was able to apply a coat of spar varnish on the bridge deck and the seats.
The first photo below shows the sail. I spread it out on the lawn and attached it to the spars. Everything looks good there, I am happy to say.

I also attached the cleats and other fittings needed to let the boat operate. This photo shows the finished paint job and the new hardware.

Finally, I worked more on the rudder and tiller. I attached a line cleat on the tiller, along with a line guide to bring a small rope up from the top back edge of the rudder itself. This will allow me to rotate the rudder blade up and secure it easily. The photo shows the rudder stock and the tiller only – not the rudder blade.

Tomorrow I hope to put the boat on the trailer and rig it up outside. Stay tuned for pics!


This is it! I need to make a big push on the sailboat this week so we can splash it on Saturday. So far, so good. Nick & I flipped the boat today. I sanded the epoxy on the topside and put a coat of primer on. Tomorrow will bring a couple coats of the bright white topside paint – then it’s time for all the fittings. The picture below shows just a primer coat over the epoxy sealer.

I am leaving the two side seats and the top of the bridge deck bright – I will varnish over the epoxy instead of painting. The spar varnish will protect the epoxy from UV damage. The photo below shows this better.


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