Wee Lad

The arrival of my grandson meant that I needed to build another boat.  The new boat would have to be munchkin-sized; it would also need to be something that I could build relatively quickly.  I found the boat I was looking for in the Jolly Boat Rocker by Jordan Wood Boats.  So I sent off for the plans and started planning; my weekends would be split between sailing Wee Lass and working on the grandson’s boat.  I thought I had plenty of time – it should be ready by Christmas.

The Jolly Boat Rocker by Jordan Wood Boats. This photograph is from their web site.
The Jolly Boat Rocker by Jordan Wood Boats. This photograph is from their web site.

The photo above is from Jordan Wood Boat’s web site.  It’s a cute little thing, with a flat bottom and slab sides.  The sides are cut from plywood, and the plans have full size patterns for all the pieces, including the sides.  No lofting, lining off, or spiling required.  It’s simple.

If you’ve been following this blog, go back to the post entitled “Rules” and review Rule #3.

While watching television one evening, my wife and I were talking about the new boat and decided it would be fun to make it resemble Wee Lass as much as possible.  Convert the slab sides to glued lapstrake, add a few details, and give it a similar paint scheme.  Yep, Rule #3 just kicked in.

The little boat is flat bottomed, and has no keel.  The backbone consists of the bottom, the transom, and the inner stem.  Instead of molds, the boat has a single permanent frame located mid-ships; the thwart (seat) will go here after the boat is planked.  So after the backbone is constructed, the next step is to line off the strakes.  The full size pattern told me where the sheer (top edge) would intersect the transom, frame, and stem.  Trial and error would tell me where the strakes would lie.  Intuitively, simple math would divide each edge into three parts, then connect the points with battens.  That’s a good start, but in this case, what looks good to the eye is more important than what is mathematically precise.  Hence the trial and error part.  In the end, lining off this boat wasn’t that difficult.

Lining off Wee Ladd
Lining off Wee Lad

Next the strakes have to be spiled to determine their correct shape.  At the time, I wasn’t aware of the truss method that I’m using on Tammie Norrie, so I dug out the books and used traditional spiling methods.  Only small amounts of voodoo were involved in this step.

Now I’m ready to cut the strakes.  The plans advise that this boat should not be used in the water, it is a toy and not a real boat.  I wondered about that for a bit; surely if I did a decent job of building it then the boat should float alright.  Then I started drawing mental diagrams, plotting the center of gravity versus center of buoyancy on this little boat.  I decided that the plans were correct; this boat’s home waters would be limited to the living room.  Since the boat would not see the water, I could make the strakes from Not Cheap plywood from the big box store rather than Very Expensive marine plywood.  That didn’t work – Rule #2 came into play.  The first strake made from Not Cheap plywood didn’t like the bend I asked it to make, and showed it’s displeasure by promptly snapping on me as I tacked it into place.  So in the end I used marine plywood to plank the hull.

"Apple Juice" plank installed.
“Apple Juice” plank installed.

The boat was planked upside down, just like my full sized boats.  You can also see in the photo that I’m using Oughtred clamps to hold the strakes in place while the glue dries.

The last plank installed on a boat is often called the “whiskey plank”, as hanging this plank marks a milestone in the boat’s progress and entitles the builder to a small celebration.  Since this was my grandson’s boat, I referred to this plank as the “apple juice” plank, although my celebratory beverage was a little stronger.

After turn-over, add the breasthook and quarter knees (triangular reinforcing pieces at the bow and stern, respectively), inwales and gunwales, a rubbing strip along the bottom edge of the sheer strake, some decorative “badges” on the sheer strake, a rudder, the rocker assembly, and finally some little fenders along the sides.  I just barely got the boat finished in time for Christmas.

Merry Christmas, Grandson.

Since the boat was built for my grandson, choosing a name wasn’t complicated.  It would be known as Wee Lad.  The boat’s namesake thoroughly enjoyed it.

Tammie Norrie update:

Q:  How do you eat an elephant?

A:  One bite at a time.

Thanks to the long summer evenings, I’m making progress on Tammie Norrie.

2016-07-10 Truss for fifth strake.
2016-07-10 Truss for fifth strake.
2016-07-15 Fifth strake glued.
2016-07-15 Fifth strake glued.

Only three more pairs of strakes to go.

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