Tag Archives: bulkhead

The Caledonia Yawl Project: gluing the forward bulkhead

Over the last few weeks I’ve been going in several directions at once. Playing around with the rudder straps and figuring out exactly how to place them parallel on a curved aft stem. Sourcing nice bronze rowlocks, small cleats and trying to find a reasonable amount of Sitka spruce for the masts and spars.

But the fitting of the hull was slightly stalled. Mostly because I was still a little stuck fitting the deck beams and the kingplank. But with some playing around I’ve finally fit it in a way that seems to work.

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We cut out the holes in the bulkhead for two 12″ Armstrong hatches. My son is testing them out to see if he would be able to go into forward section for a nap.

I came up with a nice gusset for connecting the kingplank to the bow that will allow me to screw down the head stay to a very solidly fitted pad eye.

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rough fit of the bow gusset

I also installed the bow eye that is bolted right through the stem.

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Then when everything was fitting well, I took the plunge and glued it all together. I had a small scare when one pot of epoxy set off much faster than expected (I had maybe miscounted my hardener pumps?) but recovered and was able to make a fairly nice fillet along the whole length of the bulkhead.

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The next stage is to figure out what kind of access hatch I’d like to put in the top. I don’t think the two access holes in the bulkhead are sufficient. The curved fore deck will however make it a more complex little hatch to create. Particularly if I want to keep the profile low and water tight.

Caledonia Yawl Project: Thwarts and bulkheads

This summer I’ve been working on getting the interior of the hull completed.

I started with the thwart and and thwart cleats.

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Thwart cross-section https://flic.kr/p/K5ndVX

I glued up some 3/4″ reclaimed mahogany that I found on craigslist that had been pulled from hold Vancouver home window and door frames. It was not quite wide enough or thick enough. So I glued two pieces on edge and then onto a 1/2″ douglas fir boards. I then planed it down to 1″ thick which is just over the plan specifications of 7/8″.

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The Thwart Cleats

The Thwart cleats were a complex piece to put together with a bevel on top of the curve of the hull to shape. It was also fun to figure out how to place it level and just in the right direction. But spending a little extra time on this I believe will bear fruit in the long run as it is such an important structural part.

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The next step is to install the forward bulkhead and the deckbeams and kingplank. This part is also confounding me as the plans show the deck following the topmost lap between the sheer strake and the strake below. But this seems to create a curve that does not match the curve of the deckbeams specified in the plans. So essentially I have a choice of which path to take to reconcile the plans to the real world.

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scribing the shape of the deckbeam on reclaimed wood.

For the deck beams I needed more wood, so I made a trip to Jack’s New and Used in Burnaby and found some good old Douglas Fir door frames that were 1 1/4″ thick. this gives me a nice dimension to work with to shape the deck beams.  The old Douglas Fir is now super hard and maybe a little brittle but also very solid. So I’m hoping it will result in a durable choice.

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And again there are a lot of bevels to line up on this piece. But I’ve been taking my time making good templates first and then transferring the shape and angles to the final stock I want to use in the boat.

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I’m close to getting it right, a little more trimming and it will soon be ready for gluing.

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Bulkhead repair on a Fiberglass boat

Two weeks ago on a regular Wednesday night I was crewing on a good friend’s sailboat. We had a great race in very shifty winds and crossed the finish line in second place in our division. Only to realize that a change in the course we thought had only applied to div1 and div2 also applied to us. We had rounded the wrong windward mark on the third rounding. Having figured it out before the race committee did, and to avoid any later protests in good sportsmanship we informed the race committee that we would retire and forfit the race. Another boat close to us who had sailed the same course as us was adamant that they had sailed the right course and was going to protest the race committee. 

Having retired our thoughts were already turned to putting the boat to bed and pulling the beers out of the ice box once we were tied to the dock. So I still don’t know what happend with the protest.

What happened after that is that one crew member noticed two small cracks in the gel coat of the central bulkhead of the boat on the port side where the chainplate is bolted. We had a lively conversation about what it meant and how extensive the repairs might have to be. The following Wednesday the crew came back to help prepare the boat for repair. Remove as much stuff as possible from the boat and detach the shrouds from the port chainplate and then remove the chainplate bolts.

The next Wednesday we started to explore and cut into the forward side of the bulkhead to see what had caused the port chainplate to move up and crack the bulkhead Fiberglass.


What we found is that the location where the chainplate goes through the deck has historically not always been well sealed. Water had  come through and seeped into the bulkhead which is a sandwich of Fiberglass and balsa wood core. The sandwich of balsa was saturated and the wood was rotten and soft which compromises the strength of the bulkhead.


So what next? Clean out the rotten balsa replace it and re-glass? Or replace the bulkhead entirely?

That is the question we are asking ourselves.