Caledonia yawl project: shopping for Sitka spruce

Sitka spruce is the preferred wood for spars, due to its excellent strength to weight ratio. Unfortunately there are fewer and fewer people and industries seeking out the wood. This means that even a place like Vancouver in close proximity to the forests that are home to the wood with legendary properties, it is hard to come by.

I’d almost resigned myself to the second choice of using good vertical grain Douglas fir for the spars. It is a bit heavier but just as strong.

Until this weekend when I found a small lot of 20′ beams for sale in Maple ridge.


These are very nice quarter sawn pieces from good sized trees.


But they are 6″x12″ so I’ll have them mill it into smaller pieces that I can handle on the table saw and prepare for the birsamouth construction for the main mast. The other spars will be made of two pieces laminated together to reduce the chance of warping.



This summer was spent with 3 weeks away in France visiting family and friends. I was lucky enough to be able to get my fix of beautiful wooden boats in the port of Douarnenez.

Gluing the rowlock riser out of small pieces of reclaimed mahogany

I’ve been lucky enough to have a few weeks where I was able to devote several weekends and evenings to the boat building. Although my progress has not been as quick as I’d hoped. My desire was to be finished for the labour day long weekend. But there is still so many things to do and I quickly realized that I was not in any position to keep to that desired deadline.

Shaping the knees for the forward bulkhead

I shaped the forward and aft deck plywood to shape. It was tricky to scribe and cut just right. I was also pleased to see that the deck beams aligned nicely with fair curves.


I then epoxied the underside as preparation for gluing them down.


These are parts that will be hard to get to in the future. So I coated them in epoxy and painted them.

Taped the deckbeam and kingplank for painting so that later I can glue the plywood to that unpainted surface.
Primer in the front
primer in the back
The interior is all painted white to make it easier to see in the confined space.
The underside of the decks are painted before gluing.
testing out the location of the cleat and the padeye.
Gluing down the decks and clamping with a mix of screws and clamps where possible
My assistant made sure they still fit inside.

I did a nice fillet around the edge of the deck. The next step is to make the hatch covers. I will have a frame that protrudes so that water can’t seep through and into the bulkhead compartment. But Ideally it will be as low profile as possible. I’m thinking a 1cm fence on which the cover will rest. I think this will be preferable to a flush deck hatch which relies on a gasket to keep the water out.

Looking forward to painting the rest of the interior soon