Peeler Skiff build for Chesapeake Light Craft days 11-13.

I decided to bundle a few days into one post since most of what I have been doing is not very exciting.

First off I sanded! I usually like to get all of the interior epoxy sanded before flipping the boat over to work on the outside. This boat is much heavier than most of the boats I work on, so I need to consider the difficulty of flipping it over, and try to plan the work in a way that limits the number of times it needs to be flipped, to the absolute minimum. This one will get inwales installed later, as well as a sheer strake on the exterior, plus an outwale. Knowing this, I have decided the minimum number of times it will need to be flipped is four. Since it will be getting flipped upright after the bottom is glassed, so that the gunwales can be installed, I will wait until then to try and get the epoxy final sanded. For now, I am just hitting everything with 80 grit, paying extra attention to the areas that will be more difficult to access when the seats are installed. My goal is to get it to the point where one more fill coat will finish the job. Of course the seats have uncoated tops, and they will get fiberglassed, in creating the need for more fill coating to fair the edges. But, the difficult to reach areas will be very smooth and ready for finish in just one more fill coat.

I am sanding the areas that will be difficult to access after the seats are installed very thoroughly, so that they will not need more than one more fill coat.

Sanding boat interiors is usually not nearly as much fun as sanding boat exteriors. It generally requires long hours being bent over the sheer, reaching into the boat at awkward angles, resulting in sore muscles and a bad temperament. This boat, however, is large enough to get inside of! This makes a big difference. There is a lot of surface, but it is much nicer sitting cross-legged sanding easily reached areas, than bending into boats that have less surface to sand. This is one of the rare jobs that is actually better to do when it is chilly. Any of the fiberglass that becomes sanding dust will lodge into your skin pores, creating an itchy rash that will hang around until your body’s natural defenses eject the microscopic shards. This effect happens more easily during the warm months, when your pores are open wider due to the heat. Additionally, during the winter, we are wearing long pants and long sleeve shirts, which create a physical barrier to the itchy dust.

At any rate, I always use the vacuum hooked to the sander, and whenever I am hand sanding, I keep the vacuum running and suck up the dust created often, as I go. Be sure to blow off your clothes before sitting in your favorite shop chair, or hopping in the truck to do a beer run! The fiberglass dust will come off your clothing and stay on the seat waiting for the day when you or someone you love sits down in short pants, and gets up with an itchy back side. (I learned this “Pro Tip” during a tirade from my wife who had gotten the itch from my truck seat after I neglected to dust myself properly.)

Completely sanded except for the Insides of the watertight compartments.

Once I became satisfied with my sanding job, it was time to fit the foam floatation. It took 2 1/2 sheets of 2” foam, purchased at the home store, to do the job. I cut it by scoring the lines with my pocket knife, and breaking the sheets into the sizes needed. This is, in my experience, the best technique because it doesn’t fill the shop with static charged foam dust the way sawing it does.

Foam flotation fitted.

With this done, I was finally ready to install the seats. They were sanded on the exposed parts of the undersides as well as the edges. I will not be doing an more epoxy fill coats to the undersides of the seats once they are installed. This is going to save me a lot of trouble down the line as there are few tasks worse than lying on your back and applying epoxy above yourself, while epoxy drips down your arms and onto everything!

The seats are sanded on the exposed parts of the undersides and the edges. They will NOT be getting more fill coats on the undersides.

After test fitting one last time, I removed the seats and put a coat of thickened epoxy (apple butter consistency) on the tops of all of the mating edges before installing the seats for the last time. I used heavy weights to hold the panels down onto the glue edges. Mine were a bit warped so they needed more weight in some places and less in others. I tested the connection by pressing down in various places above the braces and tank sides to see if there was any movement up and down. When it was all sturdily held down, I applied the fillets and immediately applied fiberglass tape over them. I will wait and apply the fillets on the undersides of the seats until after the boat is flipped over. It is actually quite comfortable to sit in a stool under the overturned boat working on underseat fillets, while it is murder to do it lying on your back and nearly impossible to get a thorough/neat job.

Seat held down with weights. Mine had a slight warp to it so more weight was needed on the port side.

Fillets applied with fiberglass tape on top. The crate of clamps holds the center section of the seat down onto the glue surface. A board was temporarily clamped to the forward edge of the seat assembly to flatten some warping while the epoxy sets.

The bulkheads all get doublers added to them, which the manual suggests that I do now, but I decided to wait until tomorrow, so that I can do a cleaner job. I will be able to flatten the fiber edges before adding the doublers and filleting them in, which I think will make neater work of it. I also glued the two halves of the breasthook together so that it can be shaped and installed tomorrow as well. These will be the last of the construction jobs before she gets flipped over for the first time.

The breasthook epoxied together using masking tape to hold it together at the top. It is perched atop a red cup and its own weight creates the clamping pressure to close the joint.