Fiberglassing, Wooden Boat Festivals, Art exibitions and lost explorers.

Another milestone has been ticked off the list, with the completion of fiberglassing the Port hull. We were pleased to finish most of it in one long day, with the additional layups on the keel, chines and bridge deck joins completed the next day.

Boat building is not dissimilar to building a house, in the sense that it’s a process of continuous decision-making. Although the plans give suggested building methods, every circumstance is different. Fiberglassing is a classic example of that. The fiberglass cloth comes on a 100 meter roll. Its heavy and clumsy to manage. When dry, with it’s  loose weave, it needs to be handled with care lest it be pulled and stretched out of shape. Other builders advised me to roll it out along the full length of the hull, and use tape or drawing pins to hold it on place. This may work in an enclosed shed, but we are in a semi open shelter and are subject to wind gusts. I had visions of 12 meters of expensive cloth ending up in the dirt. I rang the designer, Peter Snell who suggested cutting into 4.2 metre lengths, with a 100mm overlap to make it easier to manage. We also found that mucking around with tape and pins in the wind just didn’t work in our situation, so we developed our own method of laying out the dry cloth. First we rolled the 4.2 metre lengths onto a length of 90mm PVC pipe. Then we saturated a 115mm mohair roller, and ran a quick lay of resin directly onto the hull, where the upper edge of the sheet was to lay. Then we rolled the sheet onto the hull, using the resin to stick the upper edge to the hull, and hold it in place. It worked a treat, especially as we were contending with 25k easterlies whistling through the shelter, on fiberglassing day. Sometimes I even needed to use clamps to hold the lower edges down as well.

Wetting out the cloth.
Chines and keelson were doubled with fiberglass tape.
The keel has four layers of glass, run down the hull and a layer of Dynell for abrasion resistance. The wind was so strong at this stage of the day that I had to clamp the Dynell to the keel to get the resin on! With overlaps and additional tapes, there is three to four layers on most joins. However the Sarah design does not rely on the fibreglassing for structural strength, except at the keel, bridgedeck and outboard assemblies.
All done: we stared at 8am and finished at 10pm.

We took a long weekend to catch up with a few commitments in the south of the state. We were due to visit Pete’s parents, and do a few odd jobs around the house. We also took the opportunity to visit the Australian Wooden Boat Festival. From humble beginnings in 1994 its is now the largest marine festival in the southern hemisphere with up to 220 thousand visitors over four days.

Who cannot adore a beautifully crafted Ian Oughtred design? This is art.
Around 600 boats were on display.
Now that’s a tiller … Aboard the Enterprize from Melbourne.
We spent a couple of days with Simon and Eileen who like us, are expats from Alice Springs, and owners of a Lepard 38 catamaran, currently in charter at the Whitsunday’s. Behind us is the James Craig from Sydney.
Eileen at the figure-head of the James Craig.
A dutch musical punt complete with pipe organ, horn section and percussion. Behind in his sculling wherry is Ian Johnson, founder of the Australian Wooden Boat Festival. Ian was our navigator when Pete and his brothers entered the family yacht in the 1994 Sydney Hobart yacht race. Ian and his partner of the time, Cathy Hawkins are famous for their exploits in Twiggy, and Verbatim (AKA Bullfrog) racing trimarans, during the 80’s.

Pete’s brother is a marine artist. Our trip south coincided with his annual exhibition at the Lady Franklin Art Gallery. Roger is an experienced yachty with thousands of sea-miles under his belt. There are four brothers in the Imms clan. As kids, Roger, the oldest, was always instigating some mad boating adventure that Pete says, “almost killed us on numerous occasions.” but somehow they all managed to survive. Tasmanians living in the home of traditional boatbuilding, still view multihulls with some suspicion. Roger has forgiven his little brother for going over to the dark side, and building a cat!

The Lady Franklin Gallery was built by Lady Franklin in 1842 to bring culture to the unruly colony. Sir Franklin was govenor at the time. A facinating and remarkable woman, later she mounted a series of expeditions to the Arctic searching, unsuccessfully for Sir Franklin who died attempting to find the North West passage. Franklin and his expedition of 129 men were never found, although his ship the HMAS Terror was discovered last year in pristine condition at the bottom of an Arctic bay.
Rog cruises the family S&S34 up and down the east coast of Tassy for inspiration. His images come directly from those experiences.
We were happy to see that most of his works had sold, there were red dots everywhere.
Pete and his big bro… his hero and inspiration.
“In the distance …” one of Rogers works.

You can see more of Roger’s work at

4 thoughts on “Fiberglassing, Wooden Boat Festivals, Art exibitions and lost explorers.

  1. Thanks Chris. Yeah the WB Festival is amazing. I find it intriguing that so many people will turn out for something that is a niche interest. The crowds are huge. No catamarans though, except for a cute Wharram 21. We need more multihulls to storm the bastions! Easy cats qualify as plywood /timber boats…something for Take It Easy to think about when you go full time? I recon it would be fun, but noisy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That would be great fun. I would love to bring Selah south, and visit all my old cruising spots, but a lot depends on when we put her in the water, and timing the Bass Strait crossing. It all seems so far ahead of us right now. I am finding the psychology of boat building really interesting. The mindset required to complete the project vs the actual sailing of the boat afterwards. The transition must be a bit of shock.


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