Eastport Pram Build #5: It’s What’s on the Inside that Counts…

July 14, 2014

Once the bottom had cured, I flipped the boat back into it’s fully upright and locked position.  The fiberglass made the hull noticeably more stiff, which is interesting because it didn’t span any joints/laps on the bottom.  I also checked square and I was only a tad bit off.  The shimming concept seemed to work, which I was quite proud of.


 As instructed, seam is taped…


The directions call for taping off a region around the seam between the bottom and panel #1 to aid in making the fillet to cover the seam, which is necessary for a smooth transition for the fiberglass cloth.  There was a slight problem with this process though, which may affect the finished product.  In order to make the fillet small enough to span the gap between the tape and not leave a hardened shoulder when the tape is removed, I had to bear down on the squeegee enough to get the fillet to fit between the tape.  This caused the fillet to be a tighter radius, which caused a problem during the wetting out process.  On the next boat, I will make this fillet with a much larger radius.  Taping any seams during construction is an interesting conundrum.  The guys that don’t tape say they will next time and the guys that do tape say it’s a waste of time and tape for minimal/questionable benefits.  As with most things, I can see both sides of the argument.  I’m still on the fence about it.  Taping obviously makes a much prettier seam, but the tradeoffs are that it creates a shoulder that needs to be faired.  It does take a considerable amount of tape and it’s a bit touch and go when you should remove it.  As you can see in the photo below, taping the seams also creates more visible stains from the wood flour tinted epoxy.  I was really worried how this would look in the finished product.  I wanted to minimize sanding on the veneered plywood so I didn’t burn through it, but the plan was to leave the interior bright.


 Finished fillet.  Ready for glassing…


I also took the time to do a continuous, smooth, finished fillet on the transoms to cover the tabs.  Because they intersect at greater than 90°, it’s easy to do with the modified squeegee/spreader/scraper.  You have to get the mix just right though.  Creamy peanut butter, not chunky, and not old peanut butter that’s separated.  If it’s too dry, you get a really rough fillet, too wet and it slumps.  Anyway, the glove and denatured alcohol trick worked really well.  The fillets are glossy smooth and should take very little sanding.  Also, keep in mind that these are great fillets to practice with because most of them will be covered when you enclose the air tanks.


 Even using over-sized cloth, not much extra at the beam…


To glass the interior, I laid it all out and hand smoothed it again and taped up the excess cloth against the sides.  BTW, I got the cloth through one of our vendors at work and due to a serendipitous purchasing glitch, I got cloth that was a bit wider than CLC recommends.  As you can see, at the beam of the boat, my wider cloth BARELY covered up to the garboard.  Whew!  Go with the wider cloth, it’s worth the peace of mind…


 Interior glassed.  Not without learning a few harsh lessons.  Next boat…


The wetting out procedure was considerably more complicated due to the filleted seam between the bottom and the garboard.  It kept wanting to create a bubble under the cloth.  A tad more resin and some creative squeegeeing secured it.  By the time I got toward the other end of the boat, the first end was starting to tack up.


Once I was done wetting it out, I made the biggest mistake of the project so far (as referenced earlier).  I neglected to review the directions and I sliced the wet cloth along the lap seam between the garboard and panel#2.  It kind of pulled the cloth and left strands showing and created some bubbles under the cloth.  Thankfully, these were mostly at the ends, which will be inside the air tanks, so no problemo.  I also had to pull tiny slivers of blue tape out of the seam because I sliced it with the razor knife while trying to remove the excess cloth.  I just happened to reread the directions for the nth time after wrestling with it and it clearly states to let the cloth cure then cut it out.  Since I cut the excess cloth off the ends of the transoms the next morning after glassing the bottom, I now know how much easier it is to cut the saturated cloth after it has cured.  It slices like stiff cardboard.  My ragged edge meant that I had to spend an extra half hour sanding the edge of the fiberglass, which may actually show in the final product.  We will see.  Only after a few coats of epoxy will I be able to tell if this was a total biff…



 Bulkheads tabbed in…



Flush with the lack of success from the fiberglassing the interior, it was time to install some bulkheads.  When I removed the wired in bulkheads, the hull only flexed 1/16″, removing the necessity of having to install the spreader mentioned in the instructions.  This made me feel really good about the build and the glassing so far.

Next step, finishing the fillets…

Let’s take a minute to examine where we are time-wise at this point.  These are extremely loose numbers, but I think are a very fair representation of how many “lunch hours” I’ve spent on this project.


Let me also take a minute to reinforce (pun intended) that my choice to tab the boat together first, remove the wires, then go over it with a finished fillet turned out to be the best decision a novice boat builder could make.  Like I said, I think it should be explicit in the instructions to use this technique as the ramifications of not doing so are substantial.  BTW, other than the CLCBoats.com forum, there is no Eastport Pram builder forum like there is for the Passagemaker dinghy PMDBuilders.net.  Hmmm…


  • Layout and cutting parts used so far (not all parts)   = 20 hours

  • Laminating parts (transoms, bulkheads and skeg)   = 5 hours

  • Wiring parts together                                                       = 5 hours

  • Fiberglassing bottom & inside                                       = 5 hours

  • Installing bulkheads, tabs & fillets                                 = 5 hours


Total:  40 hours


Wow!  I wonder how long it will take me to recoup the hours building with hours sailing.  Hopefully some time next year.  Speaking of which, I’m already seriously considering building a Passagemaker…


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