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Eastport Pram Build #10: Bottoms Up!

At this point, the boat is still sitting on it’s curved bottom. Now I know why they call it “rocker”! Now it’s time to add the skeg and skids. The skeg helps it track in the water, and the skids protect the bottom. But before I start adding things that are going to get in the way, I want to ease the edge of the daggerboard slot. The slot perfectly follows the inside of the case, but it has a sharp edge. I need to ease that edge and figure out a way to seal it securely with several coats of epoxy. The answer was a 1/4″ round-over bit with a bearing to follow the inside of the slot. Once again, taking a router to the boat was a source of anxiety, but it worked really well. This allows a large, smooth transition between the perpendicular surfaces that will be easy to coat with several layers of epoxy. If I’d installed the skeg, the router would not have had room to go all the way around the slot.

Cutting the side panels flush with the transoms exposed a void in the silica-thickened fillet, so I took the opportunity to fill it.

Next, the skeg got “screwed and glued” from the inside. Pre-drill large holes, fill with epoxy, let cure, drill proper size holes for the silicon bronze screws, mix up more peanut butter, install the parts from underneath, then make sure the skeg is perpendicular.

Tape acts as a backer “dam” for filling oversized holes with epoxy…

The skids were another thing. I’d attempted to pre-curve them, but they were too thick and stubborn to take a bend, so I had to have a friend help me hold the boat upright on the stern transom, using the peanut butter method, screw one end, then progressively torque the skids to match the curve, adding more screws at we went along, until it finally was in place. The amount of torque to get those skids in place was a little scary, but the bottom panel with its two layers of fiberglass was evidently up to the challenge. Once everything was successfully in place, fillets were created on all of the inside corners.

Skeg and skids installed…

Now it was time to seal the deal! Using large batches of unthickened epoxy, I painted one panel at at time with a small foam roller, then immediately “tipped” it with a wide foam brush to knock down the bubbles. One coat per night for 4 nights… Once again, this left plenty of time to work on the other sailboat-specific parts while the bottom was curing.

To add even more protection to the bottom, I fiberglassed the skeg, then added an 18″ rub strake. The screw holes were also sealed with epoxy.

Previous Total: 60 hours

Installing skeg & skids = 6 hours

Coating bottom = 4 hours

New Total: 70 hours

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