Friday, September 18, 2009

Whiskey plank!

With the frames, stems and keelson all in place and faired, I drove to Portland to get more plywood. It was only $78 a sheet this time. That's because it was only 1/4-inches thick. The stuff is beautiful: five even plys, no voids, waterproof glue all BS1088 -- British Standards for marine plywood. And it works great with a plane or spokeshave. Because all the plys are the same thickness and there are no voids, it bends evenly. Just as in life, a void in a plank sooner or later will collect water and bad things will happen.

I used 1/8-inch ply to make patterns on the garboards. From there, I carefully marked my plank lands and used the batten to mark out the planks. I'd usually mark, cut and fit the starboard side first and then check the fit of the same plank on the port side. In every instance it was almost a perfect fit and I would use it as a pattern to make port plank. That's when the care at setting up the frames and keelson paid off. It also paid off in less wastage. Atkins estimated it would take seven sheets of plywood to plank Valgerda. I did it in six with some nice left over pieces.

The midstrake is asked to do a lot. It starts vertically at the bow, forms a hollow entry, goes to about 18 degrees off horizontal by the mid frame and then back to vertical at the stern stem. While studying the plans I considered going to 3/8ths plywood for the planking because 1/4-inch seems so light, but I'm glad I didn't. I had a rough enough time getting 1/4-inch to go where it needed to go.

Hanging each plank seemed more exciting than the last. When I clamped the whiskey plank into place I felt like throwing a party. The thing about marking milestones with events involving actual humans is you need to finish said milestones on schedule so the humans know when to show up. So far that's only happened once while building Ravn. Everything seems to take at least twice as long as I thought it would. Every once and a while something falls into place like magic, but that's rare and not to be counted on.

I celebrated the whiskey plank with my wife, Virginia, and granddaughter, Maddy, with milkshakes and without any whiskey.

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