A First-Time Boatbuilder Shares

by Dean Toburen


As the Pennsylvania weather improved in the spring of 2006 I set up the longitudinal stringers, started to lay out and properly space the frames. The first keel lam was in place on June 24, 2006. I used the center line of the keel to align and set the vertical and horizontal of the stem. This was not difficult but a little time consuming to make sure everything was in line in both directions and secured so alignment was maintained while installing the chine and sheer.

At this point I may have varied from the recommended procedures (* see Designer's Notes below) but I installed some of the bottom stringers which seemed to give me some stability before I tried to install the chine. For me this worked well as I continued to check dimensions as each stringer was installed. In an attempt to speed things up I made a fixture for my router in the hope that I could use it to make each groove for the horizontal stringers. That was a nice idea which did not work. I found that by using a short piece of stringer material, a back cut saw and narrow surform I could accurately cut and fit each location much better and quicker than by trying to use the router.

After all the bottom stringers, chine and two rows of side stringers were in place I again probably deviated from the suggested procedures (* see Designer's Notes below). I installed the transom and then turned the boat right side up to finish installation of the last two side stringers and shear. I did this because I could not work stooped over for long periods of time to cut and fit each piece.

I have to say that the transom gave me the most challenge. I read the instructions several times but never could quite understand exactly how it was to be assembled. Finally I decided to cut all the pieces and start laying them together until it made sense. It did and everything went together okay.

Now that the skeleton is completed it went back into the shed to start sheathing with plywood. Since I am going to fiberglass the hull I used exterior grade plywood rather than marine grade. Hopefully this will be okay as I didn't have any problems with the plywood cracking during installation. Each layer received a coat of Epoxy-Plus and was sanded before applying the next layer. The final lamination of plywood was completed on August 12, 2008. At this time I again deviated from procedures and turned the boat back right side up. My reason again is I was running out of good weather her in Pennsylvania and wanted to do some internal work during the winter when temperatures allowed. I drilled the hole through the keel for the drive shaft and rudder and started on some of the top decking stringers.

I now have installed an internal support allowing me to turn the boat bottom up to complete the fiberglassing and painting, then turn it back right side up to lift onto a trailer for completion. During the winter of 2008 I was able to install the shaft log and align the shaft with the center of the rudder on the outside and with the center of the hull on the inside. All this will be disabled for fiberglassing and painting and then reassembled once the boat is on the trailer.

Winter weather in Pennsylvania is not conducive to doing anything that requires a warm environment. As soon as the weather warms up I will fiberglass and paint. My goal is to have this completed and the boat on a trailer by late summer. If my schedule holds I will then be able to start on the inside and probably work until sometime in December, with a little auxiliary heat. January and February are generally too cold to bother.

The schedule for now would be to have the interior completed by the fall of 2010 to the point that I could have the engine ready for the spring of 2011. My goal would be to launch fall of 2011 but all depends on time, money and any unexpected challenges between now and then.

This has been a fun, challenging and learning project. I will keep you up to date with an occasional picture as we progress. I appreciate all that Glen-L does for the amateur boat builder. I would tell anyone interested that it is not as difficult as it might seem but also not as easy as you might like. Time and patience are an absolute requirement.

Best regards for now,

--- Dean Toburen
Harleysville, Pennsylvania

Editor's Note: See full-size pictures of Dean's Monaco build in Customer Photos

*Notes from the Designer:
  1. Turning the hull right side up is okay,
    but care must be taken so the hull is not distorted.
  2. Installing battens before fairing means
    you may need to fair the battens.