CHAPTER II: Completeing the Alex B!!

by Marc Bourassa

1. We glued blocks in place under the decking to allow us to install hardware later.

2. Installing the decks. Not very elegant, but effective. Note that we have stitched the decking along the open cockpit area to afford a tight fit.

3. Decks installed and underside taped. For this step, I flipped the hull upside down onto sawhorses, then got on my knees, stuck my head in the cockpit (wear an old hat) and installed the tape on the underside of the decking. Probably the most difficult and messy part of the job.

4. Another view of the taped cockpit.

5. We decided that a nice seat would make a pleasant addition to the boat, so I fashioned a back from some oak stock and a piece of scrap sapele.

6. Here's Alex and his good friend Ian sanding and preparing the hull for taping. Alex's friends were a continuous, reliable source of cheap labor; they couldn't wait to get their hands on the tools and help out.

7. A shot of the glassed hull. Next time I will lap the cloth over the top of the deck about 1" or so, eliminating the need for taping that area. This will save time and provide a neater finish.

8. Here is Jack assisting with the installation of the coaming. I must say I'm rather proud of this technique. I press fitted a 2 x4 into the widest part of the coaming, then bent the longitudinal pieces around it, forming a curve that followed the sheer of the decking exactly. I held the assembly in place with the bar clamps shown, then glued it all into place. Be sure to cover the 2 x 4 in plastic to avoid bonding the coaming to it!

9. And down the stretch they come. We have sanded and faired the cockpit, then primed and painted it. We have also installed the other pieces of the coaming and slapped a coat of varnish on it. Altogether we applied about seven coats of varnish (I lost track of the exact number. Must have been the fumes).

10. The completed Alex B. I used
3/16" Fine Line tape to mask for the deck perimeter and center line. The hardware includes a brass pad eye in the bow, as well as some smaller eyes for the deck bungees and stern. I also installed toggle handles for easy team carrying. The stop that you see on the bottom forward of the seat back is to accommodate a seat cushion - illustration below.

11. I drilled a 3/8" hole in the forward and aft bulkheads and fitted a rubber bung into each to allow for ventilation.

12. Note the flotation cushion in place for added safety and comfort.

13-16. Some additional views of the finish work...

As you can well imagine, this project has been enormously rewarding. We'll get right to work on the Jack B, and will no doubt be having some serious fun in the spring. I'm also going to try and get in a 2 person kayak so my wife and I can paddle along (although I'm quite sure that this will detract from the appeal for Alex & Jack).

The project is very straightforward, and the plans are excellent. The youngsters can participate in most of the process; I did not let them handle epoxy or epoxy sanding. The key is to bring them in for small steps that have a big visual impact.

NEXT UP: Completeing the Jack B.