The Calm Before the Storm

Wolf’s wall is looming; we are just about ready to start putting it up. It seems like the last eight weeks of work should have more to show for them when you look into Gemini’s hull. All those weeks’ worth of work are going to show progress in just the last week and a half. In less than two weeks, we are going to put all 21 pieces of Wolfs Wall into place (does not include trim). The hull will be forever set. I know, forever is a long time.
Okay…today, Wolf put the last two coats of varnish on the aft berth’s cabinet face. It looks very good. There might be some desire to do just one more coat. Just before Wolf could end his last brush stroke, a fellow worker kicked up some dust. Whether it gets another coat or not doesn’t matter-it looks like a million dollars.
He then put the bracing strategy together for the piece I was working on. I was working on formica/plywook for the galley side of the bulkhead separating the aft quarter berth and the galley. The wall covering will be applied in two pieces. One is large and essentially rectangular. The other side is fashioned to represent the port side of the hull and has an interesting and quite unforgettable shape. Somehow, I cemented the formica to the plywood on the wrong side of the plywood. Ruined. Start over. Two hours lost. By the end of the day, we had the pieces finished, strapped and bent to fit, and into the boat. Some final sanding on the wall itself was our last task prior to bracing it onto the wall for shaping and cleaning up. For the rest of the night we will feel the fiberglass in our skin-yea.

Big Job

Wolf and I laminated the bulkhead separating the galley from the quarter berth/stateroom today. All of our experience thus far has led up to a successful conclusion to this addition. We learned how to bend the laminate of formica and 3mm plywood to get it into the boat without breaking.

We still suffer from a ratchet system of bracing the laminate onto a vertical wall. This often causes me the greatest number of *>#& during the installation process as the braces fall and half to be put back up.

For immediate relief from the stress of applying the formica, Wolf finds solace at the varnish table.

Tomorrow, we do the other side.

Friday Fireworks

We continued work on two projects today. One, Wolf applied three more coats of varnish to the stateroom cabinet face. Two, I nearly completed the veneer for the wall separating the galley and stateroom and also created the template for the other side of the wall. Our big success was discovering that the veneer we had made for the aft cockpit wall could work after all. We thought it was going to be too short. Lastly, we created a means to get the larger sheets of veneer that are wider than the hatch size into the boat. We borrowed a couple of straps to help us bend the sheets of plywood and formica into manageable size. No more wrestling the pieces into the Gemini! No more snapping the Formica.

Recovery Operations

It turns out that breaking those two pieces of formica laden 3mm plywood was actually a good thing. One of the pieces, if attached, would have presented a seam in a noticeable area on the port side of the companionway. The other pieces, if it had been put into Gemini, would have signaled the green light for us to move forward with permanently emplacing Wolf’s Wall. Had we fastened the wall, we never would have been able to put in the formica/ply laminate for the wall separating the master stateroom and the galley.
Nevertheless, we had plenty to do today and did plenty. Wolf had his first experience with varnish. He applied three coats of varnish to the face to the shelving for the master stateroom. He also began to recreate better versions of the pieces we broke. I cut to fit the 5/8″ plywood wall for the aft head. I also made a template and cut out the plywood for the formica/ply laminate that will go on the wall separating the stateroom and galley. Overall, not a bad day.

Two Steps Backwards

I came back from the eclipse with high hopes that we would have the Wolf’s Wall in right away. Then, Wolf and I broke two LARGE pieces of formica attached to plywood as we were bending them to get them through the main entrance hatch. The sound of the snap and the sickening way the plywood and formica just went limp in our hands was awful. Wolf tried to find a cure to the scarred formica boards. However, some wounds just don’t heal and the scar would always remain. They were gently placed into the pile for repurposing. Very sad. On the brighter side, we had other things we could do on both areas to keep us busy as we waited for new plywood to arrive. No pictures were taken. Morale was low.

Making Headway

Today, we moved forward with a lurch. We attached the biggest formica/plywood sheet to the aft head. There was a lot less excitement during this event than what normally occurs. However, there was plenty of resin and cabacil being slung. Clean up took extra long. A new discovery-Acetone destroys new varnish. Fortunately only a small amount was touched. We moved to prepping “Wolf’s Wall.” Wolf trimmed the formica laminate. Tomorrow is going to be a big day. Here are some highlight photos.
The Chemist

The Sealer

The Butt

The Carpenter

Dead Slow Ahead

The fog was lifting as we arrived. I applied another coat of varnish. Inside the warehouse, Wolf continued to remove the varnish from the door frames. At mid-morning, we took a diversion with a planned trip to the doc-routine. Once back, we focused solely on determining how to trim up the doors to allow for the difference in wall thickness. Changing from teak veneer to Formica on both sides adds thickness of a just less than three millimeters. The frames themselves now must be altered to fit. This requires plenty of measurements before we work the table saw or router to make the permanent adjustment.
Wolf and I must agree on how to proceed. If not, there could be some finger pointing. Worse yet, we could have a gap we can not overcome without making another frame. Even worse, I estimate the frame would cost up to $8k to replace. Yes, $8k and no, they are not made of gold. The frames are made of over a dozen strips of teak bent and glued into an elongated oval. The frames are then carved to fit neatly into a wall with no signs of how they are attached.
A year ago, Buster, our local expert carpenter, and I were completely stymied as to how the makers created and attached these frames. The mystery was only solved after I tore the walls apart. The frames are very beautiful features to Gemini and represent some good Taiwanese carpentry skills. Therefore, we must makes these cuts right. We did get some help from some self-proclaimed carpenters passing by. They were careful to warn us of the dangers. Thus, we continue Dead Slow Ahead.

Heat Guns Ablaze

Wolf and I worked most of the day removing varnish from the doors to the aft head and aft stateroom. I also put another coat of varnish on the same inside teak discussed yesterday. Mineral spirits are best to pick up the dust that may stick on the wood after a quick light sand to remove any stuck on dust. A tack cloth also works well.

We made a trip up to Exotic Lumber to pick up another sheet of Okumi 5/8″ plywood. That stuff is gold. Overall, we didn’t get a lot accomplished.

Getting Back Into the Groove

Vacation is over and we are back. I finished stripping the varnish off of the teak below. It took nearly four hours to strip all of the teak in the aft head and aft stateroom. I also stripped the varnish from the wall behind the navigation station. It was tough going holding the heavy duty heat gun and scrapping with a bent blade putty knife. I filed the putty knife edge into a flat dull blade for even scrapping. The bend in the knife provides some spring to keep it from digging too deeply into the veneer when one is hurrying or tired. That was my invention. If one heats the knife up, it allows for quicker removal of the varnish. I decided to go with Helmsman Clear Gloss to match the other teak inside her. Wolf worked on the central partition “Wolf’s Wall.” He attached formica to three pieces that will be attached to the outside of the wall. As with all projects, we made a couple of mistakes. We cut the formica out matching the wrong side of the wall and forgot to mix a thinner in with the clear gloss varnish. Both mistakes were easy to overcome.
There were two new discoveries. One, Lewis Marine in Florida sells sealant roll that is great for hatches or doghouses above companionways. Two, you can use a razor blade to scrape, not cut, any excess drips of varnish prior to slightly sanding. This is a time saver. Just scrap back and forth over the drip using the sharp edge.