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Building a Spindrift 9ft Nesting Dinghy

(please click on any of the pictures for a larger one - use the BACK button to come back)

I had planned on a nesting dinghy fitting on the foredeck of Seaweed. I chose the 9ft model (there many sizes), in hopes that HALF of that length would fit somewhere forward of the mast.

I wanted something that I could lift myself and the Spindrift 9N looked just right at a total weight of 80lbs or so (each half would be around 40lbs.

After 8 months and over 500 hours working on Seaweed's exterior, I REALLY needed a break. My son was out of school for 3 weeks, and we decided to tackle the dinghy as a on a father-son project. This would be a nice diversion from

I had already ordered the plans from Graham at B and B yachts (http://www.bandbyachtdesigns.com) some months ago. I had no materials yet, though. I called around and found that Graham had the best prices BY FAR on just about everything I needed (as well as plenty of advice) and being only 3 hours drive from home meant no shipping charges!

I don't want to spend a lot of time on formatting, etc. for this page (maybe I'll reformat it later with more information) because Seaweed's interior is STILL waiting! The text info may also be a bit sparse in places (I'll expand on it some more when Seaweed is finished). So, for now just a lot of pictures......

This is the first picture I took during the bilding. Unfortunately, I was so excited I didn't take any pictures of the panel cutting or "butterfly" gluing :((

What was surprising to us is that this was the state in only 3 days! It really comes together fast.

As of this picture we have done the following:
panels are cut out
side panels butt-joined to length
panels tabbed together at the bow prior to stitching bulkheads (with "doublers") epoxied in place/drying
stitching along the keel and chines completed


Here the stitching seams have been epoxy-filleted closed, and the stitch wiring removed.

The next step was to install a 3-layer laminated gunnel. This was an interesting exercise for the first-timer. Luckily, I had read about the wonder of PVC clamps prior to doing this!

It is completely amazing how much the finished gunnel adds rigidity to the boat.

You can sort of see in this picture the center bulkhead is actually TWO bulkheads, separated by a couple of squares of cardboard. Between these two bulkheads is where the boat will be cut in half (yikes!).



In these two pictures, we have finished making fillets inside and outside and then applied several layers of fiberglass tape to the seams (and made a big mess in the process!).

Breast hooks, corner knees and keelson are also installed.


Then in was time. [gulp]

The saw blade was the same thickness as the cardboard squares that had been glued in between the center bulkheads. It easily slid between the bulkheads as the hull was cut.

This is a picture you don't see every day!

After about 75 hours of work, it was kind of strange doing this.....



Then came the test........it fits!!!

You can see the little cardboard sqares that were used to separate the bulkheads prior to cutting.

Also visible are the 5 epoxy-filled joining holes (where the bolts go that hold the two halves together). These are epoxy filled and drilled BEFORE cutting the boat so that they are a perfect fit.

Next we had to get the rest of the "fittments" installed.

Here you can see the laminated mast partner, the mast step, and a very large bow eye backing block that I glassed in.

I made the mast step with a separate top piece (laying on top of the bottom block). It will have a slotted hole cut for the base of the mast. This will be screwed to the bottom (v-shaped) block so that when (not if) it gets beat up, it can be easily replaced.



Here is the centerboard case being fitted (well half of it, anyway).

The hole is cut through the hull after the case is built.

It is offset slightly to port to allow for the small keelson to be on the centerline underneath.

I stepped "oustide the box" a bit on this part. I didn't want to have to deal with a separate thwart seat when assembling, disassembling, and storing the boat.

I came up with this seat design and made it permanent on the forward section.

I cut a bunch of knees and one long side support for the centerboard trunk to hold the 1/4" plywood seat.

The slot is cut out for the centerboard.





The new seat was a tradeoff between being wide enough to sit on comfortably (when rowing, etc.) and being small enough not to take up a lot of room in the forward section of the boat.

In order to increase the available width of the seat without encroaching forward, I let the seat extend past the back of the bulkhead. This did two things, it gave me another inch of seat width, and allowed me to add a small "lip" to the back of the bulkead that will grab the forward bulkhead of the aft section and help hold the two together while the bolts are put in. There are corresponding cutouts on the mating bulkhead.

Here is a view of the overhang and "lip" -- sorry about the lighting.


Another "innovation" I had was to bed threaded inserts into the keelson. These are completely sealed with epoxy, making them watertight.

This allows installation and easy replacement of a sacrificial keel strip without compromising the watertightness of the wood..




Then the pain began.

Sanding and fairing. This took an INCREDIBLY long time.

Most of the reason for this was my own fault. Remember that mess I made with the fiberglass taping and epoxy? Well, that translates DIRECLY into hours of finish time (exponentially).

This is the bow half partway through the process.

I gave up on that last bit of showroom finish since it was "just a dinghy" and would probably be getting beat up anyway. I still have epoxy runs and glass tape print through on the final boat, but...oh, well.

Here are a couple of ideas I had during construction of the sailing parts.

The sail I am using has a single reef point. This meant that the mast and sleeve needed to be raised with a halyard.

One of the nice things about the 3 piece mast (2 aluminum sections, and one wooden top section) is that each of the 3 pieces stores inside each other. If I put an external sheave on the top section for the halyard, it wouldn't have fit into the 2nd aluminum section anymore.

I cut a slot in the top section the width of a sheave and allowed for the halyard opening above it. I cut off a clevis pin to just the right length so as not to extend out too far.

I also put 2 layers of fiberglass in and around the opening to strengthen the wood.



This is another idea I had, but unless you are building THIS particular dinghy rudder, it may not mean much.

The boat has a pivoting rudder. It pivots between two rudder cheeks that are permanently mounted to the tiller and frame. To these cheeks are bolted the pintles for mounting on the transom.

The problem is that one of the bolts for the lower pintle strap has to go right through the pivoting area. If you are using a narrow rudder (mine was 1/2"), there is not room to insert a bolt from in between the rudder cheeks when you have finished buildiing it.

So you have to insert your countersunk bolt head into the rudder cheeks BEFORE you assemble them together. And then have it be mostly permanent if it gets damaged or anything.

Instead, I bedded a stainless steel T-nut into the inside of the rudder cheek so that a bolt could be threaded into it from the outside (cut to the right length).

Below are some "finished" pictures (click on each for a bigger one)

My sail has not arrived yet. I expect it any time now, so I will update with some sailing pictures soon!







Here are some oar holders I added. I cut wooden blocks to hold the handle stock and the blade ends and drilled the holes to correspond to the angles they sat along the hull sides.

After drilling, I sliced the forward ones in half and installed a brass latch so that they can be locked up tight.




Finally under sail!


More sailing!
(click for larger photo)


Hours and "Cost"
(includes all sailing hardware and rigging)

171 hours actual working time
APPROXIMATELY $900 in materials, rigging, and hardware
(I didn't cut ANY corners - except the ones I was supposed to!)

Lessons Learned

Finish work STINKS! (and takes a really long time)
-- especially if you make a big mess with fiberglass/epoxy!!!

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