This blog is devoted to my John Welsford designed 15' Navigator yawl Ellie. I built her in my garage over a period of 18 months and launched her in 2011. She sports a sliding gunter main, roller furled jib and sprit-boomed mizzen. Her construction is glued-lapstrake over permanent bulkheads and stringers. This blog is a record of her construction and her voyages here in the Puget Sound area and (hopefully) a useful resource for fellow Navigator builders.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Chapter 8: Stringers

Yesterday I finished installing the stringers. Well, sorta finished. There are actually two more stringers to install that form the inner edge of the side decks, but they don't get installed until after the planking and seat tops are installed. It seems like they could be installed now. But now that I have shop space, I figured I'd try to actually start building things in the proper order for a change.

Anyhow, installing the (let's call them Outer Stringers) was rather uneventful. I bought several clear douglas fir boards from Lowes for a fraction of the price that the lumber yards wanted. They were nice clear boards, straight grained without a single knot or split. I proceeded to rip them into 3/4" (20mm) square strips (for the gunwale stringers) and 20mm x 15mm strips for the remaining stringers. I then scarfed them and epoxied them together with epoxy/silica mix to form 20 foot long stringers.

I had three concerns about the stringers, after reading other builders' blogs.
  1. Occasionally a stringer will split or break when attempting to bend it near the bow.
  2. Often it is very difficult to twist the stringer near the bow to fit up with the stem.
  3. The gunwale stringer, which is 40mm x 20mm, can be particularly difficult to bend, and may even require steaming.
Maybe I just got lucky, especially considering I was using cheap doug fir from Lowes, but I had no problems at all. 

I just jumped right in and torqued and twisted the stringers into place at the stem, fully expecting them to break, but they didn't.

For the gunwale stringers, I took the advice of other builders and made the stringer from two seperate 20mm x 20mm stringers. Again, they went right in without a hitch.


So I guess tomorrow I'll start planking.


  1. Joel, I have finished a Penobscott 14, but haven't launched it yet. I had similar issues with stringers (3/4 x 3/4). I found that the good quality close grain fir was stronger but more brittle, and therefore easier to break. The pieces I ripped out of HD 2x6 and 2x8 stock were softer and bend more easily. Doug Rodgers

  2. That must be it. The doug fir I used did seem softer than doug fir usually is. The stringers have to torque nearly 45 degrees while twisting at the same time. I sure am glad I stumbled across this stuff.