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.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Ellie's got mahogany decked seats

This week I got the glued decking laid on the seat tops.

For the most part, I followed Barrett's article Glued Decking with Beveled Edging Boards published on Duckworks, with some exceptions.

Instead of using ipe or teak, I used mahogany. I don't like working with ipe.  It's extremely hard, very difficult to cut, it sometimes splinters and splits for no reason, it dulls tools in short order, it's very heavy (so dense in fact that it sinks in water) and you have to wear a respirator when cutting it because the sawdust is toxic. Teak is the best choice for this application, but teak is expensive.  Of all the woods that I have available to me, mahogany is my favorite.  It's not too expensive, it's a joy to work with.  Usually just the right density - not too hard or soft. Of course it varnishes beautifully and oils very nicely. Epoxy and paint sticks to it like mad.  Granted, mahogany is not quite as oily as teak, and it's not quite as hard. Without protection, it may not withstand the abuse and neglect that unprotected teak decks normally endure.  But yearly application of teak oil will provide plenty of  protection, especially for a daysailer that will be garaged.  And oiled mahogany looks good....real good.

About two years ago I scored an entire truckload of mahogany for free. A guy in Seattle was performing a major remodel of an old home. He had removed all the wood trim from around the windows and doors, which had been painted over, and was giving the pile away for free as firewood.  He said he didn't know what kind of wood it was, but it looked like it might be mahogany.  It was.  After I got the pile home I scraped off the paint and a good friend of mine ran the entire lot through his thickness planer.  The end result was hundreds of dollars worth of beautifully clear boards with nothing but a few nail holes to fill.

Most of this mahogany has now become a part of Ellie.

One man's firewood is another man's yacht.

Installing the decking

It made sense to me to begin by installing the perimeter of the decking, then fit the interior to it. So I began with the area around the footwell, proceeded forward along the centerboard case, then around the outside edges.
From there I started laying planks from the sides of the footwell outboard. As I resawed the boards in half I  would lay one strip port and the other starboard to keep the grain colors and plank lengths symmetrical.
Here I am using Soda Clamps to hold down the planks. These are inexpensive Soda Clamps made by Shasta, but I find they work every bit as well as the name brand clamps made by Coke and Pepsi, but at a fraction of the price.

The front seat, rear seat, and sections along the centerboard case were easy because all the planks were the the same length.  It's true what they say.  You never have enough clamps. When I ran out of soda clamps I had to resort to using paint cans.

Another deviation from Barrett's guide.
She laid her entire deck down using nylon spacers and then glued it down with sikaflex.
I epoxied my deck down a few planks at a time. I found that two Popsicle sticks gave me just the right gap.  I would cut a few planks and lay them in place using the spacers, then remove them, brush epoxy on the plywood underlayment and the underside of the planks, set them back in place, clamp them with soda clamps and finally remove the spacers and allow the epoxy to cure.
The seats will eventually be oiled with Daly's Seafin teak oil.  The hatch covers have already been oiled.  Now that the deck is laid, the next step is to sand it all flat and fill all the gaps with black Sikaflex.  That will be the subject of my next blog post.

Until then, here are some more photos of the progress to date.