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Core Sound 15 #162 — Building the “Norma T”

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Week 7 —  Day 32: Fiberglassed the Hull


My son and his family are visiting from downstate, camping in our pop up camper next to the house. The weather is beautiful and everyone is relaxed... except for my son and me who took on the task of glassing the hull. I know it’s a job that’s no big deal for many but it is intimidating to me. Good advice from Alan went a long way to the successful completion. Well, the advice AND the fact that I mostly mixed epoxy, cut the cloth, and did general support stuff while my son did nearly all of the meticulous parts of applying and squeegeeing the epoxy.  It’s funny that he said at the three-quarter point something like:  “This is one of those jobs you don’t really want to start doing, and you have to just make yourself start.  Then, once you start you just have to make yourself keep going.”  Exactly. But it’s done. We’ll add another coat of epoxy with micro beads after supper.


Tomorrow, I’ll probably flip the boat back over to finish the inside before I take on painting the hull. 

I also worked on the mast collars by adding a layer of epoxy with cabosil. I haven’t used any cabosil yet; weird stuff.  On the third collar I realized that I should have first painted each of the collar areas with clear epoxy to get things wet. I’m not sure whether the thickened epoxy is going to actually stick. If not, I can likely knock off today’s application and try again. We’ll see how it cures. 


If this application works, I’ll clean up the four collars a bit more and likely paint paint them white (the fiberglass underneath is showing through in a couple spots.)


(Evening)  My son and I put a fill coat onto the fiberglass after supper. Yes!!  😁  Almost all my epoxy work is done. Good thing, because I’m running close on resin. Will I need to get a bit more?  I’ll know soon. 

One of my daughters (also visiting us) decided she needed to get a few shots of us this evening:






Yes, that is the 30 feet of CPAP tubing supplying me with air from from an old CPAP machine that I located outside of the garage. It has worked just fine. The tubing does get underfoot or tangled in my feet quite often; I’ve gotten used to it. I still haven’t found a respirator anywhere, but I guess I won’t be needing one. 

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Motoring around the pond during Gramma Camp!  🙂   Just enough for the kids to start getting used to the Norma T.      (My daughter joined us... what a great Gramma Camp helper.)

Today: My son’s family came up last night and we took everyone out for a sail. I love that this small boat feels so comfortable for four adults and a couple kids. Note my sailing position, feet up and

Week 10 — Day 47 & 48: It’s transforming Into a Sailboat   Back at the building of Norma T.  In these two days I was able to finish the main mast tabernacle and it’s installation as well

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I first painted LPUs outside under a tarp with the 3M respirator in the foreground. This time I have been painting inside using supplied air and a hood. The hood is a bit of a nuisance and overkill for rolling and tipping. On mornings when it was between 50F and 60F with 50% humidity it was  like visiting heaven but having to wear a hood. As the ambient temp and humidity increase you reach a point where the supplied air needs to be temp and humidity controlled. It is a strange experience to be working very close to paints and solvents that you know have incredibly strong fumes and the air smells like roses.


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Week 8 — Day 33:  Home Stretch / Painting Has Begun


Several little things were installed in the bow area: extra mizzen step in the front thwart, hatch drip ledge, hatch hinge doubler, and bow eye block. 

Then I did a thorough sanding inside, vacuumed and wiped things down for the primer. Last views of the wood:





The first coat of primer is on; it has a different look. The front bulkhead will also be primed when the glue hardens... and after I add some fillets... tomorrow??   


I will clear-varnish the transom stiffeners, thwart beams, carlins, decks, thwarts, tabernacle, and the upper part of the centerboard trunk... so some wood will be presented.  The things not already installed will be put in place after the inside gets another coat of primer (with a couple sandings) and at least two coats of glossy white. 

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Yesterday was a “day off” from boat building. I took a driving trip to visit Paul in Milwaukee. He is a frequent contributor to this forum and builder of a Core Sound 17. He graciously showed me his boat and many details about the rigging. The Show and Tell has gone a long ways to helping me understand how rigging things can be put together in my boat when I reach that stage.  And, Paul did a great job building his boat. 

Thank you, Paul. 

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Week 8 — Day 34: Sanding & Additional Coats


I spent some hours sanding the inside surfaces and outside sides. When satisfied with the sanding, I applied a second coat of primer inside the hull. Then, the outside of the hull (sides & transom) received a second fill coat on the fiberglass. 




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Week 8 — Days 35&36: More Sanding & Coats


Things don’t look much different at the end of the day, but having put on a first coat of top coat paint to the inside is satisfying. I spent the morning with a sander and the afternoon with primer and paint. A first coat of primer is on the sides and transom, and a first coat of white paint is on all the cockpit surfaces. 



On the second day of this update a second coat of white top paint was was put onto the cockpit surfaces. Second coats always look a little better than the first. I will add one more coat of white tomorrow, then continue installing the carlins and decks. 


A second coat of primer went onto the sides.  I’m now waiting for the prescribed time between coats... and will add a first coat of red paint to the sides tomorrow. Then things will look a bit different. 

I also started fiberglassing the centerboard and completed the collars on top of the mast joints. 

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Week 8 — Day 37:  It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas... (in July)


Christmas in July is a tradition of which I’ve made use from time to time.  I’m optimistic that I can have this boat operational by or during July, my target goal when I ordered the kit. 

The painting of the boat’s interior is done... three coats of white Interlux Brightsides on top of a few coats of primer. The sole has non-skid for a gritty surface. I used a small roller with a very short nap to paint the longitudinal bulkheads, sole, and upper sides. It produced a satin-like, gently dappled surface, like one gets from a roller.  For the seats, I used the same roller and tried my hand at tipping the paint with a soft brush. It produced a glossy surface in contrast to the other areas. It’s not a “sprayed-like” surface and brush marks can be seen with close inspection... but I’m quite satisfied. 

I added a first coat of red to the outside of the hull today.  THAT makes a difference; it adds significant pop to the hull.  I like my color choice.

As I was painting the red, I realized that I’ve had a lot of red over the years with my “fun stuff.”  Red and white was the scheme of the boat I built in high school. My skis in high school were red and white.  My current ski boots are red (the skis are black with neon green... hmmm.)  My motorcycles are all red with some white, as was the small one I had in the 1980’s.

I’m thinking that I will really enjoy the aesthetics of the boat when I add a white boot stripe to the outside of the hull and a number of varnished surfaces inside (decks, carlins, front hatch, tabernacle, and thwarts.). I only painted the bottom couple inches of the centerboard trunk, leaving most of it for varnish. I also did not paint the little drip cap in the bow bulkhead, thinking that it too could be an interesting little varnished highlight.




I am now ready to start varnishing the various parts I’ve mentioned... and guess what arrived by UPS today?  Yup... a couple quarts of marine spar varnish. 


A note — I must say that I am NOT a very good painter and I can really do dumb, messy things. The garage floor speaks of this... but it is only a garage floor... and it will be covered again with the vinyl car mat that will cover most of my drips and unintended little spills.  I managed so far to not create any BIG spills, just irritating dumb stuff.  I have been wearing some sacrificial clothes throughout the project for this very reason. 

Work on the rudder has begun, the second side of the centerboard is glassed, and the tabernacle is almost ready to be installed. I have put off installing the carlins, decks, and thwarts until I completed the inside painting... which is about now... or starting tomorrow. 

So, this year, it’s looking like “Christmas in July!






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It’s a non-building day today... no work on the Norma T


I described in a previous post my decision to name the boat for my mom for whom we’ve been providing care in our home since 2014. (Actually, we bought her house after my dad died in 2013; she had her own independent “single-woman” apartment-life for a year... until her blindness issues became too severe.) She’s been under home-hospice care for more than a year; she’s now 96.  

The past couple weeks have been tough for her with not being able to be out of bed and having a lot of “imagined” experiences with general confusion.  I kept describing the sailboat I’m building, and that, because she used her stimulus check along with ours to help buy the kit, she’s a full partner.  That has been a pleasant thought for her... and she remembers it well.  I told her recently that I’m using her name for the boat: “Norma T”.  A little reluctant about it at first, she warmed up to the plan. 

The boat-building and name-thing has stayed clear in her mind.  She seems to be getting excited with the thought that a boat would be named after her.  She was delighted to hear that I added red paint to the sides yesterday. “How pretty it must be... I wish I could see it.”  And, of course, we ALL wish she could see it. The best we can do is describe the boat and what it will be like to sail with it... and how the family might enjoy it. 


As we were caring for her at 2:30 am this morning, she was very clear-thinking, quite herself. She told us that she wants this pretty new red sailboat to have a new motor. “I’ve had nice things in my life, but I’ve also had a lot of old things as well.  A sailboat named after me should have a shiny new motor on it. Could you go out and buy one for me?”  

Gulp.  Yes, I can do that.  

I was up for a couple hours after this (a 2:30 am wake-up does that to me.)  Why not research motors since I’ll be up a while?  I’ve read a lot of the blogs in this forum, seeing what others have bought; Suzuki is a favorite.  But, I was caught by the air-cooled, 30 pound, “auto-clutch” Honda 2.3 hp motor.  I have three Honda motorcycles and had two others in the past. They simply run and work for me.  Center Point Marine is just down the street (formally Red’s Marine; I liked Red... well, I only knew him with white hair... his daughter has the family hair color and her family took over the business.)  They are a Honda dealer. 

I went to Center Point this morning and used mom’s card to buy a motor.  I’ll pick it up in few days.  My mother is very happy about her contribution to the project. 

And I’m feeling like:

(I get a real kick out of this cheery photograph.)



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Yes, its a wonderful story.  All the best to your mom.  I feel like I know her; or would like her, if I was lucky enough to meet her.  Enjoy your boat as much as you have enjoyed the build.  You have a nice legacy. 

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Week 9 — Day 38:  Some Intermediate Steps


It was a partial day today and two of my kids came to our house this afternoon for a stay.  I did a few tasks that are part of “sub-projects”.  

The centerboard, now glassed on both sides with two fill coats of epoxy, was sanded. Before applying some layers of varnish I needed to add fiberglass and epoxy coats to the top horn section (I had decided to make this a separate step instead of trying to glass the whole thing at once... skill limitation.)  I also put white thickened epoxy on the trailing edge to fill gaps that didn’t quite fill in as the glass from the two sides came together. Tomorrow will include sanding everything again to it’s final state... except for varnish.  It’ll still be a while before it’s ready to be installed into the trunk.



It was kind of the same thing with the tabernacle... a few more pieces of glass were added, plus another coat of epoxy. Varnishing will come next, and I want to paint the anchor locker before installing the tabernacle.  These steps all consume time, and are only parts of the bigger processes.  But, things are moving along. I figure that whatever gets done today doesn’t need to be done later. 

The carlins were installed after sanding the coats of epoxy I put on earlier. They too will be varnished soon. Installing the decks is still around the corner, but sooner now than before. 

My older son left his canoe with us last weekend so my younger son and his family could use it today. They wheeled it to the 1.5 mile pond that is only a short walk down the street.  This is the 17 footer that my son completed last year from strips ripped from used unneeded cedar tongue-and-groove boards.  (My two sons’ first boat building venture was a joint effort to make two one-person strip canoes for themselves... one son was in college and the other in grad school... and my younger son told me today that he is just beginning to loft out lines for his own 17 foot stitch-and-glue canoe... they’ve got the bug that infects all of us on this forum. 😄)



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My son’s family joined us several days for a mini-vacation.  They chose to stay in the camper in the side yard, enjoying the rain sounds during two of the three nights. They spent time hiking, biking, canoeing, playing with the toys downstairs, and making breakfasts in the camper. 


And, now they head on home. The kids fell asleep pronto. (Does that rack of bikes on the back look cute, or what?)



This afternoon, before they left, we flipped the boat back over so I can finish the bottom and sides. Tomorrow has in store a lot of sanding, a couple strips of fiberglass for the edge of the centerboard opening (or I might just apply a couple more coats of slightly thickened epoxy), installing the keel, and a second fill coat of epoxy on the bottom.  (The sides only have a first coat of red paint; the bottom will get caught up.)95418A9B-B06F-4510-AC55-CB4A81D7C725.jpeg.07bbc6653b11e1bae810dbc4bd2199f2.jpeg


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Week 9 — Days 39, 40, 41:  Just Some More Stuff


These three days were productive, but there isn’t much new to show.  It was mostly about sanding and brushing... and sanding and brushing... etc.  Things that were accomplished:

==> I added a few more layers of fiberglass and epoxy fill coats to the top part of the centerboard and to the tabernacle.  Both are now receiving initial  coats of high-gloss Interlux Schooner Varnish. 

==> The keel was installed and filleted.


==> I’ve begun applying coats of varnish to the rudder, tiller, gunwales, and sprits.  The varnish calls for 10-12 hours before sanding and adding another coat.  (I’m in a waiting period now... there will be lots of those since 5-6 coats are recommended... whew.)

==>  The undersides of the decks and thwarts are done; they have at least 4 coats of epoxy.  (I’ll probably eventually add a few coats of varnish to the undersides.). I will now start on the many coats of varnish to the topsides of these pieces. Here’s a shot of most of the varnished pieces:


==> The bottom was sanded before I added a second fill coat of slightly thickened epoxy. 

==> Once the fill coat and keel fillets were cured, I did my LAST major sanding of epoxy... yay!  (Well, at least I think it’s my last.)


==> The bottom now has two coats of primer (the primer has an 18 hour suggested time before sanding.)  After I sand the primer tomorrow, I will add a first coat of red paint to the bottom and a second coat of red to the sides.  
       I was able to “paint-on” some thickened epoxy to the sides of the centerboard opening, making it more protected. 

        As I was appreciating the fiberglassed plywood of the upside down hull (as seen in the previous post) I toyed with the idea of leaving a large area of the bottom unpainted and varnished, making a creative and interesting look under the waterline and while on the trailer.  I thought that all that finished plywood with the contrasting color and woodgrain of the keel was really looking nice.  True, my fill coats of epoxy did include white micro beads, making for a very smooth surface, but they also changed the appearance somewhat. So, I decided the easiest and best thing to do is to stick to my original plan: paint the bottom and sides red and add a white boot stripe (and maybe a pinstrip near the gunwales.)

==> During the “wait” times yesterday and today, I installed the sail tracks onto the mast. The system worked out great. 

So, this is where things are after these three days of boat work:


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Motorcycle Ride

I’m waiting for the hull bottom paint to cure a while before flipping the boat over.  As I wait I can’t do much more remaining boat work. With the sail tracks installed the masts are ready for the rigging (one of those “nervy” projects since I really don’t fully get all the rigging details yet, especially without having the sails yet... they’re still in the pipeline.)  I suppose I could finish assembling the rudder (maybe make that a “tomorrow” project?)  

The deck installation needs the boat right side up.  So....


I did an afternoon shopping run and then took a motorcycle ride this evening.  I included a quick stop at the boat landing of a nearby lake (part of the Wisconsin river just north of my house.). Soon I will be using this landing for the Norma T.  There is a sailing club on the lake and a few dozen boats in the club’s parking area. I suspect there aren’t any other cat ketch rigs on the lake.  (The ski boat in the photo is being used by the lake’s ski club.)


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I wish to make a white stripe an inch or two above the water line. I taped the bottom edge with this approach but it seems that, even with tension in the tape, it sagged some in the middle area. I think that I’ll wait until I actually get it into the water and see if I still wish to do this. 

I guess I’m committed now to putting the boat onto the trailer. 

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  • PadrePoint changed the title to Core Sound 15 #162 — Building the “Norma T”

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