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Installing the stern seats in my Spindrift nesting dinghy


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Now that I am home and the summer stifling heat is gone, I am back to work on my kit Spindrift 11 N dinghy. I have made an adjustable cradle for it, leveled the hull, and am starting to fit the seats. At this stage I would like some technical advice. Graham’s instructions refer to the CD for this stage, and while the directions for fitting seats in a standard boat are clear and well illustrated, there is not much on the very different seats for the nesting dinghy. I plan to adapt the procedures shown, but would like to check with experienced builders to see if I am on the right track.

I am assuming the best sequence to be:

- Fit and install notched cleats (3/4” stock) to the transom.

- Fit and install the front bulkheads (1/4” ply).

- Fit and install the stringers.

- Fit and install the side panels (with holes for hatches.)

- Fit (but do not mount) the seat tops.

- Epoxy the interior of the seat chambers and the underside of the seat tops.

- Install the seat tops.

Does anyone have an alternative sequence or method that worked well for them?

Does anyone have suggestions about techniques that may make any step more efficient or foolproof?

In the CD, it appeared that the cleats and stringers were epoxied to the hull. I have a preference for using fasteners with glues. Would there be a problem with using small countersunk screws from the outside of the hull and transom? I am painting the hull, so covering the screw heads with filler is not a problem.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Barry Foy

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I don't know about the order. I built mine from plans and the aft seat/tanks had to be laid out and tested for fit when nesting as part of the process. I did the entire cleat and frame part first. Doing the forward bulkhead before the cleats could lead to problems if not perfectly located. The cleats, if part of the kit and done first will make sure that everything else fits. Using screws is fine. They won't add any strength really, compared to a well done epoxy joint. But using a few to hold things together while it kicks sure does make assembly easier, though more work later filling and fairing.

You might want to consider not adding the hatch holes until the boat is done. It is a lot easier to get a feel for where you want them. You can just epoxy the edge of the hole after cutting and before installing the hatch and everything is still proteced. I did mine even after painting. I do highly recommend the small round one for the bow bulkhead be off center to allow access while the mast is in place. Don't ask me how I know this is a good idea.

Does the kit have all the pieces and cleats already cut?

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I recommend fitting the seats AFTER you separate the bow and stern sections so you can test fit the bow into the stern before going too far with the seats.

We had to do that Garry as we were building from plans. And if I recall the seat details were not exact. I'm not sure if it is necessary for the kit, though I suppose a dry fit of the seat pieces with the halves nested to be sure is not a bad idea. They are not critical for holding shape, so no reason they have to be done before cutting in half. It is certainly a safer to do it after. I know I hate remodeling my new building projects before they are done.

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Thanks for the replies, guys.

No, the kit has no pre-cut parts at all for the seats, due to the individual fitting required. Graham threw in enough offcuts for the seats when I picked up the kit.

My own thought was that it would make sense to cut the boat, and check the fit of the seats for enough clearance. Some of the CD photos show that some builders did that. But Graham's instructions are specific about not cutting until the assembly is complete. I assumed this is because the installed seats stiffen the structure and prevent relaxing of the hull's fare shape. But I was concerned about following the plans exactly, since some of the dimensions indicated on the plans are different from the kit's dimensions. So I might just put some cross-braces in to be safe, and cut.

I am concerned about locating the bulkhead exactly; but if I install cleats for them on the hull's side and bottom panels, I should be able to dry fit the bulkheads and stringers pretty precisely. And by using screws first, I feel I could check the fit of the nesting bow before committing to epoxy.

Garry--I see you are nearby; I am in Citrus Springs.

Barry Foy

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But I was concerned about following the plans exactly, since some of the dimensions indicated on the plans are different from the kit's dimensions. So I might just put some cross-braces in to be safe, and cut.

If it makes you feel better, then do it. Cutting the boat in half is kind of scary. I did not brace anything. Between the gunwales and the nesting bulkheads that boat is mighty rigid.

I am concerned about locating the bulkhead exactly; but if I install cleats for them on the hull's side and bottom panels, I should be able to dry fit the bulkheads and stringers pretty precisely. And by using screws first, I feel I could check the fit of the nesting bow before committing to epoxy.

It is some kind of test fit process like this that Garry was advising you do. Well worth the extra bit of time it takes. If you are feeling really ambitious you might consider Garry's nesting hardware. It is more work and the type many are not interested in, but they work great.



After all the referrals Garry I want a commission on all the money you have made on these :lol:

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