Building a Frolic2 – Part Three

by Robert Jacobs - Fresno, California - USA

Read   Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5

Well, it certainly doesn’t seem like much has happened since the last little blurb I wrote until I go back over it all trying to sum up. I guess after seeing what all I really have been up to, I don’t feel all that bad, after all. Sort of like watching a puppy grow, you know? The funniest part is, all kinds of other shenanigans have been going on around here to slow me down, but I’ll have to wait for all that to come later. The first thing is to get all caught up on the Frolic, and what’s been happening to her.

The decks are both framed and the plywood decking has been fitted, screwed, and trimmed, but not permanently attached, yet. I plan to remove the decks before the boat is flipped to do the outside glass work, but I thought it best to attach them and their framing first. The deck framing was permanently installed prior to flipping to help stiffen the boat.


The fitting of the decks is a straightforward operation, and especially simple because the decks are dead flat athwartship, though they do follow the sheerline. The framing for all the decking was marked on the underside of the panels, so when they are removed, they can be painted on the underside before permanent installation. This is one of the myriad time consuming jobs best done in stages,and those staggered and squeezed between other jobs. The finishing of a boat requires a substantial amount of drying time, so I like to spread these little jobs out and do them while some other thing is drying. Also, painting upside down and backward is a real drag.

The cabin or cuddy or slot top halves, whatever the heck they are, also had to be fitted. This was actually fairly simple to do, because the inboard ends are dead straight, so the halves were simply laid in place and traced to fit. The house tops serve as giant gussets of sorts, to provide rigidity to the big open box that is the cuddy, so I felt it best they should be attached before the boat was rolled over. Once I got the cabin tops fitted, I also went ahead and removed the openings to the fore and aft companionways mostly because I wanted to, but also because I wanted to try and get a full vision of the boat before flipping her, I think because I knew how much things would slow down once she turned for fairing and glass, even though I had no idea how much things would get slowed down…

That’s all for the future, though, and out of sequence, so I’ll wait until the part where things go a little haywire to talk about exactly how things go a little haywire. Well, not really haywire, but interesting. What? Just bear with me, it gets way better, which, I realize, ain’t really saying all that much.


The last bits of real business on the boat to attend to before the flip were the cockpit cleats and the oarports. See, I wanted to put some cleats on the outboard edge of the cockpit seats, and I wanted to have the screw heads buried under the eventual sheathing, rather than drill through my sheathing unnecessarily. I also wanted to frame the oarports, to have the screws from the framing buried as well.

Which pretty much brings us to the first thing that really slowed me down on this boat. The boat. That’s right, the boat itself has forced me to slow down a bit during this stage. See, I am well past any of the instant parts of this construction, which mainly refer to the construction of the major hull components.

I’ve said before, and will again, that some type of self jigging stitch and glue boat is about the quickest way to get a hull. No matter which way you slice it, though, the hull is barely the beginning, even for a relatively simple sailboat like this one.

Up until now, it has been so much, measure to this line, cut, assemble, go. Now, however, there are a lot of measure to fits, trim to fits, and figure out how to fit it without having a fit fits. There are also a lot of places it pays to start thinking ahead. I must be honest, and admit  some of this knowledge is hard won, from years of, let’s say, getting ahead of myself. Rushing. There it is. This is no time to rush. To be sure, it is no time to slack off in effort, but neither is it a time to be charging ahead without a plan. I ain’t about trying to tell anybody what’s what, but I am trying to explain why physical progress seems to have slowed, at least in my mind.

Plotting points and springing battens and ripping panels and sticks and bringing it all together and glooping it up are all very hot and heavy things to do, but now it has settled down into plain old boat building. Which is what I came for, don’t get me wrong. I am in heaven.

Top is on, decks are fitted, everything is going great. Before I flipped the boat, though, I had to decide how I was going to flip it, and then support it inverted. The decision on how to flip it came when we tried to lift it, just to see. Not a problem, at this point, for a pair of us to lift her, and a third to stuff the horses under. The three of us then simply rolled her in place on the horses by pure brute strength. Well, we kind of just rolled her, then scootched her, then rolled her again.


The horses were made just for the boat, so they match the beam, and are of uneven heights so the boat sits level when inverted. One spans the foredeck beam, the other the aft deck beam. The whole shebang came out surprisingly level fore and aft, and totally rock solid, which is a good thing, because the outside of the hull gets some real abuse in preparation for the glass.

The first job after the boat was inverted was to glue all the outer seams up with some schmootzy epoxy putty, filling in all the cracks and gaps to complete the bonding of the panels, and to give some nice material to round over into smooth transitions rather than angular joints.

Now, this again. Until it is fully cured, epoxy is as toxic and bad for you as it ever was, so if you go after green epoxy, making dust and what not, treat it like the liquid stuff, or you may become sensitized. It was likely this snake that bit me, because I have always treated liquid epoxy like boiling acid. Not something you want on your skin, dig? So far, so good with the DuckyPoxy, but I have been letting it set up for 7 days (average day temp 101 F, lows in 70sF) before messing with it. I’m being extra cautious on purpose, because I have found I missed working with this gloop somewhat. Below, the hull is flipped on its horses ready for the seams to be filled, then faired. The safety resting rope from the roll over is still on the floor.


Once the outside seams are filled up, and hardened to your satisfaction, the boatbuilding begins. Here we begin to make judgement calls independent of the design sheet, because here we are dealing with the individual boat. Of course, the goal is to have a boat that matches the designed numbers perfectly, but materials are all variable, so tiny nuances are inevitable. How much to cut and carve, how much to fill and shave down are as much matters of preference, too, as individual variation. And, too, honestly, the quality and finish of the material, and the desired finish of the end product. This is where you take the time, or don’t, to make your boat truly your own boat, by which I don’t mean you can change it all up different, now, but I mean you can make it what it’s going to be.

This boat is to be a nicely finished one, which is not to say shiny and bright, but a real work boat finish. Not crummy nor sloppy, but plain and stout, and not in any way inferior in any way to any other craft, save for perceived varnish deficiencies. So, the fairing of the seams and panels is a very important job to be done, for a few reasons.


The first reason is to ensure the boat is built as well as possible. The beautiful part of being an amateur is that I have no real schedule but my own, so I have the time to do it right. This building of boats and then using them is my hobby, one I came to late in life, to be sure, but it is my joy. That and running. At no time do I consider the avalanche of tasks an onus, but rather as opportunities to keep building boats. I enjoy it so much, in fact, this cycle of building boats and using them, I keep doing it, serially. Really. I always have several boats going, on top of the other stuff. I guess the point is, don’t beat yourself up if you want to rush through the finishing stages, but it will reflect in the finished product. I’ve done, and still do it both ways, so I know.


The second reason to fair very carefully before any kind of cloth gets stuck down, is the ease with which plywood is faired compared to glass, or some other cloth.

The longboard is a good device, and I tool I spent a ton of time dancing with. The Longboard Hula. If you kind of sway your hips to keep your whole body engaged, and move along the boat from end to end, it looks like a dance. The dance actually started with a couple of surform planes, a rasp, a rat tail file, and a four in hand, or farrier’s rasp. I try to avoid using blades on plywood, because the glue dulls them so quickly, so I like the surform, which is a “disposable” tool that remains sharp enough for some other work I do what’s softer than plywood and glue after they dull.

The cutting away is augmented by building up, and then more cutting away, and more building up. You know, the whole game of life is just the same thing, really, so you may as well have a boat when you’re done, eh? Anywho, this fairing process can really bog someone down, if they want to wait a week between filling and fairing, so there has been some time in the Frolic budget. Most of that time has been spent futzing on the other stuff the boat will need to be a boat, like the sailing bits. I have other boat projects that are always going on, too, so I stayed plenty of the busy while I waited for the latest round of gloop to dry enough to sand with a mask and shirt sleeves. Except.

Ha ha, well, I suppose we finally have come to the real distraction. See, there was one major time thief what came into my life at just about the time I started having weeklong breaks in hard labor on the boat. I may have mentioned before my membership in a small forum dedicated to building wooden boats, but if I never did, or you just ain’t read it yet, I am a member of a small forum. There are a number of overlapping boat related interests, but I am hesitant to advertise, because it is full of boat people who talk boats, and there are very few web based shenanigans.

While on this forum, during the usual barber shop type banter, composed mainly of lies, it came to my attention a fellow forumite was being forced to abandon the dream. An opportunity, basically, to take over a bare hull, to do all the boatbuilding work, for real. This is a nice boat, y’all, a real winning race boat, seriously, and built of the fancy ply what I didn’t spring for for my Frolic. And, it came sitting on a brand new trailer, y’all!


Now, nobody here is starving, but we ain’t what anyone would call rich, so I usually don’t even consider buying stuff. Yes, I do build boats, rather than buy them, but I usually build my boats by getting chunks at a time, I don’t pay retail for most stuff, and I got time, so my boats always come out affordable, even if they take a while. But, here, see I built up this kitty for building a boat, and I ain’t but used a small portion of it…

In the tradition of Ultimate Dumb After Stupid, I blew the kitty on the other boat.

Oh, yeah. We hauled on up the state 4 hours, or so. Hard to tell, really, because I am an idiot, and I get lost and take detours a lot. Still, we drove 4 hours North, and didn’t even come close to Oregon. You know, this is one gigantic crazy banana we live in, out here! We met the guy, in real life, picked up the trailer and boat, got a bunch of ply and lumber to finish the boat with, and a few odd trinkets, like an old bandsaw for oldest son to rehab and use. We got home, nestled the boat into the garop on its trailer, and let the designer know I had the boat. Next chapter in “big” boats has been outlined!

Then I got back into the grind. Fairing, fairing, fairing some more. Yippee. And all the while, I’m dreaming of this boat here, sneaking glances of that boat over there, and hearing Siren calls from the other boats what need fixing. And the kids convinced me to help them build a simple boat. I ain’t been neglecting this Frolic, though, y’all. She is become as smooth as a two day old baby, and the glassening is about to occur.

Luckily, during the down times of that operation, I’ll have plenty of stuff to do, including refilling the kitty so I can get me some sails and whatnot.

Yes, I know I didn’t mention what kind of boat I bought, or what me and the kids built. Those are piles of lies to be scattered another day.


  1. Looks like a fair job your doing mate, I like this design by Jim. Your lucky to some some work room in your garage – if you can afford it think about solor power for over nighting on your weekend trips away in the future some great ideas have come on the market place- Have a good one – Dave

  2. Dave,
    Thanks a ton. The last garop was about 9 feet wide and 18 feet long, so I do feel quite lucky.
    I am getting to the part where I need to make some hard choices about electricity.
    Leads on solar?


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