Building a Frolic2 – Part Four

by Robert Jacobs - Fresno, California - USA

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


It sure seems like this should all be done already. By which I mean this darn boat, and this little blurb about my fumbling. Probably both should be done, already, really. Should. Ha.

As to the blurb, well I ain’t all in it with this computering, y’all. Let’s get that cat out of the bag right up front. Added to my general computer interface ineptness is the fact I’ve got to get the picture taking thing to talk to the typer thing. Yikes.

Somewhere out there in cyberspace are some garbled ding dong ramblings and bad pictures all bundled up in a foolish little cyber bundle. I don’t know, but it’s not in here. It’s in The Cloud, or The Ether, or Dang. Which, really, in the case of this sordid saga, actually turned out for the best, because, really, events have occurred which basically rendered the old ramblings basically obsolete. This is all my mush mouth way of saying I wrote something else first, then lost it, and then wrote this here new one.

Which is actually wonderful. Setbacks and dumb mistakes are pretty much how things go for me, so I don’t even really notice, anymore. Which is probably good, because this project has been nothing but setbacks and happenstance conspiring against her ever leaving my garop. Luckily, I am pig headed enough to pretend I don’t notice how demoralized I’m supposed to be.

But, geez, am I getting WAY ahead of myself. Well, the computer mess is relevant now, sort of, but the building errors are yet to come, as far as this tale is concerned. I gotta get all caught up on what all has happened on that front before I relate which part was a bust.

The glassing happened. Man, what a trip.

The black line is where the second bottom layer of glass was trimmed.

The plans call for a sheathed bottom panel and two layers of six ounce tape on each outer seam. We decided to sheathe the entire outside of the hull, with a double layer over the bottom and a layer of tape over the upper chines, which provides a doubled bottom, and two layers of glass over each seam. The doubled bottom layer was overkill a bit, but running aground on rocks happens around here, and a little extra glass helps.

We did one half of the hull at a time, port and starboard. The cloths overlap on the centerline by about 2″, which is about the siding of the skeg. More about the skeg in a minute. Ahem. The cloth covered the whole of each bottom half, just up and over the upper chine, leaving a bare section of ply on the vertical topside sections of the boat, just below the rubrail. I dreaded glassing these vertical sides until I figured out how simple it would actually be.

Before I got to the topsides, though, we threw another layer of cloth across the bottom and over the lower chines, and I taped the upper chines. This was all straight forward squeegee work, trying to ride that fine line between floating and starving. Luckily, though, we’ve done some saturating of glass with epoxy before, so we sort of aren’t terrible at it. Sort of. Heh. Anyway, all this glass had to be filled and faired which is no big deal, really. All you do is mix up some smoodgy epoxy slurry, then rub it all over, especially near level changes, and you knife it off all smooth with a wide knife. Then, you take your old friend The Longboard, and you go to town. Sometimes you need Longboard’s helper, QuadFold, which is a painter folded sheet of sandpaper, and sometimes Curled Quad, which is a rolled-folded QuadFold useful for sanding fillets.

Now, after it’s all sanded, smoodge some more on the low spots, and Longboard again.

Now, do it again. And again. And again. And again. This can become time consuming if you wait 3-5 days between bouts to allow the epoxy to cure.

At some point, you will decide it’s ready to prime. After you prime, you will have a choice to either paint your lumpy boat, or keep fairing. I sort of got carried away. It’s like a Rocky movie out there. It’s round 14, and I have the boat worn down with my face, so, I think I’m going to have Mickey cut my eyes, and get back in for the final round.

But. Listen, y’all, I am really trying to make a decent hole in the water, here. I want her to be as smooth and nice looking as can be, especially on the large, flat surfaces, and along the chines, because she is basically all large, flat surface and chine. I am putting in extra work because I want to, but this work takes extra time because I ain’t got a power sander, y’all. It’s fun, though, nice to spend time working on your own boat.

Somewhere in there I glassed those vertical topside panels, so I may as well talk about it. I really wasn’t sure of a good way to do it until I read about using plastic sheet to saturate and place tapes.

Well, I reasoned that maybe I could lay out pieces of cloth cut to shape onto plastic sheet, then saturate them with epoxy, and then roll them up on mandrels and roll them out onto the sides. It seemed so easy in theory, and proved so in practice, really.

I started the whole operation by making paper templates of the topside panels. Guess what? Both sides are the same! Whoo-hoo! Since the panels are really long, I decided to chop the glass into three chunks, so I cut the pattern into the right size pieces. The cloth was cut to size, saturated, then rolled onto a stick, then unrolled onto the boat. Sort of like moving a pie crust. Hey, if you ain’t ever baked a pie with made crust, you should. Baking is only chemistry, after all, just measuring and following directions. The whole process of glassing the vertical panels went fairly quickly and was pretty darn simple, actually.

Sometimes I even surprise myself. Heh.

After the glass was applied to both vertical sides, it needed smoothening, too. Same smoodge, sand, smoodge, sand routine as everywhere else. The topsides have oarports in them, which complicated the glassening just a bit, but nothing major. I simply cut the glass and folded the little flaps over the edges of the oarports. Simple.

See, now, I say this is simple, and it really is, but this is the crud what eats up time. These are the fussy little bits some will say should be reserved for “better” boats made from “better” material, but I think these fussy bits are what make a better boat.

These are the holes I poked in the side of my boat. On purpose. These are for the oars which, when combined with a dummy in the cockpit, will comprise auxiliary propulsion.

I’m not under any impression I’m in any league with any yacht builder, or even trying to build a yacht, at all. This is just a dumb old boat, meant to be used. Still. I’d like to be using her for the next few decades, so I figure to be a might fussy about things like sealing the plywood edges, and covering the ply in a sheathing of glass to prevent checking, and add a little abrasion resistance. Oh. And, making sure she is as smooth and nice as I can make her.

These little fussy bits eat up so much time, but they will result in a boat that will last longer, look nicer, and be easier to maintain. Says me. Hehe.

But. Some of the “gosh, this sure is taking a while” is due to pure dumbness. Oh, I ain’t at all afraid to fess up to my own dumbness and fallibility. Sometimes I even have a good attitude about my screw ups.

The first one ain’t all that bad, really. It’s actually kind of funny.

I was far enough along in the hull fairing process, I figured it was time to prime the hull. Of course, as those who have been there know, the primer coat only revealed all the unfairness left in the hull. Hehe. Well, I just got right back into the fairing groove, doing the Longboard Shuffle, slinging goop, and retouching primer. Right about the time I started to feel good about the bottom, I thought I remembered this boat having a skeg in the drawings.


Oh yeah, I need a skeg.

The good news is, I got to redraw the center line on fresh primer, so I had a nice surface to draw on. And, I am sure the boat is straight and symmetrical, now. Yea!

A little heavy sanding of the skeggal area, to prepare for glue and tape, and the skeg was attached. I laminated a skeg from thinner stock, then glued, filleted, and taped it to the hull. The bottom of the skeg will have some epoxy soaked polyester ropes glued on and faired in as a skid plate, the same as the foils.

The foils.

Oh. That’s a biggie, there. The foils are a total loss. Total loss.

The awesome part is, I didn’t realize they were a loss until the very end of the laboriousfoiling process (carving plywood is punishment) during final prep for glass and skid strips. Well, really, it IS awesome, because I would much rather have discovered a defect here, in the garop, than somewhere out there some day.

The ply comprising the foils is suspect. I found some punky wood in the inner plies of both foils. Normally that wouldn’t be too big a deal. In fact, I kind of expect some imperfections in ply, and they are generally easy to fix. These, though, ran through the board and rudder, in the inner plies. I found the bad wood as I foiled the board and rudder blade.

I honestly thought of ways to repair them, and then thought about how I’d always be worried, so I decided to start over with new foils. Yep. I just junked them. Poof. And I unleashed a string of swears which even offended my little hummingbird buddy, I think. Maybe he just coincidentally left on a hummingbird mission while I blued up the air around me.

Which brings us to yet another genius moment when I change the plans. Geez. Here, though, I am only making a material substitution, sort of. The foils will still be cut to NACA-ish profiles, and my rusty math suggests the leeboard could be a bit thicker to give a decent foil, so I decided to bump the leeboard up to 1 ½” thick strip laminated lodgepole pine. The original spec is a 1″ thick laminated ply leeboard. Now, the lanyard pull down “eye” will be formed by a strip of ply glued into a slot cut in the end of the board, and faired in with glued on blocks. The whole shebang will be glassed both sides and have a polyester rope skid plate on the leading edge.

Sounds a little dumb, but it should be as light, if not lighter than the original, will be stiffer and stronger, and will be a much more efficient foil. The rudder will be exactly to plan, except made from the same strip laminated, foiled, lodgepole pine as the leeboard. The rudder blade will be glassed and roped just as the leeboard will.

The leeboard is a bunch of little sticks cut from big sticks, glued back up into big sticks, then glued back into one big , thick stick. I hope it doesn’t warp.

Things are flying together. The mizzen mast step/partner is being built, the spars are being built (exactly to plan, even square. Yep, I’m keeping the square spars), and some slick oars are being put together.

Did I mention the forward half is in full prime? It may be totally ready. The aft half is about to get primed again, after the skeg incident, and then she can be painted. Oh, yeah, we already picked out the paint scheme.

Dang, folks, I may actually mess around and build a boat, here.


  1. Looking good. This may be the nicest finished Frolic2 yet. I think your gamble shaping the leeboard will pay off, lookong forward to seeing how that works out.

  2. Oh, thank you. Gary. I imagine it might be the record for the longest continually worked on build of a Frolic 2.
    I think she is a neat boat, just weird enough for a guy like me, and I suppose I don’t need to tell you they work, too, eh? Hehe.
    Your pictures and words have been inspiring during this build.
    She is still well under budget, which means, according to the rule, she has to take 3 times as long to finish as I planned. Ahem.

    I sometimes feel this boat is trying to teach me how to slow down and savor the moments, so I will be prepared to journey in her properly.


  3. Robert, you are the picture of persistence. Making well-shaped foils, I have been successful in using pine stairstep blanks from Lowes. Saves a lot of work. Also available in oak, but a lot more expensive and harder to shape. Hope you get to frolic in her soon.

  4. Jim,
    Thank you for the kind words. My two greatest strengths are dumb optimism, and brute endurance.
    I had hoped to have her done already and sailing in Texas this year, but stupid life keeps happening. Hehe. Next year, dang it. Maybe we’ll bring the “new” powerboat, too. Oh, yeah, there have been more delays I ain’t scribbled down, yet.
    She will be sailed this year, though.
    Oops. Did I just make another deadline to break?


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