The Devil’s STILL in the Details

Moving right along with the build list – it’s time to make a center line runner and skeg. There isn’t a whole lot of info on the skeg and center line runner in the plans or the build instructions so I kind of figured it out as I went along.

Runner 1

I started by continuing the outer stem to the center case. I used the same white oak that I had used to laminate the outer stem. You can see in this picture that the outer stem and the centerline runner do not quite line up. The boat was still in the build stand when I attached the outer stem and I had to guess where the center line was on the bottom. Looks like I got it wrong. Oh well. Once it’s faired and painted it’s going on the bottom never to be seen again. Hopefully.

skeg 4

The last of my Eco Relics white oak was milled up and put in the clamps for the skeg blank and while it set up I went to work figuring out what it should look like.

skeg 2

I picked up the overall height of the skeg from drawing 2. It looks to me to be about 150mm. Starting with a piece of plywood that approximated the curve of the bottom, I used a long piece of 80 grit sticky back sandpaper stuck to the bottom and a whole lot of elbow grease to perfectly match the ply to the boat. A long straight edge from the center case surround to my 150 mm mark on the plywood gave me a rough outline of the skeg. With that done I cleaned the skeg blank up in the power planer and then transferred the shape from the ply to the skeg.

skeg 3

Purely for decoration I cut an “S” curve into the skeg, glued it down, and called it good. Since I was in an “S” curve mode, it was time to make the trim pieces for the upper plank.

I am not sure what they are called but I approximated the shape from the plans and used my jigsaw and spindle sander to shape them. The screws are temporary. After the glue sets up I am going to pull them out and fill the holes with QuickFair.

This is the aft one.

finalie 2

And this is the forward one.

The shop foreman kept a close eye on my progress. So much so it wore him slap out.

Wore out


Devil is in the Details

So the boat is flipped, now what?

Flipped 2


With the beer drank and the help gone I was left to survey the job ahead. Screw holes, panel gaps, and miss aligned panels stared at me. From the bottom to the top I could see how my skills have progressed over the course of the build. The only problem is that I have to fix the mistakes I made in the early days.

Mr. Welsford suggests tacking a batten along the panel bottoms and using a rabbet plane to fair out the bumps in the panel. I was pretty proud of how well I had done on the panels until I tacked the batten up…

Batten 1

Looks good right?

Batten 2

Yeah there it is. It was like this over all of the planks. I sharpened up the iron of my plane and got to work. Do not skip this step. It makes all the difference in the world. I do not have the camera technology to show you how much this helped the overall appearance but trust me it is a must do. Time to get it ready for fiberglass.

System 3 Quickfair. Lots of it. You can see in the picture below how many screws I had to fill and panels fair.  That is all I have to say about that. On to fiberglass.

Fiberglassing was pretty straight forward. I ran two lines of 6″ bias ply tape over the junction between the bottom board and the first plank and then two layers of 6oz boat glass on top.

I picked up a cool trick from John Harris at CLC boats. In their video on the construction of the teardrop camper they used normal thumb tacks to hold up the glass on vertical surfaces. Good idea and  promptly stolen.


With a Little Help…

rub rail 3

It turns out that the day you flip your pathfinder is much more exciting than Christmas. Christmas comes once a year but it’s taken me two to get to this point! When I left you last I had finally installed the upper and lower rub rails and located the chain plates for the main mast rigging. Since then I had cobbed together a rolling stand to place the boat into after we flip it. You can see it sitting inside the cockpit above. I have seen a lot of complex rope and winch designs that folks use to flip their boats but I figured out a better way, I have really strong friends.


With the promise of lunch and cold beer afterwards, I lured a bunch of folks over to muscle her out. We hung out and got a feel for the task and, in short order, a plan was devised. Turns out it was super easy.


Six guys and some scrap wood got her out to the grass.

move 3

Then I hopped in to unscrew the boat from the build stand.

move 4

The build stand was removed and the boat gently rolled over in the semi soft grass.

And there it is.

flipped 1

Now that the pathfinder was upside down you could clearly see the learning curve I traveled during construction. I have to admit I was slightly embarrassed when all of my rookie mistakes were laid bare to my friends, but after a close examination they all pronounced it good. With that it was time for beer and barbeque!

Many thanks to my friends, Darrel, Mike, Nestor and son, Donald, Mark, Kevin, Gabby, and my lovely wife Cheryl. Couldn’t have done it without you.

Rub Rails

I am sure that you have picked up on this but finding quality building materials in my neck of the woods is difficult at best. With the outer stem bent I had used the last of the oak I had on hand and it was time to find some more. After scrounging the area for years trying to find a good supplier I have found my place, Eco Relics. They are an architectural salvage warehouse on the north side of Jacksonville and have all I need. Red oak, white oak, 1/4 sawn, live edge, Mahogany, Cherry, Babinga, you name it. With a little help I found the planks I needed and almost choked at the price. It was 1/3 the price I was used to paying at WoodCraft. Needless to say I loaded up way more than I needed and headed back to the shop. If you are in the North East Florida area look them up.

Joined, planed, and sawn the discount oak looks great.

rub rail 1

I started on the forward side to see if steam bending was in order. Fortunately the rails bent in with no problem at all. Before I mounted them permanently I had to locate the chain plates for the mast rigging.

I had to lift the measurements for the chain plates off of the master rigging drawing. Mr. Welsford gives a measurement off of bulkhead three and leaves it up to you to locate that on the upper planks.


I measured 500 mm off of the bulkhead and marked it on my stem. Then, with a straight stick and a plumb bob I transferred it to the planks.

Measurements to the nail on the bow evened them up. For the chain plates themselves I wimped out and bought the racelight plates. I didn’t feel like cutting stainless. The last order of business was to mount the rails on.

rub rail 2

rub rail 3

The rails went on in a normal way with little fight and just like that I was done with the build stand. You have no idea how happy I was to reach this point in the build. Two years of joy and frustrations all welled up together. It’s finally coming together.



Once again, I am a bad student that has fallen behind on my homework. Stuff has been piling up for weeks and weeks and I have been dutifully ignoring it hoping it would post itself. So much for that. It should take me around four posts to get caught up and hopefully nothing will distract me. Wish me luck.

I will start my makeup work with the story of my trailer. When I first started building the pathfinder my sailing buddy Jason contacted me and told me that he had a trailer waiting for me. Many years ago his wife’s grandmother had parked her sailboat, the Feline, at the families metal working shop in Savannah. Over the years the old catboat deteriorated and it was time to go. Fortunately the trailer was fairly new and in good shape, and, if I helped dispose of the old catboat I could have the trailer. That was an offer to good to pass up.

Feline 1

The boat was buried in the back corner against a fence. Twenty years of vines and stuff surrounded it. Fortunately Jason has a big ‘ol Ram truck with a winch that helped up clear a path. Slowly Feline emerged.

Feline 2

When we finally dug our way back to her I could see the remains of what was once a perfect day sailor. She was built of plywood and fiberglass with Mahogany trim. Back in the day she must have been beautiful. It was sad to send her out so unceremoniously.

feline 3

Turns out the trailer is in perfect shape. I put two new tires on and it rode home fine – the lights even still worked. How about that?

feline 4