Crew Orientation


Crew Orientation

The Work Area

Hull Sides

Stem, Frames & Transom

Assembling the Hull

Chine Logs &, Keelson

Attaching the Bottom

Gunwales & Half Frames

Knees, Breasthook & Inwales

Seat Risers

Centerboard Trunk & Braces

Mast Partners & Step

Bow & Stern Seats


Rudder, Tiller & Skeg

Mast & Spars

Sails & Rigging

Sanding, Filling & Finishing

Final Rigging & Outfitting

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On the eve of our first building session we held a sleepover for the other three girls of our team. Aside from the usual pizza and movies and whatever 10 to 12 year old girls do at one of these things, I asked them to sit down with me to go over a few ground rules and basic instructions. These are the sorts of things I said to them and we talked about...

Be serious when it's needed:   I expect you to relax and have fun when you're together. You don't have to be working every moment. But I do expect you to settle down when I ask you to watch or read or listen to something. I want you to work at specific tasks until they're done, and to stay focused enough that we make progress with each of our building sessions.

Costly materials:  Even though the Weekend Skiff is inexpensive as boats go, marine plywood, clear pine, and Sitka spruce are not cheap. We will use scrap to practice new methods on and for any "messing around" you want to do with wood or tools. You should not use any material without being sure, usually by asking me, whether it's earmarked for another step.

Your life depends on it!  Good workmanship is important to building a seaworthy boat as well as for attractive results. There will be times when our personal safety will depend on the strength and soundness of the parts you've made and joined. Therefore I expect you to be patient and careful, and not be upset or frustrated if we decide that something we've done has to be scrapped and started over. I don't expect that to happen very much (and in fact it hasn't) but it's still part of the process.

Safety at all times:  We will be using small power tools, many sharp objects, plus hazardous chemicals and adhesives. We'll be creating dust that may be toxic or irritating. You need to get used to -- and in the habit of -- using eye, ear, and breathing protection, and gloves whenever they're needed. This is sometimes uncomfortable and inconvenient, but absolutely necessary. My job is to keep on hand good, unscratched safety glasses, plenty of gloves and masks, at least a couple of sets of earmuffs, plus citrus based hand cleaner to get uncured epoxy off of anywhere it gets to by mistake. Lastly, horseplay with tools is simply not allowed, both for fear of damage or injury to you and to the tools!

Expectations:  I'd like to maintain a decent pace of work. I'm asking you to try to be available two days a week or better, with your parents' help. I want you to make a concentrated effort for an hour or two at a time with only short breaks. These will be followed by decently long breaks for meals, relaxation and goofing around.

Work that is "too hard!"  It's inevitable that there will be occasional tasks that are too hard for you to do, either because of complexity or, more likely, a lack of hand or body strength. However, nearly every task you do for the first time is going to seem hard until you have a chance to master the skills required. I ask you to expect this and be persistent.

I promise that if, after a decent effort, the task doesn't seem to be working, we will figure out a better way to do it. There are usually other tools or techniques we can try. Sometimes you'll just have to take turns doing a physically hard job so the labor gets spread out among all of you. As a last resort I can pitch in and do the work directly. But remember, you are going to build this boat, not me!

Be patient with me, because sometimes I'm going to have to let you try things before I can know that they're "too hard."

Communication:  Talk to me! If you're not having fun, if you're upset, if you're bored or getting tired, I need to hear it. If you need a breather, don't just wander off but let me know. If you decide you'd like to sit out the rest of the day or you'd like to go home, tell me. If something's not working and needs to be changed, say so. This is as new to me as it is to you, so if what we're doing isn't working out and I don't see it, I'll need feedback from you. I expect we're going to be partners in this effort, not "me boss, you slave." Make sure your parents let me know anything that concerns them, too.

That's the gist of the basic crew orientation. I also spent a few minutes going over the use of a ruler and fractions of an inch, including creating a handy little chart labeling all the little lines. Finally, we looked over the building steps as they're shown in the book, to begin familiarizing them with the process we were beginning.

The girls have turned out to be very good at learning new skills, putting in real work, and staying committed. Even when the project dragged on beyond our expectations and the schedule got a little tight leading up to the deadline of the Imagination Fair, they continued to work hard with few lapses in their enthusiasm. The parents, bless them, as well as the people at Clonlara school, have been consistently supportive as well.

Continue with The Work Area...