Light Schooner Building 
(1)  Main construction
 Main text and photos (c) Stephen Devine. Doodles by Flying Tadpole
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[When we built Flying Tadpole, we weren't at all brave, and failed to take photos of our progress or lack thereof.  This was a real disappointment, even before webpage days, because she turned out beautifully and not the disaster the pessimists predicted.  If you're building, take photos and keep a diary, even a simple one.  You won't regret it!

To make up for our failings, here's Stephen Devine's diary and photos. Not all construction photos have come in - we'll post them when they do. For those terrified at the thought of building, note that THIS IS HIS FIRST BOAT!  It can be done, and is!! Read on...]

librarianLong gestation period:
About 12 years ago I signed out Payson's Instant Boat book from the library, and saw the Scooner, and decided at once that this was something that I could do. I love woodworking, and thought I would like sailing. Well, I did learn to sail crewing on other people's boats, and the book somehow never got returned to the library. (I am afraid to return it now, maybe I'll drop it in the night return box.)
Exiled to the wilderness....
where I wasI then moved away to Odessa, Texas. Haven't heard of it? Neither had I. It is in west Texas, what I like to refer to as the wild wild west. It is about 300 miles from anything - including water! No trees, no rain, no cactus, nothing. It is known for oil. Well, a job took me out there, and I didn't plan to stay. 

After 5 years, I thought I might never get back to civilization. So in August 1998  I decided that I had waited long enough, and either I was going to do this or not, and I started to build my schooner.

arid rainFriends and co-workers asked if I knew something they didn't- something about a flood?- but it kept me occupied. I started building in my carport- which was too small. There I was with bare wood outside thinking that it was fine- it never rains. Well, That fall it rained a lot. Nothing like bare wood outside to make it rain. I had to do a little extra sanding, but no serious consequences. 
nasa assignmentPlans? What plans??
At this point you may be wondering when I bought my plans. Well, the book never said anything about plans, and as you may know, there are 5 drawings in the book. I learned about the plans at hull complete. At that point, I decided that I would just see how it would go. Some of the measurements may not be exact, but she looks very nice. I trusted my woodworking instincts, I think she'll float. 

Relocation near water!

In the spring of 1999, I got a new job at NASA, and was moved back to Houston in May. My visionary ways had paid off, I was right on Clear Lake! 

Building timelines and photos:
August '98- bought the wood. Went with 1/4 inch luan, anticipating a prettier finish than pine. Bottom is 6 sheets of luaun, laminated to 1/2 inch with seams staggered 1 foot (no butt straps). Makes for a clean bottom inside and out.

September '98- a 24' piece of wood outside, it rained. All pieces cut and the bulkhead formers reinforced. Initial hull framing.

but will it float?Oct-November '98- bottom fit, more rain and holidays begin.

January '99- too cold.

February'99- back on track, built daggerboard box, installed gunwales, it actually looks like a boat, might just float at this stage. 

March '99 -interview at NASA, experiment with finishes.

April '99- got job, better get some epoxy on this baby before getting into the rainy, humid climate of Houston. Finish is one coat Minwax cherry stain, 4 coats Bondo Marine Epoxy. This was all that was available in Odessa. Made a hard, flexible strong finish. Will get top coated later on with Interlux Schooner varnish for shine and UV protection.
May '99 -the move! Movers were going to charge extra to move a boat. When they came to survey my house, I asked, "Do you think we could just call this a really large couch? after all, right now it is just a project. No motor, and no trailer, and 2 guys can pick it up!" Well, the moving company thinks I have a really huge second couch.

June '99- Nothing done. Closed on the new house.

July '99- second coat of epoxy on inside, Prep outside for paint. Noticed that others used fiberglass cloth on the outside, over the wood. Did some research, and decided that mine would still be plenty strong. 
bluebottleAugust '99- painted bottom with Interlux Briteside Dark Blue. It will not stay in water all the time, and I wanted a shiny surface. Oh, there is a primer underneath because the paint will not stick to the epoxy.
Sept. '99- back to building, the decks were cut, stained, epoxied and fitted. Water-tight compartments made of the front and center bulkheads. Rear compartment to receive a hinged cover, and a couple of igloo coolers to serve double function of holding drinks, and acting as floatation in rear. In the water tight compartments, I have reserve flotation as backup. I planned on this, and was reinforced when I read Gregg Carlson's account. I went the discount route though, and raided the local recycle bin for plastic milk cartons. If you do this, make sure you tape the tops on, and squish them a bit before sealing. This will keep them from popping open in hot weather. I had to build a sleeve for the masts, to seal the compartments, seal the mast step, and put in drain tubes in the mast steps into the cockpits to drain what little water seeps past the masts. The whole mess was epoxied like there was no tomorrow.
spars gluingOct.'99- built the masts out of fir. Each is 2 2x4' glued together, and shaped with my electric planer in the back yard. 
November '99- Here we are, and we are still a little ways from launch. The masts have been fitted, and are awaiting epoxy and varnish. I am hardware shopping, and I still need to build all the booms and the jib club, the daggerboard, and the rudder. These will not pose much challenge, and will take a weekend or two. I am saving for the sails, and trying to work a deal presently. 

As you can see, she is finished to show off her wood. There will be an annual varnishing, but it is pretty!

I plan to launch engineless, and get one later on, probably a little electric jobber. An old salt told me- just plan on not having to get back at any specific time, and let the wind bring you home. Isn't that what its all about anyway? Well, I will be in a protected lake anyway, I could swim home. The motor will come later. 

She is still un-named, and the debate rages on. I don't want a silly name like the ones on 95% of the big power racing boats. I will keep you posted on progress and launch anticipation, which looks a couple of months off. 

 This boat is not perfect, but being my first, I am happy with it. 

new    Finally up! The remainder of Stephen Devine's building story, and early sailing photos and Dorothy Dixer's!

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