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Random thoughts on the PocketShip Build Process

Design of the PocketShip

When I was down at the Woodenboat Show in CT this year, talking with John Harris of CLC, he mentioned to me that the PocketShip is one of the very few designs that he has not modified over the years. This gave me the confidence to choose this design based on it still meeting his initial design criteria. Other builders have modified the hull design and added/removed other features with levels of success. I am very much a new boat builder and I do feel confident I could do that, my goal is to build a proven design that met MY criteria. Those were to be able to build myself, build within the garage working envelope including during the winter, and to be able to store and tow the boat on our property. To be fair, I am a bad judge of my own skills compared to others, but I do have a vast level of experience in multiple trades and crafts that I have seen come into play during the build process so far. I am not building a Stradivarius here, I am building a boat that will teach me as I continue, and will likely meet or exceed my aesthetic and functional needs.

Construction so far

I am finding varying levels of troubleshooting and thinking several steps ahead necessary. Nothing has appeared insurmountable and beyond checking in with CLC on epoxy mix guidelines and one question on measurements I have not had to use support. Having patience and not rushing steps seems to be the order. The most frustration I have had so far is waiting for the slow cure epoxy to cure enough to sand. As a result, I have ordered an additional gallon of the fast cure hardener to happily speed things up where I feel comfortable. I am used to working with fast or extra fast hardeners in glassing surfboards and the delay, while allowing me to do other things drives me crazy. Side note – don’t use more than 5 oz of fast hardener per batch of mixed epoxy. It will kick off too quickly and you will likely not get it spread out fast enough unless you are working with others to spread it. At this point I believe I am at a medium-fast cure for most things including fill coats- for example: eight pumps of low viscosity epoxy (double volume) with three pumps of slow hardener and five pumps of fast hardener. The pre-glassing of some of the panels will definitely make progress feel slower but it will speed up and make your life easier when it comes to assembly and prep for paint. Fully sealed and sanded glass is finish ready after some cleanup. A flat panel is easier to sand than a curved surface.

Intimidation factors

Things I think may be stressful or difficult for some people in the beginning:

  • Working with fiberglass and epoxy
  • Working with molten metal
  • The amount of sanding required if you are not good at the above, and the amount if you are
  • Trusting everything will fall into place if you follow the steps
  • Realizing you must reference the build plan sheets as well as following along with the steps in the build guide book
  • Lack of familiarity or confidence with hand and power tools
  • Not knowing how to properly sharpen or maintain those tools
  • Material handling and proper storage/organization
  • Feeling like your progress is not as fast or good as others – it’s your journey, not theirs
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