Over the weekend I was finally able to make a little progress on Cormorant (after about a month of being too busy with work-work to do boat-work).

Previously I had gotten to the point where my bulkheads were all up, 3-D, attached to the side panels, but my barn floor is dirt, not level, and quite rolly. I was a bit stymied by the problem of how to get the whole assemblage level, straight, and untwisted. I wished I had taken the time to build a strongback.

Finally I hit upon an elegant solution -- sort of an internal strongback: I took the two 16-foot 2x8s that eventually will be my cabin beams, and screwed some 2x4s on their edges, to make a T-beam, two of them.

These I screwed in at a uniform height along the inside of the cabin openings, which are uniformly 24" wide. So in one fell swoop I got all the bulkheads (or, all the main bulkheads, from six feet aft of the bow to the beginning of the cockpit at 22') lined up more or less straight, and a method to level them all at once.

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the T-beam in action (click to enlarge)

Similarly, I ran some temporary 2x2 stringers along the bulkheads that form the aft 10 feet of the boat, to keep them all in alignment.

I leveled everything sideways and lengthwise, banging blocks of wood under the bulkheads at various spots.

I had already pre-made the entire bottom, with a well marked centerline, so once I got all the bulkheads lined up, I enlisted the help of my wife to heave the entire 25'x 5.5' bottom piece up on top of the (inverted) boat. Fun little project all couples should try . . .

Aligning the centerlines of the bulkheads with the centerline on the bottom piece corrected a few locations by an inch or two (or actually aligned the bottoms of the bulkheads where the tops had already been aligned by the T-beams), and I tapped in some nails to hold it all in position. It's probably still a bit off somehow, but close enough for me to proceed.

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another view of the T-Beam (click to enlarge)

So the sides are attached and the bottom is attached, and I can stand inside the hull and poke my head out of the bilge panel openings. Those will go on last. But anytime I forget to bring a tool or a screw with me into the boat, it requires a lengthy trip back to the few easy points of ingress and egress -- back by the transom or up near the bow. Really makes you think ahead -- whch is not my strong suit.

Then I epoxy-and-screwed on the cabin clamps and the first lamination of the sheer strakes. Because the sides are too large to reach around, I couldn't do this job single-handed, so it again required the help of my wife, who is amazingly good-humored about it all. She held the strakes on the outside, while I crawled around inside the boat drilling in the screws and scraping and cutting myself on little bits of debris and tools I left lying in there. As we battled through one little problem after another in getting the strake aligned properly, I used up my complete supply of bad words, while she remained unflustered and somewhat amused.

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the whale . . . I mean boat so far (click to enlarge)

It all got done successfully before the epoxy cured, and now the boat is sitting out there in the barn, looking much more formed and substantial. If I can steal some work-time this week I'll get the second layer of sheerstrake lamination on, and then I'll be ready to attach the bilge panels and begin the stitch-and-gluing.

All best,