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Atlanta wooden boat association membership
Founded in 1943, ABBRA serves as an advocate for boatyards, boat service and repairers and boat builders.
We are first and foremost a recreational marine industry trade association and national network of marine service and repair companies dedicated to professional development, training, education and the sharing of knowledge in the search for solutions to common problems. Pamela Lendzion, Executive Director of the American Boat Builders and Repairers Association and Susan Swanton, Executive Director of the Maine Marine Trades Association joined a group of colleagues in Washington DC to discuss their proposals designed to remove barriers to work-based learning for small businesses in the recreational marine industry. We visited the Maylands Boatyard for the end of year Christmas toolbox meeting to have a BBQ and see what has been happening at the Yard post Arno. A surprising development was a Mens Shed had been set up with much of Arno’s old tools and equipment. We were able to see the original MTT Ferry Valhalla undergoing a new lease on life as her new owners were hard at work doing what owners of old wooden vessels do: sand, scrape, repair, replace, etc.
Thanks to Peter Leggatt and Peter Russell for the afternoon tea and BBQ and the Maylands Boatyard for allowing our visit. Saturday, 22nd April saw us once again in Henderson, this time at the factory of Swarbrick and Swarbrick Yachts (which I had expected to be sub-titled “Cottesloe Yachts”, but wasn’t), the current home of production of S&S 34 yachts. Following a comment from one of our party, Owen initially explained the strong, but typical, fibreglass smell that pervaded the factory as being due to the styrene content in the resin used. He explained that it was possible to hide it with an addition of, of all things, vanilla essence, but that since it was harmless, they didn’t bother. Owen first described the chemistry and molecular structures involved with resins, starting with polyester and going through vynilester and epoxy. Stiffness of a panel was only as good as the thickness of that panel, however, but the panel thickness need not consist solely of glass and resin.
The application of foam core was immediately evident when we were shown the deck structure for an S&S 34.
Having described the process in great detail, but in words only, Owen then took us into his office to show us a DVD on computer which illustrated all the steps properly, using as an example the infusing of a dinghy hull. The weight saved goes into ballast, pushing the ratio up to 50% – and the rig can be done up tighter as well. An older technology – Cameron and Hill Sorcerer of about 30 years ago, in for surface repairs, no doubt including osmosis treatment. So, although we didn’t have the practical demonstration of vacuum-bagging which we had from Fabrice Allez at New Challenge Fabrications back in October, ’03, the DVD replaced much of that and added more in the broader picture. At our April technical meeting, long standing member Clive Jarman addressed a very good turnout of members on the building, sailing and modifications along the way of his Ian Oughtred designed Eun Mara ketch “Merry Rose”. The building of “Merry Rose” commenced on 17th Nov, 2000 and she was launched in late 2002.
Clive came very well prepared on the night with pictures of all stages of the building process together with the drawings and some pieces of hardware to hand around such as the patterns for the various bronze components that were individually cast for the project. After 3 coats of epoxy and 7 coats of paint on the bottom, the  “Merry Rose” was ready for turning over. Following the usual excitement of seeing your creation upright and looking just like the boat you knew you were building, the deck and internal framing and fitout of the interior proceeded.
Clive resolved early on to paint the inside of lockers and other inside areas as he went along including varnish where appropriate.  This was a lot easier before the cabin trunk and other areas started to close off easy access to some of the internal areas. Next came the build up of the self draining cockpit and the anchor well and substantial nyata king post on the foredeck. Another ABBA and Old Gaffers afternoon gathering provided the horsepower to transfer the completed Eun Mara ketch onto a trolley and from the trolley to new trailer which Clive had had tailor made for the boat. Good risk management dictated that the waterline and other crucial factors should be checked before any official launch so Clive and Linda found a quiet launching ramp up river to do a ‘pre launch’ which showed quite clearly what a superb job  Clive had done with the build. Mary Igglesden then officiated at the official launching of “Merry Rose” from the hardstand at Rockingham in late 2002. Clive and Linda subsequently trailed her to the South Australian Wooden Boat Festival where they met up with her designer, Ian Oughtred, who was similarly impressed. Since launching, Clive has used the boat extensively including cruising to Rottnest and Quindalup.

Experience over time has led Clive to make some operational modifications which he outlined to us in his presentation. This project is the essence of what traditional amateur boat building is all about and Clive’s very informative presentation was greatly enjoyed by all present. Footnote: As indicated in the previous newsletter, “Merry Rose” has now been sold and is on her way to a new owner in Tasmania.
Our strength as a foundation multiplies with the support of each partner and sponsor, and for that we are truly grateful. We were taken in hand immediately by manager, Owen Hall, who, in the following two and a half hours, gave us the low down on all the technicalities, including the chemical ones, involved in modern, state of the art, fibreglass production. Plenty of the chemicals used are dangerous when used in the open, however, and he described some of the precautions necessary, but many of these are less than vital when the present system of Vacuum Infusion Process (VIP) is used. He said, and showed, that the latter two would take much more bend than polyester (more, indeed, than the glass core) and so made for a much better structure. This unit had been completed quite recently and had not yet been removed from its female mould. In the infusing film resin could be seen drawn up into the vacuum bag quite quickly but it took a long while to completely wet out the matrix.
Basically, we were told, the infusion process involves laying up the whole job dry within a vacuum bag.
This is a classic amateur boat building tale – a keen and knowledgeable builder, a beautiful design and a focus that saw the boat built and a great deal of enjoyment had in quick time. This provided the backdrop for Clive’s detailed and very interesting explanation of each step of the project. This was achieved via an ABBA Toolbox visit on Sunday afternoon, 7th October, 2001 (See Mike Beilby’s write-up under the Library tab, Nov Dec 2001 Newsletter). This included the inwales at the gunwales, main deck beams, floors and the main plywood bulkheads together with bow and stern flotation bulkheads. This necessitated a small section of the deck being removable to allow the motor to be extracted if required. After gluing of the teak decking to the ply was completed, the gauged joints between the deck planks were filled with black Sikaflex which was trimmed off flush after it cured. The timber main mast was built from new oregon timber that Clive procured from Austim and an old dragon mast became the raw material for the building of the missen mast and booms. She made a very impressive sight – just what a classic designed and meticulously built boat should look like. He has replaced the rope main sheet horse with a bronze bar horse aft of the cockpit coaming, added a furler to the foresail and led all the halyards aft. Clive indicated at the meeting that he and Linda are taking a break from sailing to do other things. Hans Wilson, president of SWFMIA and also president of the State Association and Kevin Carlan, president of Mastry Engine Center, chairman of the Tampa Bay Section presented the award. Worthwhile considering if you’re just starting out or lacking some vital equipment or tools.
Everything except the resin goes into a clear plastic bag which covers the mould and everything within it. She is of a similar design, but larger than two other Eun Mara’s known to have been built in WA, one in Kalamunda and the other in Manjimup.
The inner and outer stem were laminated on the bench before being fitted to the boat at different stages of the process – the keel and inner stem prior to planking and the deadwood and outer stem later.
Here Clive opted for a bigger cockpit than the Eun Mara design and hence a slightly smaller cabin. Clive emphasised the need for an overnight hold on proceedings following the boxing out of the motor enclosure in order to be in the appropriate mental state to cut the hole in the bottom of the boat for the outboard leg. The main mast tabernacle is oregon wedged at the base so that the mast sits off the cross bolt. In this case, the Sikaflex was applied directly to the teak without magnetic tape in the bottom of the gauged joint (as has also been deployed successfully by member Mike Igglesden).

The center board was built using a core of 10mm steel with over laying ply laminations, all of which was encapsulated by fibreglassing over. He has sailed in up to 30 knots with a storm jib or stay sail plus a missen or a double reefed  mainsail. All these additions have improved the sailability of “Merry Rose”, particularly for single handing. These were a sandwich of fibreglass resin each side of a foam core and all were extremely stiff. 95% of the area involved foam cores, the exceptions being hatch and deck edges, where more glass and resin was used instead. Certainly we are very indebted both to Glen Swarbrick who made the visit possible but couldn’t attend, and to Owen who conducted it at a very technical yet always interesting level. A tongue and groove approach was used down the stem and in the deadwood components including the centrecase.
The motor is a four stroke water cooled 8 HP twin Honda with charging capacity which unfortunately only operates at higher revs. The bow sprit fitting is galvanized steel, painted and riveted to the stem with copper rod. Ballast in the form of six lead bars was also fitted to a recess which had been allowed in the keel. He even had a photo of his own FWD supported at one end by a foam core sandwich, itself supported at about two foot centres with the load bearing in its middle. The DVD was really a do it yourself kit for anyone aspiring to set up for the first time in a factory situation (which would explain why it cost about $1600), and covered all the materials needed, pipes, taps and other parts, how to set up pumps, etc, etc.
The pump has to be capable of delivering a high vacuum (a full atmosphere or 30” of mercury is best) but not a great deal of air flow.
We were all surprised when we looked at our watches and worked out that three hours had slipped by as if they were only one. Each plank needed two scarfs over its length and the clinker scarfed out between planks at each end. The deck planks themselves were also left in their natural state, to be scrubbed from time to time. All the fittings which had in most cases been cast in bronze and the centerboard were then fitted to complete the process. The sandwich was bowed an inch or two, but holding, and returned to straight when the load was taken off. Having viewed all that, Owen pointed out that there were available short cuts when you got the hang of things. Owen demonstrated one based on a car air conditioner and pointed to two others derived from milking machines. Clive hand planed each scarf on the bench and then clamped them in place on the boat to epoxy each joint.
However, Clive pointed out the importance of any scrubbing of the deck being undertaken across grain in order to avoid accelerated erosion between the ‘grain’ (annular rings within the timber) which would more quickly make the deck unnecessarily rough. Clive made all his own blocks under instruction from Robyn Hicks as per the Endeavour and the rigging is hand spliced stainless steel wire. This can still be squeezed off repeatedly with modified Multi-grip-type pliers to seal vacuum in, etc. Folding and pleating of the plastic to the shape of a yacht deck could easily take an experienced operative an hour or so.

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