Lofting and Lifting



You will recall the opening episode where Charon meets John Wobblypop, an aspiring boat builder, being long on enthusiasm but short on experience. John has attempted to secure Charon’s help. Charon on the other hand, attempts to distance himself from this project without dampening John’s enthusiasm.

I was sitting at the PMYC gazebo having my after dinner marc in the company of John Wobblypop and Mike Mover. I introduced the two and may as well have walked away. They chatted together as if they had known each other for months. As well they shared several mutual friends.

I let them get into the nitty gritty of why I had introduced them. It seems that a ferro cement catamaran really peaked Mike’s interest. I busied myself putting together my garbage bag salad while the tatties were going through their bake cycle on the BBQ. By the time we started to gnarl the rare steaks Mike and John were ready to start pouring over the drawings and plans that John had received from his Florida friend.

So while Mike and John were enjoying their after dinner beers while I sipped at my marc we had the drawings spread over the picnic table. I commented that the forward part of the twin hulls had lines similar to the old plywood Thunderbirds.

John replied that Bubba Whartz actually lifted the lines for the twin hulls from plans of the plywood Thunderbird. He apparently cut the Thunderbird hull halfway down the hull. He then stretched the two halves apart separating them with parallel sides and bottom to create two forty foot catamaran hulls.

During the sixties I purchased Thunderbird plans from the Douglas Fir Plywood Association and seriously considered building one. However the high maintenance of a wood boat gave me second thoughts which at the time set me on a course to consider the new medium, fiberglass as being the way to go for a more maintenance friendly boat.

Mike who had helped in the construction of ‘Miss Conception’, his ferro cement yawl started to describe to John how he would have to loft the hull lines from the plans to full size so that he could construct the hull profile patterns that would be necessary to construct the wire mesh/rebar form which would then be filled with gunnite and trowelled to the final hull configuration.

The lofting process would require a perfectly level, relatively smooth surface. John suggested that he would approach the PMYC executive for permission to install a smooth asphalt surface in the area of the marine yard that he had rented. The asphalt topping to be professionally installed at John’s expense and when his boat was completed John would leave the asphalt topping which would then become an asset of the PMYC.

Mike pointed out that the completed catamaran would be too wide for the PMYC travel lift to handle so that John must also get permission from the PMYC executive when the time comes for launching to permit him to use an outside contracted crane service. Things were rapidly coming together for John.

“John, I don’t wish to come across as a nay-sayer but there is an important consideration you have not taken into account. The displacement of the Thunderbird hull design is predicated on the hull construction being plywood. Your construction medium is steel reinforced concrete. This is considerably heavier than plywood so to float the ferro cement hulls, provision must be made for increased displacement. The displacement provided to float a plywood hull will not provide sufficient floatation to accommodate ferro cement construction.”

Mike and John nodded their heads in unison like a couple of bobble headed dolls. I was sure that they did not understand the implication of what I said. I was so confident of this that I shuddered to myself. I knew that we were rapidly moving into phase two in the saga of “The Cat Who Didn’t Float”.

Mike was telling John that he would require help in his construction project. Mike had hired a pair of roustabouts to assist him in his latest refurbishing project. His need for their help was over so he suggested that John hire them on to help him with the construction. John acknowledged that he had already considered hiring help so that the availability of two experienced boatyard hands was welcome news.

Mike’s hired hands and feet were two gentlemen recently emigrated from the Middle East; Abdul ben Smokin and Achmedd ben Eatin. They already were well known in neighborhood boatyards as “Double Trouble” or else the “Bobsy Twins”. They were so well known that they answered to “Smokey” and “Lardass”.

This boat construction project was starting to take on the appearance of a “Chimpanzee Fire Drill”.

……………………to be continued