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Building a cape henry 21 gaff cutter.

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  • Building a cape henry 21 gaff cutter.

    Hello. i will open this thread along i am building my own sailboat, a 21 feet dudley dix design cape henry. i live in Chile, santiago, work as a orthopedist doctor, bones and tools is my job, but this is relaxing and challenging backyard proyect but one i enjoy a lot. this will be my bigger boat and my third too!

    first was a john welsford pathfinder who i still use and sail every summer in our chilean waters. this took me almost 8 years, 2 different houses and 2 kids.


    the next was one 7 feet nutschell pram for the sa,e kids. this took 4 month.


    now is the cape henry...i guess, hope, dream will take 2 years....

    so some pictures.


    pablo besser

  • #2
    Re: Building a cape henry 21 gaff cutter.

    the first thing was to find a good design and designer. both was in the hands of dudley dix. the boat suit me with small size, just enougth to be moved by normal car and trailer, keep dry in winter and sailing in the summer in the different areas we had in chile, like many lakes, the central coast,( the pacific is not so pacific...) chiloe island in the south and the patagonian fiords. alsowas important to find a boat with room for 4 . wife and 2 boy 10 and 12 years old. and mostly a roof to sleep at night more protected. last but not least a little traditional taste and also some modern materials in good balance.

    all of this took me to this boat.


    the firt job was to arrange a shop. actually 2 shops. one barely big to keep the boat inside...the second one to build all the rest. many tools from my last boats. and the materials.

    one important point was to build a assembly table. perfectly flat or near to... to build and assembly all the pannels and pieces, glue and shape...etc. at good level, strong and flat.


    next come from dudley who send me the cnc files to make the plywood cutting more fast, clean because the dust stay in the cnc facility and precise. so after some search found a small shop and some nice guy who cut the pieces really nice. first time i use this metod.
    the problem came with the plywood. here the last years all the local wood species are no longer used instead pine and eucaliptus is the rule. they grow so fast and cheap. so no way to get a native plywood and they dont import gabood okume etc...because is no market for that. also pine plywood are cheap, made by resorcinol waterproof glue and good quality veneer, so instead of okume, the pine will be my choice at least for the bulkheads...probably for the exterior hull will try to find a good native good one plywood but the last 3 factory just move to pine....
    so the plans says 9 mm bare plywood. i choose 12 mm fiberglassed both sides plywood. stronger and encapsulated.



    • #3
      Re: Building a cape henry 21 gaff cutter.

      Welcome Pablo, there’s another Cape Henry on this forum here by Max F

      Last edited by Andrew Donald; 12-08-2019, 12:26 AM.


      • #4
        Re: Building a cape henry 21 gaff cutter.

        Must be almost a lifetime of places to take a small boat in Chile. had some friends spend 3 years in "the channels" and they say they only scratched the surface. Nice job on the Pathfinder.

        Interesting with the plywood, what was used before pine and eucaliptus? . Many builders in Europe using pine, have used it myself on some smaller projects, and the quality has been good. It is far heavier than the Okume, but often half the price.

        What timber was used for your table frame? Good design. Look forward to watching the build come together. Do you have a local brand of epoxy or do you import?


        • #5
          Re: Building a cape henry 21 gaff cutter.

          Subscribed! Very interested in watching this project move forward. Chile is a place that is on my bucket list of countries to visit.
          By golly she's done! Helga B.... Calendar Islands 16


          • #6
            Re: Building a cape henry 21 gaff cutter.

            Nice boat you choose.


            • #7
              Re: Building a cape henry 21 gaff cutter.

              Pablo, nice choice of boat.
              Your words ' i choose 12 mm fiberglassed both sides plywood. stronger and encapsulated.' You will have difficulty with the lower panels at the bow. Read Max F's thread on it. 9 or 10mm is tricky, 12mm will not go. Two layers of 6mm would do it. I used 10mm for the hull, but laminated 6 & 4 for the bow.


              • #8
                Re: Building a cape henry 21 gaff cutter.

                yes, i know. he es is much advanced. but i guess more photos and data is better.


                • #9
                  Re: Building a cape henry 21 gaff cutter.

                  yes, thanks for the advide. the planks i will try 9 mm. the already 12 mm is much stiffer and heavier... only hope to find a good plywood. in the old time, just 10 years ago was prety easy to find good native wood plywood. the pathfinder was done without any pine on it. only coihue and tineo, both south american woods very nice to work and water proof.

                  the epoxy es mepsystem a local company who supply goood epoxi 1:2 mixure. expensive as in any part of the world.

                  pine is not bad the only issue if you dont fiberglass they check and crack easily. just a layer of glass and is stable for long time and ready to paint.


                  here i am fiberglassing the pathfinder deck after 2 season. now is glassed and epoxy painted and hope will last enought...

                  about the cape henry, when i got all the bulkheads panels i check the zig zag conections like a puzzle, make a little more round the edges with a router and glued together. i love a mixture of epoxy and floor dust 50% silica powder 50% to make the epoxy thiker like a glue.


                  then once glued , sanded, i cover both sides with fiberglass 200 gr biaxial ideally with 3 hands of epoxy, and some of then i used peelply to get a better surface and smoth, ready to paint.
                  my idea was to do all the work possible in the bulkead in my table befour i set up them in the floor to conect them with the stringer and later the planks.


                  this makita 1/4 battery router is a must for this work. every day i am using more and more learning in the process.



                  • #10
                    Re: Building a cape henry 21 gaff cutter.

                    This thread highlights one of the best aspects of the forum,the opportunity to see what other boat enthusiasts are doing in places far away from us.I look forward to seeing this build progress and judging from the boats that have built already it will be a great success.


                    • #11
                      Re: Building a cape henry 21 gaff cutter.

                      Looking very good Pablo
                      I´m looking forward to follow your thread, and happily will answer questions.


                      • #12
                        Re: Building a cape henry 21 gaff cutter.

                        Originally posted by Max F
                        Looking very good Pablo
                        I´m looking forward to follow your thread, and happily will answer questions.

                        thaks max. also your boat is getting really nice.

                        is good to have this building forum because everybody con get good or new ideas.


                        • #13
                          Re: Building a cape henry 21 gaff cutter.

                          here i keep glassing the bulkheads and also assembly the rudder. 4 layers of 12 mm plywood and a couple of metal bars included along the main axis to make stiffer. later glass and several layer of epoxy. once i epoxy i like to use the heat gun to remove any air bubble trapped and also this break some superficial tension and this make a smooth surface.


                          the stern piece. 12mm doublers plus a 9 mm plywood both sides glassed. the plans call for a special frame to get this cuve, i did in the oder way bending the doublers first and laterl glued to the plywood with the help of some brute force.


                          rudder ready to glue. inside was 2 metal bars like beams following the long axis to make a strog foot inn the rudder.
                          some clamps...


                          making trhe profile, first cut long line at different depth with the skill saw, well makita. and then carve them to the final shape. not so difficult.


                          • #14
                            Re: Building a cape henry 21 gaff cutter.


                            cutting the lines, different the same interval. all mesurement taken from the plans rudder profile.


                            tools of destruction. chisel, hammer, sanding tools and a small battery planer.

                            ready to epoxy...and the heat gun. now my best tool for epoxy surface.



                            • #15
                              Re: Building a cape henry 21 gaff cutter.


                              the doublers, the plans call for some extre pieces at the roof to form the roof beams or doublers, because is only plywood this must to be 3 layers and also one strong wood at the underside all together glued and laminated. so i like to put some carbon or just glass tape in betwen the doublers when i glued them,. normally is enought epoxy to saturate wood and the fiber and probably i got a stronger beam.


                              this 2 bulkhead recive all the force of the mast so must to be strong but also they use a mast post just under the mast tabernacle and this get most of the load.

                              the plans call for some 450 kilos of lead as ballast. they call for shotgun lead or something like that mixed with epoxy. in chile no was possible to get lead on this form so at the end i got some heavy lead lingot. 12 of them about 30 to 42 kilos each.

                              some 350 kilos goes inside the boat at the bottom but the rest will be in the form of a wooden centerboard.

                              the plans ask for a metal 25 mm thick metal centerboard. but just to cut this and get the shape and bevels with the grinder machine or some heavy nasty noisy tool will be a problem in my house and sure all the next houses arround so i ask for another option to dudley the designer and he offer me a wooden solution wich means a extra thick centerboard and centercase made of wood, fiberglass and lead inside. so i must figure a way to store 110 kilos of lead bars inside them,
                              the problem is the lead lingots are much bigger to fit inside so one option was to melt them in another shape or plan b call for cut them....


                              450 kilos of lead.... about 800 dollars!! not cheap at all.

                              lets see wich option is better, to cut or to melt the lead...