Projects: Building “Willow” the Guillemot dinghy using marine epoxy
Traditional boat builder, Tim Loftus, believes that wooden boats have a quality that goes beyond functionality and market trends. When given the chance to work on a small project for one of his loyal customers, he was keen to produce something high-quality and long lasting, with that personal touch.
Firstly, would you please tell us a little bit about yourself and how this particular project came about?
I’m a traditional wooden boatbuilder, based in Bristol’s historic Underfall Yard on the floating harbour. I’ve built and restored boats of all shapes and sizes over the last 20 years or so. Also a keen sailor, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to test the boats we build in the environment they were designed for.
The project is a commission for a loyal customer, Steve Vick. I met Steve a couple of years ago when I did some alterations to the interior of his yacht. We stayed in touch and latterly Steve ordered a lug rigged Guillemot dinghy. He wanted something that he could enjoy with his grandchildren and use for exploring the creeks of the south coast.
We know you’re a big fan of wooden boats, but why choose a Guillemot dinghy for this build?
We had talked about traditional plank on frame dinghies – these represent a large proportion of my work. But it was decided that a glued plywood construction would be more appropriate as the boat would be in and out of the water. What’s more, glued ply is stable and less susceptible to drying out on hot days. Steve had spotted the Guillemot design and felt it offered the space and aesthetic he required when sailing with his grandchildren.
What stage of the build are you at right now? What’s exciting about the next stages?
I’m just painting the outside at the moment. It seemed to make sense to do this while the boat is still upside down. Next week I’ll turn it over and get on with fitting out inside – this is the fun part! I’ve already milled a kit of parts from some lovely close-grained Oregon pine, so it should go reasonably quickly.
Why did you use marine epoxy in this build? What WEST SYSTEM® epoxy products did you use and how?
I’ve always used WEST SYSTEM epoxy and haven’t felt the need to change in 20 years as I know it stands the test of time. I used 105 Epoxy Resin® and 206 Slow Hardener® for gluing the planks (with 403 Microfibres) and 410 Microlight for filling small holes, which sands beautifully.
The boat was coated with 105/206 using WEST SYSTEM 3″ rollers. The plastic mixing sticks were a revelation! I used to make these out of wood, but the plastic ones work even better.
What advice would you give to hobbyists or first time boat builders looking at starting a similar project?
This design would be a satisfying challenge for a DIY builder. I’d say take your time and enjoy the process.
Remember that measurements are often only a guide so keep checking that it looks right – if it looks right, it probably is right!
To see more examples of Tim’s work, or for his contact details, visit: http://www.johnsonandloftus.co.uk/