Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cutting holes into the bottom of the boat

There comes a time when every man needs to pass through some hurdle and move from childhood to adulthood.  There's a small period in between called "limbo" by various anthropologists.  In the course of building this Goat Island Skiff that rite of passage is the cutting of the daggerboard slot in the bottom of the boat, the limbo is staring at the hull and imagining what you are about to do.  Translation for the non-boat crowd:  I have to cut a gaping hole in the bottom of my boat, and it's gotta be dead on with the case on the inside, or else gallons of water will pour into the hull and my expedition is over.

The intrepid reader will remember the positioning of the case in the interior of the boat.  Now, I have to cut the hole on the other side.  In an ideal world, I would have drilled two pilot holes before I glued in the case, so I wouldn't be hunting around in the blind.  However, the way my case was built and how it fit (badly) this was not possible without severely complicating matters.  It was in my best interest to install the case and figure out the slot later.

So I carefully measured the exact middle of the boat from edge to edge, then again opposite, then again from the runners.  I knew that the seam between the two pieces of ply that comprise the bottom fall where the slot is, so I only needed to make lateral measurements. Then, a small pilot hole:

Success!  I hit it on almost perfect!

Then, thanks to my very good friend Peter who takes pity on me, I was able to route out the slot with his amazingly slick router.  He has to give me a primer on how to use it everytime, but that's ok.  I drilled a 1/2" hole, and then began the terrorizing task of cutting a mondo sized hole into the bottom of my boat.  I used a flush-bit.  If there is ever a time for a man to get nervous this is it.  This is where I left boat-building childhood and became a man.  I stuck the router bit into the hole and routed away.

It smoked some, but in the end, the result was mega-awesome.  Precision slick.  Slot, accomplished!

So this is all very awesome.  Sailboat now she is, for sure.  This is the one unmistakable sign of a sailboat, a slot in the bottom.  Vindication and satisfaction is seeing that the slot lines straight up with the centerline drawn on the bottom of the boat from days long gone. 


  1. Good work. I find it amazing that all the tasks I stew over and keep putting off because of my own perception of its difficulty, turn out to be the easiest.

    It's mostly the easiest of tasks that go awry. I think it's called Murphy's Law...

  2. Not all sailboats have slots in them.

  3. I didn't say that. If you have leeboards, or some sort of keel, no slot. If there is a slot, it's probably a sailboat as opposed to a motor or row-only skiff. JEEZ-O, brother!