Building a Haven with a modern foam and epoxy hull

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Before joining the West System International team, Area Sales Manager Gary Thompson honed his boat building skills and epoxy knowledge with a course at the Lyme Regis Boat Building Academy. Here, Gary proudly recounts the building of his Herreshoff Haven daysailer.

How did the project come about?

I was keen to top-up my wood working skills and gain some commercial boat building experience so I enrolled on a 6-month course at the Lyme Regis Boat Building Academy in 2011.

At first, I wasn’t sure which particular boat I wanted to build but I settled on the Joel White designed Herreshoff Haven 12 ½ daysailer. I’d seen a Haven built at the Academy in sheathed cedar strip plank which turned out to be absolutely gorgeous – I just loved its lines. It’s also relatively easy to launch off the back of a car, so it was the ideal boat for me.

The only problem was that due to the limited time available on the course it would be impossible to build the Haven in it’ s specified carvel planking. So when I heard a talk by course leader Justin Adkin on the quick and lightweight benefits of foam and epoxy construction, I was completely sold.

Which WEST SYSTEM products did you use? How did they help?

There are a lot of different technical elements to building this way and WEST SYSTEM® epoxy was used in every stage of the process.

The hull skin material was made by joining high density foam sheets and sheathing them with 200g/m² unidirectional cloth on one side. The sheets were screeded with a layer of WEST SYSTEM 105 Epoxy Resin® and WEST SYSTEM 205 Fast Hardener® thickened with WEST SYSTEM 409 Microsphere Blend in order to prepare the cloth for laminating.

The same epoxy mix was used for screeding the outer and inner hull to fill any gaps between the foam before sheathing with a layer of 450g/m² Episize™ Biaxial Fabric and finished with Episize Peel Ply. Once it was cured overnight and the peel ply removed, it left a consistent surface finish which allowed us to see areas that required filling and fairing.

peel ply As well as gluing the hog, keel, transom, bulkhead and foredeck – which was laid in 5 pieces – with WEST SYSTEM 105 epoxy and 205 fast hardener, all the timber deck structures were coated with a straight mix of epoxy resin to give them extra durability. A total of 67 pumps of epoxy was used just to do the foredeck.

The thing about using WEST SYSTEM epoxy is that it’s a proper system – you can mix it with different hardeners, fillers and additives so it’s very versatile and you don’t need to buy lots of different products. You get very comfortable working with it and that gives you greater control.

What was the most rewarding part of the project?

It sounds a bit clichéd but the whole build was rewarding because of the effort we put in. I had great help from the team and there were a few occasions when we worked into the small hours of the night but we took the time to really do things properly. I wanted to build a boat that would last a lifetime and we definitely achieved that.

What advice would you give to other boat builders?

The key to any major job to be carried out with epoxy is, plan, plan and plan. Everyone needs to know their role. WEST SYSTEM epoxy is fantastic at correcting mistakes but it’s better to avoid them in the first place. If you rush things or you’re unprepared, you’ll end up with problems.

Oh and another tip – for a clean and tidy finish on hard to reach fillets, use a piping bag to apply the epoxy, or a sandwich bag with the corner cut off. I only learned that since joining West System International and now I tell everyone.Herreshoff

Learn how to use a piping bag for filleting and filling in our Trade Secret.

For the full range of WEST SYSTEM products, visit the West System International website.

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