Friday, December 23, 2011

Calendar Girl - Miss October

For the last few years, Dave Gray has been publishing a desk calendar featuring the PDRacer, a small sailboat. Dave owns PolySail International and has been supplying low-cost, high performance polytarp sails and sailmaking kits to homeboatbuilers since 1996.

Last year, I built a couple of PDRacers, also known as a Puddle Duck. For next year's calendar, Dave wanted to include me. It made me feel good to be recognized by a fellow boat builder.

These little boats are a lot of fun to sail. Like I always say, "The smaller the boat, the bigger the adventure."

Thursday, December 22, 2011


I have had a mental block when it comes to the cabin top. But, I think maybe I'm past that and back working on it. I was a little burned out with the build, needed to take a little time off. Now, if I can stick with it, I can finish it. The colder weather makes it too easy to say, "It's cold out there in the garage, I'll wait until it warms up." That excuse isn't going to work anymore.

My tools are finally pulled out of boxes and organized on the wall or shelf. This makes the build go a little smoother too. I don't spend 15 minutes digging for that clamp or bit.

Got the side frames done. Some of the beams are made. And, of course, now I need more epoxy.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


As I was looking through my pictures of TARDIS, I realized that I never posted anything about the way I did the chine runners.

Before I attached the bottom, I only rough cut to the approximate size. After nailing the bottom in place, I then trimmed off the extra.
I took measurements from the plans and marked the area that extended from the sides to make the base of the chine runners. Once she was rolled over, I marked the line on the hull for the top of the chine runner. Blocks of wood where then glued and screwed in place to fill in from the line on the hull down to the edge of the bottom. Once the epoxy had cured, the screws were removed and holes filled with ... you guessed it... thickened epoxy. Then the sanding began.

After I had applied the three layers of woven roving, and while it was still turned upside down, I painted the bottom and the sides below the waterline.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Kemah Christmas Boat Parade 2011

The only Christmas tradition I have, is attending the Boat Parade in Kemah. I have attended the last 4 of 5 years. Some of the boats are really lit up. Very festive. If you ever have the opportunity to go, it is well worth it.

Some boats have themes. This year I saw the Griswolds...

Elvis and show girls...

and lots of Santas!

Maybe I can get into the Christmas spirit after seeing all these lights and Santas. For some reason, this year just hasn't been the same. It will hit me at the last minute... I'm sure... I hope.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


The original plan was to have TARDIS in the water by the end of September... of 2011. The build has slowed to a crawl due to lack of funds. But, today I was able to do some work on her.

Waste not, want not.

This is the jig to build the side frames for the cabin top. Today, I got most of the pieces cut. Tomorrow I will finish cutting and get them glued together.

Slow and steady wins the race.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


The cabin enclosure has been the hardest thing for me so far. The plans are confusing because everything was crammed onto one page. There are many angles and I stare at it and my eye just glaze over. I have started to cut lumber and am taking it one step at a time.

The Paradox design, in my opinion, is just about perfect. The only thing I dislike, is the boxy look of the cabin enclosure. To help give it some curved lines, I am taking away the corners of the windows, and rounding them.

In order to open up the cabin more and get more air flow through, I am making a removable panel for the aft wall. Several builders have done this, and I think it is a very good idea. It will also make it easier for this short legged woman to get in and out of the cabin.

This weekend, the mosquitos just about carried me away, so this cut my building days short. The repellant didn't even slow them down. My grandson likes to get in the boat and pretend. So, we played for a little bit before heading back into the house.

I have kept all the receipts of all the purchases for TARDIS. I haven't been keeping a running total. When it's completed, then I will get a total. I priced Lexan today, wow. I will just grit my teeth and pay it. :-)

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Shawn and I pulled TARDIS off the trailer and back on the dolly and into the garage. It's been many weeks since I have done anything to her. Before I do anything, I need to make a trip to the lumber yard.

But, I did sell the temporary trailer I bought to move her to our new house. I listed it on Within 4 hours it was sold, and I got what I paid for it. I can live with that.

Today was a beautiful day. I should have been out on the water. Maybe I'll go to the beach tomorrow. Sounds like a plan.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


When I was a little girl, my mother said if she tried to help me do something, I would say, "do it myself ". Well, I haven't changed. On Thursday, the trailer was ready for the boat, and I did it myself.

The roller assemblies were bolted onto a 2 x 4. Then the 2 x 4 was bolted onto the trailer. Not knowing how much the boat weighted at this point, I was afraid that she would be hard to get on the trailer. TARDIS was sitting on her Dolly, so I rolled her up to the back of the trailer. Her stem was about 4 inches lower than the roller at the back. About the time I was going to lift the bow up, my neighbor came over and wanted to help. He easily lifted her bow and set it onto the roller. Then, with little effort, we pushed at the stern and she rolled right onto the trailer. I really could have done it all by myself!

Immediately after TARDIS was settled, it began to pour down rain. I backed her up into the garage and began to strap her down.

Since the boat didn't take up the whole trailer, there was lots of room to pack stuff on. I was beginning to feel like the Clampetts.

I slowly drove the 35 miles to Pasadena, keeping an eye on the left tire that has a leak. I aired up the tire before I left, but didn't know how long it would hold air. I made it home without incident.

Now that I am all moved and settled, I can start back to work on TARDIS. After she is finished, I will need to get a trailer that fits her. One with no rust, working lights, safety chains ... you know, all those required parts.

*NOTE: I don't have internet yet, so if this post looks different it's because I wrote it on my phone.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.7.4

Saturday, September 17, 2011


MOVING DAY is almost here. I will be moving from NW Houston down to Pasadena, TX. But, I have a problem, no trailer for my Paradox, TARDIS. The bottom needed to be finished so I could roll it over one last time, and then put it on a trailer.

Yesterday, I got on the computer and looked through Craig's List. I was thinking that I could just get anything that was in my price range. I only need to haul her about 45 miles to the new home. Then, when she is finished and ready for the water, I will find one that "fits". So, I'm looking and find one for $200. I talk to the seller, tell him that I am building a boat, have to move it, and don't have much money. He says, "how about $100". I say, "sold!"

Did I mention it didn't have lights? Yeah, so I went to Harbor freight and bought the towing lights with magnets. When I try to "stick" the lights on, there is so much rust that they don't stick very well. And how do we solve problems like that? Duct tape, of course. License plate, well, it didn't have one of those either, and I was running errands when the seller returned my call. I didn't want to go all the way back home and get the plate off my other trailer, so I just took a chance. As I pulled away with the trailer, I said, "Lord, please turn the policeman's head when I drive by." And you know what? He did. A police car passed me on the freeway and didn't stop me. I made it all the way home without incident. I did need help getting it backed into the driveway though. My son Shawn, helped me. The trailer is actually for an 18' boat, but for that price, I couldn't pass it up.

Today, I put the first coat of paint on the bottom of TARDIS. I wanted to use navy blue, but Home Depot in Kemah did not have it in blue. The bottom is black. I am using RUST-OLEUM Marine Coatings. I'll let you know how it holds up.

About 20 minutes after I finished painting, a cloud came up and the wind pulled down the shade over TARDIS. I scrambled to get it back up before it started to rain. With help from my daughter, Amy, the tarp covering was back in place and the paint had already dried enough that the finish was not messed up. The paint was still tacky, it got wet, but didn't seem to hurt it. I think I will like this paint.

Moving... yeah, I hate it too. Packing. I feel the need to down size. There is a pile of "stuff" in the middle of the room. Stuff that is good, I don't want to throw it away, but don't want it either. I first thought - Garage Sale. I want to get out of this house as soon as possible, so I don't know when I would be able to have a garage sale. I don't really want to drag it to Pasadena and then sell it. The whole point of getting rid of it was that I didn't have to move the stuff. What do I do? Oh, now my head hurts! I'll go get me a glass of tea and think about it while I throw stuff in a box.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


A fellow boatbuilder and sailmaker, Dave Gray, lives in Florida. I have visited his website,PolySail International and read postings on several different yahoo forums, but never met the man. Last week, I found myself in Florida and met Dave, also known as PolySail Dave and his lovely wife, Dixie. Dave builds and sails small boats and builds sails from polytarp. He supplies low-cost, high performance polytarp sails and sailmaking kits to home boatbuilders, since 1996.

When I arrived, he was working on the rigging of his newest build, Wedgie. A very nice little boat, complete with a water gun that will shoot up to 50 feet. Built for kids, but adults can enjoy it too.

After visiting for a little while, Dave took me to Jensen Beach and showed me where he sails his small boats. Just down the road a piece is The Dolphin Bar & Shrimp House. While sitting at the bar and enjoying a drink and snacks, you have a beautiful view of the water. Very nice and relaxing place. And I did enjoy my margarita!

We had a nice visit. It is always fun to meet a fellow boatbuilder and swap stories. Dave plans to attend Sail Oklahoma! next month. It will be a wonderful gathering of many sailors and boatbuilders at Lake Eufaula. Everyone is invited to attend. The hosts, Mike & Jackie Monies are wonderful people and have worked really hard to ensure all attending will have a great time. So, take a few days off work and get to Oklahoma next month!

Friday, September 2, 2011

No Workout Today.

My dumbbells served another purpose.

The woven roving has been laid and the ground plate in place. I read how Glen Maxwell used a vacuum bag to accomplish this in the file section of the Paradox Yahoo Group. However, I didn't have the equipment to do it that way, so I used what I had... lots of weight.

First, I drilled holes around the perimeter of the copper flashing, then counter-sunk them. The epoxy oozed up through the holes and then acted as rivets to help hold the flashing in place. To hold the flashing flat while the epoxy cured, I placed a scrap of 5 mm plywood on top and then added lots of weight to hold it against the hull.

The bottom is almost ready for the paint. I'm thinking navy. That's next on my to-do list, buy the paint. I'm hoping she will be right-side up soon, and then never again up-side down.

Sunday, August 28, 2011



I needed a shade, so I made one. And, I'm sure my neighbors didn't mind my sanding at 8:00 on a Sunday morning either. The bottom is faired. It started to get dark, so I only got one layer of 18 oz. woven roving on. I will be adding two more layers.

Paint, I need to start looking for paint. This week. Lots to do. But, for now, the sandman is calling my name, I must go...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011



The Homeowner's Association loves to send me letters. Whether it's about the trash can in front of the garage, the lawn needing to be edged or the window unit A/C. The boat in the driveway will surely ruffle their feathers.

Today was another rollover day. The bottom gets attention now. We couldn't figure out a good way to turn it upside down and then roll it back into the garage, so we left it in the driveway, covered it with polytarp and called it good.

It will be a few days before I can get back to work on it, because I started working on Monday. There is a custom boat canvas and upholstery shop in Kemah, Texas that needed someone, so I went to work. Only been there two day, and I'm having a blast! The resident dog, Marina, is a sweetheart. She is very well behaved and knows two tricks; sit pretty and play dead.

Not much to report today, been busy with other areas of my life. Lots going on... more about that later. Right now, I have to get off this computer and get to work. Those cushions are not going to make themselves!

Monday, August 15, 2011


"What made you want to build a boat?"

How many times have I heard that question! Well, I started sailing about three and a half years ago. The boat I learned to sail on was a 41' Irwin ketch. Nice! About two years ago, I stumbled across a sailboat called a Paradox. This 14' sailboat is what is called a coastal cruiser. Well built, lots of storage for it's size, and can sail in shallow waters. I thought to myself, I WANT ONE! But, I had never built a boat before. In order to learn some building skills, I built an 8' dingy called a PDRacer. During this build, I learned about glues, epoxy, fiberglass, rudders, leeboards and the appropriate uses of different tools. Sailing this little boat is a blast.

The building of my paradox, TARDIS, has been a challenge. When I started, I didn't know the level of difficulty, but was brave enough to try. The only way I have been able to accomplish what I've done so far, is with the moral support from Dale. He believed that I could do it, even when I had doubts.

My neighbors know me as the woman that spends most of her time in the garage. A few have stopped by to see what I'm building. The FedEx man has started stopping to see the progress, he seems to be just as excited about the build as I am. The guys at Dale's work are watching the progress via this blog. There are a lot of people from all over the world that check in to see how the build is going. This has been a big undertaking for me. A little more than I thought it would be. But, it has been good for me. This journey has built within me, confidence and pride.

Back in the early 90's, my biological father, Jim Prather, built a power boat, Princess Dana. I did not get to witness the build, but saw it after it's completion. At his funeral, this was the main topic of his accomplishments. He owned a sheet metal shop, so of course the boat was constructed of metal.

m/v Princess Dana

I like to build things, create useful things. My brother said I got the boat building gene from Jim Prather. I guess maybe I did. When TARDIS is completed, and I know her well, she and I will have many adventures. My first big adventure; the Bahamas. You will all be able to read about my trips. They will be posted here. But first... I have to finish her. So, I better get off this computer and get back to the garage and get to work! Until next time...

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Today was the day! We rolled TARDIS out into the driveway, slipped the frames on either end, strapped them together and rolled her off of her side and upright. Because I only made two corners rounded, the frames had to be taken off, turned around and put back on. Then we rolled her onto her other side. She is now laying on her starboard side so I can work on her port side.

There were many of our neighbors milling around, but none seem to sense the momentous occasion that was taking place. Rollover day is always exciting to me. It marks a milestone in the build. Tomorrow I will start the sanding and fairing of the port side and transom.

That's about all I have to report on this post. Hopefully, the next post will be more exciting and more pictures.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Gladys and I met back in 1980. I started barber college and she came with my kit of tools. The first haircut I did was on Gladys. She was a good sport about it, and told me, "the only difference between a bad haircut and a good haircut, is about 3 weeks." We have been friends ever since.

In the early '90s, we got into the Halloween spirit. I wanted to make an old-time looking coffin and set it up making our house spooky. Gladys, been the good friend that she is, agreed to lay in the coffin, perfectly still so as to appear dead. The only problem she had, she couldn't keep her eyes closed. That was okay, nobody cared. She sported a red turtle neck sweater, black skirt and black shoes. She played her part well.

A few years later, I planned a road trip from Lubbock, Texas to Memphis, Tennessee. I planned to travel alone, but Gladys voiced her disapproval, and went with me. She rode shot-gun and borrowed one of my caps and a pair of sunglasses. It was summer, but she insisted on wearing long sleeves. It was a quiet trip, she doesn't talk much, but it was nice having someone to listen to my ramblings about nothing.

The last 10 years or so, Gladys has become somewhat of a recluse. Keeping to herself and being so quiet, we forgot that she was here. Yesterday, I was cleaning out my closet and found a tiara that had been packed away and forgotten about. I wore it the rest of the afternoon, just being silly. When Dale asked if I wanted to go dancing, I jumped at the chance to wear the tiara out... and I did. I know that every girl in the place was envious. I felt special! When we returned home, Gladys broke her silence of many years. She asked if she could wear the tiara for awhile. Happy that she had come out of her shell, I gladly fixed her hair and placed the tiara in it's proper place.

Gladys and I have gotten reacquainted and plan many more adventures together. She's my BFF!

Friday, July 29, 2011


Sand, fair, sand, fair, sand, fiberglass, epoxy, sand, epoxy, sand... I see a pattern here. The starboard side will get fiberglass tomorrow, but today, I sand. Being of short stature, the mid-section is at an uncomfortable height even standing on my stool. I have to rest my arms often.

The hole through the bottom in the vent trunk is drilled. I was dreading that. Putting a hole in the bottom of a boat, intentionally, just doesn't seem right. But, on a paradox, it makes perfect sense.

I decided to put an extra layer of fiberglass on the leading edge of the rudder. I foresee it getting a lot of wear and thought this would be a good idea.

The bottom gudgeon has been a problem in making. I built a form, filled it with the epoxy and fiberglass, turned my back for a few minutes, turned back around and saw it smoking! Okay, yeah, it got really hot, swelled, warped... it was a mess. I didn't want to waste that much epoxy and fiberglass, so I cut, filed and sanded it back into a shape that was just smaller than the finished size. I pulled it back out and started working on it again today. It should be finished in a few days. I will have pictures of the finished product.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


The deck it so shiny now! It has a single layer of 6 oz fiberglass with 3 thin coats of epoxy. It is so pretty! It is ready to rollover and start to fiberglass the sides.

Here she is all tucked back into the garage waiting for the sanding and fiberglass on the starboard side. I will need a ladder to reach the mid-section.

The rudder and rudder stock have a layer of fiberglass and are ready for layer two of epoxy. These are exciting times.

I had a neighbor stop by last evening to look at the boat. He has been watching the progress from afar. I enjoy showing the boat off, and it helps me when I see their excitement. I guess I am a novelty: a woman boat builder. I really don't understand why I'm so unique, anyone can do anything they set their mind to, no matter what the gender. I grew up with a brother and have always been a tomboy. The things the guys did was way more fun than things the girls did. I put my dolls away at an early age, and didn't mind getting dirty. But, I've been told that I clean up nice.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


This morning was filled with epoxy speading! The first coat of epoxy was applied to the underside of the deck and the fillets done.

The toerails are attached, trimmed, sanded, and faired. It's looking really nice.

When I cut the hole next to the mast partner, it came out looking a little more oval than round. I took a piece of PVC and wedged it in the hole and filled in the gaps with thickened epoxy. Plastic wrap was placed around the PVC to keep the epoxy from sticking to it.

Fiberglass is next. I haven't had much experience with fiberglass, nothing this big. I do understand there will be a lot of fairing and sanding. Sanding is not one of my favorite things, but I do want the deck to not be bumpy. So, I will sand.

Until next time, fair winds and calm seas!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


It seemed like this day would never come, but it is finally here. All four deck pieces are in place. The last on was nailed on this morning. The forward piece was more difficult, but with the help of Dale and the use of tie-downs, we got it done.

The holes are cut for the mast and vent and after the starboard side piece cures, I will trim the outside edge.

The fiberglass and epoxy has been ordered and should arrive in a couple of days. Until then, I will be sanding to get ready for this next step, fiberglass.

A lot more to do, but the end is in sight.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


The other day, I just had to pull TARDIS out of the garage and step the mast. I couldn't wait until the deck was on. It was pretty cool to see.

My son, Shawn, helped me nail on the aft deck. The forward deck is cut out and ready to nail on. I will have to wait until I can get help with that.

My progress has seemed slow lately, but I felt the need to post something. So, here it is. Hopefully, the next post will have the deck completed.

A few days ago, a FedEx driver stopped in front of our driveway and turned off his engine. I thought maybe we were getting a package, so I walked toward the truck. He just sat there smiling, then asked how the boat build was coming along. He said that he can't wait to see it completed. It was kind of a strange feeling to know that someone has been watching, but a good feeling to see his excitement. I have had two women stop and tell me that they admired me and that I was an inspiration. You just never know who is watching you!