In Maine, Water and Electricity Do Mix

I have a request for more boat progress pictures.  This is Eleccentricity, my wacky electric boat, which is now upright in my garage and moving ever closer to completion.

Glassing the insides

After flipping it over I fiberglassed the insides and then cut out the floorboards. They got glassed too. Gunwales (the strips of wood at the tops of the sides, inside and out) were next installed. I was looking for ash but found instead a pair of amazing fir boards, twenty feet long.

20 foot fir boards were recruited for gunwales

Next came decisions about where I would install the dashboard, which would also define the size of the foredeck.

Floorboards cut but not fastened

Remember, I’m making this up as I go along.

I positioned a lawn chair on the boat’s floor and tried various spots for where I would sit behind the steering wheel. For some unknown reason, the steering is always on the right in power boats–like England, Japan, and India do with cars.

Fitting the dash

After deciding where to put the dash I cut out a piece of glued-up ash and glued and screwed it into position. Then I built a framework in front of it to support the foredeck. I wanted to curve the foredeck so it would shed water (rather than dumping water in the captain’s lap). This could not be done with anything thicker than 1/4″ plywood. Now, 1/4″ plywood is pretty thin stuff and not likely to support a middle aged guy with a little extra padding, so I had to use two layers. Amazingly, when you epoxy two layers of curved 1/4″ plywood together you end up with something so stiff it feels like concrete. Getting it to curve in the first place was very difficult, involving lots of clamps and screws, stainless steel of course. Next up: floatation foam in under the floor. Then I’ll start dealing with the daunting mechanical and electrical systems. Stay tuned.

Second layer going on

Framing the foredeck

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Comments on In Maine, Water and Electricity Do Mix


Barb @ 10:27 pm

Wow! It’s looking really cool! I’d love to go lobstering on it!


Pat @ 12:10 am

I’m waiting for those eleccentric lobsters!


Bruce @ 8:55 am

I’m going to reprint an email Bill sent me since he does such a good job of explaining the steering wheel position issue:

Just a comment about the steering being on the right side of the boat. I was talking with an “old salt” a couple of years ago about this issue and where the terms “larboard (port)” and “starboard” came from and he related this explanation. Port is a fairly recent usage for the left side of the boat from the past couple of hundred years as a way to clarify the difference between larboard and starboard when spoken under trying conditions such as in a squall or storm. According to his explanation the term larboard is derived from the gang plank that was used to move (lade) cargo to or from a boat. Lading board in sailors lingo became larboard much as “fore castle” became “fo’c’sle” and “hauling yard” became “halyard”.

The position of the lading board goes back to ancient times before the use of rudders and wheel steering. Ancient ships were controlled by means of boards mounted on each side of the craft much like lee boards on a small sailboat where only one was in the water at a time while the other was hoisted up out of the water or by a long oar like device similar to what the gondoliers of Venice use but with the pivot point far aft on the oar to improve the mechanical advantage for the helmsman. When pulling up to a wharf or dock the loading and unloading always took place on the left side of the boat for no explained reason. It became inefficient to have any steering apparatus on that side of the boat as it would be in the way of docking and lading so it was always mounted on the right side of the boat. The “old salt” went on to explain that the steering apparatus evolved into a large board with a tiller handle on it and it became a steering board hence, you guessed it, “starboard”.

If you check pictures of ancient watercraft made by Egyptians, Greeks, and others you will see that the steering is nearly always on the right side of the watercraft. I sure hope the “old salt” was right since I blathered on to you about this.