This blog describes in words and pictures the building of a Paul Gartside designed fantail launch. There are a number of fantail launches of various sizes on the Paul Gartside website at

My boat will look like his 20 foot steam launch but will be 18 feet long and will be powered by a small diesel or petrol engine or possibly an electric motor. I have built a rowing boat, one and a half sailing boats and a small canoe and so this will be something different.

If you would like to contact me please click to send me an email.

Monday, 12 June 2017

The Decks

In the last post I had rough cut the white beech deck strips to length. Over the last 10 days I have completed the decking, at least for the time being! A series of photos shows the steps in the process.

The strips were trimmed to fit lengthwise and positioned using 4 mm thick plywood spacers. When all looked OK the strips were taken up, coated with epoxy and laid down in a bed of thickened epoxy. This white beech has an oily or waxy feel to it and so I wiped the surface with an acetone soaked rag before putting the epoxy on. The spacers had to be wrapped in thin plastic; cutting up the plastic garbage bag was a nightmare - static electricity stuck the pieces of plastic to my hands, the scissors, the benchtop, etc. Bear in mind that I needed a couple of hundred of them!

The section at the far side of this photo has the "paver" clamps applied. Unfortunately, once the pavers are there it is impossible to clean up any squeezed out epoxy. There must be a better way. The section in the foreground is waiting for the pavers.

Here is the foredeck after sanding and cleaning out the epoxy from the gaps, a dreadful job but fortunately there wasn't a lot of places where the squeeze came near the top of the groove.

I gave all the margin planks a coat of epoxy before applying tape to all the strips and the margin planks. Then the messy business of putting Sikaflex 291 into the grooves. I worked out the volume of the grooves roughly and bought three tubes of Sikaflex. The black stuff gets everywhere and there is quite a lot of wastage - I had to buy another 2 tubes. Four and a bit tubes did the job.

Here is the after deck after pulling up the tape which came up quite easily and cleanly; I was pleasantly surprised! I went over the whole area carefully with the belt sander (80 grit) and then with the random orbital sander (120 grit).

The white beech strips were coated with Deks Olje number 1 flooded on with a brush until no more was taken up. The white beech didn't want to take up much of this oil and I will put more on later. I prefer the satin look and none slip nature of  this oiled surface; I've done it before and it seems to wear well. The margin planks were given another coat of epoxy and the last 2 photos taken.

I think it looks pretty good!

There won't be anything posted here for some weeks because I am going away for a holiday in the UK. More when I return.


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  2. That looks great! What or who's plans did you use for the build?

    1. The plans are from Paul Gartside. He has a number of steam launches and mine is a scaled down version of one of them. You can see his plans at