Project Mississippi #1

About 18 months ago Kyle and I came up with an idea for our next adventure: a long distance inland trip in a small boat. After months of discussion, research, day dreaming, and idea swapping the plan began to take form.

  • The journey: Approximately 3,000+ miles from St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin to Tampa Bay, Florida. We are starting on the St. Croix River, then taking the Mississippi River south to the Gulf of Mexico and lastly coastal hopping and I.C.W.”ing” to Tampa Bay. Kyle’s parents live in St. Croix Falls and my parents live in Tampa Bay, so why not, just for fun, travel from one place to another?!
  • The boat: We chose a small row and sailboat called a faering, which is Norwegian for 4 oared. We made the decision that we weren’t just going to buy some generic boat, but that instead Kyle would spend 3 months full time building the boat…from scratch. He decided he would construct her of cedar using the strip plank method. She is 19.8 feet long and approximately 4′ 9″ wide at her widest point. We have named her Solvi, which is a Norwegian name meaning Sun Strength.

These photos are not exactly what Solvi will look like. We have made many modifications but they give a general idea of her style.

  • The reasons: Kyle and I have similar outlooks on life and both feel as though there is so much more to the world than working 9-5 jobs and living within societal norms. We have made it our life’s goal to see the world, meet fellow like-minded humans, slow down, take risks, spend time in nature, and most of all to live, what we consider to be, fully free and happy. This journey that we have decided to embark on will allow for all of those things. We will be able to live the pace that we desire. There won’t be a schedule or any reason to rush. If we see something we like or meet someone we enjoy we will have the freedom to really live those moments and be fully present.

Not only are we looking forward to the pace of life our adventure will provide but also we are ecstatic about the boat that we will take on this trip. We both have the ability to row at the same time, which will make us quite fast. And when the wind and conditions are right, we won’t have to row as we can sail with her balanced lug rig. Faerings are traditionally fishing and transport vessels and have their origins in the Viking era. They are still used on the coasts of Norway and have always been held is high regard for their abilities at sea in that rugged environment. She was designed by John Harris of Chesapeake Light Craft. We are in love with the style of these boats and can’t wait to spend our time cruising in Solvi.

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It is now the middle of April and some serious progress has been made. Kyle quit his job at the end of February and has been working full time, 50 hours a week, on Solvi. My parents have been nice enough to let us build a boathouse in their side yard, which is where her construction is taking place. Kyle started the project by taking the boat’s line drawings that were sent to us from John and converting them into PDFs which we then had printed full size. After cutting the full size patterns out and gluing them onto large pieces of plywood, he then used a jig saw to very carefully cut the plywood into what are called forms. These forms were then placed onto the strong back (a large ladder looking stand that is very flat and square) so that the strip planking could begin.

 

Our friend Max was nice enough to come spend the day with Kyle and together they turned 9 boards of cedar into hundreds of quarter inch strips. For the following 3 weeks after that Kyle spent all of his time stapling and gluing the strips onto the forms.

Since I am working full time I am not able to help much on the construction, but I did spend 1 day stripping the boat. I must say that it was difficult and tedious; I give Kyle a lot of credit for how much work he put into the stripping process.

Once all the strips were put into place, it really started to look like a boat! Kyle had to

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Once all the strips were on

spend about 5 days removing staples and then sanding the outside of the hull flat and smooth- also a hard, tedious job. Once the boat was smooth and any gaps filled, it was time to epoxy and fiberglass the hull to make it water tight and strong. That is what we did this past weekend and it went so very well!

On Friday as soon as work was over I headed to my parents to get ready for the long night of epoxy and fiberglass ahead of us. Kyle had gotten most things set up before I arrived, so once I got there we began to cut the fiberglass into 20ft lengths. He then taught me how to mix the epoxy, but this is what he said to me before: “Okay so you do two pumps of the resin and one pump of the hardener. And it has to be that exact ratio every time, otherwise the epoxy won’t harden and the whole boat will be shot.” “Umm… or maybe I won’t touch that stuff!” was my first reaction, but once he showed me how to do it I realized that as long as I concentrated while mixing I should be good. We then spent the next two hours wetting the boat with epoxy. The cedar went from looking good to looking absolutely beautiful. It was so amazing to see the transition in the wood as it soaked up the epoxy.

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The boat heating up

Kyle had heated the boat to 120 degrees using blankets and space heaters before I arrived causing the entrapped air in the cedar to expand. After one coat of epoxy we turned the heaters off, took the blankets off, and opened up the boathouse to get some cool air. As the cedar began to contract it soaked up the epoxy. We waited for Max who was on his way over to help with the fiberglass process. Once he arrived we laid on the sheets of fiberglass that would eventually seal the whole boat. Max and Kyle were in charge of laying on the fiberglass and then painting epoxy all over it, I was in charge of mixing epoxy and squeegeeing the excess epoxy off the boat. We had to work fairly quickly due to the cure time of the epoxy but we worked well together moving around the boat smoothly and enjoying ourselves all the while. Finally at 9pm after 4 hours of constant attention, Solvi was fully covered in fiberglass and epoxy and it was time to let her dry. Kyle put on two more coats in the next 24 hours and she is now currently in the drying and curing process. We are anxious to see how she looks once she is completely dry! Overall it was an extremely successful weekend and we feel fortunate for how well it went. Thanks Max for all your help!

 

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Really trying not to mess up the Epoxy!

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Laying on a sheet of Fiberglass
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Final touches

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Happy Cedar!

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