Multichine 36 Smoko turning over operation and more

And so our praised builders Howard and Noelle Bennet returned from their planned trip to England, and setting up shop again, turned over Smoko, the home-made MC36 being built in their farm in Dunedin, South Island, N.Z., providing a show of good planning and competence seldom seen among our amateur clients.

Project MC36 - Part 3


Following on from my disappointment with the "fibre-glass professionals" and my winter doing the insulated lining, I endured an extremely tedious four or five months applying the rest of the fibre-glass layers. Each of these layers was either two or three ply. In between each application I needed to sand, and in the later stages, fair the hull surface. A very uncomfortable period ensued, plagued with swollen eyes and itchy underpants! Fortunately, I avoided the temptation of taking photos of each completed layer otherwise I would have had a collection of pictures that looked exactly the same as each other.
The final fairing was a very long job, using 90 cm sanding boards to smooth the surface and bridge small irregularities. When sanded with the board any low spots show up as un-sanded areas which are then filled with fairing compound and sanded again. This process is repeated again and again for ever and ever - or at least that's how it felt.
After all that preparation I actually found applying the four or five coats of paint that would form the basis of the finishing coats at a much later stage, quite a pleasant task. The area close to the gunnels were left un-painted (see photo above) to allow the deck glassing to be carried over and joined on to the hull glass.


One of my other tasks at this time was to fit the rudder stock to the laminated rudder blade that I had made before we moved onto this site.

We had brought the stock down from Marlborough after our last fishing trip. The acid test was going to be would the stock actually fit. Oh happy days, with just a skim over the rudder blade with the plane, it fitted like a glove - albeit an exceedingly expensive glove! All that remained to complete it was to pull the tangs together and epoxy around the metalwork. However, the rudder would have to wait as a momentous event was about to take place.

The long awaited turning over ceremony was fast approaching. Before it could happen though I had to construct the turning frames that were required to facilitate the operation. There are various ways to turn a boat of this size, most calling for the boat to be suspended from the workshop ceiling before turning it and then lowering it into prepared cradles. Being suspended from the roof of a tent was obviously not going to work! The method I decided upon entailed removing the front of the tent, dragging the yacht (with frames attached) out of the tent on the skis that I had fortuitously fixed under the frames and then persuading a passing excavator driver that he would quite like to do the donkey work.

The faithful old farm truck and its 12 volt winch (with a bit of assistance from a fairly substantial tree stump) managed the job of dragging the boat out of the tent quite admirably. Once in a position that was well clear of the tent, the man with hydraulic muscles took over.

Although the frame was strongly constructed, the lifting beam bent alarmingly and had to be reinforced with a spare fence post (many of these indispensable items can be found lying around most farms).


Apart from the occasional creaking and groaning the half-way point was reached without further incident. At this juncture the boat was dragged sideways to make room for its next quarter-turn that would leave it positioned ready for pulling back into the shelter. The skis from the deck side section of the frame were removed in order to fix them onto the bottom side of the frame ready for that return journey.

After the excavator was moved to the other side of the boat, all that remained was to complete the final ninety degrees and gently lower the boat to the ground hopefully (very hopefully) never to be upside-down again. A friend of ours kindly recorded the boat turning process, a shortened version of which we uploaded to You Tube. Click on the image below to see for yourself what happened.

This entire operation was completed without a single heart-attack although it has to be said that my lovely wife was safely ensconced in her office at work throughout the entire process claiming she would find it far too stressful to be present.

Rather cleverly, I had incorporated padded cradles into the turning frame and so after pulling the boat back into the tent I just needed to strip off the box frame and she was ready to be dragged back out again. Yes, I'm sorry to say that the poor girls travels were not over yet.

Although the design allows for the engine to be fitted through the main hatch - something that would also be required for removal if major repairs were needed - I had decided that this would actually be the ideal time to drop the engine in. Not only would I be able to work out the exhaust run but I would also be able to check that there were enough access points around the engine for routine maintenance.
The engine was delivered a few day after the turn so out she went again, although this time just far enough to allow the hoist and truck to get close enough to do the deed.

After the engine installation was complete all that remained was to drag her back inside before levelling the cradle and adding the final support sited under the rudder tube. Voila. Solid as a rock! Hopefully.

At present - June 2013 - I have been working on the inside of the boat for a month or so, which is a much more interesting process. I have also reached the time of year when the diesel heater is needed for epoxy work. So my current routine sees me cutting and fitting various internal structures and then periodically I have a "gluing day" when the tent is heated and I glue the previous few days' work. I generally leave the heater on for an additional five or six hours once I've finished. A good thermometer and humidity gauge are both pretty much essential and very useful.

We like to say that for our amateur builders the real adventure begins when they unpack the project’s plotted sheets, and that every phase of the building process is a new chapter of the story still to be written, the decision of jumping head-first in such challenge becoming a hallmark in their lives.

Click here to know more about the Multichine 36