My Dinghy Project - Construction
Here was (and pretty much still is) the plan.
I think I'll name her "Mariposa" - Spanish for Butterfly.  Maybe put a little butterfly on the transom.. as for training it to stay there.. :-)
Note, you can click on any image to enlarge it.
17 Feb 2009
This is where I had left off last year.  I had cut the station forms out of 1/2" plywood and assembled the strongback.  But I couldn't take the heat and got out of the kitchen.. err, Bahamas.
I had attached narrow strips of plywood around the edge of each station so that I could use C-clamps and avoid the little marks left from attaching the wood strips to the forms using staples.  The wood I chose to use (Spanish Cedar) is pretty hard to bend and the staples probably would not have held anyway.  I'm comparing this to the redwood I used many years ago on the canoe I built as a kid.
This is the end of the first day back.  I tell a lot of people who stop by to ask what I'm doing that this project is just an excuse to hang out here in this lovely spot :-).
19 Feb 2009
Here is the form over which I'm going to bend the transom.  I used the same offsets recommended in the plans,
For the wedges, the width of the top end of the center wedge should be 2 inches tapering to 0 at the bottom.  The two side wedges should be 1½ inches at the top.  Match the wedges to the transom from top to bottom.  Use ¼ transom length spacing.
To avoid gouging the surfaces of the laminate planks, I beveled the edges of the wedges a little so the planks would lie flat on them. 
The first layer (which will be the inside of the transom) is 1/4" Spanish Cedar that I had the lumber supply guys in Ft. Lauderdale resaw from the same boards as the strips came from.  A couple of the boards were 14' long so there were two 4' pieces from the 10' lengths used for the strips.  First, I used a heatgun to bend the wood to the shape of the form.  Heating and pre-bending the wood worked pretty well and I don't think I could have done without it.
In the middle I used 4 layers of 1/8" "bending" plywood.
Then another layer of heated and pre-bent 1/4" Spanish Cedar.  This will be the outside of the transom.  So the total thickness of the transom is approx. 1".
Before pre-bending them, I used a set of bead & cove router bits to join the Spanish Cedar planks used on the transom.
I laminated the pieces using West System 105+206 epoxy.  I did this in 3 stages - first, laminating the 4 pieces of plywood together over the form.  Then I laminated the outer layer of Spanish Cedar to the plywood, again over the form (this is shown here).  Finally, I laminated the inner layer of Spanish Cedar to the rest of it (ie. the 4 sheets of 1/8" plywood and 1/4" Spanish Cedar  
that I've laminated at this point).  I did this final stage without using the form.  The fresh joint would have been hidden on the inside and I wanted to be sure that I had a tight joint between those Spanish Cedar planks. 
This is a cross-section of the transom attached to the form (which has masking tape on it to prevent the glue from sticking to it) and everything attached to the last station mold on the strongback.  You can see the bead & cove joints here.  The one on the inside is pretty hard to see (click on the image to enlarge it).
I beveled the edge of the transom (for the strips) using a sanding disk mounted on my drill.

20 Feb 2009
I deviated from the plans for the stempiece.  I'd like to have something a bit more traditional looking.  I have cut the stem out of a piece of 4/4 mahogany.  Each strip will be glued to it.  When I finish off the inside, I'll put a West 105+206 epoxy/406 colloidal silica fillet between it and the hull, further bonding it to the hull.  Then I'll use 2 or 3 layers of overlapping pieces of fiberglass cloth to bond it to the inside of the bow.  I think this will make it quite strong.  I have a long U-bolt for the towing eye that I will through-bolt through the stem and then through the overlapping layers of glass.
I rounded the inner edges with a 1/4 round router bit.  The little part in the lower right in this photo will be cut off later and the remaining edge rounded over by hand.  That little bit of wood will simply hold the stem in place on the plywood form as the hull is being built.  One thing I should have done is to tape plastic over the mahogany to avoid having to cleanup all the glue drips.
This is how I held the stem in place while I attached the strips to make the bow.  The plywood is the original Station 0 form with a notch cut out of it where the bottom of the stem passes through it.  I removed this plywood station when the strips got up to the top of it.
It's not shown here, but I also attached a triangular piece of plywood with 1 screw holding the stem to keep it pointing straight ahead as the strips were attached to it.  I probably didn't explain that very well, but you can see what I mean two photos down.  Click on that image to enlarge it.
The building in the background in this photo (with the shutters open) is Albury Brothers Boats.  Nice neighborhood.  Willard Albury stops by from time to time to chat and that has been a special treat.  He is a true gentleman.
From the other side.  This is before I tapered the stem for the strips to lie flat.  You can see that taper in the following photos.
Note, I used masking tape over the station forms (shown in the following photos) to keep the wood glue (holding the strips together) from sticking to the plywood.

24 Feb 2009
Here the first strips have been attached at the sheerline (using finishing nails that will be driven through into the forms later - the holes will be covered by the gunnels).  The strip along the keel is temporary - it is just holding the forms in place.
I beveled the edge of the stempiece (for the strips) using a sanding disk mounted on my drill.  I ground the wood off a little at a time, checking the angle with one of the Spanish Cedar strips held over the station forms.
A small detail to note here: In the photo above you can see shims between the 2x4 crosspieces and 2x6's of the strongback under the first two stations.  That was to line up the centers of stations along the keel.  They weren't off by much.

26 Feb 2009
The first few strips are on and it is starting to take shape.
Another view of the stem.
4 Mar 2009
A bit further.
From the stern.
I cut off the ends of each strip roughly even with the transom and stem after it's glue has set up.
14 Mar 2009
And now about to close up the bottom.  The 2x4's hold the ends of the strips in place while the glue dries.  I'm using a herringbone pattern where the strips come together along the bottom.  I think it will look pretty nice.  We'll see.
BTW, the herringbone pattern was pretty easy to make.  With the new strip glued and clamped in place except for the last foot or so, just line it's end up
over the previous piece, mark it where it needs to be cut and using a small saw (I like the Japanese-style pull saw) cut it to fit.  Worked every time.
There are a couple spots where the strips got away from their neighboring strip.  The Spanish Cedar is pretty tough to bend.  I used the heatgun to bend all the upper strips where the curves are worse, but still had trouble in spots.  I could probably sand them smooth (being careful not to sand all the way through).  But I plan to open up the seams of the bad ones (maybe half a dozen spots), reglue them and use the 2x4's to press them into place.
From the bow.  I've started to scrape off some of the glue using a Japanese-style "pull saw" as sort of a rasp.  I'll use a random orbital sander to finish up then.  Lots of scraping but there's something Zen-like to it.  And it gives me something to do while the glue on the latest strip is setting up. 
23 Mar 2009
Finally.  All closed up.  There's a lot of scraping and fairing to do yet.  But after that the sanding should be pretty easy.  Definitely looking better though.

25 Mar 2009
Using 2x4's to fair up the hull.
I'll do this for any two strips are out of alignment by more than 1/16 inch or so.  I'm slitting open the glue joint, squeezing in fresh glue, then tightening the 2x4(s) over the spot - over a station mold if possible.  I leave it clamped like this for half a day.  I'm finding that I can correct even the most difficult misalignments this way.  I think some of the misalignments came about because I removed the C-clamps too soon - particularly in spots where there was a lot of
resistance to the bend.  Guess I'm paying for my impatience now.
31 Mar 2009
Well.. still fairing.  This was a tough spot.  There were 4 strips in a row that were out of alignment by a little bit.  I used epoxy to re-glue them in place to make sure they stayed.  And used all my 2x4's to hold them until the epoxy set.
On Sunday, a boat came into the harbour with the top of her mast broken off (just above the spreaders).  Today, the owner had the boatyard raise him up using the crane so that he could cut away the broken part (which is now resting on the ground in this photo).  The wire (called a "shroud") on one side of the mast had broken while they were under sail.
 Epoxy and fiberglass
10 Apr 2009
At last, epoxy.  This is after sanding (80 grit followed by 120 grit with the palm sander) and an initial (sealing) coat of epoxy resin.  I'm using the West System 207 catalyst which is their special clear-coat formula.
Here is the center line.
Photoshop didn't quite line up the three images I tried to splice together for the photo on the left and there is a little jog between two of the images.  But the strips do, in fact, line up on the hull.
Also note that the line going across the hull just in front of the transom in the photo on the right is the edge of the fiberglass cloth now covering the transom.  I will sand it smooth tomorrow, feathering it so that there is not a bump under the overlapping layer of fiberglass that will soon be covering the bottom of the hull.
18 Apr 2009
With the gunnels attached and the hull taken off of the mold.  I have scraping and sanding to do on the inside, then a layer of fiberglass.  Also the finish on the outside isn't done yet so it's still a little rough.
1 May 2009
There is fiberglass cloth on the inside now.  I need to put on several more coats of epoxy and sand, sand, sand yet.  Note that the lower half of the inside in these photos have been sanded - thus the rough finish.
I've cut out some cardboard patterns for the knees (the corners where the transom meets the sides) and the breast hook or stem cap (at the bow).  I'm considering two sizes for the knees - a large one shown at the top in these photos and a slightly smaller version shown at the bottom.  More on that below.
 Breast hook and knees
I asked Andy Albury if I could get some Madeira wood [1] from him for the knees and breast hook.  Andy has some wood set aside for an Abaco Dinghy that he is planning to build.  He is graciously giving me a couple pieces.  Madeira is what they use for the ribs of the Abaco Dinghies.  It is VERY tough.  And looks like it will be very pretty.
They go over to the big island of Great Abaco and find old Madeira trees to match the curvature of the ribs, knees and other dinghy parts.  They cut them into short logs and bring them back.  Then they put the logs into the salt water at their docks to kill any insects and cure the wood.  The wood is apparently fairly dense because it sinks and stays there.  Here are some old photos of Willard working with some Madeira for an Abaco Dinghy.
As they do with the ribs of the Abaco Dinghies, I want to cut out the pieces so that the grain of the wood curves naturally with the bend of the knees and breast hook.  Then you have the most strength because a joint with cross grain would more easily break under load.  You can see how  
the grain will curve perfectly for the knees in these two photos.
I have something of a dilema though.  I think the smaller pattern (shown on the right) is maybe a little more in proportion to the boat.  But I'd also kind of like to show off this wood now.  The larger pattern on the left would let me do that.  Tough decision.  I guess I'll cut them out to the larger pattern and see how it looks.  I can always trim them down later.
I can't tell you how happy I am about including this, a little bit of the Abaco and Man-O-War boat building tradition, in my dinghy.  Thank you, Andy.
7 May 2009
Here is the wood for the breast hook (the piece that fits over the stem at the bow).  The 1st photo is the crooked Madeira log that was used.  It had been curing in the salt water at the dock for 6 to 8 months.  I took it out of the water a couple days ago.  The 2nd and 3rd photos are of the piece after Andy bandsawed it today.  Andy said he thought the wood should dry out for a while.  I'll do that and use a piece of scrap wood on the dinghy for now.
14 May 2009
This is the start of the seats.  I'm using 1/4" birch plywood over a framework of 1x2 fir.  There will be another layer of plywood going over what you see here, then a layer of fiberglass cloth wrapped around everything.  This is looking at it from the bottom - the piece of wood sticking up will be the daggerboard trunk.
I would have preferred to have used 2" foam in place of the 1x2 fir (then covered the foam with plywood, top and bottom, and then fiberglass cloth) but it wasn't available.  I may replace it in the future.
Here is the bow seat.  I used 3 layers of 1/2" A-C exterior grade plywood instead of the 1x2.  This will hopefully make it a little stronger to take the mast.
I'm not quite sure where the hole for the mast will be - it depends on the sail I use and how much I rake the mast (angle it slightly backward from vertical - usually around 5 degrees).  There were no sailplans for this model so I'll be experimenting a little here.
These are of the stringers to support the seat.  They are held in place with epoxy thickened with West's 406 Coloidal Silica.  They were cut from 1x6 Cypress, holding the plank next to the hull and using a compass to mark the curvature of the hull onto the plank.  Then planing the edge to match the angle of the hull.  The Cypress is a little oily but the epoxy seems to be holding it well.  I'll cover them with one    
layer of fiberglass cloth just to be sure (and to keep them from exposure to water).  The wood was a joy to plane.  5 foot long paper-thin curly strips using my little hand plane. 
15 May 2009
Gluing on the bottom piece of plywood.  With a little help from gravity.
20 May 2009
Here is roughly how they should look then.  I need to fit the daggerboard trunk to the hull, wrap everything in fiberglass cloth, and epoxy it in the boat.  Then I'll have the paint expert here at the boatyard paint a border around the edges to finish them off.
21 May 2009
I'm going to take a little break now.  I'll resume this project in July.
 Seats.. version 2
Man-O-War Cay, 25 Aug 2009
When I was in the states, I bought a sheet of 1" thick H80 Divinycell foam to re-do the seat.  It was a little pricey ($210) but is the kind of foam that professional boat builders use.  The advantage vs. the first wooden version I had built (above) is lighter weight and not having to worry about water seeping into the wood or the air (flotation) cavities.  Here I am gluing a piece of 1/4" Birch plywood onto the foam.  I didn't really need the plywood for strength, stiffness or impact resistance - it's just for appearance.  It did add some noticeable weight to the seat though. 
To increase the amount of flotation, I glued 2 layers of the foam together making it 2" thick.  I routed the edges with a 1/2" router bit.  Then I covered it with a layer of 6 oz. fiberglass.  It came out very stiff.  I'll have the boatyard's paint expert paint the edge to finish it off.
I epoxied the seat into the hull with help from Darren, the manager of Edwin's Boatyard #2 where I've been doing this project.  We buttered up the edge of the seat with thickend epoxy (West 105+206 epoxy thickened with 406 filler), set it into the hull and made a good sized fillet on the bottom where the seat meets the hull.  I had removed the stringers (I made above) as they weren't needed.
 Maiden launch
And finally, here is the maiden launch.  I am checking the location of the oarlocks so that I can cut the inner gunwale spacers so the oarlocks will be located over spacers (that will hopefully make more sense when you see the photo.. in April).
These oars feel way too short at 5 1/2'.  They are the spare oars for my inflatable dinghy.  I'll need to buy or make some longer ones - probably 7' or so.
She moves VERY easily through the water - like a feather.  I think the name, Mariposa, will suit her.  I need to add the skeg (keel) to improve tracking.  The initial stability (tippy-ness) is a little lively but when heeled over a little she stiffens up pretty well.  She has a nice natural feel.  Something that was a nice surprise is that this "surround" seat gives you a comfortable place to brace your legs if necessary when rowing.  I had originally made it this way to make sailing Mariposa easier.
I had hoped to finish everything up before going on my next trip to South America.  But, again I was really slowed down by the heat.  I stopped here and plan to pick up again in April.  I need to add the bow seat, the inner gunwales, the breast hook and knees, and the skeg.  And rig her for sailing.  I bought a couple sails on my trip to the states - a Reverse Bolger and the Lug rig shown on the Shellback Dinghy on the top of their homepage.
And yes, the water really is this pretty :-)
25 Dec 2009
Upon returning from South America,
I installed the inner gunnels (here I'm gluing in the little spacer blocks.. again, never enough clamps), breast hook and knees, oar locks, skeg, and bow seat.
I'll put some photos here when I get back in March.

Then it got windy for several days.  I was to the point of adding coats of epoxy, sanding between each coat, to fair up the surface prior to varnishing her.  Since I am doing this outdoors, when the wind picks up it blows sand into the wet epoxy.  I then have to sand that out and it generally makes for a mess.
So I decided to make up a pair of oars while I was waiting.  I used the technique, Jim Michalak's Boat Designs: Making Oars, combined with the pattern for the blade and shaft that I found in Issue #127 (Nov/Dec 1995) of Wooden Boat Magazine.  I want to be able to store them under the seat and it looks like 7' long should fit just right.
I found 2 pieces of clear 1x6 fir in the lumberyard across the street from the boatyard, traced the pattern for the oar on one and screwed the two boards together.  In the photo on the left, I'm about to cut them out on the bandsaw at Andy Albury's workshop.  The result, after unscrewing the 2 sides, is shown in the photo on the right.
Break time..
   Darren's dog, Bullet, loves to play fetch.

Here I'm gluing the boards together.  I first coated the surfaces with West 105/206 as a seal coat, then while that was still wet I put on a thin coat of 105/206 just slightly thickened with 406 Colloidal Silica to take up any voids.  I clamped the boards together with moderate pressure so as not to "starve" the lamination.
I made up this jig to round the shaft.
The oar you see in front of the jig here is from after it was rounded down in the jig.  Nails driven into the ends allow me to spin it in the jig.  The router has a 1/2" straight bit on it.  I simply run it back and forth over the shaft, rotating the oar a little between each pass to shape it.  By cutting out the boards a little narrower than the diameter of the shaft, I was able to make the oval shape called for in the plans.  If you click on the image to enlarge it, you can see the flat of the oval section as the darker portion of the shaft of the oar in the front .. I love that little router.
Here I'm using the router to shape the lower portion the the shaft where it flares out over the paddle.  That is, the part shown in Matt's photos below.
It was very easy to make up simple jigs like this using a straightedge (across the sticks) and caliper (checking for the height of the sticks over the desired depth of the cut).
Here I'm shaping the paddles.
After everything was roughly shaped, I sanded them down, put on a couple coats of epoxy, and sanded that down.  Then I put on a couple coats of varnish (for UV protection).  Then I wound on some twine for protection where the oar goes through the oarlock and added a turk's head knot to keep the oarlock from sliding off.
   - Jim Michalak's Boat Designs: Making Oars
   - Wooden Boat Issue #127 Nov/Dec 1995
   - Project Just Right: $14 Oars - scroll down a little ways to "Can the $14 Oars Be Far Behind"
   - The Long Oars of Pete Culler - seminal
 Break ...
The outside of the hull looks pretty good.  For whatever reason I didn't get any photos yet, other than this one.
Darren had somebody come to put in some pilings.  Here he is drilling the hole for one of them.  He and his rig is on a small barge.
In this photo you can see the skeg which I've added.  It is glued on using epoxy thickened with colloidal silica between the hull and skeg plus large fillets on either side of the joint.
As I said, for whatever reason I didn't take some recent photos.  But one day a nice guy by the name of Matt Cohen had stopped by to chat.  He's a photographer (and does boat deliveries - he said they had just sailed a boat down from the east coast).  Below are some photos he took of the dinghy (posted here with his permission).  His website has some nice photos of Man-O-Way and Elbow Cay.
I returned to the states for the winter so more photos will have to wait until March.
 Some notes regarding the sails
Man-O-War Cay, 25 Dec 2009
The dinghy plans did not include a sailplan, so I'll be experimenting a bit on the sail.  As I mentioned above, I bought a couple sails from PolySail International - a Reverse Bolger and the Lug rig shown on the Shellback Dinghy on the top of their homepage.
Jim Michalak's Boat Designs has a nice writeup about where to locate the mast relative to the daggerboard.  He says the sail's CE (Center of Effort) should be a little aft of the center of the daggerboard.  The dinghy wants to turn on the center of the daggerboard.  Locating the CE just aft of the center of the daggerboard creates the desireable effect of weather helm. 
Here is a simple "see-saw" analogy that makes sense to me for this.  On large boats, it apparently goes the other way - the CE is "6 to 8 inches" forward of the CLP or CLR.  I've read other explanations saying the CE should be forward of the daggerboard (and CLR), even for dinghies - e.g. here.  But that doesn't make sense to me.
Here is how I figured out where to position the mast ...
The midship seat ("thwart" in nauticalese) is positioned (per the original plans) so that when you are rowing the boat, the boat is trim in the water.  I've centered the daggerboard in it.  Then given the location of the sail's CE (from Dave Gray, the sailmaker), I positioned the bow seat to follow Michalak's guideline.  With it where it is, I plan to drill a 2" hole for the mast in the center of the seat for the Reverse Bolger (Dave says that sail's CE is 36" back of the front edge of the luff) and move the mast to be just in front of the seat for the lug sail (it's CE is 43" back of the luff).  I can adjust the location of the mast step to create rake in the mast and fine-tune the relative position of the CE if necessary.

Darren had an old wind surfer mast of just the right length that I should be able to use for the mast.  It is hollow and made of carbon fiber.  That should make the sail rig fairly light.  Plus, I'll be able to plug the ends so it will float, making it easier to recover from a capsize.  I'll use a length of douglas fir from the lumberyard for the sprit boom.  Dave Gray, the sailmaker, included a diagram with the sail for rigging it.  This was very helpful.
In the way of background info, it looks like the Reverse Bolger is a spritsail design.  Here is a discussion of the spritsail from Wikipedia.  Here is some discussion on sails for small dinghies.  And some comments on this sail.
 Back again
Man-O-War Cay, 4 May 2010
I'm back from hiding (from the cold) in Florida for the winter.
A couple days ago, a 112' yacht came into the marina.  Apparently it's available for charter.  Must be nice..
It's only a little bigger than my dink :-).

Here is the mast step (looking at the bottom) that I formed from 3 layers of (my dwindling supply of) Divinycell foam.  The little hole is to drain the hole that holds the mast.  I shaped the block with a palm sander and glued it into the hull using epoxy thickened with 406 Colloidal Silica.  The foam is very nice stuff to work with.
I'll add a photo of the piece glassed into the hull.

Here is a "second-homer" sailing his Abaco Dinghy in the harbour over the weekend.
And last but not least, Mark Gonsalves pointed out this blog entry to me.  Thanks Patti for the nice compliment.  I'm going to add "Dinghy-artist" to my resumĂ© :-).

9 Jun 2010
Here's the rudder.  The photo on the left shows the pieces.  I used ½" marine grade plywood for the "cheeks" and blade.  I routed ¼" out of each of the cheeks to take the blade which can flip up when it hits something.  I put a layer of 6 oz. cloth on the outside of the lower half of the cheeks, where the thickness of the plywood was now ¼", to reinforce it.
The tiller is laminated from the Spanish Cedar used for the hull.  I initially made it EXTRA long because I figured it would be easier to shorten it than add to it :-).  I took it out sailing and shortened it 6" at a time until I found the right length for me - where I can sit on the floor amidship, with my forearm resting on the end of the tiller to steer.
The photo on the upper right shows the assembled rudder mounted on the transom.  I used the suggestion found here to use bungee cord to hold the rudder down (upper right photo) and allow it to flip up (photo to the right).
But the bungee cord would hang up on the ½" bolt that I used to attach the blade to the cheeks (photo to the left).  I cut a couple donuts out of the Divinycell foam that I had left over from the seats and shaped them so that the bungee cord now slides easily over that area.  I can't get over how nice that foam is to work with (again, I'm using H80 density).  I'll glue them in place after they're painted.
The foam donuts will also protect the finish of anything I rest the rudder on (from that knarly bolt) when I take it off the transom.  I'd like to make up some way to store the rudder, tiller and daggerboard under the seats when not in use - probably some cleats and then use light line or bungee cord to hold the stuff in place.

I found that resetting the blade under way was difficult.  I made a downhaul using 1/8" nylon cord from the top of the tiller along the foreward edge of the cheeks to the hole in the blade where the bungee cord is attached.  [todo: add a photo here]  It's not perfect but helps.

10 Jun 2010
Here's Mai, the boatyard's paint wizard, painting the seats.  The Baltic Birch plywood (finished clear) was OK, I suppose.  It was interesting - a good experiment.  But IMO it was kind of "busy".  I think the white paint settles things down visually and accentuates the lines and color of the hull.
He is using Awlgrip Egg Shell White, the color I'm planning to have them paint Breakaway's hull next year.
The seat works very well for moving the dinghy by myself.  (On the beach, say) I roll the dinghy over onto it's gunwale, then bend over a little and rest the edge of the seat on my shoulder.  Then stand straight up and voilĂ , find that it is not that heavy after all and balances nicely fore-and-aft on my shoulder. 
13 Jun 2010
And finally launched.  The new oars seem to be working well.  Thanks Jodie & Steve for the photo.
I'll post some photos under sail when available.  I was still working out some details in the sailing rig.

28 Jul 2010
I had made a 4' daggerboard using foam for the core with 2 layers of 6 oz. cloth wrapping the foam.  It's nice and

light (and buoyant) - presenting 2 problems when trying to use it: because of the foam core, (1) I have to tie it down when I push it into it's trunk, and (2) it probably detracts a lot from the stability because it will want to float upward (pitching the boat over).  D'oh!
The solution is to add some weight to the bottom.  Joe Albury graciously gave me a piece of lead that he had left over from a 8 ton keel he had removed from a ketch he used to have.  The piece is shown to the right along with my plan for using it.  It was about 26" x 2" x ½".
I first tried out the weight tied to the end of the daggerboard, dropped into the water.  The daggerboard floated with about the right amount above the water (ie. the amount that's inside the trunk when in use).
I then cut it into short lengths, rounded the corners, and drilled & tapped ¼" x 20 holes to screw them together.  This photo shows the foam morticed out to hold the lead.  I feathered the edges back a little to hold the glass cloth that will cover the lead pieces.
This shows the pieces glassed in place.
All I can say is that the improvement is phenomenal!  The boat is so much more stable with the daggerboard down that I can hardly believe it.
All in all, the dinghy seems to handle well - very light so accelerates quickly, responsive to the rudder, easy to tack and jibe.  There is the slightest bit of weather helm in moderate wind.. just what I was hoping for.  In strong gusts, she will want to round up into the wind and it is a lot of fun controlling the sail and rudder under those conditions.  Sailing through the harbour in those conditions is a blast.  The daggerboard is easy to raise when I get into too shallow water or for running downwind.  I find I can bring her alongside Breakaway easily and rig/unrig her while I'm sitting on Breakaway's deck with my feet dangling over the side and holding the dinghy in place. 
Under sail, I sit on the floor with my back resting against the seat - my forward forearm resting on the seat amidship, the other forearm resting on the tiller while holding the sheet in that hand.  The seat is 2" thick with a large rounded edge and is very comfortable as a backrest.  To tack, I pull in the sheet (and sometimes fall off) a bit to make sure I have enough speed, come across the wind, shuffle my butt over to the other side of the dinghy, and change the sheet to my other hand.  The smooth, unobstructed floor makes it easy to slide across.  In light-to-moderate wind I am able to tack back and forth into the wind in the width of a slip.  In strong wind, short tacking is tough in a narrow space and I often resort to using the oar (as a paddle) to start the tack.  I guess this is all to say that I don't know how responsive and balanced she is compared to other dinghies.  I had a Sunfish many years ago but that has been pretty much the extent of my small boat sailing.
One improvement to make yet is to add a small clear window to the sail.  The foot of the sail is a bit too low to see under.
I just came across this NON-BINDING LUFF TIE SYSTEM which I need to try.
Another thing is to figure out how to reef the sail - say, a single-line system.
6 Oct 2011
My musings on building another dinghy...
20 Nov 2011
Here is a photo under sail.
Thanks Heidi.
20 Aug 2013
Here is a photo of that new dinghy,
a 10' "stitch&glue".  Please visit that link for more info.

 Lessons learned
Spring Hill, 7 Jan 2012
Things that I think came out well..
  1. The lead weight at the bottom of the foam-core daggerboard works great.
  2. I think the herringbone seam down the middle came out looking good.  Plus, it was easy to make.
  3. I really like the way the seats came out.  There have been a couple rain storms that quickly filled the dinghy (just up to the level of the daggerboard opening).  The foam floatation in the seat keeps the dinghy afloat and allows me to step into it to bail out the water.  The 2" thickness and large rounded edge makes a nice back rest when sailing, and a useful shoulder rest for carrying.  I can carry it myself fairly easily.
  4. The location was hard to beat.  I can't imagine a prettier little harbour than Man-O-War.  The occasional visits from Willard Albury were a special treat.  I really appreciate the Madeira from Andy Albury for the knees and breast hook.  I tried my best to "channel" the MOW boat building heritage :-).  I built the dinghy out in the open on the location of Uncle Will's former boat yard (seen in the old photos on that link).
Things I'd do differently..
  1. If I were to do it again, I would use an easier-to-bend wood.  Spanish Cedar, although beautiful, was a bear to work with.  Also, I think I'd use a bead & cove joint on the edges.
  2. Next time, I'll make up some kind of lean-to cover for shade.  I think when I started to work on her, the weather was cool and I enjoyed the sun.  But, I was probably like the frog in the pot of water - each day got a little warmer and the sun more direct until I was eventually boiling out there :-).

Misc references:
  [1] The Florida Forestry Association: Lysiloma latisiliqua describes it as heavy, hard, tough,
      close-grained dark reddish brown, and has been occasionally used for boat building
- The plans I am using
- Minipaw Dinghy "No Regrets" - this is an interesting writeup
- Fiberglassing a woodstrip hull from West's EpoxyWorks
Next project?
  - The Spindrift looks interesting.  Here is a construction writeup.  I like the fact that it nests.
- The Swift Solo looks interesting.  Very pretty hulls.  Although maybe more of a young man's game.    The builders' website and what appears to be the class homepage.