Sienna solar boat progress

Sienna and the designer and builder Derek Ellard

Noah thought it a good idea to built his boat up on a hill, so why shouldn’t Scruffie Marine build their boats up on Mount Tamborine?  I’ve been at the Scruffie workshop for a few days to help out with building of the first solar Sienna, and to bond with her. We’d like to have her ready for the Sanctuary Cove boatshow and I’ll be helping out when I can.  By helping with some of the less skilled tasks it can allow Derek to focus on the critical joinery and other woodworking tasks.

The first photo of the Sienna is taken looking down from the mezzanine floor and will give you some idea of her lines. (Click on it to get a larger image.) You’ll see at the stern Derek has just clamped a laminated beam in the position where it will form a seat back and also give some definition to her lines looking from aft.

Traditional lines of her stem will take her nicely into a sea.

She’ll have cedar posts to support the fixed canopy that will carry the solar panels. The red of the cedar will be in harmony with the gentle green hull and I can already feel what a lovely little ship she’ll be. Indeed she’ll be a delightful balance of traditional lines matched with the modern technology of quiet electric propulsion powered by nothing but light.

Derek has worked with timber boats throughout his boat building career and this is his first venture to match up the ease of maintenance of a GRP hull together with the warmth of timber for finishing her inside. He’s been planning this electric boat for a while now and to make the mould for the hull he had to first built a wooden Sienna which he is keeping for his own use later.  So even though this is the first Sienna out of the mould, she’s not really the first one.

The hull shape is a derivative of the Scruffie Secret 20 which has been well reviewed in wooden boat magazines such as Watercraft and Classic Boat. The stem is shaped in the traditional way to take a bowsprit gammon iron on sailing versions and has been retained in the electric just because we like it.

Queensland Red Cedar posts to used for canopy support

The first powered launches were always based on bull shapes from sailing boats, and so they were naturally easily driven.  You would have seen those fishing launches in many of the coastal communities where the boats that worked off the beaches were of this style but there’s not many of them left now.  And so it is with the Sienna, that she also comes from a sailing heritage.  Most of Derek’s designs are sailing boats, and the Sienna will be available in a sailing version as well.

The Queensland Red Cedar (Toona Australis) used for the canopy posts is a tough, durable and light timber that was once used extensively in Australian boatbuilding and many of the vintage 18 ft skiffs of Sydney Harbour were built of this. It is also used for the knees at the top of the fore and aft posts. The other prominent wood finish in the Sienna is the head, and its being done with a modern composite for light weight, strength and ease of crafting. It is a veneer of Gaboon (a west African timber) on a core known as nidaplast.

Mooring cleats are hand made of oak as is the samson post on the foredeck. And for the galley bench top Derek has three planks of cedar that he’s gluing together to make a good solid work area.

I’m pleased how she is coming together and and she’s gonna be a great looking vessel.  My friends Steve and Miki offered her a lovely teak wheel—alas it is too large for her and we’ll have to acquire another.

The steering may take a little tinkering to get right—I’d like to be able to easily raise the motor so its clear of the  water when not being used so we need to have a quick release connection to the steering device, whatever that may be. The motor is in a well under the aft seat and the method used on Current Sunshine can probably serve as a good model, but there is less space available here and so it will need some adaptation. It may be spectra lines and turning blocks, or a push-pull cable steering system.  Lets wait and see what evolves after I sit with it for a while.

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