Scott Roberts: DIY Boatbuilder

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Customer Scott Roberts’ Home-Built Candlefish 13 

Scott Roberts
Location: Houston, TX (and Harpswell, ME)
JD customer since: 2013

Summer 2016 TotalBoat Photo Contest Winner and March 2017 JD Catalog featured customer story 

Scott Roberts has always loved boats and being on the water. He grew up sailing Hobie Cats and Sunfish, and spent several summers driving the launch at Paul’s Marina in Brunswick, ME. He raced offshore at the US Naval Academy, and earned a degree in Naval Architecture. In fact, his final active duty assignment was overseeing construction of a 680′ naval amphibious assault ship. Four years later, he was itching to do something with boats again, and decided to build a Candlefish 13 designed by Sam Devlin.

In his words, “I chose the Candlefish 13 for several reasons; it would fit inside my garage, appeared to be a reasonable choice for a first time boat builder, and would work well for short trips hauling gear and people between the mainland and our family cottage. Most importantly. I liked the lines of the boat.” 

By June 2013, Scott had purchased the detailed plans and was ready to tackle this stitch-and-glue design. Wood was sourced from a local specialty lumber yard, and Scott’s father (himself a long time customer) referred him to JD for the rest of his boat building supplies. “I enjoyed the process of lofting the frames and hull panels because it reminded me of drawing hull designs in my Naval Architecture classes.” 

By year’s end, the hull was stitched together, and ready for fiberglass. “I thought I’d never finish the endless cycle of filling, sanding, and epoxying. All of the seams are taped with fiberglass, and the entire hull is covered in one layer of fiberglass.  During the summer months it was usually 95+ degrees in the garage, so I had to use extra slow hardener with the epoxy in order for it to not kick right away!” 

With 2 school-age children and work that sometimes required international travel, progress slowed. He’d go weeks without touching the boat. But by November 2014, the hull was ready to be flipped. His father helped install a brass half-oval to protect the keel, then helped flip the boat over. 2015 was spent working on the inside of the boat, with more of the “epoxy-fill-sand-repeat” cycle.  

The pace soon picked up, and by early 2016 Scott was working on the final details of the decks, hatches, and seats. Before he knew it, it was time to paint. He used TotalBoat Topside Primer, Wet Edge polyurethane topside finish, and TotalTread non-skid paint. He says “once I got the hang of mixing the right amount of thinner with the paint, I found it very easy to work with and was able to roll and tip a nice finish inside and out.” The gunwales and spray rails were treated to several coats of TotalBoat Lust varnish. 

Painting was complete by the end of April, and in May Scott installed the deck hardware, hung a 20 hp Mercury outboard, and was ready for sea trials by Memorial Day! “I launched the boat on Clear Lake in Houston with my wife and boys, and we had a great time testing the boat out. I like to fish on Galveston Bay, so I have since added a couple of rod holders and a fish finder.” The family decided to name the boat “Lilly” as a tribute to a beloved family dog that often kept Scott company while he worked on the boat. The Roberts’ plan on moving Lilly up to the family cottage on Birch Island in Harpswell, Maine.

When asked about his favorite and most challenging parts of the project, he commented “the actual woodworking portions of the build were my favorite. But, the relentless cycle of filling with epoxy and then sanding was my least favorite!” Finding time to work on the boat was a big challenge.”I found that I needed to set small goals so I could feel like I was making progress. I also had to keep a tidy shop so my wife could still park her car in the garage, and the kids could get their bikes in and out!”

And we all know keeping the wife happy is the key to any successful project.

Thanks to Scott for sharing his story with us. Share yours by emailing us at images@totalboat.com

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