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"Natoma" was the last design from world renowned designer Phil Rhodes. The contract for this project was signed not long before I came to work at the boat yard in 1973, and the keel was laid a couple of months after I started.

A modern wooden boat has many metal hardware pieces, from the lead ballast keel to the structural members in the bilge, to the deck fittings, rigging, and mast hardware. This is what I became specialized in. When I wasn’t full time on the metal work, I also helped in the carpenter shop.

Like a first child, I have more photos of this boat than any other by far. Some photos are click-able, to see larger images and read further details. Look for the clickable pointer:clickable pointer

Natoma the morning of the launch          Photo credit: Dave Shaw
Shown here the morning of the launch, construction began a year and a half before.

Laminated keel Laminated Keel
The Keel was a complex mahogany lamination, incorporating the stern post and stem into one.
Stern Post Glue-up, ready for shaping
The stern post glue-up is shown, ready for shaping. The rudder shaft will go in the hollow that's beginning to take shape above.

Mast step weldment
The mast step (above - shown upside down) and floor "timbers" (below) were made of welded silicon bronze. A half-inch thick bottom plate is still to be welded to the bottom of the mast step, for bolting the keel.

Bronze floor timbers
Floor timbers in place
Above and below, the mast step and floor timbers are bolted to the keel, and the first temporary frame set in place. A dozen long 1-1/4" bolts run all the way down through the lead ballast keel. The hull of the sloop "Rolling Stone" is visible at the lower right.
taking shape

Next the transom is built. One of the most extraordinary skills involved in boat building is the development of shapes and layouts. The bevels along the edges of the transom will align with a few plane shavings with the hull and deck planking, when the hull is farther along.
Transome in place with structural knee
Transom in place with structural knee
The stern takes shape
The stern takes shape. In the foreground is the casting for the propeller shaft bearing.
Transome in place
The transom is now in place on the keel, braced with temporary shores against the rafters in the construction shop. At the lower right is the lead stockpiled for the next ballast keel pouring.
The lead balast keel
While the laminated keel was being started, a redwood mold was made for the nearly 7' tall, 23,800 lb ballast keel, just over half the weight of the finished boat. Photographs of way these were hand poured can be seen on the Rolling Stone page. The redwood mold is left in place for support until the boat is nearly ready to launch.
Engine bed, supporting a Detroit 3-71 diesel
With the keel now bolted to the lead, the welded bronze engine bed is placed, and the Detroit 3-71 diesel set in place. Three more floor "timbers" are incorporated in the bronze engine bed.
Lead keel trailing edge
The thin trailing edge of the lead would be easy to damage, so a stainless steel edge is riveted in place.
Meanwhile, the rest of the temporary frames are set in place. Each one is carefully lofted (developed for shape), as this will determine the shape and graceful lines of the boat. The performance of a boat is determined by the Naval Architect's skill and experience, and precision with which the hull is shaped.
Constructin progresses

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