Pitthirrit on albert park lakeAfter we sold our B&B Yacht Designs Core Sound 17 we were without a boat for a year. That when was I decided that it was time to start on the next build. Initially, I had wanted to build a CS17 Mk3, which has a cabin, but when the plans arrived I discovered that the plans had been updated, and was now a few inches wider than had been detailed on the B&B website. It doesn't sound like much of a change, but it was enough to make the boat unable to fit down our driveway. So, back to the drawing board...

I could have built another CS17 Mk1, or a CS15, but I was taken by the B&B Yeach Designs Lapwing 16, a glued lapstrake cat rigged ketch. Slightly smaller than the CS17, it appeared to have everyting I liked about the CS17, but with a more traditional feel.

Lapwing 16: Pitthirrit

Sail Number     24
LOA   4.77M (15' 8")
BEAM   1.69M (5' 6 1/2")
DRAFT   20cm – 1.06M (7" - 3' 6")

This is a slightly modified version of the design, as, after consulting B&B Yacht Designs, I didn't add the decking, and opted instead to keep the boat completely open.

The name? I called our Lapwing Pitthirrit, a Masked Lapwing in the Dhauwurd Wurrung language of the people of Gunditjmara country (the area around Warrnambool, Victoria). Given the changes I've made to the deck layout I thought that it was an appropriate name. Pitthirrit is pronounced Pitirit.

The photos below are from our first sailing day in Pitthirrit. One of the other boats on Albert Park Lake that day was Kirsty Ann, the CS17 I built back in 2005. The wind varied from none to a touch over 5 kts, but it was enough to get us to the end of the lake and back in the company of other members of the Wooden Boat Association.

So far, the only changes I've had to make is to add small wooden blocks to the aft side of each mast, to prevent the boom straps from sliding down the mast when the snotters are tensioned. In these photos you can see that the booms are sitting at the very bottom of the opening, and the snotters are actually pulling on the sleeves. Hopefully these blocks will prevent this in future.

These pages detail the build of our Lapwing over the course of 2020, and into 2021. Perversely, I was able to get lots of work done in January and February 2020, but as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded I had less time to work on the boat, and progress slowed down somewhat.


Lots of clamps, ready to use when holding the glued planks in place.I am currently in the early stages of building a Lapwing, a 4.77m glued lapstrake cat ketch design from B&B Yacht Designs. My last boat was a Core Sound 17, another cat ketch from B&B, which I sold a year ago. I’ve not built a glued lapstrake boat before, so I’m picking up a new set of skills and enjoying myself immensely.

This glued-lapstrake design uses a number of bulkheads that are part of the boat, instead of a strongback, plus a couple of temporary frames, all propped up on a pair of home made saw horses. In building this boat I’m remembering the joy of using well-sharpened planes and chisels, and the effectiveness of a nicely curved filleting stick!

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Fitting the third plank of our B&B Yacht Designs Lapwing 16Templates for the first two pairs of planks were included in the plans, along with a note that these should be carefully checked, as every boat would be slightly different, and it was unlikely that they would fit perfectly. No, they didn’t, and the first plank of the second pair had to be recut. The remaining planks had to be measured, from the previous plank, and the appropriate point on each bulkhead, using a batten to fair a line between the bulkheads – a process called spiling.

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Shaping the centreboard of our B&B Yacht Designs Lapwing 16Work continues on the boat, and I am happy with the progress I have made over the last month. The keel has been fitted, and there’s been sanding – lots of sanding, and it is all being done with a sanding block! I’ve spent a fair part of my time on the boat this month sanding the hull (music in the garage is a great help), and once I was happy with that, I applied three coats of epoxy. I was fortunate to have a warm weekend to do this. The first coat was rolled and brushed on the first day, and the second and third coats were applied on the second day. By not delaying more than 24 hours between coats I didn’t need to sand before adding more epoxy. Using a roller, and tipping out with a brush, resulted in a good finish. Less pleasing was variation in colour of the ply where I had sanded through one layer to another at the scarfed joints, around the lands at the bow, and where screws had been used to pull planks together. This wasn’t so noticeable when it was sanded, but coating the ply with epoxy has highlighted these flaws.

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The forward bulkhead removed on our B&B Yacht Designs Lapwing 16. Removing this bulkhead was one of the major changes to the supplied plans.This month seems to have slipped away, with only minimal progress on my boat, but looking back, there has still been quite a bit achieved.

I’ve extended the buoyancy chambers further forward, to meet the hull, cleaned up some of the inside of the hull, and I’ve also installed the inwales and dry fitted the gunwales.

Firstly, the spacer blocks were cut and glued in place using spring clamps made from a couple of pieces of PVC tubing I had tucked away against the day when it would come in handy.

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Fibreglassing the centreboard case for our B&B Yacht Designs Lapwing 16I’ve managed a couple of good weekends working on the lapwing in the last month, plus the Queen’s Birthday holiday, so definite progress has been made!

I removed the gunwales, glued the laminates together, taped the planks, and reinstalled the gunwales, to let the epoxy set whilst holding the timbers to the correct shape. In a seek or two I’ll remove them once again and sand them again, and apply the Deks Olje that will be used to finish them.

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Floor timbers in our B&B Yacht Designs Lapwing 16.The weather’s been colder, and it’s getting harder to pump epoxy from the containers. I’ve made a hot box to keep the containers in, and I’ve been using a low-powered light bulb to maintain a reasonable temperature in the box during the week, and then for the weekend I use an incandescent bulb given to me by Chris, to bump up the temperature a bit, to get the epoxy up to a better temperature for pumping, but also trying to not let it get so warm that during the curing I see any amine blush caused by the falling temperatures.

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Centreboard slot in our B&B Yacht Designs Lapwing 16. Fibreglass tape reinforces the join of the hull and the case. The edges of the tape will be faired into the hull.Whilst procrastinating over what colour to paint the hull, I spent some time building a jig for cutting the birdsmouth profile in the strakes of Oregon that will be used to make my masts. The back of the fence on my Triton workbench is set at 45 degrees, with a lip at the base to support timber before and after it touches the saw blade. Reversing the fence, so that the diagonal side comes up against the blade gave me an easy way to make the 45 degree cuts needed in one edge of the strake.

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Clamping and gluing the hatch frames for our B&B Yacht Designs Lapwing 16.Well, the paint’s arrived, but I’ve still not started painting…

I am making good progress though. I’ve put together five self-draining hatch assemblies, although they are yet to be sanded and epoxy coated. Two hatches will be fitted to the longitudinal seats on each side the boat, and the other will be fitted into the stern seat.

These assemblies have a channel running each side of the hatch opening, providing both something for the hatch lid to seal against and also drain water off the seat tops.

Once the boat is the right way up again I will install these, before fitting the seat tops.

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A birdsmouth mast for our B&B Yacht Designs Lapwind 16 glued and held together with gaffa tape. Whilst gluing up the masts, they were located in jigs that held the pieces at the right height for the taper of the mast at that station. These locating half-circles also kept everything located properly from side to side, and kept the masts quite straight.It’s been a slow month in the garage, as work has kept me at my desk for far too long each day, as well as at weekends.

I have managed to glue the masts, and start on planing one of them from 8 sides down to 16, and then to 32 sides, ready for sanding.

The mast staves were dry-fitted and the edges cleaned up with a rabbet plane, and then with help from Kirsty, the mast staves were laid up beside each other, coated with epoxy, and then placed into the half-circle station moulds that had been set to the correct height to take into account the taper of the masts, keeping the masts as straight as possible.

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Starting to sand a B&B Yacht Designs Lapwing 16 birdsmouth mast to circularThis month I continued working on the masts for my Lapwing. I decided to sand the first mast before planing the second, and made some handles that could be clamped onto a length of sandpaper. It was then just a matter of working my way along the mast, pulling the sandpaper back and forth until an area was sufficiently rounded, and then rotating the mast to work on the next length.

It was slow, dusty work, but very satisfying to see the masts take shape and the colour of the timber reveal itself.

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Wishbone boom components for our B&B Yacht Designs Lapwing 16During November I didn’t get as much done on the boat as I would have liked. Work keeps on getting in the way, and as I rather like the idea of a bank account that is going up rather than down, I find it hard to say no to my clients...

I did manage to start work on the wishbone booms, and ordered my sails, so there has been some progress.

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IMG 4558 right way upI’m starting to feel like the kid in the back of the care, asking “are we there yet?”

I am getting closer, but there’s still a long way to go.

In December and January I was able to take advantage of my down time, and devote quite a bit of time to the boat.

The outside of the hull was spray painted, sanded, spray painted, sanded, and so on over several days. Eventually, after a final cut and polish, I was happy to leave it alone.

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IMG 4724 working on the rudder stockThe finish line is in sight, but I seem to be slowing down...

The rudder has been shaped and coated in epoxy. The rudder cheeks have been glued, and now that the rudder blade is finished I can cut the timber inserts and finish off the rudder stock. The plans call for a copper tube through this insert, used for the rudder downhall. A piece of old copper water pipe was found under the house, and will be fitted shortly.

Rather than using a thwart to mount the main mast partners, I decided to combine the mast partner with an enlarged breasthook, which also gives me a larger surface to stand on when stepping off the boat. I haven’t decided what to do with regards to holding the mast in the partner. That’s for later this month.

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IMG 4776 almost finishedMarch was a very busy month on the boat.

With some help from Kirsty, I reinstalled the rubrails, adding a seam of caulking to stop them squeaking against the hull if flexed.

Most of the hardware has been installed: sheet blocks, fairleads, centreboard uphaul and downhaul, and sheets and other lines cut to size.

The pintles and gudgeons for the rudder have been installed and final coats of epoxy applied to the rudder. Whilst this was being done I also shaped and glued the pieces for the tiller, and temporarily installed the hardware for the rudder uphaul and downhaul and the tiller extension. These were then removed, the tiller and extension given a final sand, and then coated with Deks Olje.

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Sunday, 25th of May 2021 was our second sail in Pitthirrit, at Albert Park Lake. There still wasn't lots of wind for most of the day, but it was a lovely day to be out on the water!


 The wind picked up during the day, so it was a great opportunity to try sailing Pirtthirrit reefed, which involves partially furling the sails around the masts. She remained well balanced, and still performed well, pointing upwind almost as well as when not reefed. I could have moved the downhaul to the reefed downhaul point, but I think that perhaps I should have a second download line and hook, as leaving the first downhaul in place meant that the sail didn't keep sliding around the mast when I was furling the sail.

At present, to reef a sail I have to:

  • detach the snotter from the boom,
  • remove it from the mast,
  • roll the sail around the mast,
  • thread the snotter strap through the reefing cringle on the sail and feed the line through the loop at the end of the snotter strap,
  • run the snotter line through the two blocks on the boom and the snotter strap that has been wrapped around the mast, and then back to the tensioning cleat,
  • add a loop of line to extend from the clew back to the hook at the end of the boom,
  • pull the snotter in to tighten the sail within the wishbone boom.

This has to be done for both sails, and is much easier to do when tied up.

I'm thinking that I will make a couple of extra snotters, and set up some type of quick-release mechanism for the point where the snotter runs through the block on the boom. This way, I could unclip the snotter from the boom, leave the existing snotter in place on the mast, roll the sail around the mast, thread the new snotter through the reefing cringle, and then clip it to the boom. The other steps in reefing would remain the same, but it would certainly speed up  the process, both for reefing and removing the reef when the wind drops.

Gary Hardy, the current owner of Kirsty Anne, came on board and filmed us while reefed, and he has graciously provided the video seen here.




Good wind, perfect temperature! Another great day out in Pitthirrit!


Kirsty and I, in Pitthirrit, joined Gary and Jim in Kirsty Ann, our old Core Sound 17, Andrew in Mars, and Gerard, in his Hartley TS14, on a sail from Altona to Williamsrtown and back in winds that varied from 8 to perhaps 15 kts..

It was an easy run down to Williamstown, and then a run back out to the channel markers and then across to the Altona ramp. Perfect weather for a Summer sail...

 The video and stills of Pitthirrit is by Gary Hardy: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnXskZr4XTREstNrmiw6P1g

Another short video, by Sandra Nielsen, is at https://www.youtube.com/shorts/Q4csUONWwgY