Educational Passages wants this program to be a memorable, exciting, and worthwhile educational experience for you.  These boats are good sailors, strong and usually cross oceans and survive hurricanes.  Our Board of Directors is very knowledgeable about the sea and consists of two captains, a maritime academy professor, a NOAA research oceanographer, educators, and a solo sailor.  We want to assist you in any way we can to make this as interesting as possible for your students.  Just email your questions to miniboats@educationalpassages.com. We encourage you to take advantage of this and communicate directly with experienced sea captains or an oceanographer.

Preparing the Keel

  1. Inspection of the keel will show that it was molded in two parts and glued together with fiberglass putty. You will add 8 cups of sand mixed with fiberglass resin to the inside bottom of the keel for ballast.
  2. Tape the longitudinal seam all way around the keel to prevent any resin leakage. Take 8 cups of sand and add enough catalyzed fiberglass resin to
  3. Take 8 cups of sand and add enough catalyzed fiberglass resin to thoroughly wet the sand.
  4. For Boats using the APS GPS units, you need to use 11 cups of sand to properly balance the boat.
  5. Pour or spoon this mixture into the keel. If needed take a stick and push it down so there are no voids.  Place the keel upright in the normal operating position in a corner supporting it so the bottom of the keel is resting flat on the floor with the front top edge and one side resting against the wall.
  6. Before the fiberglass/sand mixture cures and if there is room in the keel push a few wooden strips (3/4” strapping or similar) into the sand mixture so the tops are protruding out the top of the keel as shown in above photo. This will strengthen the tab that will be epoxed into the keel slot.
  7. Mix more catalyzed resin and fill the keel right to the top with the resin and set it aside to cure in the same position as you did after adding the sand mixture. The wooden strips and fiberglass will add strengthen the top of the keel.
  8. Trim the wood flush to the top of the keel.

Fitting & Installing the Keel

  1. You may have to do some pretty serious sanding or filing to get the top of the keel to make the tab so it fits all the way into the keel slot in the hull. Wear a dust mask for protection.
  2. Don’t forget to thoroughly sand the inside of the keel slot on the hull to remove the wax.
  3. Check the fit to ensure the keel fits all the way into the slot. Use the West thickened epoxy adhesive (white & blue cartridge) with the unique 2 piece cap that you’ll want to reuse to install the mast.  Attach a new mixing spout (you have 2) to the cartridge and liberally apply the epoxy around the inside of the slot and on the sides of the keel tab. Replace the caps one to the clear epoxy and the other to the yellowish catalyst as you will use it again to install the mast.
  4. With the boat upside down and on the floor or worktable slide the keel in place and support the back of the keel against the wall as shown in the photo below. Be sure to check that the keel is vertical and all the way in the slot. The epoxy is slippery and the keel tends to slide out of the slot.
  1. Stabilize the boat and keel so it can’t move.  This installer used sandbags.
  2. Take your finger or a popsicle stick and go around the base of the keel spreading the epoxy to make a nice fair smooth joint. This will also fix or hide any chipping of the gel coat around the edge of the keel which is almost always there.
  3. Check again to ensure the keel is vertical and properly seated all the way into the slot.
  4. Let it cure for at least 24 hours.

Fitting & Installing the Mast

  1. Fit the 1” fiberglass washer around the bottom of the mast. The bottom of the mast is concave and the top is smooth & rounded.
  2. Check that the mast fits properly into the hull. The mast should slide in easily the first 4” after which you will probably have to push harder and give a twist to get the base of the mast to slide into the mast step socket which is molded into the hull.  When the mast is properly in place it should rake back approximately 5 degrees and not move around in the step.
  3. When you are sure it fits properly remove it put your gloves on and be sure the 1” fiberglass washer is around the mast. Attach the mixing spout to the West thicken epoxy adhesive and squirt epoxy as deep down into the mast slot as possible.  Fill the concavity on the bottom of the mast and spread epoxy around the bottom 4 or 5” of the mast as well as inside the mast slot. Slide the mast in place and tap the top of the mast to ensure it is properly seated. Slide the washer down to epoxy it to the deck to ensure you don’t get leaks around the mast. Wipe up excess epoxy.
  4. Let the epoxy set up for at least 24 hours.
  5. Slide the sail onto the mast with the batten in front of the mast. Lash the lines from the deck eyes to the sail securely. Don’t tension them tightly as it would increase wear on the top of the sail.

GPS Installation

We have to waterproof, program, and turn on your GPS at our facility. To ensure it is done right and tested, we will send your unit before your launch date.  Please notify us one month prior to your launch date and we’ll start getting your unit ready.

The specialized AP3 GPS unit we use primarily in the Pacific is larger and heavier and we usually install it under a hatch on the foredeck. There are a few items we should talk you through on how to set this unit up so please don’t install it under the hatch until you speak to our oceanographer.

These boats come in directly downwind and can get damaged in the surf after they land. For this reason, try to get your boat recovered before she comes ashore and you’ll probably be able to send her out again. We often can get help from our friends, the local harbormaster or the fishing fleet to recover these boats, so again ask for our help. It is important to re-launch her in an area where she is likely to have another nice long passage so consult our experts!

For boat building questions contact miniboats@educationalpassages.com.

We will monitor your boat on our website so please email us a photo of your boat, give us her name, where and when you plan to launch her, and any other information or additional photos or stories about your adventure.  We’ll post this information on the website and write it up in our quarterly newsletter.

Click here to order a MiniBoat.