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In Greenland

Iron Bark

Iron Bark
Under full sail


At Russell Boating Club's Tall Ships Regatta

Annie Hill

Annie Hill
Photo credit: Alvah Simon

Blue Water Medal

Blue Water Medal
Blue Water Medal

Books By Annie Hill

  • Brazil and Beyond
  • Voyaging on a Small Income

About Me

16 June, 2018

Three jobs at once

In theory, the boat should be coming along in leaps and bounds: I have three jobs I'm working on at present (a) reinforcing the deck around the tabernacle (b) fitting the deck liner in the heads (c) the saloon.  Obviously when something has glue or paint hardening in one place, I can get on with something else.  However, Life, as so often, has been getting in the way, and if it's not JRA stuff, it's long emails around selling Oryx, long phone calls to friends about Stuff, birthdays, visitors (nearly always welcome), a launching to attend (lucky devil) and so on.  Most of this is great fun, but it can get frustrating when I feel like I'm on a roll and then I have also to deal with tools breaking down and needing replacing, plywood to be bought or just the usual day to day cooking, cleaning, washing, etc, etc.  Whinge, whinge.  My apologies, but maybe it helps explain why I haven't blogged for so long.

 Anyway, once I had the deckliner fitted in the forecabin, it needed trim putting up.  This was essentially to hide the less than perfect joints: it's not easy manhandling large sheets of floppy plywood, trying to fit them to a pretty extreme camber and end up with gaps that you are happy for people to see.  Now that I have plenty of kauri, I can make the 'mouldings' that I want.  Just as well considering that the forward one snapped in the middle just as I was fitting it.  The photo shows all this trim on the table being coated, but I should not have coated the forward one: the epoxy stiffened it up too much.

 This is the quadrant at the after end, being trial fitted and the photo gives some idea of the camber.

 Here are all the bits of trim varnished and in place - including the wretched bit of quadrant on the forward bulkhead, which I ended up varnishing in situ.  When the deckhead was finally in place, it looked like the inside of an igloo and I wondered if I'd made a big mistake.  I'm not fond of acres of paint, in truth, but all this white paint is to keep the interior of the boat light.  However, the bits of trim made a huge difference to the overall appearance and it's quite acceptable now.

 Next job: to put the plywood around the tabernacle to reinforce the deck.  I made the first two pieces out of 6mm ply, which wasn't such a good move because of trying to force it down to the camber, with relatively little to screw to and nothing to clamp to. This is the first piece, coated underneath, sanded and ready to glue.  I decided to use offcuts from the 4mm deckliner for the rest of the reinforcing - there's heaps of it, anyway.

The 6mm ply is down forward of the mast and you can see wires leading from it, going back to the switch panel in fact.  I thought long and hard about this: when the wires corrode, as they eventually will, I won't be able to pull them out and replace them.  However, the alternative is to run them visibly inside the boat (David's clever idea of how to run the cables didn't work in practice).  I've decided to keep them invisible for the moment and when they do corrode away, then I'll run them inside the boat, with some sort of disguise.  And who knows - maybe I'll be dead before they do, in which case it will be someone else's problem!

SibLim Club members, Rob and Maren gave me a roll of foil-backed foam insulation, left home from their house build, some time ago, and I'm putting this between the two layers of deck.  It doesn't show very well in the photo, unfortunately.  You can also see the 4mm piece of ply I'm about to fit on the deck.

On the port side now, with the reinforcing being fitted around the tabernacle.  I've finally found plywood thin enough to staple - just like the Gougeon Bros recommend!

 Back into the saloon and getting the back rest sorted.  I decided on 590mm  because that's (for some reason) what David and I chose more moons ago than I care to think.  So here it is set up to cut using my latest toy, the most wonderful battery powered 150mm circular saw.  Every girl should have one!

 And here is the backrest in place.  Notice anything?  Yup, it looks way too high and interferes with the port hole.  So off I go to the Internet, to some magazines, to my sailing and boatbuilding books and look at everybody else's back rests.  I would say that 450mm is much more usual than 590, so that's what I'll go for.  Of course, somehow I've got to deal with the fact that the kauri 'tongue and groove' on the after bulkhead (to save **** weight) doesn't go down far enough now.  This tiny bit of weight saving has caused me heaps of grief - quite apart from finishing in the wrong place again, it's awkward to work round.  Let me suggest to anyone thinking of going for this effect, to cover the whole damn bulkhead in the panelling and forget about the 300 grams of extra weight.

 Meanwhile, I'm working on the deckliner in the heads.  Here's the port panel cut and coated on one side. Small and rectangular - what a joy!

26 May, 2018

Saloon and deck (liner)

There's been a whole lot of painting going on, so in many ways not a lot to show for the couple of weeks since last I blogged.

 The little bulkheads that support the settee base are now painted and you can see that what will be the lift-up bunk extension, is fitted between the two athwartships seats.  It's just sitting there at the moment while I try and source 'flat' bolts to fasten it in place.

 These two bulkheads are simply to divide the lockers into smaller spaces, to make them more manageable.  I did debate not painting them, but keep reminding myself that lockers with light interiors are easier to find things in.

 And there were four coats of paint to apply to the deckhead, before it could be fitted.

 I had originally intended to make the top of the dinette area out of one piece of ply, but manhandling the larger of the sheets of ply for the deckhead put paid to that notion.  I guess it's a more efficient use of ply, anyway, to make it in three pieces.  More coating.

 Filletting in the partition bulkheads.  It's easier to paint them in situ because I can do both sides at once.

 The seat tops have to be chamfered along their outboard edge to (more or less) match the angle of the hull.  I'm a bit more confident with the power plane than I was two years ago.
Finally I was ready to fit the deckhead liner.  This is part of the deck structure, so has to be glued into place with epoxy.  Because I don't want it full of screw holes, it was a bit of a mission to get it snug to the deck beams, which have a strong camber.  It's just as well the temperatures have fallen by 10⁰ or so, or the glue would have kicked off long before I finished the job.

 The deckhead installed.  Although I had fitted it several times previously, I managed to produce a wee crack in it next to the tabernacle.  I've filled this and will touch it up with paint next time I have some mixed.  No doubt it will irritate the soul out of me for the next x number of years while I lie in my bunk.

And here is a shot from the outside showing the deckhead fitted.  The forecabin is now closed in - or would be if only I'd finish cleaning up those portholes!

 Some time ago I posted about the lovely little stove I'd bought from the UK.  However, it had no window and this was a sad thought.  Some time ago, my friends, Phil and Mark again showed me their stove on Icebreaker and it was a lot smaller than I remembered and has a wonderful window.  I looked for ages to find the builder's details, without success: he doesn't normally bother to advertise.  However, fortunately, P&M still had his phone number, so I called and ordered one.  Somewhat to my consternation, he made one there and then, which did nothing for my budget.  I really can't afford it, but on the other hand, I'll get so much pleasure, sitting in my saloon on a cold winter's night (and don't believe what they tell you about the 'Winterless North'), watching the flames flicker in my little Flick stove. 

12 May, 2018

In the saloon, with a slight diversion towards rudders

As I concluded in my last blog, I was ready to put in the fronts and sides for the dinette area.

 It was a bit of a jigsaw puzzle, putting them all together, because they had framework or overlaps that meant they could only be fitted in a certain order.  However, I 'proceeded in an orderly fashion' and got them into place satisfactorily.

 Pete, having found a new-to-him boat, and having packed up or disposed of all that he had on Oryx, had a bit of time on his hands and offered to give me some help making the rudders.  We sorted through some of the saligna in the wood store and found what was needed.  Pete measured and sawed it to length and then spent a long time planing it all.  Saligna is hard and we went through three sets of blades doing it.  The blades have two sides and I had just put in a brand-new pair, which we turned when about a quarter of the way through the job.  When they were blunt, I replaced them with another pair that I'd had sharpened, and these did the remaining half of the wood and were still sharp at the end of it.  There's a moral there, but I'm not sure what it is!

 The rudders are built from three layers, with the middle layer of 23mm running up and down, and the outer layers of 12mm, running parallel with the trailing edge.  The centre portion of the rudder was edge glued

 And then we glued and screwed the outside layers.  You have to be very careful not only preparing the pilot holes for the screws, but both sending them in and backing them out.  The electric screwdriver has to be set on about 5, and the screws finished by hand, otherwise they may sheer.  The same applies to backing them out - if they are held too hard by the wood, the electric screwdriver will sheer them off. 

 My 18v battery circular saw was powerful enough to saw up the thinner pieces of wood - but needed recharging at regular intervals.

 Once the rudders were glued up, I sanded off the excess glue and moved them out of the way to wait until their time comes for shaping.  Pete packed his bags and flew to USA, but his help was much appreciated.  And yes, Oryx is still for sale!

 So, back into the saloon.  Here I'm installing little athwartships bulkheads, which serve the dual purpose of supporting the seats and breaking up the lockers into sensible sizes.  The next stage is to paint them white.

 The end of the U is to be a lift up flap to make the settee wider and thus a more comfortable spare bunk.  Many people do this by making a table that goes up and down to fill the space, but I'm not really fond of these and it would make it difficult to get access to the after seat, by the little bulkhead.

The extension will be hinged up: here it has had the kauri glued down to it.  When the glue is cured it will be sanded and coated.

28 April, 2018

Painting and panelling

I enjoy painting;  I even enjoy sanding (as long as it isn't too fiddly) before painting;  It gives my poor little brain a chance to relax and the opportunity to go over the next stage in my mind, and ensure that I'm doing things in the right order.

 To me, it also makes sense to paint 'on the bench' or to paint out areas before installing joinery, wherever possible.  Most of all, it makes sense to finish as I go.  I know that if I left it all until the end, I'd start skimping on the job and not lay on that extra coat of paint and varnish because I'd be impatient to get the job over with.

So I started with the pieces of wood that will make up the dinette

 and then moved into the hull to paint what will be the inside of the lockers.  I'm using Altex, high gloss, two-pack polyurethane for this job.  Slowly poisoning myself, no doubt, but I don't mind when it's for myself.  However, it's another argument in favour of leaving off the deck as long as possible.

 Four coats sufficed.  Because everything is thoroughly coated with epoxy first, there is no need for primer or undercoat.  In this photo you can (just) see the framework on the forward bulkhead.  I put another coat of epoxy underneath, so that the inside of the locker is shiny and easy to clean.  (I couldn't bear to paint the kauri!)  The bilge is left clear so that any water ingress will be immediately apparent from the wood becoming discouloured.

 The next job - a lovely one - was to panel the wee bulkheads.  First of all I fitted bearers for the cabin sole.  Then I cut and fitted the kauri.

 I then took the panels back inside the boat to offer up one more time, to check that I hadn't glued on anything that would stop me re-fitting the jigsaw. I took the opportunity to mark the cabin sole which will need a bit more cutting out of it again.

 I checked once more that the seating would be horizontal.  By the way, I love these single-handed clamps.  They are not expensive and great for this sort of job.  However, their clamping pressure is inadequate for foaming polyurethane glues, in my opinion.

Then I took the panels out again, to flocoat the kauri.  Another satisfying job.

I think I'm just about ready to fit them, now.  Exciting stuff!

21 April, 2018

Deckhead and saloon

Another week with something to show.  There are some - rare - occasions when I think that this boat may even be finished.  But I confess that I was a little stymied when David T asked me at the AGM, if I still thought the boat would be finished this decade.  Although, apparently, the century commenced in the year 01, a decade begins in the year 0.  So let's not bet on it, boys and girls!  I may be making progress, but I still have to fit out the saloon, the galley and the cockpit, lay the decks (including the teak- sorry Mr Tyler), put on the rubbing strakes, make the rudders and bilgeboards, make tillers, build a mast, make a sail, wire the boat, make cushions, paint the hull and around the cockpit and no doubt dozens of smaller jobs that presently escape my mind.  There is every chance that I'll be drawing my pension before the boat is launched (assuming that the Government doesn't change its mind about giving me one!).

 Anyway, having decided, finally, exactly what the seating layout in the saloon is to be, I started marking and cutting out material.  The front and sides of the seating will be of 6mm ply, with kauri panelling laid over them.

 A certain amount of cutting and shaping was required to fit the panels around the bearers for the cabin sole, which, because I wasn't sufficiently clever to plan everything in advance, did little to aid framing up the structure. 

 In the meantime, I was painting the deckhead. As anyone who uses them knows, the trouble with commercial two-part polyurethane paints is that they are designed to be sprayed.  I tried several techniques to get an acceptable - and that's all it is - finish, so sanding between coats was required to get rid of the lumps.  I could have used International 'Perfection' or one of the three shades of white that Altex use for application by brush and/or roller, but not only are they eye-wateringly expensive, they come in a very high gloss, which isn't what I want. (I tried Perfection undercoat, just to see, but apart from the expense, it was an almost blue white, which was a bit bleak to my eye.)  So I've come to the conclusion that I'll just have to pretend I like the textured finish.

 However, the good news is that the paint is fantastically hard, so even though I had to use props to ensure contact with the deckhead, they didn't do any damage.  It was, to say the least of it, a mission putting up the sheet of ply, which is, of course, exactly the same length as the cabin.  I had to apply the glue to the ply rather than the deckhead (a) to avoid it dripping off before I got the sheet on and (b) to ensure that I didn't wipe off half of it with my hair while I was preparing everything.  But up it went and with very little glue ending up in the wrong place.

 The camera, as we all know, frequently lies and the finish is nowhere near as good as it looks in the photos.

 But the overall effect is pleasing, I think.  I'm going to run quadrant along the edges. I think it will soften the joint between bulkhead and deckhead.

Back in the saloon, I've broken down the kit of parts for coating and panelling.  I also need to paint out under and around the settee, before building in the structure.  And I need to finish off the deckhead in the forecabin.

This should keep me busy for a while! 

14 April, 2018

Visible progress!

Sometimes, it seems like one works for months and has nothing to show for it.  At other times, you can actually see things moving forwards and the last couple of weeks have been like that.  I confess that I did take time out: as Chair of the JRA, I had to run the AGM over the weekend.  I absolutely hate doing this: I am not really a committee person and in truth, have only the haziest idea of what an AGM is supposed to produce or what I am meant to do.  Mercifully, our Hon Sec is much better versed in this sort of thing and essentially gave me a script to follow.  Once the wretched thing was over, we had a hugely enjoyable gathering of like-minded souls, with plenty to eat and drink, completely taking over Rob and Maren's wonderful house with a superb view over Whangarei Harbour and beyond.  The following day I sailed back up the harbour in Le Canard Bleu  

and then Marcus took me for a delightful sail in his little Freebie.  It was a great break and heaps of fun.  It's ages since I enjoyed anything so much.

I went back to boatbuilding with renewed enthusiasm. Maybe this is why I feel I've made visible progress recently.

The kauri bulkheads, for the companionway, cleaned up nicely.  Originally, I had hoped to use the original tongues and grooves to reassemble them, but they, particularly the grooves, had got split and broken when the boards were removed from the house they had been on.  So I put pseudo grooves back in, where they are joined together.  This also helped disguise some of the gaps in the joints!

 Then I coated them with epoxy.  They look pretty splendid, although obviously recycled wood.  (Recycled sounds better than second-hand!)  The kauri is a beautiful honey colour.  Lovely stuff.

 With the ends trimmed to fit, they are now ready to be glued into place.  I had had my doubts about fitting these bulkheads, concerned that they would make the interior cramped and the aftermost seat in the saloon claustrophobic.  However, I knew that sooner or later a wave would come down the hatch and dump itself on the settee and that the cooker would otherwise be very susceptible to being blown out.  Having chosen to have bilgeboards, I have to accept that they dictate the accommodation.  I think it's a compromise worth making.

The bulkheads have a length of thicker kauri at the forward end, with a cut-out to make a hand hold.  They were grooved to fit the bulkhead and glued in after the bulkheads.

 The next stage is to fit out the saloon.  Here I am really going for my quart in a pint pot (something that really does not translate into the metric system!).  Originally the plan was to have the saloon slightly raised, but as the topsides are vertical, there is no gain in width from so doing.  The other reason to raise them would be to make it easier to see out of the portholes, but this is unnecessary, too.  If the saloon is at the same height as the rest of the boat, it will be easier to build - and the forward seat more versatile.  So,using a hot-glue gun to stick things in place, I mocked up a rough plan.  I took things down and put them back several times, measured chairs, looked at other designs, asked people what they thought, agonised and worried and finally pencilled in lines: this is where the seats will be built.  Most boats have seats that are too high and are uncomfortable to sit on.  I don't want mine to be like this.

 Another job that was scaring me silly was making the headliner - the underside of the deck.  This is made from (very expensive) plywood and has to be a good fit.  I am not very adept at making small pieces of wood fit, let alone large ones.  The first thing was to lift off the curve of the hull at deck level, for which I used MDF to make a pattern. This took ages, but was worth being patient with, because the plywood was a lot more likely to fit if I got this correct.

 I fitted it to a pre-coated piece of plywood and drew the line.  I used a bevel gauge to get the angles at each end and compared these with the angles on the MDF.  I had also made a table of offsets from the fore and aft stringer that the plywood was to land on, to the deck edge and I know the exact distance from bulkhead to bulkhead.  Using all these bits of information, I finally drew out what I hoped the deckhead would be and - gulp - cut it out.

 I then had to fit it.  As it's nearly 2 metres long and the best part of a metre wide at the after end, this was something of a nightmare.  The tabernacle was a curse to get round and it was difficult to move the sheet without jamming its sharp corners into anything else and damaging the wood.  However, I finally got it into place and to my absolute astonishment it fit perfectly, first go.

 In fact I was so amazed that I left it there for the night, so that I could gloat over it.

 I then had the brainwave to use it as a pattern for the other side, rather than starting from scratch again.  I was rather proud of the fact that I could do this: my boat must be fairly symmetrical!  Here I have just finished cutting the other side to shape, using my newly-acquired battery circular saw.  These are an absolute boon for small women with small hands: a standard size circular saw is far too heavy and awkward for me to handle.

 Here is the other panel being fitted.  All that was required was a little bit of fairing of the outboard edge.  (I made both of them slightly too wide to allow for final fairing.)

 They have to be painted before I glue them in - I've made space on the scaffolding so that I can carry on using the big table, in the workshop.

And the upstairs bench is just large enough for the other panel, which is having to be coated after cutting up, because I didn't precoat that piece of plywood.

And while I wait for paint and epoxy to dry, I can carry on with the saloon.  Here is the first of the framing going in.