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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

14 July, 2018

Lots of work, but not much to show

Well, the title says it all.  I've been beavering away, as ever, but there isn't a lot to show for it.  Spreading epoxy and paint takes time, but things don't look that different from day to day.  And I finally got fed up of tripping over the portholes, so have been finishing cleaning them up. Nearly there - but I need to put sealant around the glass - the old putty has fallen out in many places.  Ideally I'd take the rings off and reseal them; in fact, ideally I'd replace the glass, which is scratched and quite badly, on most of them.  However, I can't afford to, so will just have to live with it.

 In the saloon, I've been dividing up for the lockers, outboard of the back rest.  The dividers also support the plywood.

 I fitted two shelves which make for reasonable-sized lockers, one of which will be for wine bottles, handy to my seat!

 Then of course, everything had to be coated and painted.

 I painted the underside of the shelves before fitting them, but left the top so that the fillets could be painted at the same time.  You will see another porthole has been put in place.  I'm pleased with how they look and it will be great to be able to look out and see the world go by.

 My apologies for the quality of this photo and the one following: the lens must have fogged up.  It was a bit chilly when I took the photos. The shelves need another coat of paint, but are nearly there.

This shows the back of the backrest, which I painted for the usual reason - to be able to see stuff in the locker.  This is taking increasing amounts of self-discipline as time goes by, because of the time it takes.  I keep reminding myself of how annoyed I will be in the future if I take shortcuts now!  Apologies again for the quality of the shot.

I am getting close to starting in the galley.  There are a lot of things to consider here, not in the least that it's my last chance to arrange proper stowage for things I might have forgotten.

30 June, 2018

Wiring! I must be getting on

Does the boat look any different that it did last week?  Not to me it doesn't, so it's always reassuring when people come in a exclaim how much I've done.  However, my mantra of 'only another couple of years' is working really well.  It has taken away any sense of urgency and I carry on each day, enjoying what I'm doing.  Every now and then I sit back and look at what I've done and feel rather startled at the whole:

Of course, the fact that the photo is taken from the stern and I'm working from the bow back, rather spoils the effect.

Back in the saloon, having sorted out the height of the back rest, I've started work on the locker lids.  These also require a ridiculous amount of thought to ensure that you can open them without having to remove the cushion, which then entails just how I'm going to fit the cushions, which in turn entails my deciding how thick the cushions are going to be, which entails my contacting the foam rubber suppliers to see what size the foam comes in (and discovering that, within the meaning of the act, it's impossible to buy latex nowadays.  Bummer) and then marking everything out.

And then cutting it to shape.  How I love my wonderful, new cordless circular saw - it is perfect for this sort of job.  I then went and priced hinges - I need quite a few - and nearly fainted.  How can they be so expensive?  But my good friend Paul at All Marine, suggested buying piano hinge and cutting it to length.  This turned out to be a much less expensive option; and I used to think piano hinge was dear.  And no, I don't want to use leather instead.  Or plastic hinges.

 (I'm not sure if this is quite how I took the photo, or whether it's been turned around by the computer, but whatever way up it goes, it looks odd!)  This shows some of the reinforcement around the tabernacle.

 And I've been fitting the deck lining in the heads. This is not one of may favourite jobs.  I could do with about five very long arms to hold it in place and another one so that I can mark it. As my mother used to say, 'it fits where it touches', but epoxy and some nice trim tidies it all up.  I'm getting the paint to go on a bit better.  I reckon I'll have the technique just about perfected by the time I finish the boat.

 The port deckliner being glued into place.  Unfortunately, of course, the clamps couldn't be used for the starboard side.  Oddly enough, in spite of that, it went up better.

Forward of the clamps you can see the first layer of the final reinforcing for the tabernacle ready to be glued down.  A bit of the insulation can also be seen.

How I wished I could use more screws to hold this in place!  But the plywood squashed up against the frames and stringers to create a satisfactory 'squodge' of epoxy.  The curve may be less than perfect, but it looks fine, without any obvious flat.

And yes, some wiring.  I am so impressed with myself.  I know it's simplicity itself, but for years I have been unable to get my head around wiring.  Everyone will insist on drawing me diagrams to explain it, and they mean nothing to me.  However, kind Richard at All Marine, patiently (with the aid of diagrams!) spelt it all out to me.  Ignoring the diagrams and concentrating on the words, I finally got it into my head in a 'story' that I can follow.  As soon as I got back, I wrote it down and now I wonder what all the fuss was about.  I am keeping it as clear and as simple as possible.  I fully expect four of the ten switches to be redundant, but - hey - I can join the Real World if I have to!  I have some lights on order, but am wondering how I can check to see if I will have sufficient or require more.  I don't want to buy the battery until I am nearly ready to launch, so I can't test them to see, short of borrowing one.

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!