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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

08 July, 2017

Fitting out in the heads compartment

There is a lot to be said for living in a boat shed: it's much more my type of place than a house, but it's not without its little issues.  I was annoyed a couple of weeks ago to discover that the resident rat had broken our accord, which was that s/he stayed down in the boat shed and I had my 'flat' to myself.  When the invasion continued, I reluctantly set a trap.  It was sprung twice, but the rat escaped each time.  However, it apparently decided it was unwelcome and appears to have left.

Then I realised that I might have done it an injustice.  I had seen the rat, but Somebody Else was invading my space and attacking apples, carrots and potatoes.  But it was when it ate the persimmons I had just bought at the market, that I realised my visitor was a possum.  (These are introduced to New Zealand, predate on our defenceless native birds and trees and do untold damage.  They are completely out of control, have no natural predators and number in the millions.  Some of the early settlers had rocks in their heads.) Its calling cards were unmistakable.  So, muttering curses, I blocked off its access and thought that was that.  Well, it found some other weaknesses in my defences, so I spent a whole morning, crawling around in the corners of my living space, blocking and boarding up holes, cursing at the waste of time, the pee and poo it had left behind and the destruction of my fresh food.

This time I was entirely successful, but the possum was not at all amused and spent the night rampaging around, scratching and gnawing at my new additions and keeping me awake.  Surely, I thought to myself, it now realises it is wasting its time.  Apparently not because the next night it tried again. 

Now, the main reason that I'm a vegetarian is that I hate killing things, but after the best part of a week of broken nights, I decided that enough was enough.  I borrowed a possum trap and baited it with an apple - I was not going to give the brute another persimmon!  I was cooking my dinner when I heard the dreadful sound of the trap closing.  With some trepidation I looked out of the door and saw an empty trap.  I went down to reset it and saw that, sure enough, the possum had been tempted by the bait and had taken a bite before the trap sprung.  How it escaped, I don't know, but the story, really, has a happy ending.  The possum like the rat, decided it was no longer welcome and didn't come back.  So now I can sleep again and concentrate on building my boat! 

Since I last posted, I have been entirely involved in fitting out the heads.  The composting toilet has been somewhat altered and refined.  I'm very pleased with how the seat and lid have turned out, in the tigerwood.  I have coated
them with epoxy, as usual, and can see that the wood will look very handsome when varnished.  As I'm intending to use this on my bench tops, I'm very pleased that I took the plunge and invested in it. 

Tigerwood is one of these 'oily' woods that is purported to be difficult to glue.  However, I glued it up as I normally do and, after cutting out the shapes, tried destructive testing on what was left.  As I would have hoped, the wood broke rather than the glue, which was reassuring.

While the epoxy was hardening up, I went back and did some painting.  I had hoped one more coat would finish off the side of the bunk, but when the sun came out I could see that another coat is required.  I shall do it at the same time as I paint out the heads. 

My original thinking had been to have the heads compartment entirely white, because it will have little in the way of natural light.  But a bit of thought made me realise that the side of the toilet will get brushed past and kicked and will require constant cleaning, so I panelled it with thin pieces of kauri. 

I built it up quite high, so that I can lean up against it when we are sailing on port tack.  In this photo you can also see the fore-and-aft bulkhead that is going to form the locker front on the port side.

The other thing I discovered was that the design I was using for my toilet produced something that was far, far too large.  So I made it narrower, which also enlarged my locker.  It was too tall, as well, so I chucked out the water bottle I had been going to use.  I scratched around trying to find a container such as they sell flares in, but they are never around when you need them, so I bought one via the Internet instead. 
One of the good things about boatbuilding, is that there are always a number of rather mindless tasks that allows my mind to ponder how I'm going to do things.  I had long ago decided that the battery (I only need one, not having an inboard engine) was going to be situated in the heads area, together with the fuse panel.  (These are not pretty things and I can see no reason for sitting staring at one in the saloon). 

Having had to struggle with trying to work on wires at the back of switches on a number of occasions, I'm determined that my wiring is going to be both simple and accessible.  The switch panels are going to be attached to a piece of plywood that will hinge down and I decided it would be worth having a counter adjacent, to be able to put things down on when working on the electrics.  I want to ensure that the wires have a clean run up from the battery and that it will be easy to add more should I want to.  So I cut out a fore and aft bulkhead, with room for a counter at the forward end and made a door for the switch panels.

Both bulkheads were then coated.  The next step was to fit the shelves, which required a lot of taking off and putting on of the bulkhead framing, much work with a spirit level and more than a little cogitation as to what was going to be stored where.  My first plan was to put the beer barrel to port, but to make a shelf that it would sit on happily was going to waste too much space, so it's going to end up to starboard.  I need a space next to the toilet for the composting medium and reckon 250mm should suffice.
Working around this means that I end up with a pretty big locker.  There's a fairly narrow shelf at the bottom, which essentially just makes for a level surface, a large one above that and then a smaller, top shelf.  Because of the bilge board cases, the side of the boat generally goes the opposite way to what one is used to.
On the other side, I thought I'd come up with the perfect arrangement: beer brewing barrel, laundry basket and bulk storage of the composting material, making fantastic of a barrel I'd been offered.  Unfortunately, the latter fitted so perfectly that there is nowhere for the wires to run up from the battery, so regretfully I shall have to make another plan here.  But if anything, I have an embarrassment of locker space, so I don't think it will be an issue.

Before I can assemble all these various bits of joinery, I need to paint them, so I can see what I will be doing for the next week or so.

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