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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

09 June, 2019

A bit more teak - and then back inside

I was, I think understandably, quite keen to get my teak decks laid; I still had interior trim, lights and hatch trim to fit, but I thought I'd do it 'when I had some spare time'.  Whatever induced me to come up with this flight of whimsy, I wot not because, needless to say, there was no spare time. So, the teak was laid and the interior had not been touched.  The first job in the cockpit is going to be fitting the bridgedeck.  This is going to make going in and out of the cabin a lot less easy than it is now, so commonsense dictates that I get the interior completely finished before I commence work on the cockpit.

I still had some teak to lay - on the deck box lids, so decided to do that first, because they would need teak plugs and there were a few to be fitted on deck, too.  Besides, my mind finds it difficult to move from one mode of building to another, so it seemed sensible to carry on with teak before I lost the thread, so to speak.

 The deck is laminated, you may recall, from one layer of 6mm ply and one layer of 4mm.  I doubted anything was going to be fitting to the nearest millimetre, so reckoned 9mm ply would be fine for the lids.  These were duly cut out and coated.

 Additional framing had to be added along the sides for the lids to land on.  Much cogitating took place while I decided whether to hinge them inboard or outboard.  Gordon, (Tystie's new owner) mentioned that if they were hinged inboard, like his are, there is a possibility of stuff falling out of them, if you are heeled well over and have forgotten to fasten them down.  Or so he has been told ...  I decided put the hinges outboard, so this also required some more wood fitting around the boxes.

 Then came the fun bit of fitting the teak.

 While I was at it, I took some of the narrower stock (which will get used up in the cockpit) and trimmed along the edge of the cabin.  I raised this to obtain a little more headroom, and as I want the (upper) rubbing strake to run in a fair line along the sheer, it can now run under the teak, which will be varnished.  I trust it will all look as though it was intended from the start, when the boat is completed!

 The deck box with the extra bits of wood fitted around it.  Thank heavens for epoxy, is all I can say.  It is so good for this sort of 'retrofitting', which would otherwise require high levels of joinery.  I'm not quite sure how I could even fasten things together, if I were building conventionally.

 Meanwhile, back on the bench, the deck boxes get their teak glued down ...

 and then sanded smooth.

 Then a 'dry fit' before sealing the edges.  However, even I didn't find these too challenging to fit.

 And for once, I didn't struggle with the (simplest in the world to fit) hinges.

What you may not have noticed, but I shall point them out to you in case, are the 308 teak plugs that have been fitted in the screw holes.  I was astounded that I need so many!

 I hope that the lids will rest at a slight angle against the guard rails.  If they don't I shall have to make some sort of hook and eye arrangement to keep them in place.

 OK, back to the interior.  The piece of kauri is to hold the light fitting.  It couldn't be put in place until the beading was fitted and so the wires have been sticking out of the bulkhead for what seems like months.  (I tested them and was relieved to find that none of the zillion screws that went into my deck had cut through them!)

 None of my kauri is long enough to go right across the cabin.  The camber, as you will note, is pronounced and it is exceedingly difficult to force even these dinky bits of quadrant into place with out fastening them permanently.  I am hoping that I can fit one properly and then cut the second accurately to length.  I would reckon the odds at 10:1 at best!

 Fitting the mounting for the lamp.  The wiring isn't just hidden because I'm precious (although of course I am): it's hidden because there is no appropriate groove in the base of the lamp for it to run down.  It's going to be fun and games when I finally come to fit it, I fear.

 Meanwhile, interior trim will need to be fitted around exterior openings.  The hatches are fitted, but still to go are a decklight over the heads, a dorade ventilator ditto and the big hole for the pram hood.  The first two can be dealt with by using hole saws and I went and borrowed one for the decklight. It was intensely traumatic cutting a hole in my beautiful deck!

 I had to go back and complete the job from inside.

 All so that I can fit this.

 Ah yes, another hole - I need one for the chimney for my wood burner.  I thought the black lacked class, so have repainted a nice green.

 The flue is to be made from copper downspout.  Some teeth have been sucked about this being too thin.  Time will tell, but the price was right, seeing as how the kind people in the shop found me a damaged length.  Of course, it won't look nice and shiny like this once the fire has been lit.

Because the stove was built with the intention of fitting something totally different, the hole for the flue was a completely different size from the downspout.  After much head scratching, I went into Whangarei to see if I could find some sort of reducer.  To cut a long story short, with helpful people passing me along to other helpful people, finally a gentlemen called Carl lent me his dad's crimping tool, saying 'that's how we used to do it'.  I managed well enough, even if I did have to use both hands and was right impressed with the result.

 I reckoned I'd better fit the bit of copper that will be used to protect the bulkhead, while I was at it.  Paul, at All Marine had the brilliant idea of using copper roves to provide for a nice wee air gap.  I felt like a real boat builder, hammering in copper nails!

The +/- 150mm copper strip had been given to me, cut from a wider length.  I could hardly plane it smooth, so took to it with a file: good enough, I think.  (The reason is looks a funny colour is that it still has its plastic film over it.)

Before I can fit the wood burner, I have to light it to 'season' it as it were.  The paint gives off fumes on the first occasion.  Definitely a job for outdoors, fine weather and a calm day.

12 May, 2019

A pocket super yacht

You may be wondering why I haven't posted for so long.  (There again, you may not!)  Well, the reason is that, in all honesty, laying a teak deck is a long and very unphotogenic business.  There was really nothing to write about.  But now it's all down and you are allowed to ooh and aah, as I have been for the past few days!

 Early on in this process, I decided that the idea of leaving the sanding until the end of the project was a bad idea, for two reasons.  The first was that as time goes on, the epoxy gets harder and harder and the second, as I discovered the hard way, is that it's easy to make a mistake as to where two planks join.  After I fitted one about 6mm out, which doesn't sound much but absolutely shouts at you, I started a routine of gluing, sanding and filling before moving on to the next set of planks. 

 Framing round the deck boxes was tricky - mitres are always a nightmare and, yes, I got one of those wrong, too!  I never said I was a boatbuilder.

 You may recall that I bought a job lot of decking teak (thank you, Zane, for drawing my attention to it), which is nearly all beautiful, quarter sawn stuff.  It was too thick and came with a little rebate.  I had it sawn down the middle (at vast expense), so ended up with half at about 48mm and half at about 42mm.  I divided it in two and did sums, but knew I had only just enough for the centre deck.  That being so, I fitted all the longer lengths first.

 I used plastic spacers to try to keep the gaps even and washers under the screws held the planks down until the glue went off.  Because I couldn't reject any of the planks, I had to use some distinctly warped pieces, which means that the black lines wobble more than a little in places!

 These two photos are also a bit swanky - I was impressed (and astounded) that the final planks were almost the same on both sides.

 Generally, I used 'penny' washers, because they spread over more of the plank to hold it down.  I have zillions, but still ran out occasionally and had to use smaller ones.  Because the sub deck is only 10 mm thick, I needed to use 2 washers to stop the screws from going right through.

 I was worrying about my supply, so started fitting large areas at a time so that I could make some sort of plan (I'm not sure what!) if I didn't have quite enough.  Thankfully, I did.

 Fit, remove, glue, clean, sand.  Day after day.  (My bursitis, not surprisingly, didn't go away.)

 I was very relieved when I got to the bow and realised that I would have sufficient wood - and even some left over for the deck box lids, which had been a concern.

 Fitting around the big hatch was a little tricky. Because some of the wood was so stubbornly warped, the planks had crept a tiny bit out of parallel, so some fudging was required.

 With the shorter lengths, it was easier to apply the glue on a bench and carry them across to the deck.  Whatever I did, it was a pretty messy job and carbon powder is very dirty stuff to work with.

 These are the final pieces going into place on the starboard side.

 And here they are on the port side.  I am pleased to say that these matched, too.  I hadn't been entirely sure that the cabin front was symmetrical and true, so this was more than a little reassuring.  Not that it matters, but it's nice to know.

 The filled gaps ready for sanding.

 Before and after sanding.  It's a tedious and grubby job, even with the vacuum cleaner attached to the sander, but immensely satisfying to see the nice, clean teak emerging from all the black mess. 

  And, finally, the whole deck is covered in teak.

I must say, that I think it looks absolutely wonderful.  What is it about teak decks that is so attractive?

It's the sort a deck a superyacht would be proud of - in my humble opinion.  OK, so I'm blowing my own trumpet, but what the hell.  I'm not only very proud of my achievement, I'm truly delighted with the result.  Already I know it was worth all the grief and hard work for the pleasure it will give me on a daily basis.  Gloat, gloat, gloat!!!

07 April, 2019

Teak decks

Well, the first thing I should say is that you shouldn't really try laying a teak deck when you have bursitis of the knee.  The second thing is, resign yourself to it taking a long time, especially if you do happen to have bursitis!  However, I've been asking a lot of my ageing body, so can't really complain if it protests occasionally.  It is slowly improving and would no doubt improve a great deal more if I didn't spend all day climbing up and down ladders, steps and stairs and trying not to kneel on it.

While the covering boards were getting used to the idea of bending, I tackled the front of the cabin.

  I decided to laminate up this time and found some very thin pieces of teak that would be unsuitable for the deck, but were ideal for this job.  They flopped very nicely into place.

 I laid down clear plastic tape and used the deck itself as a former.

 While the glue was going off, I persuaded the covering boards abaft the bilgeboard cases into place and screwed them down.  I won't glue them until the end, because I think it will be easier to fit the final pieces of teak without them permanently in place.

 In spite of being relatively narrow and thin, and in spite of having been bent at a greater degree for several days, they were somewhat reluctant to do as they were bid.  I hope that by the time I come to glue them down they will have finally got the idea.

 With the forward trim glued up, I planed it flat on each side and tidied it up top and bottom.

 It screwed and glued into place very nicely and with a coat of epoxy to protect it for the duration, finished off the cabin front attractively.

 The after one was sanded smooth and the covering board screwed into place and then glued down.

 Then I started laying the decks.  I forgot to take any photos for the first few planks, probably because I was so excited to be using this teak at last.

It's hard to believe, at this stage, that I will end up with a beautiful teak deck.  The black glue makes a terrible mess. 

However, for the sake of morale I have cleaned up an area of it as can be seen in this enlargement from the above photo.  It will look pretty splendid when it's all done, I think!

24 March, 2019


I've been a bit busy and distracted by life outside boatbuilding, recently, which is why I haven't had chance to blog.  Frustratingly I've also been slowed down by having done something to my (other) knee, which makes if painful to walk and excruciating to kneel on.  Ibuprofen is helping.  I've even rested it, but the psychological trauma ensuing from that is probably worse than the physical trauma from using it!!

 With the second layer of plywood on, it was time to fill and sand.

 In the photos, it looks remarkably even.  In reality less so, but I don't mind.  I've done my best and it will do what it is intended to: hold the hull together and keep out the water.

 This is meant to be a photo showing how the centreline of the deck is perfectly over the centreline of the bottom of the boat.  Of course, you can't see it and of course by moving the camera one way or the other I could have fudged it.  But anyway, it's a way of having a quiet boast.  I'm rather proud of myself (not to say more than a little startled!).

 The next step is to put the teak on.  Well, no, actually, I need to put on the hatch frames first and fix the king plank - and the covering boards.  But it's all made of teak so I guess I have started laying the deck.  One of the reasons for marking the centreline was to try to ensure that the hatch framing was parallel to it.  The laid decks would make it horribly obvious if it weren't!

 Having done a lot of measuring both on deck and below I started to cut out the opening for the hatch.  Very scary!  For those who object that it's not on the centreline:
(a) the centreline has been reinforced to take the loads from the mast (b) I like the hatch to be over my bunk (c) it won't leak any more or less off to one side.  Either it leaks, or it doesn't.

 With my natty little battery circular saw, I joined the dots (the holes made using a hole saw.  Wonderful things).

 It ended up just about where I had planned.

 I dry fitted it, but subsequently came to the conclusion that you don't want too snug a fit.  It was hard to get the edges epoxy sealed because the thickness of the epoxy meant that the hatch jammed.

I could have put framing for the hatch in when I was doing the plywood, but I wasn't sure exactly where it would end up.  It was no more difficult to do it now.

 I traded (in advance) my thicknesser for a large piece of teak that my friend, Marcus, had.  With huge trepidation - have you any idea what teak costs?? - I cut it and planed it.  Then I cut mitres and glued it all together to make a framework for the hatch.

 With the glue cleaned up, the wood sanded and a coat of epoxy on, it looked pretty smart.

 I also had a small hatch, intended to go over the galley. I bought it at a knockdown price for Fantail, but never fitted it.  Just right for Fánshì.

 Again I made a frame for it.  This time I could salvage some teak from an unwanted galley rack that I had been given.

 Fitting the forehatch.

 The galley hatch coated.

 I purchased a tube of grey Simsons Marine Glue and applied it lavishly to the hatch.  Supposedly, these hatches are to be level +/- 1mm.  In my wildest dreams I would never achieve this.  I relied instead on using heaps of mastic and just tightening the bolts gently.  Whether it will leak, only time will show.  Being lightproof is not necessarily the same as being waterproof.

 The little hatch was also framed up.

 As you can see, 'little' is the operative word! Still, it's only a little boat.

 I thought of a very cunning plan to line up the framing, using pieces of ply to overlap the joins to keep it even.  The screw was used as a handle to line up the final piece.

 I then used the wee router to trim the head liner and did the same at deck level.  As you can see, I still haven't fitted the trim; this is supposed to be a Sunday job, but as I am typing this at 3.50 pm and still have a way to go, you can see that Sundays tend to get rather over committed.

 Noel Barrot, a well-known and awe-inspiring boatbuilder, comes by to look at my progress on occasion.  He is very kind and never winces at my 'joints'.  He suggested that I pre-bend my covering boards by slowly forcing them into a curve and then holding them down with thumb cleats, while they get the idea.

 Ready to install the galley hatch.  The Simsons cleans up really easily.  An endearing trait.

 And there it is, finally in place.

So now I can get on with the decks.  My stock is in two widths, due to having come from thicker material that had a rebate and that was split in two.  So I laid out all the teak that is required to cover the centre deck.  I have just enough of the wider material.  I used narrower stock on the foredeck and what's left will be used up in the cockpit until I run out!!

 The camber makes the bending of wood nearly impossible - 230 mm of deflection is a lot.  Anyway, I scavenged through the pile of bits that I've been given and acquired and glued lengths together to get approximately the required shape for the after bulkhead.

It cleaned up quite nicely and I temporarily screwed it in place, out of harm's way.  The forward end is much shorter and I will probably laminate the wood for that in situ, possibly facing it so that the laminates don't show.  Lack of finances does mean that some jobs take longer than they might.  No worries, it's all good fun!

Once the covering boards/margins are in place, it will be time for cutting and laying the deck, proper.