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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

20 October, 2019

How can it all take so long?

Well, I dunno, but it does.  I have but a paltry collection of photos to show you: little indeed for the hours that I've been putting in during the three weeks since last I posted.  All I can say is that I've been working long days and there isn't much to show for it.  Still, one day I'll get there!

 With the dividers filleted in place, I made framework for the lids/seats to land on.  As ever, things didn't go perfectly as anticipated, so there was a certain amount of sanding or filling to be done to get everything level so that the lids don't wobble.

 In the meantime, I finished off in the lazarette, making a removable sole panel which is at a little less of a steep angle than the bottom of the boat.  The idea is that it will be a little less uncomfortable to sit there when I am getting things out of the lazarette.

 Belatedly, I recalled that I had intended to make a bar either side, to keep the boxes in place.  Actually, there is not much headroom for them and the fiddle on the shelf is quite high, so they are very unlikely to jump out of their own accord.  Still, if they can, they will!  It would have been a lot easier to fit before I closed in the cockpit!

 The seat framing is glued into place and the screw holes plugged.  (I often find it quicker to use wood plugs for screw holes than to fill them with epoxy.)

 Before I painted the lockers, I cut up strips of decking for slats, in the hope of preventing things in the locker from standing in pools of water.

 I then masked off for the slats and proceeded to paint the lockers with four coats of low-sheen, two-part polyurethane paint.

 I stopped painting when the lockers looked white!

 Pulling the masking tape off was a satisfying job.  The locker is now ready for the teak slats.

 I am trying to fit a nice teak capping to the outboard motor transom.  My thicknesser stops at about 4 mm.  I sanded the teak some more, but it's still rather too thick to bend easily.  Using a silly number of screws and heating the teak with a heat gun, I managed to force it into place.  I will leave it there for a couple of days, but I have no great hopes that I will be able to glue it back in again without it breaking.

 A little bit of teak trim around the cockpit gives a pleasant illusion of solid teak.  I happened to have a long length that I'd made up for the forward end of the centre deck, but which had broken when I tried to bend it too far.  It was made from recycled timber with old screw holes plugged.  This recycled timber will now be recycled again.  Teak is inconceivably expensive and I can't even consider buying any new.

I don't think I've included a photograph of the little rail next to the fire.  It does a good job (assuming it doesn't delaminate due to the heat!), but is still awaiting the varnish brush.

And finally, I have managed to paint around the galley hatch.  I was waiting for the final use of the low-sheen paint to do this.  I'm pleased I remembered - I don't see my using that paint again.  Which is a nice feeling!

29 September, 2019

The Cockpit takes shape

It was a bit of an act of faith to go ahead with installing the foot well.  Once in place, it was going to be difficult to do anything else major in the lazarette.  I will have to run wires from the solar panels and possibly one for a stern light, but there is actually quite a lot of room to move about.  If you are a hobbit.

 It was going to be quite a business getting the foot well into place without getting epoxy everywhere. I put the sole down first, on a small saw horse and some pieces of wood.  Then I used masking tape to force the sides towards each other, which made it a bit easier, but there was still a fair bit of epoxy to clear up. 
I had carried out this manoeuvre several times without too much difficulty, but as I have come to expect, it was much more recalcitrant once I needed it to go into place easily.  There was a lot of hitting with a mallet and bad language required to get it where I wanted.

 Finally it was screwed into place and the additional framing fitted around the base to give a large gluing area where sole and sides come together.

 There are a few little gaps around the edge, but overall it went in reasonably well.  And the teak looks and feels very pleasant.

 It's funny how large it looks until someone is sitting there.  However, my offshore instincts kept kicking in whenever I thought about the foot well, so I've ended up with a roomy after deck with lots of places to sit, but with a small well from which to steer.

 The next stop was to trim off the excess.  The plywood for the bridgedeck is yet to be glued down. I haven't quite finished the floor by the companionway and it's a lot easier to do things with natural light.

With the foot well in place, the next issue was getting backrests set up. Because my seating is at two levels, there was a certain amount of measuring and mocking up to be done to achieve what I wanted.  The well is wider that I'd have chosen, dictated by the cutout for the outboard motor so there was also the trade off between wider and more comfortable seats next to it, and being able to brace myself when the boat heels.  It will be nice to sprawl out on the seats at anchor, but as long as I don't get any fatter, I think I'll end up with something that works both sailing and in harbour.  I'm really pleased to have such a spacious cockpit, because it will be nice to have room for people to sit round in comfort. Cockpit backrests tend to end up a bit low for comfort because of the need to be able to move around and tend to the sails, but a closed-cell foam cushion helps make them more comfortable.  I spent a bit of time with various pieces of wood trying different combinations and finally hit of a compromise that seems to work.

 Finally, I could cut out the surplus bulkhead which has been puzzling my visitors for a long time.  It felt like a big step forward.

 I then cut out a long strip of 9mm ply for the backrest, pulling it into place and trying it for size.  I also used the same strip to check that the upper seat was going to work.  It seems as though it will.

 I have agonised for ages whether to go for painted backrests, or to have some nicely varnished teak.  In the end the teak won.  It didn't take that long to cut it up and stick it on and made good use of a heap of offcuts I had kicking about.

 From above, the after end is finally starting to look like a boat.

 And here is a view with the other bulkhead cut down to size.

 Both seats slope from aft forwards.  This is not only to ensure the water runs off, it also means that as you move aft you get a better view, which can be an advantage when you are coming in to pick up a mooring.  The sheer in the seats also reflects the (rather splendid) sheer in the bulwark and I love the overall feel of it.

 The backrests were another thing that have been in and out dozens of times while I fitted the framing along the top and checked and measured other things that needed to be considered.  There has to be space for the laundry basket, which appears in several photos: this will hold the kedge anchor, chain and warp and I want to be able to lift it all out and lower it into the dinghy, if needs be.  It's a lot easier to handle in a basket.

 Fitting the framing along the top of the backrest.  This is for the locker lids to land on.

 Finally, I could glue in the backrests.  I didn't want to screw through to the frame on deck, so I screwed the backrests at each end and used slightly springy lengths of wood to hold them firmly at the base.  The glue squeezed out in a very satisfactory manner.

 I've given a certain amount of thought to additional ventilation in the boat.  While the Air-only dorade that I fitted should be adequate most of the time, I am concerned that in winter, with the boat shut up against wind and rain and the fire lit, there won't be sufficient air coming into the boat.  I have added a sort of dorade arrangement within the deck box.  Under the locker top and well inboard, it would take a catastrophe for water to enter - and I would probably have more to worry about than a few litres of water in the lazarette at that stage.  I used skin fittings - the pipe is very strong and glues into place with epoxy.  I just put them in temporarily for the moment, to make it easier to paint out the lockers.

With the backrest in place, I could fit dividers for the lockers.  I used 12mm ply, to help stiffen up the deck.  The reason for their being so unsymmetrical is that the forward, smaller locker is there to take the tail of the sheet/halliard.  The middle one is for the kedge basket and as I don't know which side it will end up, I made it the same size both sides.

Now I need to paint the lockers, finish the aftermost ones, make lids, put down teak and, probably, put some teak slats in the lockers to reduce water being trapped by gear.

08 September, 2019

Putting things together

And then taking them apart!  The cockpit is even more a put-together-and-take-out again than most of the things I've been making.  But it is slowly coming together.

 The grating glued up nicely and was then sanded to remove excess epoxy. 

 I installed the lower shelves first, carefully filleting them to the side of the boat.

 This  shows the port shelf with the locker for the meths containers also glued into place.  The latter appears to be at a crazy angle, but part of the idea is to make it easier for me to drag the full one towards me to swop for an empty one.  A 20litre container is quite a lot for me to manoeuvre around.

 With the lower shelves glued and filleted into place, I could then turn my attention to the sidedecks/cockpit seats.  I had gone to a lot of effort to get these to fit and it paid off as they simply dropped into place. The 9mm plywood barely flexed along the outboard edge, noticeably stiffened by the layer of fibreglass I had added.

 The starboard side is finished, the port side is being glued up.

 And here is the grating.  The bilge area underneath is separated from the rest of the bilge, so drips won't spread any further.  With some sort of curtain rigged up, I could even use it for a shower stall!

 The bridgedeck slots into place between the sidedecks.  However, I don't intend to glue it in place until the cockpit well is hung.  In many ways, it would have been easier to make the well first because it would be easy to clamp in place, but for a number of reasons, I decided to put on the sidedecks/seats first. 

Here the sides are getting a layer of fibreglass put on the side that is out in the weather - and gets kicked.
 Such is the cussedness of a wicked world, that the lowest point of the sidedeck landed on a stringer. I have to remind myself that I have no intention of sailing across the ocean, being regularly swept by seas built up from gale force winds.  One or two of my friends gently pointed out that a hole of around 30mm would be more then enough to drain any water - which is more than likely to be rain water, anyway!  So I used a hole saw and made a modest scupper, which I then almost flooded with epoxy to ensure it drains.

I then offered up the cockpit well to check that things fitted.  It took quite a few attempts, particularly because nothing wanted to stay vertical.

The view from aft.

 I decided to fillet up the corners in situ, to ensure that I get the three sides back in.  With a generous fillet, the structure is surprisingly robust, but sufficiently flexible to make it a tad less difficult getting it in and out.

 Left to its own devices, the structure flops open, so sticks and tape are being used to ensure that the after end is the correct width.

 The cockpit sole is of of laid teak, which I fitted with the intention of routing to size, so that the sides and back of the cockpit would fit snugly. 

 That done I fitted the base and sides together and offered it up.  Many, many times.  To be perfectly honest, fitting this cockpit well has been more than a little challenging.  The clever little "Clinometer" device on my phone assured me that the cockpit sole is at an angle of 4°, which might be a bit excessive, but will ensure that no water stands in the cockpit.  There are few things more annoying than standing in the cockpit in stocking feet, only to find a pool of rainwater.  I really needed something to tell me just how much of an angle it was, because with nothing else being horizontal fore and aft the whole thing is rather confusing.

 The well is having its final fitting.  It's level athwartships, has the appropriate rake and (more or less) fits around the teak.  The next stage is to paint the faces that will end up inside the lazarette.

 And I was so excited about doing this, that I forgot to mark and mask off for where it's going to be glued, so I shall have to offer it up again and mark it.

 In the middle is the cockpit sole: in the foreground is the bridgedeck, also getting its underside painted.

The object will all the clamps is - I hope - a laminated end for the forward seat in the saloon.  It occurred to me that without something physically separating people from the wood burner, you can be sure someone will lean on it while it's lit.  They probably still will, but at least I will have tried.  I just hope it won't get hot enough to soften the glue and spring apart!

25 August, 2019

It all takes time

Having more or less worked out what I'm doing in the cockpit and cut out all the material, I've largely spent my time coating plywood.  Four coats of paint on each side (for some pieces) and with the cold weather preventing me from doing more than one coat per day: it all takes time.

 I did have the pleasant distraction of a winter junket, attended by fellow junkies and the good ships, Havoc (yet to be converted),  

Photo: Alan Martienssen

Photo: Marcus Raimon

 and Zebedee.  

Photo: Alan Martienssen
Freebie was there, too, which gave me a chance to get out sailing (it was a bit too gusty to be fun in the bigger boats.)

Alan from  Zebedee and Gordon from Tystie, also tried out both Freebie and Serendipity.

 Havoc performed the role of party central,

Photo: Graeme Kenyon

and as bad weather made us decide to postpone the junket for a week, my shed took on its other role of JRA(NZ) Central.  Alan and Gordon took advantage of the space, temporarily to park stuff, or carry out one or two little projects.  I really enjoyed having their company and felt a little bereft when everyone went away again.  Still, it's all an extra incentive to me to get my boat finished and get back on the water myself.

 Meanwhile, I carried on with the cockpit - or more accurately, the space under the cockpit, which I call the lazarette.  I carefully made the boxes for the meths, only to find that one of them was - literally - a couple of mm too narrow.  I had to take the back off and fit it again with a filler piece.  Sigh.
 The simple task was to prepare the area for painting.  A lot of it was already sanded, so it shouldn't take long.  Hah! I spent at least four days, sanding, filling, touching up epoxy and sanding again.  I couldn't believe how long this little bit of "prep" took!

 Of course, preparation isn't only the key to an attractive finish, it's the key to the coatings sticking and protecting the wood.  It is probably the most tedious aspect of building a boat; unfortunately it is also one of the most necessary.  So, after carefully spreading epoxy all over my plywood, I equally carefully sand some of it off again.

 There will be two big shelves under the side decks, each holding four, 26l plastic boxes in which will be stored whatever it is I decide needs storing there.  I offered these shelves and the sidedecks (one of which is being sanded in the photo above) to their places in the cockpit, more times than I care to think about.  I was incredibly grateful if Gordon or Alan happened to be about when I was doing this: it made the job a lot easier.

 Finally, I masked everything up ready for painting.  The shelves will be filleted into place, as will the meths boxes, so I want to avoid painting in those spots.  The Carboline two-pack polyurethane is incredibly hard to scrape back, once it has cured.

 I may not like sanding, but I do enjoy painting, so I spent several happy hours with a half-sized mini roller and paint.  I find these cut-down rollers excellent for the fiddly sort of work I've been doing - they can get into really small spaces and it's rarely that I need a brush.  It also means that I can clean them out between coats, and keep them in a small pot of thinners.  They will last for months and months used like this.  The bits of closed cell foam on the bottom of the boat are a less-than-successful effort to stop me sliding slowly and inexorably towards the bulkhead.  I end up kicking my socks off to get a bit of traction on the slippery, sloping surface, but am worried about getting chilblains as a result.

 While the paint was mixed up, I coated the shelves for the boxes,

 the boxes for the meths,

 the side decks and the knees for the shelves.

 Yes, I know, the third coat really doesn't look that much different from the previous ones.

 With the top of the shelves (and one side of the knees) painted, I turned the shelves over to fillet on the knees.  Taping them to a couple of set squares solved the problem of them wobbling about, while I applied the filleting mix and then waited for it to cure.  Which takes a long time in the middle of winter.

 While waiting for paint - and glue - to dry, I set about making a nice little grating for the companionway.  The idea is that the drips from wet oilies go into this partitioned-off area of bilge rather than all over the saloon sole.  I sawed up tigerwood with gay abandon for this project.

Finally, I finished painting the hull.  The white paint is very bright and shiny.  I want to be able to find things in this space, which will have no natural lighting. (The bit of towelling is to catch drips from the roof of the shed which land dead centre on the bottom of the boat!)

I am just about ready to assemble the various pieces, now.  That should look like some progress!