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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 October, 2018

Summer isn't far away.

In many countries, Spring is the cruellest season of the year, and New Zealand is no exception.  It teases and tantalises: warm sunshine and calm weather is followed by days of icy southerlies, which have me scrambling for warm clothes again; my fingers are numb as I handle night-chilled timber.

But last Sunday was one of those special days.  A friend had invited me to visit.  The morning I spent loafing on the verandah soaking up the sun and in the afternoon we drove to the coast and had a wonderful walk up to the top of a headland, where the views along the coast and over islands were sublime.  The green vegetation and the varying blues of the sea and sky reminded me that there is Life Outside the Shed.  We strolled along the beach, conversation rambling over a variety of topics - such fun.  The sun poured on my bare arms and warmed me through and through.  It felt like the first time I'd been thoroughly warm for months.  Such a perfect day.  It really revived me and was a wonderful reminder of why it's worth putting in the hours to get back on the water.

Good friends; beautiful scenery.  And I will get back afloat.  I have so much to look forward to and so much to be grateful for.

A couple of days later, the temperature plummeted, but the weather can't fool me.  Summer isn't far away and like most of those brought up in higher latitudes, I revel in sunshine, even when I'm inside the shed.

 Fitting out the galley is a big job.  There is a lot to think about, although I suspect I'd better make sure I have some spare wood, glue and tools around after I've launched.  There are bound to be things I haven't thought about or that don't work out.  There will be two large, shelved lockers and one will allow large containers, bottles, etc to be stored

 The other will have the shelves closer together. 

 For maximum convenience, there would be a locker along the outboard edge of the counter, but the situation of the portholes precludes this.  One has to make sacrifices for one's art.

 Because I coat everything in epoxy, work in progress has a tendency to hang around for days.  The fluctuating temperatures at this time of the year don't help - if I coat wood before about 3 in the afternoon, it blows bubbles in the epoxy, because it is still warming up after the cold night.  So I tend to have big coating sessions just before I knock off. This photo shows the door being made.  I've found easiest way to make sure they fit is to glue them up in situ and then put a dowel through the joint, which makes it nice and strong. 

 I then did my usual panelling with kauri. I've been using Gorilla foaming polyurethane quite a lot in the joinery: it allows me to glue things up as soon as they're ready.  I've tried PVA.  It works well, but any spillage makes a light stain on the wood that is difficult to remove and shows up badly under the epoxy/varnish.

 All right.  Don't laugh.  We all know I'm a bourgeoise woman.  But cutlery that crashes and slides about in the drawer is also very annoying at sea or in a rolly anchorage.  And that's my excuse.  Arthur's Emporium couldn't come up with green baize ("Baize?" asked the puzzled shop assistant.  "What's that?"), so I thought I might as well go the whole hog with some nice, girly pink.

 And, of course, everything had to have lots of paint on it.

 And here we are at the end of the day, with various items of woodwork scattered about having just been coated with epoxy.

 The door in place, still requiring a finger hole.  And, of course, hinges.  I know I'll make a hash of these, so am putting it off as long as possible.

 Big lockers allow for lots of stowage, of course.  However, unless things are packed in immovably, they will slide around.  So I'm putting dividers in to control this.  I hope I don't find that all my containers don't quite fit!  I could have dug them out of their various storage boxes and cubby holes but it just seemed too much like hard work.  That's why the good lord invented charity shops, after all.  Those that won't fit can be taken and replaced with some that do!

The area under and around the cooker is still at the planning stage.  Let's hope the plan is clear when I get there!

30 September, 2018

Mainly drawers

Still moving along in the galley; still scratching my head trying to decide what is going to go where.

 I decided to use offcuts of 12mm ply for the drawer bases.  A bit over the top, perhaps, but there were sufficient around of more or less the right size, most of it coated on one side and none of it much use for anything else.  It seems a shame to waste it. So I cut out the bases and using my wee router, put a rebate on 3 sides.

 I am now in the spectacularly happy position of having heaps of kauri (thank you Gordie!) and as it is about the correct thickness for the sides and front of the drawers, I decided to use it.  Again I routed rebates along the edges.

I found the best way to do this was to clamp a big chunk of wood to a saw horse and then to line the edge of the kauri along it and clamp that.  This worked nicely producing a clean result.

I then offered up my kauri planks, cutting the wood to length as necessary.

And finally ended up with a kit of parts for six drawers.

I laid them all out, coated the edges with epoxy and then coated the joints along the bases with thickened epoxy.  The drawers were then fastened with pins through pre-drilled holes, which ensured that they lined up truly.

My original idea had been to then glue on the fronts, but these seemed impossible to position.  I consulted a friend who told me that even professionals make a full box and then add the front, so this is what I did.  I cut 6mm panels and glued them flush at the open end of the box.

He was quite right!  The fronts were a lot easier to fit now.  I fitted the drawers and then one at a time, fitted the fronts, screwing them into place through pre-drilled holes in the plywood. 

Then I disassembled them and glued them back together.  The screws were replaced in their screw holes with infinite care and gently tightened to ensure that new holes weren't created.

 In spite of my best efforts, however, the alignment was far from perfect.  While irritating, this was far from surprising.  My skills may be better than they were, but I'm still a long way from having the necessary tricks of the trade to get these things right.  However, judicious use of fine saw, plane, belt sander and the odd shim got them to look acceptable.

I drilled finger holes, coated the drawers and fitted them one last time.  Good enough.
Meanwhile, I've been cutting, fitting and coating the locker which will be under the sink and hold my two 10 litre water containers.  My eccentricity in not wishing to make a hole even for salt water, even using a glassed-in pipe has been commented on elsewhere.  But actually, with a lot of the rivers and anchorages being quite silty around New Zealand, it will be nice to have clean seawater on tap all the time, even if it does mean hauling the odd bucket.

I need to proofread the magazine for the JRA, so I'm not sure if I'll be getting a lot more done today.  But we are slowly getting there.  Although I have to confess that when a visitor last week, kindly told me that I "still have heaps to do", he was very lucky that I didn't have a chisel in my hand!!

16 September, 2018

Mainly galley

Progress is, as usual, in fits and starts.  Lots of pondering still, but some cutting, painting and fitting, too.

 Having finally decided the height of the galley counter, and the exact location of the drawers, I glued in the bulkhead.

 Quite often, people come in and ask me for a 'scrap' of plywood, which usually means a fairly substantial piece.  Actually, these 'scraps' rarely go to waste and I went to the stack of 12mm that I have, to use for the drawer bases.  They could probably be made out of thinner ply, but that would mean cutting into new sheets.  The leftover 12mm will do the job just fine and save me another $100 or so.

 These were cut to size.  It's good to have so many pieces already coated.

 I had already made the other bulkhead for the drawers, but needed to add a bit of kauri trim before installing it.

 I added an extra coat of epoxy to the inside of the cabinet.  Even I draw the line at painting and/or varnishing inside a stack of drawers!

 In the meantime, another major painting job was waiting: the deckliner over the saloon can be fitted now that the bulk of the fitting out is done there.  I say the bulk, you note: I still need to make a table, lay the sole and install the Flick heater.

 Once the first coat had been applied, I moved the sheet up next to the hull, to free up the table.  I could just get alongside it to apply the next three coats of paint.

 I installed the drawer cabinet and fitted the woodwork at the after end, where the cooker will go.  I am doing a lot of temporary work here, concerned that some of my ideas won't work in reality.  I don't want to take out joinery that has been glued in.

 I made an MDF pattern for the bulkheads that will go either side of the sink area.  Under the sink will be a 10 litre container for fresh water and another for salt water.  I made the pattern slightly too big and then little by little trimmed it down until it would fit.
 Then I used it to cut out the real thing in 6 mm ply. It fitted perfectly.  The pattern could then be remade for the second bulkhead, which is slightly smaller.

 I end up with two large lockers at either end of the galley.  The top corners will be a bit awkward to access, but not impossible.  I dislike having lifting hatches in the galley counter.

 Once I had put the final coat of paint on the deck liner, I left it for a couple of days to harden off and then fitted it.

 The next morning, I could remove the props.  I'm pleased with it - it went in fairly easily.  I hope it will still be light inside, once the whole liner is fitted.

Before I can install the bulkheads in the galley, I want to coat them with epoxy.  I can get a much better finish when they are horizontal rather than vertical.

02 September, 2018

Taking time off

I haven't got as much done this week as I might have, because my friend Alan was celebrating his 60th birthday in the Bay of Islands and I wanted to join in.  I took the time to visit another friend, and we had lunch together, sitting on her verandah in the sunshine.  Then a great party and a night spent aboard the beautiful mullet boat, Cora.  Sitting in her cockpit, the next morning, drinking coffee and chatting with friends was a delight.  Building a boat is, in many ways, a lonely and isolated existence.  Friends respect that I  need to be working, working, working if the boat is ever to be finished and don't like to 'waste my time'.  I resist the temptation to spend more time with my friends, much as I would like to, trying to content myself with fantasies of this little boat I'm building, completed, floating and anchored alongside another boat belonging to a dear friend.  It will happen and it's the thought of the good times afloat that enable me to keep plodding on.  I just hope my friends will stay patient - and put up with my conversations being largely by text and email in the meantime.  For me, it's a lot better than nothing, but I fear that my barrages of texts can be too much of a good thing at times.

However, the break was good and I have been making progress.

 I have finally got my galley designed and will have to live with it from now on.  My little stack of drawers are taking shape - or at least the cabinet for them is. 

 I made and fitted the runners 'on the bench' and to my astonishment they matched from one side to the other.  I always end up with a nervous knot inside when I come to fit this sort of thing.  Measure twice and cut once? - well, more like measure 50 times and still pray that it will come out OK.

The galley counter wasn't too difficult to cut out and fit - the pattern I made from MDF still doing a good enough job, even after altering the shape and height of the counter.  I cut it slightly over size and then put it on its framework.  I could then scribe the outboard edge and plane it to shape. 

 This is the underside of the counter with its first coat of paint.  Next to it is the outboard bulkhead for the drawers, awaiting its paint.  I really have to work hard not to succumb to the temptation just to leave them coated in epoxy, but I know that the inside of the locker will be dark as the tomb if I do. 

While I've got the paint out, I may as well paint the bulkhead at the forward end, too, now that I know where all the framing goes.  We are slowly getting there.

One day - not too far away, I hope - I'll be at anchor alongside my friends again.

26 August, 2018

Agonising over details

I've been trying out ideas, scrapping them, trying others, going back to the original and generally giving myself a lot of grief about the galley.  My friends have been tried to the limit by my vacillations and cries of woe, but I've finally come to some sort of a conclusion.  My only consolation is that I went through the same process for the saloon, and I'm now delighted with it.

 I'm not sure if I mentioned my cunning idea for extending the settee into a wider bunk.  But here it is in action.  I may require A Stick as well, to support it, but that can be easily arranged.

 While I've been agonising, I've also been varnishing and am pleased with the end result.

 It will be fun choosing the fabric for the cushions.  I have no idea what I'll send up with and suspect that I'll be spoilt for choice when I start looking.

 The kauri that Gordie gave me looks wonderful and the cosy corner produced by the bulkhead is going to be a favourite spot.

 One of the knock-on effects of any decisions made is that the cabin sole has to be divided up into hatches to allow access to the bilge.  I plan to store most of my water in the bilge and reckon on having at least 120l.  Most will be in 10l containers like the one in the photo: the rest will be in 5l jerricans.  The piece of wood along the galley will probably be glued into place, because I can get at the hull from the centre, if necessary.

I wanted a stack of drawers in the galley.  Drawers are immensely useful and it's hard to have too many of them.  However, the galley counter is pretty wide and I didn't really want super-long drawers, so am making a wee stack at the forward end of the galley.  The original idea had been to use them for dinner plates, among other things, but I can't make them quite wide enough for that without sacrificing other things.  So the plates will have to go elsewhere.  Unfortunately, the portholes make putting lockers along the outboard edge of the counter impracticable.  However, one needs light and air.  I could put a locker in between, but I don't think it would look that good.  We shall see. Here is the bulkhead for the drawers, being panelled in kauri.  Now that I have a plan, I'm excited to get on with it!

12 August, 2018

One step forward, one step back.

Well, I guess if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.  After some nice progress, I seem to have been chasing my tail for at least a week, and my poor brain is hurting from all the thinking I've been having to do!

 One of my ideas that has worked is to make a hinge-up flap to extend the dinette into a more comfortable berth.  Not a double - if I have two guests, they can use my cabin, but the dinette will now provide a bit more elbow room for someone staying on board.

 And I finished off the trim around the dinette, with a decent piece of wood providing a hand hold to the back rest itself.

 Then, with four portholes ready to install, I added the rubber to keep the water out.  These (peculiarly Kiwi) ports have two grooves in them, so I put soft, round rubber in the glazed part and harder, rectangular rubber in the other.

 Finally I installed them in the forecabin, using my favourite Simsons Marine glue, which cleaned off beautifully when it had dried.

Now that they are fitted, they were worth all the effort, as, thankfully, is usually the case.

 I shall paint the nuts, but I think the portholes look fine without any trim ring.

 My birthday having come around, I sinfully took some time off.  My friends Rob and Maren gave a wee party for me at their house in Whangarei Heads.  Roger was also invited and drove me back, coming into the boat shed to see what I've been up to since his last visit. I hope this will be the first of many convivial chats in the saloon!

 Hoping that I would be revived and invigorated by my break, I set about making a trial run for the saloon table.  This is what has been providing me with the headache.  It has to be big enough for four people, but the fore-and-aft bulkhead makes it impossible for anyone to access the seat next to it.

 Pete had come up with an ingenious arrangement for a sliding table, that would allow access around its end,  but, alas, it protruded dangerously out from the companionway.  So it was literally a case of back to the drawing board.

 Mk II didn't survive long - the legs were going to stop anyone sitting in comfort.

Mk III adapted Pete's idea with a smaller version, using 240mm leaves instead of 300.

 Mocked up with 18mm MDF, it seemed to work and there is, just, room for 4 people to dine.  In fact, I will probably have plates more the size of the blue ones, than the others.  People can always come back for seconds!

 Here it is folded and slid forward so that you can get around to the seat.

 I made a few wee alterations and worked out just where the top should go and felt quite pleased with myself.

At three o'clock this morning, it occurred to me that the legs are going to be too close to the dinette to be able to raise the extension flap.  But I haven't yet had the chance to measure it. Maybe I can just redesign the legs.  Or maybe it's back to the drawing board again.  Sigh.

Some time ago I was standing and admiring the hull, all shiny in the sunshine coming through the sides of the shed.  All shiny.  'Hmm,' thought I, 'there's a hell of a lot of hull to sand.'  So it struck me that it might be a good idea to start getting rid of some of that shiny epoxy.

So now, first thing every morning, I get out the sander and vacuum cleaner and work along the hull for half an hour or so.  It will probably take a couple of months, picking away at it like this, but it has made an overwhelming task into a routine where I can plan my day.  And think about saloon tables.

 And before I install said table - assuming I ever get a pattern that will work, I have to finish off the saloon.  So I've started painting the 'cabin' sides.

While I was at it, I sanded down in the galley area and started painting that out, too.  At least there is something to show for that work!

I am well aware of the fact that I am asking an inordinate amount of this 26 footer and can only thank David for giving me enough room to cater to pretty well all my whims!