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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

15 December, 2019

Back to Bling

I'm working on finishing the decks before moving on to bilgeboards and so on. Laying teak in the cockpit was the final job before I could sign if off as finished.

 At the moment, I climb on and off the boat (dozens of times a day) over the stern and so the after end of the deck lockers in 'in my face' time and again.  I have covered them with teak, but wonder how often I'll see it again, because I shall have a boarding ladder for climbing on and off.  (Negotiating two rudders and the outboard motor would not be easy even if I liked getting aboard by way of the stern.  Which I don't.)
The petrol locker lids also get teak, of course.

With all the teak laid and sanded I have to say that I think it looks rather grand. 

The hinges were a shocking price in NZ, so I had to resort to Ebay.  I am very pleased with the quality of them, but they took the best part of a couple of months to get here! 

Although they look like brass for some reason, in the photo, they are in fact stainless steel.  Purportedly 316.

It was about time to tackle the companionway, which was much more straightforward that I anticipated, with memories of the rather marathon effort that was required when I rebuilt Fantail's "washboards".  All that was really required was some additional framing for the acrylic to land on.

The plan is to have a Jester style pramhood and a bubble over it, like we had on Badger.  The bubble means that when the hatch is shut in cold weather, there will still be plenty of light coming in.  It also allows my taller visitors to stand up while working out how to negotiate their way to a seat!

The other thing that required fitting is my echo sounder - I should hate to sail without one, although plenty of other people seem happy to do so.  This took a ridiculous amount of time to fit, because I had to run wires from the electric panel under the cabin sole, all the way back to the lazarette.

 As ever, I was more than a little startled when I flicked the switch to see that it is apparently working.  I'm in 2.3 m of water, so it would have me believe!  I'm not quite sure why it's reading this ...

In winter, standing under a Perspex dome can be as effective as standing in a shower.  I had a second one made out of much lighter material (the outer one is 10mm, the inner one 3mm) and stuck them together with what I hope is an appropriate air gap.  Both domes, made to measure, only cost $300, which I reckon to be one of my better bargains.

Actually fitting it to the deck is going to be quite a problem because of the camber.  Indeed, it has caused me some loss of sleep, but this morning it occurred to me that the obvious thing is to make a flat area on deck and put the rings on that.  (I had been inending to build the rings up and shape them to the deck, but to be honest, that is definitely beyond my skills.

This is the piece of plywood from which the upper ring was cut.  It seemed like an awful waste of wood!  If you can't visualise how the pramhood works, All Will Be Revealed ... in due course.

 The framing is now fitted around the companionway and varnishing is underway.

Well, I might as well say it, because I think more than a few people think that my delight in varnish is a little suspect, but I like varnishing.  In fact the reluctance of the average person to put varnish on to their boat is a constant source of puzzlement to me.  In the days when people owned traditionally-built, carvel boats, they usually had quite a lot of brightwork, which had to be maintained every year, together with the work required to keep the topsides in good order.  And in those days varnish only lasted a season before requiring quite a bit of work to bring it up to scratch.

Now people generally have plastic hulls which require little or no maintanance and very little woodwork on deck, but even the little that they have is apparently too much 'work'.  How is it work, I ask myself, to beautify your pride and joy?  A mystery.  Anyway, it's been downright pleasurable to finish laying the teak and to be able to pick out the bits that I want to have a bright finish.  It would also appear that even people who don't like varnishing themselves often like the look of it, so it's nice to know that it will give other people pleasure, too.

And while I had some mixed up, I finally got to varnish the saloon table, which seems to work well.  Sadly, one piece of the tigerwood has developed a bit of a twist, so the table is far from perfect.  I had hoped that the table would be the stand-out feature in the saloon.  Never mind, it still looks attractive.  It slides fore and aft to allow people to get in at either end and now that it's summer, it slides almost too well.  I shall have to put something on it to hold the top in the right place!

19 November, 2019

It's starting to be worth all the effort!

One thing about laying teak: it may be somewhat tedious and is very messy, but when you stand back and look at it, it's all worth while.  I would have to say, that on odds, fitting out the cockpit (once I'd decided what to do with it!) has been fun, if slow.

 You will remember my agonising over the teak trim around the transom for the outboard, and persuading it into place with a heatgun.  Well, to my astonishment, when I undid the screws and took it off, it retained its shape with hardly any spring back.

It was a cinch to glue in place.  I was so relieved.

 The next job was to paint out the fuel lockers, in which I had put a small platform to take the containers.  There is room for plenty of petrol.  I don't anticipate using a lot; on the other hand, it's not particularly easy to obtain without going alongside a fuel dock for which you generally need a special card.  If I can carry sufficient that I only need to fill up once a year, I shall be very happy and can't see that being an issue.

  There was a certain amount of eye-rolling among my friends as I solemnly set to work cutting out strips of teak and fitting them into the deck lockers.  They were too kind to say it, but I could hear them thinking: "I thought you wanted to get this boat finished"!  However, when (particularly plastic or cloth) containers sit on painted surfaces, the water gets trapped and reduces the life of the paint job.  My aim is to minimise future maintenance and these strips of teak should help keep the lockers less wet.

Here is the teak capping in place and sanded flush.

The next thing was to start extending the decking over the lockers so as to form the lids.
 While these pieces were being glued up, I cut out the top for the lockers.  I often find it's easier to use my large Japanese saw (for which I recently invested in a new blade) than to set up a guide for the little circular saw, and in this case, one long side had a curve in it, anyway, which the electric saw won't cope with.  It's much easier to follow the line (for me) with a handsaw than with a jig saw, too.

 I was now ready to start laying the first teak.  I puzzled a little while as to whether I should run fore and aft, or parallel with the  cockpit or with the back rests.  In the end I decided it would look better if it was the same as the centre deck and cockpit sole.

In the meantime, I had been fitting the locker top.  Once it was all cut to shape, I then cut out the separate lids for the lockers.  This time I used the hand saw to keep the kerf down to a minimum so that the lids wouldn't be a sloppy fit.  I'd rather sand them down afterwards than try to add extra bits of wood.

 Having said which, I did put teak capping over the sides and ends, which then reminded me that I needed to add teak to the ends of the lockers.  This was done with lots of offcuts left over: it's always satisfying to use these up.

 Here the lids have been pre-coated and I'm preparing to lay the rest of the teak around the cockpit.

 It was quite a fiddle tapering the pieces along the edge, but fortunately I still have heaps of decking left, so the odd mistake isn't too much of a catastrophe.

 Gosh!  That was quick, wasn't it? I wish.  However, when I'm up to my ears in black epoxy, it's not easy to take photos and besides, you have seen the teak-laying process in the past.Although not perfectly symmetrical, the two sides aren't that far out.  The teak varies in width by up to a couple of mm and even I am not so obsessive as to ensure that they match either side.

I fitted the teak to the lids in full length pieces and then took the lid down and cut the lids out, which left me with a kit of teak pieces to fit.

I did all the lids as one, gluing them up in situ with masking tape separating them from each other and from the rest of the locker lid.  Once the glue had cured, I took the hatches off and did the rest of the lid.  This wasn't quite as straightforward as I'd hoped and for the second locker, I glued down the wood on the fixed part first, which made it easier.

The lids than had to be sanded, the gaps filled, sanded, filled, sanded ... you get the idea.

The next stage is to put teak on the fuel lockers.  When that is done, the boat will essentially be finished and I can open the bottle of Bollinger that a kind friend gave me ages ago.  There will be much rejoicing - even if I did hope to have had this finished by the end of October.

Of course, I still need to make the companionway, sort out the pram hood, put on the toe rails and rubbing strakes, fit the stanchions, finish and hang the rudders, work out the tiller arrangement, make the bilgeboards, paint the boat, make the mast, make the sail, sort out blocks and rigging, make the self-steering, fit and wire in the solar panels, finish the davits, make patterns for cushions and sew up their covers and I dare say many other things that I can't think of at the moment.  Please don't remind me of them: I can promise you they won't be forgotten.

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.