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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

18 June, 2017

June 2017 SibLim update

Last week, I had to create a new photo album on my profile in the JRA website, which is where I've been posting my progress.  I was told that I couldn't have any more, so I deleted one and created a new one.  However, obviously this is a finite resource, which gave me pause to think.  Cheerfully, I came to the conclusion that I couldn't carry on posting my progress there, so would have to redirect people to this blog, instead.  I say 'cheerfully', because posting to the JRA site is a slow and painful process and then I have to make the time to post here, too.  And it is only too apparent to anyone following this log, that finding that time is a lot easier said than done.

There is a fair amount of relatively mindless work involved in boatbuilding.  Sanding and scraping, filleting and fairing, painting and preparation all required care and concentration, but they do leave a large part of the brain disengaged to wander off.  Part of the time it is thinking through the next job or series of jobs, but much of the time it ambles off thinking Deep Thoughts about Life, the Universe and Everything.  Occasionally, these thoughts are at least slightly illuminating.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that women are good at 'multi-tasking'.  However, what appears to be overlooked, and what is becoming painfully obvious to me as a female boatbuilder, is that there are two sides to this coin.   Indeed, an unkind person might suggest that 'multi-tasking' could also be described as 'being sidetracked'.  It certainly is in my case. I start each week - and each day - with the best of intentions, but somehow my plans go awry and I find myself distracted with other jobs that I am perfectly convinced are absolutely essential.  Undoubtedly, it is better if most of these are done, but many of them could be postponed - indefinitely in many cases.  Yes, this would cost me friendships, let people down, mean that I break promises, narrow my outlook and increase the squalor around me, but in the past when I've been building a boat, because I've been building under the supervision of a man, I've been building to his terms and conditions and did all of the above.  The friends forgave us, horizons expanded again and the squalor got left behind.  And the boats got built a lot more quickly.

Men on the other hand, are extraordinarily good at concentrating on one thing at a time, for extensive periods of time - years, if needs be.  I wish I could get in touch with my 'inner man' and build like men do.  I wish I could happily abandon everything else to concentrate on the task in hand, but I find that I can't.  I have to multi-task, you see.  That's what women do and it sounds so much better than being sidetracked.

Anyway, enough maundering.  We have to go back to April.  I do hope I'm not just wasting my time here and somebody is actually interested (I should be building my boat: see above), but there aren't going to be an overwhelming number of photos: I don't seem to have done that much!  (See above)  Actually, I realise I tell a lie here, because I'd forgotten all about building the tabernacle - maybe I have managed a bit more than it seems, although I was back to the mixing-glue-and-standing-by role in that one.  Of which more later - in a couple of weeks, maybe.  I'm going to have a catch-up today, rather than trying to get every bit of progress posted.  Gives you something to look forward to!

OK. Back to 7 April:

We are now in the forecabin, where I cut a hatch out of the cabin sole, which has to be cut into two boards, fore and aft.  The tabernacle is going to be situated against the bunk with its after end against the plywood floor (under the join in the plywood.  I then glued the surrounding area of the sole down.  This will be covered with a nice hardwood overlay and then, because I'm me, that will probably be hidden by a beautiful rug (Chinese silk for preference.  Why not?  A girl can dream!)

In the meantime, Pete (yes, that Pete), who has spent the summer in New Zealand helping junkies left, right and centre move their boats forward, offered to help me make the tabernacle.  Because he is the world expert on tabernacles for junk rig, I snatched his hand off.  For a lot of the time, he needed no help as he beavered away at the rather nice, second-hand douglas fir that we'd bought from St Lukes Timber, so when I wasn't required, I carried on finishing up the foredeck: a job I could pick up and put down. Here I'm placing the bow rollers, which made it instantly apparent that they would have to stay off for the duration of the build, if I wanted to continue to be able to get around the bow!

Gary Underwood had sold me a couple of splendid bronze fittings, from which I made a bollard for the foredeck (to be used for when I pick up moorings.  Yes, it looks like overkill, but I'll be happy that it's so big when I'm struggling to get an oyster-encrusted mooring pennant over the bow roller, and its 20mm rope strop secured).  The cruciform bollard I bought second-hand off Trade Me.  It will go on a teak plinth, which is just about to be glued down, in the photo.  I made epoxy bases for the other fittings - the bolts, as usual, will be 'cast' in epoxy.

With everything completed, I started varnishing some of the teak deck - purely for the looks of it.  In the long term, it means that when the teak is badly worn and weathered and needs replacing, the covering boards and 'king plank' can stay in place, but I doubt that I'll still be around to worry about that! 

The tabernacle was completed by now and of course I was itching to try it for size and build the mast step.  But before I could do that, I had to work out the height of the deck at that point because the foot of the tabernacle is tapered and has to be a very precise fit in its step.  We made it a bit too long because we didn't know - to the nearest few mm - just where it would go through the deck.  So the best way to find that out was to measure it against the actual deck level, but to do that I needed deck beams to tell me and to do that I had to fit the deck beams ... which I first had to make.  They consist of two straight ends with a curved centre piece, part of a cylinder, identical from one beam to the next.  (One of David Tyler's cunning ideas to make the build less difficult.)  The obvious way to make this curve is from laminated wood, so after sawing up and planing a heap of douglas fir, to 5mm thickness, I made a jig to laminate it around.

I've held the clamps on this job on the past, while building Badger and China Moon, so had a fairly good idea of what to do.  And epoxy is wonderful for laminating, because it fills gaps so well, but I was very pleased to see that my jig performed quite nicely.

On the first beam, however, I factored in a 'glue allowance'. Wrong. The glue made no measurable difference to the finished thickness. 6 x 5 = 30mm, finishing at 29. Good enough.  No problem on beam no 1 - I simply added another laminate.  

I dare say that I've already mentioned that new wood is fantastically expensive (well, to me, it seems fantastically expensive) and having just about got through my supplies of Alaskan yellow cedar, I've been scratching around for more.  The straight parts of the beams would gobble through stock, but just when I was thinking that another visit to St Luke's might be required, friends (now SibLim Club members) Cathy and Pete came up with a wonderful contribution.  They are, for their sins, rebuilding a house, up in the Bay of Islands and Marcus has been working there.  He noted a 'surplus' douglas fir beam and when I offered to buy it, they gave it to me.  What a gift! I could hardly move it, but when Marcus came back for a weekend, he helped me clean it up.

It cleaned up nicely: milling wood must be one of the most pleasant jobs in boatbuilding!

It was too big to saw up with the table saw, but Marcus picked up his enormous Makita circular saw and ripped it up into manageable lengths for me to handle.

Once I'd made the centre sections of each deck beam, I scarphed on the end pieces.  

(We are now in early May, by the way.)  This was one of the rather more satisfying jobs to do.  As you can see, the ends just fly past the scarph that I've cut on the curved section, which means that producing a nice joint is rather more easy than normally.  For all that, I clamped and wedged all three lengths as well as I could along lines I'd drawn on the table in an effort to introduce in as little symmetry as possible.  (In spite of my best efforts, the curved sections are not perfectly symmetrical.  There is a tad more curve on one side than the other, so I marked them all to ensure that they match up.)

Using the bandsaw, I took off the bulk of the excess and then set to with the power plane, which I am starting to find marginally less terrifying to use.

When all the deck beams were completed, I put them roughly in place. There was no real justification for this apart from the fact that I was dying to see what the boat would 'feel' like with the deck in place.  The bulkheads have yet to be trimmed to shape, but backing up, I could eye along their centres and it all looks reasonably fair.

When I'd been making the beams and placed them one on top of the other, they were disappointingly varied.  However, in situ, they look much better: distance lends enchantment.

When I come to fit the deck plywood, I can plane and fill as required along glued-in beams, to get everything fair. They need to be notched into the sides of the boat.  It looks smaller (and nicer), framed in, I think.

The deck beams to support the tabernacle are more or less in position, in the above photo.  (In fact, I'll probably put the after one more in the middle of the cabin, with blocking between the two beams.)  You will recall that this is where it all started!

With the beams made, I now have to complete the sheer clamp, in order to plane it down again(!), so that I can notch in the beams.  I'd had a blithe notion of picking up a bit of 2x1 and whacking it into place.  Not a chance! There is a lot of curve - both ways - along this sheer line.

Here I'm gluing on the second length, with the scarph joint awaiting the next piece.  Some of the last of my yellow cedar going on here.

With all the layers on, I sanded it fair and coated it with epoxy on the inside.  It showed up the places I'd been somewhat careless with the initial layers, when the hull had been upside down.  If I'd had any brains, I'd have left it all well alone until at this stage, but thinking that far ahead is literally impossible for me.  
This last photo was taken on 30 May, so you are not that far behind me, now.  With luck, I'll post some more next week.

In the meantime, if someone can tell me how to get in touch with my inner male and learn how to focus on getting this job done, I should be very grateful!
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