I've been doing a lot of thinking, tooth-sucking and head-scratching recently and a lot of it has ended up with me sitting in a numbed daze. Two issues are exercising my mind of late. The first is my fruitless quest for a nice wood-burning stove - preferably one that will burn coal on occasion.
About a year ago, I discovered the most beautiful tiny stove in the world, made by a craftsman near Wellington. As well as being beautifully made, carefully thought out, the right size and having the essential glass door, it had an additional gorgeous feature: both of the dampers had a huge glass marble set into them through which the light would refract, making glorious colours on the deckhead. I should have bought it then and there but, foolishly put it off, not wanting it to be kicking around too long in case it got damaged. A few months later I wrote to buy it and David, the creator, wrote back to say he was sorry, but he'd gone out of business. People just weren't prepared to pay for good stoves and he couldn't afford to keep his workshop going. And it wasn't even particularly expensive. I could have wept - very nearly did in fact.
Since then I've been looking for an alternative. I want it to be attractive, I want it to have a glass door, but the space for it is only 12"/300 mm wide, and I need to have an air gap between the stove and the settee. Thus far it's impossible to find what I want. So if anyone knows of a nice wood/coal burner, maximum 10"/250mm wide, but preferably less, with a window in the door at an affordable price (ie maximum NZ$1,000), please let me know.
The other thing that has been exercising my mind is a cooker. I don't want gas - the bottles that are easy to refill weigh too much to manhandle out of the dinghy when they are full, and even when empty are a mission to lug along the street. Getting small ones filled is difficult and expensive and they only last a week or so in winter. I cook a lot: I get through gas. And that, of course, is before the safety debate, the complex plumbing, etc, etc.
Paraffin/kerosene is no longer cheap nor readily available (of good quality) and the spares for a primus-type cooker are very expensive. I've cooked on paraffin for several decades, but it makes the deckhead grubby and the whole boat ends up smelling of it. It's a marvellous way of cooking, but ...
Alcohol is the obvious way to go. However, the Maxie
that I had on Fantail
, while an excellent concept, was not well made and corroded out as I looked at it. It wasn't cheap, either. I didn't want another one.
I got hold of a pressure alcohol cooker, but spare burners seem impossible to find and as I've no idea how long they last, used on a daily basis, I chickened out - not wanting to have to rebuild my galley around a different cooker.
I was going to go and buy an Origo
alcohol cooker, but David, who designed SibLim, says they are useless and that I'll regret it. There has been some discussion on a JRA forum
about them and I must admit that they sound less than perfect. I had also seriously considered fitting one of their ovens
and had even worked out how to get it from the US (they are unavailable here), but after due thought have probably scrapped that idea. They are eyewateringly
expensive and it would be a bit of a shoehorn fit. I suddenly had visions of what would happen if it turned out to be 5mm too big and got cold feet. As well, I had a horrible feeling that in this case, More might turn out to be Less. KISS.
In the meantime, David, has decided to make the perfect alcohol cooker, tentatively knows as TGO eco-oker. He is a very clever man and may well produce something that works, but why, oh why, does no-one produce a good, fast, well-made alcohol cooker for heaven's sake?
In the meantime, I've been trying to work out just what my galley and saloon are going to look like and this, in turn, has put me off installing the deck beams once again. For me to visualise how it's all going to work, I need the cabin sole down - or most of it. And that is a big
piece of plywood.
So that led me on to doing a job that I'd been putting off - finishing off the floors in the saloon/galley area and filleting and coating the bulkheads, where necessary, and the bilge area.
Somewhere in the past, I had a panic attack that the cedar floors were a bit dainty and decided to reinforce them with purpleheart ones. Now I feel that this is entirely unnecessary - there's not much leverage from a 150mm keel that's glued to the bottom of the boat! However, I'd fitted some forward, so I did the same aft. they look
reassuring. The photos shows the final one in place, with lead weights and temporary fastenings holding it in place until the epoxy cures.
The next job was to fillet everything - structural fillets along the bottom and up the plywood floor. Before this could be done, everything had to be cleaned, sanded, scraped where necessary, and generally made ready. I did it section by section; there was a lot of hand sanding and my fingertips were rubbed raw!
Finally, it was all coated. In due course, the sides of the hull will be painted, but I shall at least dry fit (some of) the furniture first, to minimise the amount of paint that will have to be taken off again. However, painting before locker lids go in place is worth a lot of time and grief.
So it doesn't look like a lot has been done, but that's boatbuilding for you!