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In Greenland

Iron Bark

Iron Bark
Under full sail


At Russell Boating Club's Tall Ships Regatta

Blue Water Medal

Blue Water Medal
Blue Water Medal

Books By Annie Hill

  • Brazil and Beyond
  • Voyaging on a Small Income

22 October, 2017

Smaller pieces of plywood

Having started to make the forecabin locker so that I could put in the big piece of plywood, it became obvious, that underneath would be more pieces of plywood, which would be a lot easier to glue in from the bottom up.

The top of the locker will simply be a shelf.  I've thought about incorporating a bookshelf at one end for larger books, but as well as the weight being high up and forward, I decided it would make the cabin feel cluttered.  In a small boat it's difficult keeping weight out of the ends, or avoiding weight high up, but I try.

 Under the shelf will be drawers.  The conventional way is to make them on rails, but I decided it would be easier simply to put them on another shelf. 

 And under that shelf will be a third one.  I anticipate keeping clothes in this locker.  I'd though of putting the sewing machine there, but I think under the bunk might be a better place for it.  It's not too heavy to lift from there.  (Originally, I'd hoped it would fit forward, but it would be awkward to wriggle in and out of the space and around the tabernacle.)

 Making drawers is a time-consuming business, even if you just make very simple boxes.  I decided to cheat by buying plastic boxes instead (I bought the green one as a sample and when I went back, the rest had sold out!).  As you can see, the after ones are a bit wasteful of space, but this boat is going to have heaps of storage and I don't want to overload her with more and more 'stuff'.  The forward space will a locker with a simple door for access. 

 The drawers can obviously slide from side to side in their spaces, but the fronts will prevent them from going outboard and there will be catches to keep them in place.  There is much less reason for them to slide fore and aft, and I decided runners of 12mm ply would do the job.  As I had some precoated scraps kicking around, these were ideal.  I put them down on epoxy with weights.

Here are the shelves roughly in place, drooping sadly.  I will hot glue chocks underneath to support the outboard edge and then run a big fillet to hold them in place.

Trying to draw these things out in advance doesn't really help me much, because I still can't visualise it all, so I have to 'wing' it.  Needless to say, this usually includes a bit of going backwards, but there we are.  The shelf holding the drawers is being used to place the stiles.  There will be doors underneath the drawers and, under the lower shelf, the awkward triangular place will be the ideal shoe locker.  (My friend Maren instantly noticed this: she's the only other person who has thought about the fact that shoes require a home.  It is actually on my list of 'things to think about finding homes for'.  Yes, I do like shoes.)

And once again, it's back to painting, having found that doing this in advance saves time, frustration and getting paint in my hair.

Although you won't be able to see the bit of panelling, I will, when I go rummaging into the depths of that locker, so it has to be masked off.  (I believe this is known as Compulsive-Obsessive Disorder.)

 Unlike many people, I enjoy painting out lockers.  It's relatively mindless, because not even I fuss too much about the finish.  I find fitting out very satisfying but incredibly difficult due to my inability (a) to visualise more than the outline of what I'm trying to achieve and (b) to think ahead more than a couple of moves at a time.  So splashing paint about is relaxing.

While I'm at it, I'm painting the parts of the shelves where the reflected light will help.  It seems a waste of effort to paint the drawer shelf or the bottom of the lowest shelf and it's a lot faster to flocoat it.  I would like to finish this boat before the end of the decade. 

After weeks, if not months, of debate, I have made the major decision to put a narrow shelf along the port side over the bunk.  The stringer is not that high above the bunk, but there will be a porthole between it and the deckhead, so that limits where a shelf can go.  I've been worrying about catching my shoulder on it, but in the end decided I could get away with it, if it's no wider than 150mm.  That allows me to put my morning cup of tea down (it's hard to imagine that I'll ever live in such a relaxed way again!) and the forward end will hold part of my library.  I was amazed how many books are narrower than 150mm.  I used the top shelf from the starboard side to make a pattern. 

So, back to the paint brush.

08 October, 2017

Big sheets of plywood

One day, I'll fit the deck beams - promise.  In the meantime, I'm still fooling around with big sheets of plywood that need to be fitted before that happens.

I can't decide, in advance, exactly where the hatches are going to be installed in the saloon/galley cabin sole, or even if I'm going to install hatches at all.  I may just divide the plywood into manageable pieces.  My water containers are going to live under the forward part, so I do need to be able to get under it regularly.  That being so, I 'lofted' the shape and planed a bevel on it.  I tried fitting it three times, but it was too big, and by the third attempt my back was complaining.  (It's almost a full sheet and needs lugging up the scaffolding and then - gently - placing down inside.  My hands aren't strong enough to grip a sheet and lift it, so I decided to wait until Marcus was around to give me a hand!

Still, I could fit the other big piece of plywood.  I'd cut out the athwartships framing for the forecabin locker ages ago and now fitted a kauri fore-and aft frame.  Taking a leaf out of Badger's book, I butted the joints and dowelled them after the event.  A good way of making strong joints for bodgers.

I've finally managed to get my head around a 'tick stick'.  I've read about it dozens of times, but always by people who assume you know what they're talking about.  Well I didn't.  However, I've recently discovered a site for DIY boatbuilders.  Most of the posts are quite irrelevant to me, but there are some little gems, including one that told me all about how to make and use a 'tick stick' .  So I followed the instructions.

The thing that makes this 'tick stick' work for complete amateurs, is that you cut out a series of notches in the wood and include these in your locating marks.  The notches all being different, it makes it easy to be sure you've got you stick back in the right place.  (If you want to know more about the process, please follow the link above.  It's explained far better than I can!)

I marked out the plywood and then cut it conservatively before offering it up.  I also checked the measurements from the framework, by measuring.  By the time it was trimmed to fit, I was very impressed with the 'tick stick' method.  I could have trusted my original markings and cut it accurately.  Before I could do any more on it, I needed to flocoat the underside ready for paint.  You don't need a photo of that.

It occurred to me that before I struggle once again to fit the cabin sole, it would be wise to put some extra framing in place, first.  This was all cut to length, notched and then glued into place.

Then the corners were filleted - the outboard ends of the bearers had already been filleted into place.  I considered whether or not to paint it all, but decided it would be a lot quicker simply to put one thick coat of epoxy over all the bilge area up to the first stringer.  There will be light enough to find my water containers and anything that is stored aft.  Great stuff, epoxy, for making things look good!

01 October, 2017

Sometime I sits and thinks; sometimes I just sits

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!