Search This Blog


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

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.

08 September, 2019

Putting things together

And then taking them apart!  The cockpit is even more a put-together-and-take-out again than most of the things I've been making.  But it is slowly coming together.

 The grating glued up nicely and was then sanded to remove excess epoxy.

 I installed the lower shelves first, carefully filleting them to the side of the boat.

 This  shows the port shelf with the locker for the meths containers also glued into place.  The latter appears to be at a crazy angle, but part of the idea is to make it easier for me to drag the full one towards me to swop for an empty one.  A 20litre container is quite a lot for me to manoeuvre around.

 With the lower shelves glued and filleted into place, I could then turn my attention to the sidedecks/cockpit seats.  I had gone to a lot of effort to get these to fit and it paid off as they simply dropped into place. The 9mm plywood barely flexed along the outboard edge, noticeably stiffened by the layer of fibreglass I had added.

 The starboard side is finished, the port side is being glued up.

 And here is the grating.  The bilge area underneath is separated from the rest of the bilge, so drips won't spread any further.  With some sort of curtain rigged up, I could even use it for a shower stall!

 The bridgedeck slots into place between the sidedecks.  However, I don't intend to glue it in place until the cockpit well is hung.  In many ways, it would have been easier to make the well first because it would be easy to clamp in place, but for a number of reasons, I decided to put on the sidedecks/seats first.

Here the sides are getting a layer of fibreglass put on the side that is out in the weather - and gets kicked.
 Such is the cussedness of a wicked world, that the lowest point of the sidedeck landed on a stringer. I have to remind myself that I have no intention of sailing across the ocean, being regularly swept by seas built up from gale force winds.  One or two of my friends gently pointed out that a hole of around 30mm would be more then enough to drain any water - which is more than likely to be rain water, anyway!  So I used a hole saw and made a modest scupper, which I then almost flooded with epoxy to ensure it drains.

I then offered up the cockpit well to check that things fitted.  It took quite a few attempts, particularly because nothing wanted to stay vertical.

The view from aft.

 I decided to fillet up the corners in situ, to ensure that I get the three sides back in.  With a generous fillet, the structure is surprisingly robust, but sufficiently flexible to make it a tad less difficult getting it in and out.

 Left to its own devices, the structure flops open, so sticks and tape are being used to ensure that the after end is the correct width.

 The cockpit sole is of of laid teak, which I fitted with the intention of routing to size, so that the sides and back of the cockpit would fit snugly.

 That done I fitted the base and sides together and offered it up.  Many, many times.  To be perfectly honest, fitting this cockpit well has been more than a little challenging.  The clever little "Clinometer" device on my phone assured me that the cockpit sole is at an angle of 4°, which might be a bit excessive, but will ensure that no water stands in the cockpit.  There are few things more annoying than standing in the cockpit in stocking feet, only to find a pool of rainwater.  I really needed something to tell me just how much of an angle it was, because with nothing else being horizontal fore and aft the whole thing is rather confusing.

 The well is having its final fitting.  It's level athwartships, has the appropriate rake and (more or less) fits around the teak.  The next stage is to paint the faces that will end up inside the lazarette.

 And I was so excited about doing this, that I forgot to mark and mask off for where it's going to be glued, so I shall have to offer it up again and mark it.

 In the middle is the cockpit sole: in the foreground is the bridgedeck, also getting its underside painted.

The object will all the clamps is - I hope - a laminated end for the forward seat in the saloon.  It occurred to me that without something physically separating people from the wood burner, you can be sure someone will lean on it while it's lit.  They probably still will, but at least I will have tried.  I just hope it won't get hot enough to soften the glue and spring apart!