Monday, 7 August 2017

...all creatures great and small...

We have been occupied with paint and varnish of late which I guess is always a promising sign when it comes to boat building. Sad to say there are more things taking an interest than is helpful, namely flies, moths and those tiny little thunderbugs that are nearly invisible until they are silhouetted against a virgin expanse of International's finest 'Mediterranean white'. I took some tea down to the boat shed this afternoon to find D 'helping' a moth avoid a sticky end as it circled in a death spiral towards the new undercoat. I am convinced that the flies preserved in amber are just the outcome of Neandethal boatbuilding.



We have also been thinking of fellow gaffers this week, with friends down in the South West suffering all an English  Summer can throw at them and on the East coast, the launch of Cachalot after a major rebuild. We wish Steve and Beverley all the best.

What else has been going on.... ?
I have been painting and varnishing too (hatches, bunk tops, forepeak ceiling) which is all a bit of a help. The mainsail has gone off to the sailmaker's to have the number put on. She will be G134 if you hadn't already guessed from the blog name.  Also, I have been researching and sourcing the bits a pieces I need to create a cover for use in harbour mainly to keep an area where  wet waterproofs can dry without taking them down below. More of that to come....

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Blooming epoxy....

D has been hanging upside down in the cockpit wiring like a mad thing so now we have a lot of the electrics in place. The  main battery has its own box in the starboard side locker and the battery switches sit on the aft face of the cabin. Just above the engine cover sits the panel for other controls and switches. In reference to the title of this post, we have noted that some of the West epoxy applied earlier in cooler weather has 'bloomed' and taken on a cloudy appearance despite D providing heating and keeping the temperature up sufficiently (or so we thought). We will need to do some remedial work on small areas of it unfortunately.

Anyway to other things...there are things getting test fitted to the hull, the stem fitting that came from the Golant Gaffer 'Just Right' (see post 9 Feb 2016) has polished up nicely, the chain plates have been positioned and the wooden backing blocks fitted inside the cabin, the mast support post has been made and is currently being varnished, the fittings for the bowsprit shrouds have been put in place and the cockpit teak finished. Also the turning block for the halyards needs something to attach to so that is dealt with by a fitting on the front of the cabin.

We spent a useful day on another Golant Gaffer measuring up for a cover which I will make and have got a bargain on a heavy duty sewing machine as I don't have one that is up to the job. There is already a small queue forming of other gaffers who have plans for it ! The cover will provide a bit more flexibility in poorer weather, allowing wet waterproofs to stay outside. More on covers when the stuff arrives.

Obligatory photographs below :

Electrics - battery box

Engine box with step fixed and instrument panel above.

Battery switches (sorry very dull)

 Backing blocks for chainplates either side of the porthole

Fitting for bowsprit shroud (that's better, I like shiney things)

Fitting for halyard turning blocks

Polished up stem fitting

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Steerage class

D has now moved on the rudder, it was made a while ago from layers of ply but needed some additional work to finish it off.  So here it is with the trailing edge faired down, with a layer of fibre glass over it and coated in epoxy. It is a bit deeper than the rudder on our current boat which is all to the good when things get a bit windy !

At the same time, D is sorting out the internal floors which are simple ply which should do the job. We did contemplate some nice flooring with holly stringing but decided it was a bit 'yachty' and also costs a fortune.

Also the time has come to make more holes in the hull which is always painful, however once filled with a lovely porthole it made it feel a whole lot better.

We are onto electrics next so do not expect many photographs and it is hard to make a load of wire look gripping. Also a bit quiet on the rigging front as I contemplate how to address a few more complex arrangements where I really need the rest of the boat to work with....

Saturday, 20 May 2017


So where were we ?  D has been sorting out essential bit for the engine and here I confess I really should pay more attention and I promise I will however for now, here are two pictures of 'engine related stuff' which I shall pass over.

I was far more interested in the sails which have arrived. We ordered these way back from Mark Butler at James Lawrence in Brightlingsea and had an enjoyable visit and a couple of hours talking to Mark about what we wanted and they are now here. The Golant Gaffer is cutter rigged with a jib, staysail and high peaked main and I am looking forward to unfurling them for the first time and promise I will post some pictures of her sailing when we reach that point.

In the cockpit, more teak has been going on and D has been crafting locker tops
Here is one of the locker tops part finished and a shot of the cockpit in progress.

Then to the hatch, here it is laid out and stuck down. Tile spacers being used to keep the spacing even and D is getting to be a whizz with a piping bag full of epoxy mixed with graphite which he is using to 'pay' the seams.

Here is the hatch almost finished

And here it is in situ

On the rigging side, this is endless but I have been pressing on with backstays. The top part of the backstays is Dynastay with a large loop spliced in and to make it kind to the mast, the loop is covered in chromed leather and stitched in place with baseball stitch (sort of like lacing shoes). Here they are.....

The lower part of the backstays - the part with blocks is in braided rope that is particularly resistant to being spliced so I have made a seized eye and sewn and tapered the end and then served it over. In order to be able to do this, D made me a basic 'serving board' out of a piece of teak decking. It has a number of holes down it and some garden wire at the end to hold the reel of twine. This is so you don't need to occupy the ship's boy in passing the reel of twine round and round. To set it up, the twine needs to be passed through a number of holes that allows the twine to unreel but provides some resistance so that the service is tight. I found some lovely thick buff waxed whipping twine which was perfect for the job.
Below is a picture of the device and it was brilliant. I served the backstays and the mainsheet in about 20 minutes. Quick, easy and a good finish. See pics below..

Basic serving board 

Served backstay

Additionally, I have started making the strops to hold the blocks for the jib and staysail. These are made with continuous loops of dyneema with a thimble seized in and then the loop covered with chromed leather again (see below).

And then we were also thinking about the cruising chute which we will fly between the jib and staysail so this needs a small strop to sit round the bowsprit to take the tackline. Here, instead of using a block for the tackline we have used a Selden low friction eye, again seized into a continuous loop of Dyneema and leather covered (I guess you are getting the idea now). We will see how it goes.

That's all for now.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

All hands on deck

The last few weeks have ben focussed on laying the deck. We decided early on that we would lay a teak deck , and, as there is always a choice about these things, the question was what style ? Fully swept, semi swept, straightlaid ? Well the answer was rather dictated for us due to the nature of the teak. We had purchased 34mm wide, 6mm deep teak decking and as you will have seen on previous photographs a Golant Gaffer is a curvy thing. As it turned out a bit too curvy for the teak we had. D had some trial runs with bending the teak (steamed and unsteamed) but it either exploded or straightened itself out. Consequently the decision was we would rather have a properly bonded straight laid deck. So the next choice was for bedding and calking and due to technical considerations, we chose to bed onto and caulk with epoxy with graphite added (to make it dark grey). The deck strips were cut to fit and spaced with 5mm tile spacers. Once bedded onto the epoxy, they were temporarily fixed down with screws and washers (screws between the planks I hasten to add and the washers applying downward pressure to the decking).  When bonded to the deck the screws were removed and the epoxy caulking applied and the screw holes injected with epoxy. The majority of the surplus epoxy was removed with a chisel and finally the deck was sanded.

 The photograph below shows the laying of the deck with the washers to apply downward pressure on the planking.

The two shots below show the aft decking laid out with tile spacers and (left) and finally caulked and sanded with the horse fitted onto small pads let into the decking.

 The shots below shows the start of sanding the foredeck and also the prism light for the forehatch and one of the portholes which arrived recently.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

String theory

Just checking back I realise it was Christmas when I last wrote, my apologies but this also means that there is lots to report.

Let's start with all things rigging. Having considered for a while, we have bitten the bullet and gone for using some more modern materials in parts of the rigging but in way that should not jar too much with the traditional ethos of the boat. Consequently here is more on 5mm Dynastay which I am using for shrouds, spritstays and strops instead of stainless wire, due to its weight saving and ease of splicing. This is a twelve stranded grey material that is a bit weird to feel but if you think of it as a replacement for wire rather than as rope it doesn't seem that strange. I have been using splicing instructions from the Colligo marine website. I have spoken to a couple of riggers about using it and provided you give it a real good heave to settle the fibres after splicing and then be prepared for some more settling under tension in the first few trip, the product is more than capable of working well.

Where I think we will also benefit is that I have made up two continuous loops which I have then seized to take a Selden low friction eye at one end and left a loop at the other. This little device is then has the centre section covered with some nice chromed leather obtains from lovely James Lawrence Sailmaker. 'What are these for ?' I hear you say.... well if you slip these through the aft scupper in the toerail and pop the low friction eye through the loop then put the cruising chute sheet through the low friction eye you have a simple, lightweight 'block' arrangement that will not be bashing the varnish or paintwork to pieces in light airs... we've all been there as the lunchtime crowd of motor boaters head West down the Solent for lunch in Yarmouth at 15 knots within yards of small boats (need I say more). The added bonus of playing with rigging is that this has allowed me to indulge myself with some leatherwork..... heaven.

5mm Dynastay

Lightweight varnish friendly cruising chute 'blocks'

So, how about the boat ? Well, we are reflecting on the perversity of wood in that when you need it too be straight it will wander and when you need it to bend it will slowly straighten itself out in front of your very eyes. I recall a top rate cabinet maker telling me once that the problem with wood is that 'it wants to be a tree'.

Progress has been good, with the cold weather favouring progress on making up the rudder but in warmer times, the grab rails have been fitted as have the toe rails and rubbing strake. The Samson post is in and the stem fitting is in place along with the bowsprit band that the bowsprit goes through.

Bend on the toerail

Rudder in production

 View from astern (for non sailors)

Look at that curve...oooh lovely unless you are trying to bend wood round it

So there we have it for now, looking good but still have deck and deck fittings to do, electrics and engine to install, bowsprit, gaff and boom to build and then the painting and this space.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Rope trick

Happy Christmas to our followers. Those of you who have been following this story will know that it was Christmas day two years ago when we decided that we would commit to building our boat. That two years has been hard work but also enthralling, challenging and educational.

 When we started all this business I wondered in what way I could contribute best to the building of our boat - I am not much of a carpenter but wanted to do a bit more than choose the colour of the berth cushions (!). Consequently I decided that running and standing rigging would be my contribution (over and above the financing of the project). I am pretty handy with string but knew that this would be an interesting way of getting more familiar with the processes of fully rigging a boat. Consequently I set up a list of what I thought I would need and heck, there is a lot of it. In fact it's not often we sit back on our boats and count up all the bits you need to for rigging. OK where, to start ? Well 100m of 8mm Marlow braid for halyards and bobstay tackle. This then set me off on how to put eye splices in braided rope - well there is an excellent video on Marlow ropes site where the bloke makes it look all so easy...... Well I maybe didn't expect the first one to go easily and sure enough it didn't but I learnt from it and tried again. The result I was rather pleased with so went forth to do the next one, which I wasn't.

 The whole things appears to revolve around how much slack you can get into the outer cover in order to allow for the thinned down core and cover to get back down inside and I really have no insight into why one has worked and the next didn't - It's the same rope......The problem is that I need nearly all my 100m for the halyards and every duff splice get cut off - need to crack this asap..And I have paused in this blog to have another go and have had some reasonable success in creating a small eye splice and finishing it with some whipping. I have also been whipping the three stand mooring warps and splicing the fender lines.

Now those of you paying attention will know I left a cliff hanger in the last post whereby I eluded to rigging her in a slightly different way, well following various discussion with riggers and rope companies, we are going to have a crack at using Dynastay for the standing rigging. Dynastay is incredibly tough 12 braid hollow rope with low stretch and minimal creep. It is easily spliced and very lightweight. It has the advantage of being able to examine the fibres for wear and is easy to handle and store. Shrouds will have sailmakers thimbles spliced in and then be lashed.  Consequently Santa has bought me a load of 5mm Dynastay and a set of Selma fids (below) so I will be splicing my way into the New Year.

What about chafe ? I hear you say. That is dealt with by protecting and areas prone to wear with the outer braided jacket of a piece of braid on braid and then whipping it into place.  From what I can gather there are a few gaff rigged boats done this way - one belonging to a rigger so it can't be all bad and whilst it is not mainstream in the UK and the Dynastay is not stocked widely, we decided it was worth a go.

I will let you know how I get on when I've made some up.

 And the rest of the boat ? Well, the two layers of ply for the cabin top have gone on with the hatch runners and grab handles. the companion way is built and the surround for the forehatch. Also D has been lovingly crafting the rear posts that sit as aft stanchion posts in the rear corners of the cockpit. They are a puzzle of weird angles and are best left to D who has that kind of brain.

Also, earlier in December we had a productive trip up to the East Coast to collect the trailer and to talk to the sailmaker.

Photos below.

 Grab rails


Forehatch surround


Aft post

Cabin top