Sunday, 5 November 2017

The cat's whiskers

D tells me we have had a new visitor to the shed this week as a small inquisitive cat has turned up on the scene and is interested in boat building.  I am  thinking of recruiting it as a ship's cat as we have not got one of those yet. Though I have not see it, apparently it is grey so will go with the hull nicely.

D has had to 'discourage' it from getting too involved and is now having to close the hatches when he leaves the boatshed so we don't come back to 'presents' from the cat. I am only glad that the varnishing is over....

Anyway, on to progress... we are now wired for sound with the VHF and radio installed and internal speakers for the radio and external repeater for the VHF (pictured below). Whilst I am not one for canned music generally, I have visions of cruising on calm seas is glorious sunshine with 'Sailing by' (if you don't know, look it up) playing quietly in the background. 

I have not had many specific requests in the build process, but my one stipulation has come to pass this week, let me explain.  There is a locker at the head of each berth, one of which has the cooker on it. Having decided that we wanted to stick with the spirit burners, that paved the way for using the space underneath in a much better way as we were not dealing with pipework for gas. As such my design request was a couple of gas struts to support the cooker allowing me to rummage underneath with both hands if necessary and without risking dropping the top down. Obviously this is only for when there is nothing on the cooker. So pictured below is the solution. The gas struts themselves are pretty strong and need a bit of 'tuning' as, at the moment, I think it could flip pancakes all on its own!

Above decks, instrumentation and compass are now installed properly.

This is far more fancy than our current boat which has a hand bearing compass, a depth sounder and piece of wet seaweed. 

Talking of fancy, the socket for the flag staff is now in place on top of the rudder stock and is a suitable match for the splendid ensign already provided by generous friends.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Let there be lights

Whilst progress may seem slow, when I look back and round up the photographs it is clear that lots has moved on since last time we met.

Antifouling is on and we have chosen Coppercoat which was a bit peculiar to apply for the first coat or two but eventually as the layers built up it began to give more confidence of a reasonable finish. If doing this, the technique is to pick the right day and go round and round until you've used it all up so be prepared for a long day. 

After that we had an enjoyable day putting in place skin fittings and trying not to get covered in mastic, and here are some the results.

The Golant Gaffer has a hatch in the cockpit centrally below the tiller which means that hinging the locker top doesn't help so D invested in some rather nice latches with handles (small fortune) and here they are in the process of being fitted ('scuse the mastic..that's now gone).

Regarding light in the cabin, here is one of the portholes in place and the finished forepeak hatch.

Below is the fitting that takes the bowsprit shroud, small but perfectly formed.

And the sheeting arrangement (forward end is on the left hand side). This has two leads for the jib and staysail and the aft one is for the cruising chute.

This photo below shows the compass, I looks wonky but its not finally fixed yet. Getting this compass required a bit of work as it needed to be one which would work at 15 degrees off vertical as this is the angle of the bulkhead. This is not as straightforward as it sounds but eventually we found one which was acceptable.

and below we have opted for a two burner spirit stove because we have used a one burner version  in our current boat and it has been a joy to use and very efficient. One of the considerations for its installation was how to make the most of the storage space below the cooker and here I have had my input such that D will be weighing the cooker plus the hinged panel it sits on and installing a gas strut so that I can rummage two handed below. Obviously I will only do so when not cooking anything on top !

In terms of internal lighting, we have invested in two led lights above the cooker and nav station, two in the forward part of the main cabin and two task lights on long bendy arms (see below). They are quite sophisticated in that they are optionally red light or white light and dim as well. Manufactured by Prebit these at not for the faint hearted price-wise but from our point of view they need to do the job required and we were advised that cheaper ones just fall apart.

Underneath the companion way, D has built a really nice removable switch panel for all things engine and electric.

and to keep her safe and secure, a cunning lock for the hatch, well I say cunning.... once you have worked out that they are incorrectly put together when packaged and you actually have to take them apart and turn a key piece around and reassemble...... we had three grown men in a chandlery scratching their heads for quite some time trying to work out where the padlock went. I will take the credit for realising that it was impossible as presented and that it needed to be otherwise.

So, we're now down to the fiddly bits, plumbing, installing further lights, speakers, instruments, wiring up the mast and putting the fittings on the spars. It feels like the beginning of the end....

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Bowsprits and buckets

So this next installment concerns an essential part of every gaffer - the bowsprit. This started life as a three piece laminate which was trimmed square and then lovingly fettled into a splendid bowsprit. I came over a bit artistic as the sunlight caught a fragile curl of wood shaving.

Ah lovely... anyway after much more planing, the bowsprit emerged with the help of a cunning spar gauge which helps taper the bowsprit in proportion. I am not sure how best to explain except it is geometry which is far better explained here
It is a very simple device but a very good 'trick of the trade'. Here it is pictured below.

Any way after taking the corners off and taking the corners off and taking the corners off again, you finally end up with one you try on for size.

I think the camera angle in this one makes it look quite intimidating and obviously it will get nicely rounded over on the end.

And what have I been up to ? Well I now have a pattern for the cover and will be ordering bits for that soon but in the meantime I have knocked up a canvas bucket for the hell of it really. For those interested in the technical specification of said bucket here we go, 15oz cotton canvas, with 12mm ply base (well, what else do you do with the hatch cut out from the boat your are building. Waste not want not is what I say....) 10-12 mm cotton rope and copper tacks. Two Matthew Walker knots and a backsplice later and there you go. In terms of usefulness these days probably in the same category as the cardboard propeller but I like it and have decreed it to be the 'bucket of declaration' to encourage post race donations from fellow Gaffers !...It will get its first outing this weekend.

Friday, 25 August 2017

All things bright and beautiful.....

I have been more use of late in the boatshed as we are completing the varnishing and painting. The transom, toe rail and rubbing strake are fully varnished (Hempel 'Diamond', thinned by about 5-10%) the cabin top and cockpit sides are painted (cream in the end as I couldn't get the idea of fibreglass out of my mind when looking at expanses of white so that had to go). The hand rails, cabin sides and fiddly bits of wood trimming round he cockpit have had two coats so a bit more to go and D has sanded the hull to perfection and is masking up in readiness for us to apply a coat of primer to the hull.  He will progress with a roller while I follow with a foam brush to remove any small air bubbles from the roller. Off we go.....  Well an hour later and we are done, Hempel primer was a bit think and sticky so we had to thin it down and work quickly with roller and the foam brush - you get one chance. Anyway here she is so far.

......with a coat of primer drying on the hull and with top coat

and here is the cabin top

The learning point from all this is when you think it is all sanded smooth and you can't feel any lumps and bumps, no matter how well you think you've done.... do some more...

In between varnish drying, the boom is in preparation, the piece of Douglas fir has been planed to rough size but will need more shaping. We will be using Woodskin on the spars, which is low maintenance and recommended by friends so I should be seeing the back of the varnish brush soon however I have enjoyed the alchemy that occurs when coat after coat of crystal clear varnish brings the wood alive. Below is the boom in preparation and the end fitting that fits the boom to the mast.

And also the bowsprit which has started life as a sandwich of three laminates and is here being planed to size. I have left D in the shed with yet more tea as he fashions something  rather more lovely out this rather agricultural looking lump of wood.
I am off to play with some canvas and rope as is my way.....

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....