Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cabin Fever.

Couldn’t resist the lame pun, but it does at least cover subject matter and level of personal obsession fairly neatly.

After long wrangling about how to write about it - and almost to remind myself of where we’ve been lately, I’ve given up trying to find the right words. So here are a few fairly low quality pictures of the recent progress cabinwise. They convey little of the transformation taking place, and less still of the awesome effort that everyone’s putting in, but they do show Jan and I getting stuck into cladding the structure out. Doing the whole thing in wood has to be THE hardest and most time consuming way I can think of building this new space on board, we’ve recently taken to working ‘til past ten or eleven at night (partly because it’s so damn cold and at least graft helps keep the blood warm, partly ‘cos time is not on our side and Wendy eats deadlines.) But I must say I’m very happy indeed with the way it’s taking shape, particularly the sympathetic match of the new cabin with the original wheelhouse. That reclaimed teak tongue and groove seems to have repaid the effort, and Wendyann looks like she’s reasonably happy with her new deckhouse. What’s not pictured is Marks recent attack of the complex series of compound mitres that is the new windows round the back, Becky’s double glazed (!) porthole, and my own beginnings of the porthole backing panels. Much more better pictures coming soon after I find five minutes during daylight to take ‘em. There are now three weekends available until the C word is upon us (publicly enforced unpaid holiday, nine letters). I’m hopeful we’ll have it finished ready to take the roof by then. On the other hand, you know what happens when I go making ambitious statements like that one…

As a postscript, Mark returned from the states wearing his latest defence against the winter cold, a bright red all in one thermal underwear known as a Union Suit, Makes him look like a hillbilly superhero.

Only question is, Is the world ready for SuperCletus?

Sunday, November 09, 2008


Here's the latest weather forecast summary:

Selsey Bill to Lyme Regis
Issued by the Met Office at 1700 UTC on Sunday 09 November 2008

24 hour forecast:

Wind - Southwest 7 to severe gale 9, perhaps increasing storm 10 at times.
Weather - Rain or squally showers.
Visibility - Moderate, occasionally poor.
Sea State - Rough or very rough.

Outlook for the following 24 hours:

Wind - Southwest 7 to severe gale 9, veering west 6 to gale 8.
Weather - Rain or squally showers.
Visibility - Moderate or poor, occasionally good.
Sea State - Rough or very rough.

I am not impressed. Looks like work at Storebror may be a bit all over the place this week.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Here’s one we prepared months ago.

With our radically revised plan for our vessel we had no scheduled launch last week after all, but we’d both already been granted time off of work in Epsom in order to be ready for one. With the opportunity to work together for days and days and days we decided to get happy and call it our ‘Happy Not A Launch Then Even if You Were Praying For One’ week.

It was great, the boat and tent which houses her once again started to feel like home, ok, a half finished one but home nonetheless. I was getting in the car and going to work at Tug Storebror from our new home. B went to the supermarket and came home to Wendy Ann. We both went to the hardware shop and came home to the boat. The only small fly in the ointment about this arrangement was that since winter seems to have arrived bigtime, it was getting seriously Fucking Cold every night. I’m talking wearing thermals, long johns, all the jumpers you brought with you and two sets of overalls at the same time as well as various strange hats levels of cold. And then bravely stripping only the minimum of all that off at the very last minute when ready to dive under five duvets for sleep. There were a couple of evenings when it all got a bit too Ray Mears’ Shipyard Survival, and I quickly discovered that drinking a glass or three of (naturally refrigerated to far below the optimum temperature) wine and finding areas worth sweeping vigorously would help keep the body warmth going. Various bits of the boat and tent floor are spookily clean and tidy all of a sudden.

To Do:
This represents just two lines on that godforsaken list of B’s, but it took the entire week to finally be able to cross them off. Let’s see why… First we made new shoes for the anchor winch to stand on from iroko stock and soaked them in creosote. Went to engineers suppliers in Portsmouth and bought a load of 3/4inch by 4inch coarse thread bolts and nuts. Jacked whole winch clear of (already painted) deck with two 20 tonne bottle jacks and a load of chocks. Covered both faces of new shoes with bitumen sealant and slipped into place, inserted nice large bolts and tightened up. Spent an hour wiping away excess sealant. Congratulated selves at having finally reattached winch to boat. Painted chain (which should itself be in neon capital letters a foot high, it took AGES, and was actually started months ago. Sam, B and I have all done turns on the thing but B went for it and I pitched in again at the end so we finally finished the final link at 19.37 last Saturday.) Heated up and freed all the bearings on the winch when we discovered it had seized, made mental note to borrow greaser gun from work. Wirebrushed and chipped all the flaky burnt stuff off. Two coats of intertuf all over. Two coats of intertuf inside already intershielded chain locker for good measure. Neoprene gasket cut for chain locker cover, and found bolts lurking at bottom of tool box where they’d been ever since Robin made the cover two years ago. Greased up winch with gun borrowed from work. Enlisted help of Dave and Diana. Loaded well over a ton of chain through winch, two people at winch handles, one on floor feeding chain off pallet, one in chain locker flaking it out neatly. Sweated a lot. Bolted locker cover down. Painted black top coats on winch. Painted remaining exposed chain white. Cursed the sodding list and crossed off the words winch and chain.

We even managed to get a load of other good stuff done as well, various blanking plates were finally married with new gaskets and bolted over various deck fitting holes that otherwise would let the rain in, a ton or two of ballast got it’s final coats of paint and then stacked up all neat and tidy like. The wooden (oak?) parts of the mast were sanded and coated with three coats of shiny yacht varnish. Dave offered to pressure test our water and diesel tanks. I ran out of oxygen whilst cutting the rubbish steel off the towhook arm. My mum and her friend David came to see us for the launch that wasn’t and stayed for the day helping out instead. David installed some handy site lighting using new fittings we found stored in Wendy way back when we bought her, my dear mum helped paint the winch’s first top coats and inflated the tender, which we discovered only has a very slow puncture and therefore may be serviceable, which is a bleeding miracle considering how much blasting, grinding and welding has happened near or around it over the last three years. Robin received a phone call asking his advice on drilling large holes in steel and what best to use, happened to be local and very kindly offered to drop in and drill ‘em for us with his rotabroach, which saved me killing a drill that wouldn’t be up to the job and enabled us to bolt this back down:

Our H bollard (H should stand for Heavy) had been loose on the after deck ever since before we purchased the vessel, thus rendering it fairly useless as a mooring point, but now it’s properly bolted to a deck that I plated and tacked in, that Larry welded, with bolts Becky purchased, fixed in holes that Robin drilled. The devil is always in the detail, and I was so happy that Robin offered to help us do it the easy way, it meant that by 8pm that night we’d finished that particular job and a load of others too and I hadn’t sworn once.

I forgot to mention something strange about the dreaded list, the problem with crossing stuff off is that usually by the time I'm ready to do so, we've found a couple of new things've popped up overnight like mushrooms, so actually the list has remained more or less the same length for a couple of years- about two and a half pages. I guess it'll always be there, a permanent feature of our lives with ms Ann. Oh Bugger, time to get back in the forepeak already.