Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fish in a Bucket.

This entry has been removed by the author. On account of it being terribly written. It will be back when it actually makes sense.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Thing 1.

In order to deal with some of the really fundamental issues of our situation on the berth, Becky and I have developed what we are constantly referring to in a silly voice as the Three Plong Plan. Simply put, this involves sorting out three things, Access, Real electrical power on board, and a decent Water supply. Luckily, a recent stroke of financial good fortune has enabled us to make serious plans for actually getting it done, as opposed to dream-world plans that I make over and over again all the time. This weekend, while I wait for the cheque to clear I took a load of reclaimed (for free, ta Ben) pressure treated timber and some other bits and bobs down to Littlehampton and constructed this. Behold, I have built Thing 1. Finally, we’ve some decent access to the boat, which is something that you wouldn’t think could make so much difference, but it does. The reason for the slightly oversized staging (partially occupied in the photos by a pallet) is that I reasoned if I was going to build it, it might as well be big enough to stack materials on when they arrive at the boat, or indeed it might as well be large enough to take a couple of chairs, a bottle of wine and a barbeque too.
The staging is theoretically prevented from floating away by seven long steel stakes made from 50mm angle, laboriously hammered into the ground around the whole thing, but the spring tides are back later this week so I’ll weld some sort of retaining lugs on top of those soon as I can.

Obviously there’s an inherent security implication in providing real access to the vessel, so much so that I dithered for a while about whether to actually make the ramp bit (not doing so would kind of defeat the object), or if I could construct some sort of mad drawbridge or gated affair. Then, lubricated with wine on Saturday night I was struck by one of those genius moments, either that or I was pissed. I remembered reading Guy Grieve’s book ‘Call of the Wild’ about a Scot who goes to Alaska to build his own cabin in the wilderness, sounds familiar. Well, when he left it he covered the door and windows with plywood with nails sticking, sharp end out all over it and called this hoarding ‘Bear Boards’. Now, I don’t think that there are bears in Littlehampton, but I could be wrong- anyway I’ve nicked the idea just as an idiot deterrent. Trust me, those screw tips sticking up are SHARP; I lightly maimed myself twice just moving the thing around after I’d made it. So when I finally left, I cunningly fixed my bear board down to the top end of Thing 1’s ramp and figured that’d prevent opportunism by all but the most masochistic at least. So my vessel appears armed to the teeth and now I just worry that I’ll return to find an unfortunate toddler impaled on it or something, if I’m a responsible person I’ll do the right thing and put up some sort of warning sign, trouble is bears can’t read.

The sharp-eyed will notice that I have also taken down the silly frame construction at the blunt end of Wendy Ann. Not only was it a depressingly hideous carbuncle, but also it didn’t get used for its intended purpose. Because of the lovely summer weather it was never covered over so it provided no function other than to give gulls something to shit on, and I’ve decided to set up a small workshop away from the vessel anyway. So down it came, and what a bloody relief, Wendy Ann 2 looks like a tug again. Not only that but I’ve reclaimed my uninterrupted view of the river so I can watch stuff like this go by.

You wouldn’t believe she’d fit, maybe they’re lost.

And finally this week, I’ve realised I still haven’t shown off the finished roof, which by now has had plenty of time for the birds to shit on too, but since I was up there bolting down the mast tabernacle and the roof’s looking good I thought I’d get a photograph or two. Here it is.

And a picture of the opened engine room skylight for good measure.

Watch this space for more Plongs of the Plan Coming Soon! New Generators! Spring Tides! Neighbours! Bears! Welding! Up All Night Working! Heavily Perforated Toddlers! It’s all go around here, and about time too.

Friday, July 17, 2009

It’s Not Pretty.

But it works. Perhaps I should explain, anyone who has had the misfortune to have stayed on board with me will know that for months, no, years now there has been a perilous gap between the original bridge floorboards and the steel cabin floor. All of us have grown exceedingly used to stepping over this space, so much so that when I fitted this partially prefabricated step yesterday I found my legs still automatically wanted to bridge the certain depth. With the lack of any real power on board at the mo the frame for this was welded up at home out of bits of scrap angle found on Becky’s new stable yard. The grating material has been on board for months, just waiting for me to extract a finger. With a nod to practicality and unlike my usual approach this is probably going to be a temporary/permanent fix, meaning that hopefully one day it’ll be replaced with something more glamorous but right now I couldn’t think of a more elegant solution so this one had to do. So. It’s not pretty, but maybe has a certain sore-thumb charm, whatever, at least the danger of death (or at least broken pelvis) has been removed.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A Rhapsody on Teak.

Here they are, the last two pieces of exterior woodwork to do on the bridge and cabin. Yep, it's the bloody return sills. Only took four days to make the buggers, a timescale made longer by the fact that each piece was laminated from three bulks- which is what you get when you’ve got a load of reclaimed teak but none of it is quite big enough, and you refuse to go out and spend a fortune on new three inch stock. If you look closely at the picture you might see that I made a much better job of the starboard sill (it’s the one on the left) probably because I’d had a good nights sleep before cutting the joints on the other one. The only problem with this kind of work is that it takes an awfully long time and plenty of patience to get it right, and all those complex joints have to fit together perfectly so the hard work becomes invisible… which I think is why I’ve just realised the cabin work has taken us almost a year to complete, either that or we’re just really slow, which is always possible.

Mind you, it’s looking not too bad really, at least from a distance, which has the benefit of being further away and therefore harder to hear the swearing. As a bonus the original engine room skylight is all done and back together too. Trouble is it looks absolutely ace with the windows open, as they clearly aren’t in this photograph, but it was getting late and the leaves were all locked down for my departure.

Teak is the loveliest, most rewarding material to work with, and after just a few shucks with a really fucking sharp block plane it’s easy to see why it is so revered- and therefore so expensive- as a boatbuilding timber. It has this wonderfully close, even grain which makes it incredibly stable, yet it yields so beautifully to the blade. Workability wise it beats the pants off of Iroko which is harder, but also much more fractious with a tendency to split- a quality which is not helped by the wandering nature of iroko’s grain. Seriously, sometimes the grain starts wobbling about like a drunken Glaswegian for no reason at all right in the middle of an otherwise perfectly straight grained section. Both timbers can contain carbonate deposits, which is as a result of the tree not knowing what to do with the stuff after it sucks it up while it’s growing and is the reason why as many cutting implements as possible should be tungsten carbide tipped, but contrary to my researches before I began all this I’ve actually found more of this incredibly hard, chisel edge blunting stuff in the Iroko. Maybe I just got lucky? When all is said and done though, they do look quite similar when finished, a fact which still amazes me considering the bright yellow colour of Iroko when freshly cut, handily it changes dramatically on exposure to the air.

So now those sills are fitted, sanded and oiled, and there are two hardboard templates waiting in the back of the car for me to take along to our long suffering glazier. Soon the bits of glass will go in and Wendy Ann 2 will have a complete set of windows. With that it’ll be time to leave the hardwood alone for a little while in order to concentrate on other matters.

One last thing before I left for home. I decided it was about time that folks in Littlehampton knew the name of the black vessel that’s screeched up on the mud. So after months and months of wondering when, I got on did the naming on the bows on Sunday afternoon; in stark contrast to all the poncing around with woodwork it took me about half an hour.