A Big Pile of Wood.
Yep, that’s all it is. As with any big building project I guess, there are some jobs which are dull as ditchwater, but nevertheless have to be humbly done before anything exciting can happen. Yesterday I spent over five hours doing some home tanalising, sloshing nasty brown preservative liquid over all my prepared 2x2 in the final stage of preparation for battening out the hull, or at least a bit of it. Even with all the skylights and portholes wide open I was still thankful for whatever providence that had led me to invest in a couple of decent 3M breathing masks months ago (when I still had some cash) and leave them in their seals waiting for an eventuality such as this. I tried it without a mask for a few minutes just to see what interesting effects the fumes might have on my neurosystem, and the results packed a bigger hit than a few of the illegal things that I’ve tried over the years. So after a long stagger around outside I decided that breathing apparatus was indeed the way to go.
I laid down one of our super heavy truck tarpaulins to prevent filling the bilges up with preservative and gaily began painting away, stacking up the timber neatly as I went- the idea was that any overspill on top would percolate through the pile and soak in even more to the lower layers. Everything went fine until my pile reached towards hip height. At this point there must’ve been a passing speedboat or something, because Wendy Ann rocked ever so slightly and the whole pile promptly collapsed, burying me to the knees. A moment of chaos followed while I played pick-up-wet-sticks, before deciding to give up and fashion a kind of wood hill instead, and stand sort of on top of it to finish the last thirty or so pieces.
It’s a bigger pile than it looks in the photo, and I’m now crossing my fingers that there’ll be enough to do the whole forward accommodation space-the front end of the hull basically. In the background of the picture you can also see the four ‘IBC’s, bulk containers which are lurking in the engine room like unwanted guests- who’ve turned up too long ago, long since drank all the booze, and are now just sitting there in awkward silence. They contain four tons of water ballast that I reckoned we needed for the short journey round from Southampton, as Wendy Ann were a scarily lightweight fifty tons at the point of launch and I was desperate to get the skeg as far underwater as possible for the tow... I’m now dying to get the damnable things off because as there’s a crawl space around each they’ve eaten a stupid big chunk of future living space.
With that in mind we’re still gradually accumulating manganese steel ballast. Now luckily we’re slowly collecting the small ones, which are quite handleable, but also quite heavy little lumps. And because we’ve stuck to the rule that whatever goes in the bilges must be painted first here they are with their protective coating:
For this I used bitumen, which is about the only use I can think of for the world’s stupidest paint. It’s like painting with sodding treacle. It never quite sets, which means the smallest bit sticking on your hands, hair or worse, your feet transfers bloody everywhere. And it eats brushes and gloves. Life is just too short for attempting to clean brushes that look like the creature from the black lagoon’s done his teeth with them.
Actually, I’m being a bit naughty- it is very cheap, and because of bitumen’s aforementioned fluid properties it does make a pretty ok sealant against rust. It tends to get right into the lumpy bits and provide a good, if unpleasant barrier against the elements. There’s still no way you’d catch me being all beardy and traditional and using it anywhere whatsoever on the exterior though, that sort of use is the reason why some very clever people invented two-pack epoxies.
Next weekend we should see some proper action as a result of all this boring splatting about, and I’m now in a ridiculous feverish state of childish excitement about at last getting the Hilti guns in for that battening. Can’t wait.