Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cake Or Death.

THIS is the reason why we’ve pushed and pushed this summer, and I know that parents, friends and crew will be dying to see the results so I’d better get on with it. We are pleased to say that the entire interior of the vessel is now covered in sprayfoam insulation, mostly to a depth of at least three inches. Which gave us both the ideal opportunity to get fairly drunk on cheap fizz at an entirely inappropriate time of the afternoon.
But it wasn’t easy getting there, oh no, and I’m not talking about the jobs we did in preparation either. After trying the ‘cold’ (30˚C) foam DIY kits in our cabin we decided that for many reasons it’d probably be worth the money to have the big job of the hull done with ‘hot’ foam by professionals, not least that by the time we’d got all the prep done I’d most likely be completely knackered- which indeed I was. We hoped that spending money on professionals would make things easier, in one way it did, and it’s hard to find serious fault in the quality of their finished work. However, when we hoped that getting the professionals in would be stress free, we were wrong. Communication with the company we chose was akin to extracting blood from a stone once they’d taken our deposit (nearly two grand), and the job ended up happening over a week later than it should because of a simple failure to check their equipment which led to a small but critical malfunction on site the first time they turned up. Consequently the last fortnight has been massively stressful for us, so I guess the lesson here is that no matter how you choose to attack a big task, it’ll probably cause more hair loss one way or the other.
They did make a good job of it in the end though, and being me I was determined to basically stand alongside the man on the gun and heckle him every time I considered a spot ‘too thin’, he took this treatment fairly well considering and we got on cheerfully, which means that there are few holidays and most of the job is well over spec. Hell, I even persuaded him to put an inch or so over the inside of the funnel, which raised an eyebrow or two when I suggested it.
The process did however, get foam everywhere- which I suppose you could say is the whole point, but it’s going to take weeks to cut back the foam where it needs it, expose all the battens again (luckily I masked every last batten face with gaffer tape, otherwise I’d be buggered) and take all the mess away. Especially from the bilges where all the stuff I’ve already started cutting back has inevitably ended up. Godddd.

And the rivets are gone, all that super clean steelwork is covered up forever. I feel fine about this, being pretty much sick of the sight of it by now- but a friend who saw the results on Saturday morning said “part of me wants to cry” and I know what he’s getting at. The interior of Wendy Ann no longer looks like an engineering masterpiece, instead she now looks very organic indeed, like being inside a giant cream bun. Part of me wants to cry too, but mainly because I have to do that bloody big tidy up yet again. On the plus side, this really does mean the final and absolute end of shivering our arses off at pick-a-number-below-zero in the winters. Result.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Stick Up.

In the interests of playing catch-up, and as promised, here are photographs of the most obvious exterior change we’ve made to our vessel. All being well, I’ll post some more of the other stuff we’ve done too- soon.
During the August bank holiday we raised the mast. I’d been shitting it about doing this as the mast is not exactly a lightweight object, but a long chat with one of my neighbours and another long chat with Arun Canvas and Rigging helped to allay some of these fears. The guys at Arun Rigging prepared Wendy’s new rigging from 12mm galvanised steel rope, and also provided me with all the shackles, turnbuckles and wire clamps that I’d need to do the job. They were so helpful and had the entire package ready to go in an hour at a really reasonable price.

When the big day came Becky, Ranka, and I were joined by my neighbour, Jalil. He keeps his little open sailing boat almost next door to our tug and clearly knows his onions when it comes to things nautical, so when he kindly offered to help out I practically bit his arm off.
The scariest part of the whole process turned out to be getting the mast bolted into its tabernacle. I wondered if Jalil, who was supporting most of the weight would be squashed between the mast and funnel whilst I desperately scrabbled to get the retaining bolt into position on the tabernacle. Once the bolt had thankfully slid home it was almost a simple case of ‘one two three heave’ and before you knew it, Wendy Ann 2 suddenly looked like a proper boat. It’s funny the difference a bloody great stick and a bunch of wire makes to the overall proportions of her, but it does.

Oh, one small detail did induce mild alarm for a moment. When the mast was all rigged and right, the temporary headline we used to pull the mast up got itself tangled as we were trying to let it go. So my new sea-dog pal tested my new mast by climbing up it to remove the offending rope. I hasten to add that absolutely nothing bad happened, but it’s a test that I wouldn’t have dared employ myself at the time. Silly thing is that the rigging itself is rated to five tons safe working load- I guess that would make the shackles the weak links, rated at a mere one ton each. Jalil definitely does not weigh one ton, I’m sure. Not to be beaten, since then I’ve climbed the mast myself and it’s quite a view from up there.
Theoretically we could now do things with this mast, although I cut the gooseneck off for reasons too complicated to explain now welding it back on shouldn’t present too much of a problem and then we’ll be away.
For now though all I’m using it for is flying some big silly flags, like this stupidly enormous 'celebration' ensign- which is a strangely satisfying sight.

Many thanks to grinder monkey for de pictures.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Art Thys Thyinge Workinge?

It’s been a busy couple of months, but particularly August, I don’t know where it went.
Oh. Yes I do, but I haven’t documented it, so did it really happen? I’m beginning to wonder if this is the question we should all be asking ourselves in this internet age.

At the start I was mostly too stupidly busy, then more recently overawed by the task of writing it all down. That bit’s easy, but what’s happened lately is that I’ve sort of gone cold on the whole blog thing. I read something a couple of weeks ago that was all about living in an information saturated world- and people in our society feeling that if they didn’t blog or facebook about something they've done then it wasn’t worth doing, about us 21st century folk losing grasp of the concept of having a private life, you know, the one where you get on with things quietly on your own without the need to shout 'look at me!' all the time. And that was it- I suddenly just didn’t fancy sitting down in front of this computer and telling the world about my silly little victories anymore. I mean, who really cares if I’ve had the busiest time on board Wendy Ann 2 since our launch? When I’m there I can appreciate the huge recent changes that I’ve made happen and the benefits they bring, surely that should be enough? Blah. I don’t really want to rant any more about it either, and since I can’t really think what to do with this blog except carry on anyway it’s all a load of bollocks. So I’m trying to sidestep the issue by writing the following statement:

Shit loads has happened.

I’ve been fortunate enough to dedicate a large chunk of the summer to our vessel, and have been on board for at least 4 nights out of 7 on average. There’s no computer there. As you’d expect, enjoying this kind of regime has meant I got quite a lot done.
In no particular order, we’ve:

Completed the battening out with a hilti gun, then applied the rest of the battening with gripfill throughout the boat
Laminated up eighteen circular porthole liners from fancy ‘AA’ grade ply and fixed them into position around their respective portholes.
Put the mast up. Which ought to be in capital letters. It looks wicked.
Made up some hefty bosses and welded them onto wendy’s decks, into which we put the davits, and now they actually serve a purpose rather than being bloody great lumps to stub your toe on.
Moved wendy’s original steering engine into a new position on some bearers that’d been welded down where the towhook used to be. One day soon it’ll become a standby generator set, it’s chief virtue being that it’s a hand starter.
Finally welded some hasps into place so the generator hatches can be LOCKED, thereby removing the ugly truck tarp that’d been covering wendy’s stern.
Welded in five through hull skin fittings, each threaded up to take these 1 1/12 inch ball valves that we had. Found the valves for our bilge line skin fittings too so all the skin fittings actually work..
Welded down the funnel top, then cut a four inch hole in it and tacked a blanking plate over ready for the installation of one of the woodburners flues.
Fitted the teak weatherboards over our sliding doors on the wheelhouse, one of those annoying twenty minute jobs that I’d been meaning to do for months and in the end got so sick of tripping over the parts for that I put them together, duh.
Started fitting the fancy locks to the doors, there’s a bunch of precise woodwork in this.
Removed another IBC. You know what happened last time, well, not like that.
Put the solar panel in it’s place on the roof, more to get it out of the way than anything.
Ditto our navigation lights (well, some of them).
And some other things I can’t think of right now.

Needless to say, I had help.

If I can overcome this desire to kick and scream at modern technology for no more sensible reason than 'oh dear, I seem to have turned into a hippy' then I’ll have a go at presenting a load of pictures of all this, and a bit more detail, soon. For now though it’s all about making ready for one more ‘nearly a week’ trip to the boat to do one final push at this daft project, so I’ve a car to pack instead. And I’m tired now. But yeah, I’ll fill you in later.