Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Devils and Details, part 2.

AKA. Getting by with a little help from my friends.

Well. Before this becomes ancient history I want to mention something about the battening process, which had to take place before we got covered in foam. Namely that it took a while, and required more of me than I could give alone without imploding. That vessel of ours is one seriously complex shape, see?
Becky and I hired the Hilti gun for another weekend and came back exhausted stinking of gunpowder with bruised elbows and chunks out of my knuckles. Then Jan and I took out shares in gripfill, using boxes of it to fix battening where a hilti-nail just wouldn’t do.
By the way, these babies:

are some of the porthole liners. I couldn’t handle the thought of de-boatifying wendy’s soon-come interior lining by putting square frames around circular holes, so I only spent four days laminating up eighteen of these shapes. They’re made from ‘AA’ grade birch ply in various configurations, in order to get them done the forward accommodation had to become something of a production line of repetitive tasks, before handing them over to Sam and J to fit. Fit they did. Where would I be without competent crew?

Marooned, that’s where.
So, to my mates, Jan (as ever), Supersam and new girl Jamie, Ranka- my big grinders new best friend, and of course the ever delightful miss Bee- I tip my hat to you all again. I reckon we did a good job, you all cheerfully tolerated my complete obsession with the boat as usual, only scarpering for the beach when my eyes really glazed over- and I didn’t completely lose my mind as a result. Thank you.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Devils and Details, part 1.

I had to do something with the boat davits, as the last time they were used was when I had our big generator delivered by boat last summer, and stubbing my toes on them as they laid awkwardly on the deck ever since then was getting really boring.
After much headscratching about where best to put them permanently we decided the only sensible spot was either side of the engine room hatch/skylight, where they might one day be vaguely useful.

Here’s a picture of them in position, with their new bosses that I made from tube and 8mm plate welded nicely in, all with low hydrogen rods so they should be good and strong.
Wish I’d pinged the bloody slag off the welds before I took the first picture though, as i was really pleased with how they came out.

Bristol Fashion.

In my experience, fitting mortice locks is one of those fiddly, careful-careful, measure thrice jobs where rushing or using blunt objects can be fatal. Fitting the locks to Wendy Ann’s sliding wheelhouse doors was even more so. Not only did I have to find suitable locks (which only took months of looking, eventually got lucky on a well known internet auction site), but then went through all the careful drill and chisel work of fitting four in total, two to each door, only to realise that the cunning recessed door jamb that Mark so carefully routed out when we built the cabin meant that the keys had no room to turn in their holes. Bugger.

In the end the only solution was this, eight carved scoops out of the jamb in order to give the keys room to turn. Thank goodness Ranka so kindly recently lent us a set of strangely shaped carving chisels to play with.

Sunday, October 03, 2010


It’s a fact that saving our wreck of a tug cost an absolute fortune. And we’ve grown so used to dealing with the consequences that for us it’s usually just a fact of life, like furniture, or cheese. All that welding and all that time in a big shipyard cost serious money.
Occasionally however the stark truth gets up and bites one, or other, or both of us on the bum. In rebuilding Wendy Ann 2 we committed financial hari-kiri and plunged ourselves into massive personal debt. I shan’t trouble you with the details, but suffice to say that between us both we must raise £2053.77 each and every month simply to cover the repayments. Some people don’t believe us, but it’s true. Next time you’re wondering why progress might seem a bit slow, this is why. It’s also why I get a bit annoyed when people accuse us of having had ‘massive financial backing’. Er yeah- and we’ve got to pay every penny of it back with interest. This is not to say we haven’t had help from parents as well for which we are hugely grateful, but a trust fund it was not, and again every penny will be repaid as soon as we are able.
But I’m not complaining. Somehow or other we keep our heads above water, even if it is a desperate scrabble sometimes. All we can do is keep chipping away and work as hard as we can. In the meantime we constantly have to be very careful in balancing what we can spend on actual boat building, and when.
Why am I writing this now? Well, getting that foam in and all its associated preparation was an expensive task for which we worked, saved, and worked some more. Now it’s done, and it suddenly looks like winter is outside the window. Yesterday I sort of dropped the ball and got quite depressed, having become overawed (see above). Becky reminded me however that we’re always working to a plan. It is this; Earn money, split it proportionally in three directions starting with daily survival, then debt repayment, then boatbuilding. By doing it this way our situation is slowly but definitely improving.
So what next for the boat? Well, to all things a season. Over the years we have squirreled a fair amount of materials together down on the farm and now the insulation is done we can start to use them, which means that unlike a year ago this winter we won’t have to mothball our project. Instead I’ll be getting on with preparing and fitting these materials. This should enable us see a fair amount of progress on board without the need to invest any large sums of money over the next few months.