Thursday, January 21, 2016

Progress from Annie Hill, a report about SIBLIM.

A visit to the heaquarters of the SIBLIM club.

Credit to Paul Gilbert for the photos, much better than my own amateurish efforts.  Thanks Paul.

For those new to the acronym above, that stands for “Small is Beautiful, Less is More” and is the philosohy behind Annie Hills life, and the new ship that she is building herself.

I visited last week, had a look over the ship to see the progress since my last call at her shed in Norsrands Boatyard in Whangarei. She’s doing well,  all the framing is up, the skegs that will support the twin rudders are in place, these will enable her ship to stand upright on any reasonable surface when the tide goes out.  The bottom panel is dry fitted, some of the cockpit panels are in place, there is nice solid wood tongue and groove panelling on the main cabin bulkheads and she is working on wrapping plywood around that distinctly Junkish bow.

View from aft, the shape is clearly visible now and even some of the interior spaces are starting to give an impression of what they'll feel like later on.

A distinctly Junkish bow.  There is a lot of good thinking behind this, it will make lifting an anchor  and stowing its tackle much easier for someone who is not the strongest person afloat, being small of build makes it easy to get standing headroom in a smaller boat but there has to be thought given to things tasks which are easy for a 6 ft 6in football player.

Tongue and groove panel overlaying the plywood in the main cabin.  Nice!

The outboard motor will mount in between the skegs, in a well which makes it an "inboard", if you know what I mean.  It makes it easy to access, keeps it well protected, out of sight from people who might think that they deserve it more than the owner, and easy to service without having to dismount it.  Good option.

I collect woodworking hand tools, not as a collector of rare and “collectibles”,  but rather to rescue and bring back to life old, disused, and damaged second hand tools. I haunt junkshops and garage sales, will buy if I come across reasonable second hand ones, and have quite a collection tucked away awaiting a good cause.
Annie qualifies as a good cause.

Thats the model of the ship in the background, and we're looking over tools Annie and I. Your'e looking through the space between the twin skegs, good solid legs for when she's aground and strong support for the steering gear.

So I’ve handed over to her a Stanley number 60 bullnose plane, that’s the little short one handed rebate plane,  a straight spokeshave, a decent half inch chisel and a two sided coarse / fine oilstone.  The plane and the spokeshave will come back at the end of her project.

She’s bought a couple of Japanese style pull saws, and is finding them much easier to use and more accurate than the  old tenon saw that she’d been using,  and I noted that she had purchased a cordless impact screwdriver and a few other power tools.  These will speed things up no end.

Now keep that angle the same as you move the chisel back and forth, gradually work your way around the stone to keep the wear even, lots of oil, not too much weight on it ------

We went over the technique for sharpening hand tool blades, that’s chisels and planes, aome very basic stuff so she can get a decent edge without having to wait until Marcus can do it for her. He’s busy earning the bucks that will allow him to haul his Ferro cement 20 ft Flicka and do some work on her.

Great visit, Annie and Marcus are both good company, and it is a pleasure to have bread and cheese, fruit and a cup of tea with them.

I’m going to be away for a while, so it will be maybe two months before I’m back. I’m expecting to see lots of progress.

Work well Annie.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

That was a bit of an adventure.  I’ve put the old ship on a scrubbing grid a couple of times, but having her in the marina yard perched so high up that I could comfortably walk under her was a different experience.
So, she’s all antifouled, two coats, topsides sanded, some dings filled, spot primed, undercoated and two coats of enamel.
I had time to do it, but the real time consumer is the time required to get each coat dried enough to take the next coat. So it was one coat per day, plus prep for the next.
I’ve had all the through hull fittings apart and checked, greased with marine grease and reassembled, now I can turn the heads seacock off and pull the pump apart to replace the impellor.

Gulf Harbour Marina has just put its prices up, it seems to be the same with most of the other Marinas, all to the same level.  A big increase, they’re really expensive now, my week on the hard cost me almost a grand.  Time to think about the smaller yards that are well out of Auckland, at that price the cost of the diesel needed to get to them is a good investment.  I’ll be shopping around in future.
I have to say though that the guys who run the travelift were helpful and efficient, thoroughly professional.  Not everyone gets to see their home hanging in the slings of a giant four legged crane, that’s hard on the nerves and to see them working with care and attention was reassuring.

Also helpful were a couple of guys from Brin Wilson boatbuilders, I was parked right next to their premises, and one of the guys there suggested that I could use their wheeled scaffold if that would help, it sure helped, a great deal.  Saved me a lot of time.
Also, he and one of the others made a few helpful comments about the painting, sanding and prep work.  Professional short cuts.  Thanks guys.

 The below waterline area has been waterblasted, sanded off, a couple of gouges in the planks filled and sanded flush, spot primed, a binder /undercoat coat put on, and one coat of antifouling at this stage. There was still a lot to do.

I was on the way back from telling the guys with the travelift that I was ready anytime that they were when I took this, all the sanding and primer, undercoats, filler in the dings, new zinc anodes, and two coats each of antifouling and topcoat all done. The prop and rudder buffed and coated, the through hull fittings dismantled and checked, reassembled and in one case replaced, quite a mission in what was really five days.
The travelift is booked in its timeslots a week or so ahead, and the lady in the office is not at all negotiable about it, but the guys often get cancellations or boats not turn up on time and although I was booked to go back in the water at 3 pm, they almost followed me back to the boat and before I could climb back aboard and grab my camera again she was in the slings, down to the lift area and back in the water.  Looking much better as well.
Thanks guys, good service.

The travelift had my ship back on the water at about 11 30 this morning, the weather forecast was seriously awful, there was a high wind warning and an expectation of very heavy rain which means poor visibility and high seas.
There is a cyclone not far out to sea from here, and we’re getting the tail of it, so as soon as I was in the water I was out of the marina and put the hammer down.

When I bought this old lady I was told she’d do 10 knots.  At that time when I tried  to run the engine above half throttle I got a smokescreen worthy of a WW2 destroyer escort in a battle, for years she’d been run at her berth once a week at just above idle to keep the batteries up, but no load on a diesel is not good for them, the engines bores get glazed and the a diesel wont run well after that sort of treatment.  I’ve been running her at higher and higher throttle openings each time I’ve been out, and trying for longer runs rather than  just short loads. That plus a special oil additive in the sump.
Andy from “The Engine Room” a marine engineering and engine supplier tells me that’s the right procedure, so today when heading home, with a 30 knot plus tail wind and quite big seas behind me I pushed the throttle well open to get the speed up to where the waves were not overtaking me, mainly to maintain control but also for comfort.
I don’t have a log (speedometer) in this, or a GPS, so have to calculate the speed on either time over a measured distance or by estimating the distance aft to the stern wave and doing the calculation that Naval Architects use for hull speed.
Yup, 10 knots on both.  Clean bottom, polished propellor and the engine working as it should.  That is really stomping along for a boat like this, BIG bow wave, lots of foam in the wake and and trimming stern down a little.
Quite exhilarating!

Oh, and no smoke from the engine!

So I made it into the river before the weather really cracked up, the wind is up to maybe 40 knots and building, its raining hard, and as I write I’m anchored in the river waiting for the tide so I can get up to my dock. It lacks but an hour ‘til slack water, I don’t want to have to deal with both the wind and the current when docking on my own so will wait.

Its nice to have the job done, now for the cabin and deck paint.

PS.  Its two days sine I wrote this. I was in Norsands boatyard in Whangarei yesterday, visiting Annie Hill to check out her project, and yes you’ll get a report on that in a day or so.  I ducked into the office and got them to work out the charges for a haulout and a week on the hard, plus waterblasting the bottom.  Just under half the cost of Gulf Harbour Marina!  That plus they allow liveaboards to stay on their ships up on the hard for a small allowance,  and I mean small. $14 a week.  That covers the showers and restroom use. Most reasonable.
Its about an 8 hour run up the coast from here, quite a nice little cruise.
Guess where my next haulout will be!

Well, actually I am really hoping that Pam and George up at Whangateau Traditional Boatyard can get their cradle rebuilt, that would be my preference, they deserve all the support that they can get.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Painting her bottom, and other places.

Owning any big boat is like a race, more or less like the tortoise and the hare in fact.  The hare, that’s the owner, is trying to stay ahead of the maintenance of the ship, while the maintenance needs of the ship are like the tortoise in that the deterioration of paint, varnish, antifouling and such goes on 24/7 all year around.
In winter when sensible people are snugged up in front of a fire reading  cruising stories telling of while coral sand beaches, turquoise waters and tropical sunshine, the race is still on with the paintwork still deteriorating. In summer when out sailing and enjoying the boat, yep, still goes on. Never resting!
If allowed to go on for too long the material underneath, whether wood, steel, aly or fiberglass is going to deteriorate as well so there is no choice but to be a part of that race, and the “hare” had better keep up.

I’ve owned my old ship for about 2 ½ years now, have done quite a lot of small paintwork, varnished much of the interior of the main cabin, filled a million little holes where fittings have been moved and the old screw holes not dealt with, have painted the inside of the cockpit, and  put her aground an hour or so before low tide so she’d lean over enough for me to wade around just more than waist deep reaching under and scrubbing her bottom with a hard broom. 

That latter has been fairly effective, and I don’t get much in the way of marine growth anyway as the water here at my dock is often quite brackish.  But the mud cakes, the antifouling paint wears away, and its past time it was renewed.

That plus the topsides paint has been flaking some, its thick, heavy and now that I’ve been in and sanded it some it would appear that whoever did the paintwork ages ago has short changed the owners and not used a proper priming paint.

More work to be done.

On Tuesday last I did the dreaded thing, entrusted my home to the tender mercies of the travel lift at Gulf Harbour Marina.

She’s up on blocks in a cradle, seems stable, but gosh, when I go up the ladder to go aboard it’s a very long way up, probably 5 metres to eye height when standing in the main cabin, when  Im in there I try not to look out the window!

 The end of day one.  There is not quite standing room under her, enough so that with a slight stoop and a roller on a 4 ft handle I can reach in to paint quite quickly. 
I get very nervous seeing my home up in the air like that, she's a long way up, and I'm very keen to get her back in the water where she belongs.

Day one, rumbled off down the river, through the moorings and out to sea, along the coast and into the marina.
The workberth where the travel lifts operate ( there are two of them) is quite tight to get into, and there was a decent sized catamaran aongside in there which made it an “interesting”  task getting the ship against the dock and tied up.  No bow thruster, or even twin screws, or crew for that matter.  So, just me, 15 tons of ship, that big propellor hooked to old Henry ( the ship is powered by a 6.5 litre 6 cylinder Ford diesel,  135 hp and about 450 nm of torque at about 1800 rpm) and the dock.
As it happened, there was no wind, we made a perfect approach, prop walked  the stern across just before the bow touched the pontoon and I stepped ashore with fenders already deployed, picked up the mooring lines already flaked out  ready for use, and tied her up.
The half dozen spectators were just far enough away so they could not hear my sigh of relief!

The Marina crew waterblasted her to get most of the  rubbish off her underwater sections, which was very effective.  Once perched up on her cradle, it was” into it“ with the tungsten tipped scraper and sandpaper.   By the end of day one I had most of the bottom scraped off,  had wet sanded it to tidy the surface up, had begun the application of the underwater primer paint, and had shoulders that felt as though Atlas had been using them to hold the planet up.

I was a bit preoccupied here, so had let the time run on some, and only just made it to the bus stop to catch the bus back to my home, or where my home is usually docked so I could pick up my pickup and drive out to the local geothermal hot pools for a well deserved soak.

Made it, but had to sprint 500 yards or so to get there, it’s the first stop on that bus route so it doesn’t pay to count on the bus being late!
As a by the way, the public transport system here is a vast improvement on what it was a few years ago, and I find that I use it fairly regularly.  Well done whoever did that!

Day two, sanded off the topsides, applied more primer paint to the underwater areas. I thought my shoulders were sore the night before? Double that.  No, double double that.
Back to the hot pools, had a looooong shower and a soak, remember that my shower is 15 ft up in the air having her outside painted! Came home. Slept like a log.

Underwater primer coat on, topsides sanded off, I'm about to put the masking tape on. 
Note that its all hand sanding here, power sanders spread too much dust and that would upset others painting, a very good reason to find somewhere else next time I want to haul her out. That plus usurious costs, the guys in the yard are great, but they dont set the prices.

Where am I staying?  Aha, the marina does not allow people to stay aboard their boats when up on the hard, so I have set up a hikers tent inside the shed, I’ve a portable head, good mattress, cooker, the icebox from Spook, my little gaff sloop, and of course have lighting and electricity.  My senior card gets me into the hot pools very cheaply and I’m a regular there anyway.  Nice place.

Day three, whooboy!  Sore shoulders! Double treble that.  Finished the primer coat underneath, filled the seeveral dings in the topsides with epoxy filler, ran the masking tape around her and managed to get a full coat of coal black antifouling on.  Another coat tomorrow and that’s done.  I’m hoping that I’ll get through the antifouling by lunchtime and have time to put the undercoat on the topsides so I can get two coats on over the weekend.

First coat of antifouling on, prop and rudder polished ready for its special coating. Note that has to be applied to a heated surface, so there is a paint stripper gun in my near future ( tomorrow morning, dont let me forget!) 
There is a second coat of antifouling to apply, that will happen tomorrow.  The weather forecast is for showers over the weekend which may scotch my efforts to complete the topsides paint, but if I can get the undercoat on I can do the rest at my dock. One way or t'other she goes back in the water on Monday next. 

Note, this is not concours standard painting, its roller and brush, it will look fine from a few yards away, on a dark night, with sunglasses on! But it will protect the wood underneath which is the aim.

I had a thought that Diane Salguero ( did I spell that correctly Diane? If not, my apologies) might have liked to be here, she’s the best boat painter I know, a Port Townsend WA USA resident, and if you need your boat painted, she’s the girl to do it.)
Diane, I know about the weather in WA at this time of year,  its shorts and bikini top weather here and I need you and your paintbrush!

So I’m painting, 12 hour days with sandpaper, roller and brush.  In the meantime, there are many things I’d rather be doing, drawing boats, sleeping, sailing boats, sleeping, building boats, sleeping, visiting friends, sleeping, reading good books, sleeping, watching the sunset, sleeping.

I’m off to bed, even a sleeping bag in a tent set up in my shop is a very inviting prospect right now.

So its goodnight from me.