Thursday, May 31, 2012

Painting ‘Sandpiper’s’ Topsides

In the past I have always preferred painting my boats with International Yacht Paint of one type or another – that’s according to the material being painted. On the whole, International Paint is more expensive than competitor brands such as Blakes and Hempel. Today I chose to break with my usual practice and go for Hempel Multicoat, which is less than half the price of the equivalent International Perfection Paint. Whether it will be as durable remains to be seen, but I was very pleased with the handling characteristics and the gloss finish.
I have yet to apply a second coat to provide an additional barrier for the topsides, especially for when ‘Sandpiper’ will be moored at a pontoon with her fenders deployed. Ideally, the finish should be hard and durable, with no tendency to flake off from the GRP.

Conditions for applying the paint were not ideal because the wind was blowing quite strongly. I had to make sure that there was not too much paint on the brush to prevent it being blown all over the place. There was a small chance of rain, but I had the option of retreating to the garage. The warm air helped with the flow of the paint.

The weather forecast for tomorrow indicates there will be cloud cover, but no rain, and a temperature of 12 degrees Celsius. Ideally, I would want the temperature to be higher, but I’ll probably manage OK.

Note: The forecast is now for 16 degrees Celsius mid-morning when I hope to be doing the paint job.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

‘Sandpiper’s’ Centreplate

After sanding.

Eventually I got around to removing ‘Sandpiper’s’ centreplate.

It occurred to me that as the boat was on her side, all I would have to do to extract the plate was to undo the pivot bolt and slide the plate out of the box, not through the top, but the bottom. Hence, there would be no need to unscrew the wood that seals the top of the box.

On examining the centreplate I discovered that the rust I had previously observed was not as bad as I had thought. I cleaned the plate with a rotary sander; then I took it to a local galvaniser. He was away having lunch, but a friend who has a business nearby said it would cost £40.00 and it would be ready for collection on Friday 31st. He took my details and I left the plate with him.

Back at home I tipped the boat onto her port side ready for making good the surface where the old boot topping had been painted. I had to scrape off areas of flaky paint, and the best tool for doing it was my penknife. I also sanded underneath the starboard rubbing strip and the adjacent fibreglass edging. I was amazed how thick the fibreglass was, at least a ¼ of an inch and where they overlapped at the join, ½ inch. I varnished the bare wood and the corresponding fibreglass edges. Finally, I gave the side of the boat below the waterline a coat of white Toplac.

If I have an opportunity tomorrow between the showers that have been forecast I shall apply a second coat of Toplac over the area painted today.

The more I see of the boat, the more I become aware of what must be done to make her ready for the water. I’ve noticed that six bolts retaining the bow fairleads are severely rusted. Despite this, they are sufficiently strong for keeping the fairleads in place. However, I don’t like the thought of them being there, but I may let them be until I have more time to play around replacing them.

I’m certain I shall be painting the sides of the boat, but the type of paint and the colour I have yet to decide.

Monday, May 28, 2012

‘Sandpiper’s’ Underside Painted

First coat of paint.

Second coat of paint.

Now and again I set aside odds and ends on the off chance that I may find a use for them at a later date. My garage shelves are full of such items. Today I rummaged through them to find paint that may be suitable for ‘Sandpiper’s’ bottom. Sure enough, I found two tins of International Toplac, which is admirably suitable for painting topsides, but as I intend to initially sail the boat for short periods between longer periods ashore on her trailer, there is no reason why I should not paint the bottom with it. If she is left in the water for a longer spell, I can scrub her bottom, and if I decide to have a long cruise, I can always apply a coat of antifouling.

Well, today was absolutely ideal for painting; therefore I was able to apply two coats of Toplac to the bottom of the boat. In between the first and second coats I had time for touching up the varnish.

Bolts were too long.
Bolts after shortening.

I also found an opportunity for putting right a fault on the trailer. I noticed that bolts attaching the rollers were too long so that they came into contact with the rollers - more so when pressed down by the boat. Consequently the rubber was becoming abraded and the rollers would not spin easily. The remedy was to shorten the bolts with a Junior Hacksaw. I also oiled the bearings of the rollers.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

More Epoxy for ‘Sandpiper’

Before the first coat of epoxy.

After an application of epoxy and epoxy putty.

Before taking on the role of chauffeur for my grandson, early this morning, I epoxied all three runners. The central runner received three coats and the outside ones, two coats.

 Chauffeuring went to plan, and at my grandson’s place I put on my other hat, that of locksmith. B & Q didn’t have the exact lock that was required for the entrance door, but by moving the handles I could make it fit.

Having installed the lock I returned home and epoxied the runners yet again. Then I prepared the external woodwork for further varnishing and applied a fresh coat of polyurethane varnish. I’m not keen on that type of varnish, but as I had some I decided to use it. I also sanded the tabernacle and painted it. After this TLC ‘Sandpiper is smiling.
Chips on the inside edges of the slot repaired with epoxy putty.

My next job will be painting the bottom of the boat with an undercoat and two or more upper coats of water resistant paint. Yes, she will become scratched again, but applying a fresh coat of paint next season will not break the bank, nor will it be time-consuming.

I am deciding whether to paint the topsides before putting ‘Sandpiper’ in the water. The owner prior to the one from whom I bought her sanded the topsides, presumably to prepare them for painting.

I have to make a decision about extracting the centreplate which appears to be rusted on the leading edge, but without a thorough examination I shall not be able to discover the extent of the rust. Getting the plate out is not a job I shall look forward to, because I think I shall have to remove the board that covers the opening at the top of the centreplate case.    

Friday, May 25, 2012

‘Sandpiper’s’ Underside - Part 2

Yesterday I was concerned that epoxy I had applied to the area forward of the opening for the centreplate was not curing, but by late afternoon today it was dry to the touch.

For the past couple of days I have been blessed with ideal conditions for preparing the underside of ‘Sandpiper’ for further applications of epoxy and paint, but I have only had brief moments in which to carry out the task. That was because life has been too hectic with demands upon my time. The theme continues; because this morning I was unexpectedly called out to assist one of my daughters who was on her way to an appointment, but she couldn’t complete her journey because of a flat tyre. This afternoon I attended a function at the church, and this evening I did not want to forgo my customary walk.

All in all, I guess I was able to put in about a total of three hours smoothing the exterior of the hull below the waterline. Most effort went into sorting out previous repairs to the runners, because whoever did them was not skilled in applying epoxy.

Tomorrow I shall be a chauffer for one of my grandsons, and I shall also be his locksmith. He would like me to install a good quality lock to his living accommodation which happens to be 75 miles from where I live! How long these things will take is anyone’s guess. Therefore I doubt that much progress will be made on preparing ‘Sandpiper’ for the water.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

‘Sandpiper’s’ Underside

Not until now have I been able to fully explore the underside of the boat. Today, conditions for doing it were ideal. I slid ‘Sandpiper’ off her trailer onto the lawn; then I levered her onto her side. In this position I had direct access to the under parts.

When I bought her I noted that she would require remedial treatment to an area directly forward of the centreplate slot and along the sides of the slot. She had been roughly repaired with uneven applications of plastic padding and epoxy, but a small part of the woven roving had become exposed. I prepared the surface for an application of epoxy and epoxy putty. However, I made a mistake by not adding enough hardener to the epoxy, and I fear I shall have to apply a fresh coating tomorrow.

Before turning the boat on her side I tested the outboard bracket with the engine attached, and I was relieved that the system worked well. The rudder has room for turning the boat to port without coming into contact with the propeller; in fact, it can never clash with the rudder, because the stock first engages with the outboard bracket’s support pad preventing any further movement of the rudder towards the propeller.

Monday, May 21, 2012

‘Sandpiper’s’ Outboard Bracket

Finding the position for the adjustable bracket.

To ensure that water is pumped through the exhaust cooling system, my Honda short shaft 2 HP outboard must be immersed in water to a point where the cavitation plate is six inches below the surface. Failure could result in overheating. Getting the prop well below the surface improves the efficiency of the engine. To that end I have purchased a stainless steel adjustable outboard bracket.

Buying the bracket was the easy bit, even though I had to travel to Grays to collect it, because my local chandlers did not have one in stock. Fitting the contraption to the transom was the tricky bit. First, I had to work out where the bracket was to go. The upper bolts had to pass through the transom above the aft deck, and the lower ones below it. Being right-handed, I preferred to have the engine on the port side, and it had to be placed where the starting cord could be pulled without hindrance. Additionally, I wanted the prop to be clear of the rudder. I also wanted to keep the bottom of the mounting pad clear of the water when the engine is in the lowered position.

After a bit of juggling I found the exact spot, and drilled holes through the transom for the retaining bolts. Tomorrow, I intend making wooden pads for spreading the load; then, hopefully, I shall attach the bracket to the transom.

P.S. I fitted jubilee clips to the cockpit drainage pipe.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Fitting out ‘Electron’

Airing the Mainsail.

Time and tide waits for no man, not even King Canute; nor do the seasons slumber. The spring has gone, and officially it’s summer. A very wet April put paid to plans for fitting out ‘Electron’, but today there was sun, and four healthy men set to work sanding and painting. I concentrated on rubbing down the bowsprit and the yard before giving them a coat of Sikkens; in fact, the bowsprit received two coats.
Bowsprit removed for sanding and varnishing with Sikkens.

Bowsprit with its first coat of Sikkens.
‘Electron’ can be justly proud to have a berth at the Brightlingsea Smack Dock, where she sits in a mud berth that keeps her hull healthy. Floating twice in 24 hours and settling into her hole restricts marine growth, but at the same time moistens her planks, thereby ensuring the seams remain tight without loss of caulking. Before she takes to her deepwater mooring she will be slipped and antifouled. Already her covering boards and rails gleam with new paint. Another two or three day’s work and she will be fit for her first sail of the season.
View looking aft.


Canute the Great

Smack Dock

Archive details of ‘Electron’

'Electron' Articles

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Legacy of ‘Sandpiper’s’ Cockpit Drains

The Olympic Flame arrived at the County of Cornwall this afternoon to herald the 2012 Games which we are told will provide a lasting legacy. Much time, money and effort has gone into preparing the Games; hopefully we shall witness outstanding performances by the competitors by way of incredible feats of human athleticism. Medal winners will come away with elation and a tremendous sense of achievement. Inevitably, when the Games are over and normality returns, the process of adapting the facilities for future use will begin. We shall be left with a legacy of sorts. Young aspirants will be enthused and perhaps try to emulate their heroes, and so the spirit of the Games will continue.

What has this to do with ‘Sandpiper’? For those who have been following my Blog, you will know that I have been preparing her for the water. I was left with a legacy; one that I would have preferred not to inherit. When I bought her I had no idea how much work would be required to make her fit for sailing. Superficially, she looked pretty good. There were the scratches and crazing of the gel coat one would expect with a boat built over forty years ago, and she was described by her owner as, “A good honest boat.” Quite what that means, I cannot fathom. No doubt she has had numerous owners, some of whom may have been caring, with good intentions.

One such person came up with the idea of fitting a cockpit drain. He built in a pipe that led from the forward end of the cockpit floor to a fitting sited at the bottom of the transom under the waterline! This of course means that when the boat is afloat, water is always present within the pipe. Because rainwater can accumulate at the aft end of the cockpit seats he devised two smaller drains leading into the main one. Each of these have their upper openings sited by the inner sides of the aft end of the coamings, but because they are so narrow they could never cope with a deluge of water, and in time they will become blocked by dust particles and debris washed into them.

A more effective solution for draining the cockpit seats would be to install larger drains that individually pass through the upper part of the transom. Until I get around to installing them, I will give the existing ones a try. Meanwhile I have sealed every joint with a flexible sealer, and I shall add jubilee clips to ensure the joints do not come apart.

When the time arrives for me to pass on the boat to her next owner, I hope that the legacy I shall leave will be better than the one I inherited.


Olympic Flame Touches Down on British Soil

Thursday, May 17, 2012

'Sandpiper's' Navigation Equipment

By adapting a car windscreen ice scraper I made a bracket for two GPS units. The mounting rod to which they are attached had been fitted to ‘Talitha’. Originally it was the leg of an aluminium seat.

I devised the system to be stowed on the port side within the cabin by the companionway. To deploy the GPS units I unhook a bungee and attach another. For the near future I shall power them with internal AA batteries. Later, I may link them to a 12 volt ship’s battery.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mounting ‘Sandpiper’s’ Compass

I mounted the Bosun compass today. The only practical place for it was on the outward side of the lower washboard. There it will be clear of ropes etc when I am working the boat, and at the same time it will be just at the right height for me to observe the ship’s heading when I’m at the helm. The compass will only be used when the boat is underway; therefore it will not matter if the washboard partially blocks the companionway. If I have to enter the cabin, I can remove the washboard and place it along with the compass on the leeward side of the cockpit floor where it will be relatively secure.

When the compass is not in use I shall keep it on its second mounting bracket which I fitted to the forward bulkhead below the washing-up bowl. There it will be out of harm’s way, and yet be available for checking the ship’s heading if she happens to be underway while being steered by the Autohelm, and I’m in the cabin avoiding the rain!

There is a forward window, and windows either side of the cabin; therefore I should be able to observe what is happening outside, even astern if I do not fit the upper washboard. I suspect ‘Sandpiper’ will not always sail a steady course when being steering by the Autohelm, particularly if the wind is gusty, but I’ll deal with that when it happens, probably by sitting in the cockpit, and getting wet.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Fixing ‘Sandpiper’s’ Centreplate Support Bolt

Ready for applying epoxy and filler.

At last I was able to work on ‘Sandpiper’ for several hours without interruption, unlike previous days when I could only snatch brief moments. My priority was to assemble and fix the components for mounting the centreplate. I had to prepare surfaces either side of the centreplate box where the support bolt passes through it. This entailed cutting away sections of the fibreglass directly above the keelson so that the epoxy cheeks could be epoxied to the sides of the box. I discovered that the most efficient method of removing the fibreglass was to cut it into small pieces with a sharp chisel.

Before I could epoxy the cheeks to the sides of the box I had to score the surfaces being joined. This I did with my penknife. The temperature in ‘Sandpiper’s’ cabin was too low for epoxying; therefore I placed a blow heater and an electric light near to where I was working. Persistent rain did not stop play, because the boat was under cover in the garage.

After applying epoxy and filler.

I shall probably reinforce the cheeks by overlaying their edges with woven roving. I shall take care not to encapsulate the stainless steel washers, because I shall have to remove them before sealing the fittings with flexible filler.

I am hopeful that this solution for retaining the centreplate bolt will prove satisfactory, and that it will be totally watertight. I wouldn’t want water seeping into the boat. Ideally, a centreplate support bolt should be located above the waterline, but I fear ‘Sandpiper’s' is below it. I was surprised that the original structure was inadequately engineered. The only support for the bolt was the rather thin sides of the moulded centreplate box – very poor indeed.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Adieu and Onwards

Today I said farewell to ‘Talitha’s’ trailer after delivering it to a new owner. Altogether I only used the trailer six times, but as 'Talitha' is no longer owned by me, I have no reason for keeping it.

Therefore, from today, I can concentrate on making ‘Sandpiper’, my ‘C’ Type West Wight Potter, ready for the water. This afternoon, to that end, I did a little work shaping two epoxy cheeks that I intend joining to the centreplate box. They will be part of a new support system for the galvanized iron centreplate. I shall drill holes through the cheeks to fit the bolt upon which the centreplate articulates.

As explained in Friday’s post, I’m hoping I shall be able to attach the cheeks to the centreplate box. I intend doing it with epoxy resin and woven roving, but not before drilling holes through the cheeks to exactly fit the bolt. I’ll have to perfectly align the holes with those already in the box.

Now that I do not own ‘Talitha’ I shall no longer be distracted by her, which will leave me free for making ‘Sandpiper’ ready for the water.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Hasp, Staple and Lock.

There has been rather too much going on for me to find time for working on ‘Sandpiper’.  I had hoped to have her in the water by now. Additionally, the weather has been far too wet and cold for doing external jobs on the boat. However, today I managed to fit a hasp and staple for locking the cabin. A thief would not have difficulty in breaking in, but the lock will be a deterrent to an opportunist thief. A really effective locking system would challenge a determined thief, and it would result in major damage being done to the boat; therefore I am not in favour of Fort Knox locking systems - Besides, I shall seldom have valuable items aboard when I am cruising. The most valuable object will be the outboard motor, but I shall lock it to the transom.

Resin Cheeks, moulded and being moulded.

Perhaps the most important thing that I have to do is improve the support system for the centreplate. I discovered that the plate was feebly held by a bolt passing through it and the centreplate box, but over time the holes for the bolt have become worn and misshapen, which inevitably must let water enter the cabin. Therefore I must strengthen the sides of the box and make perfect seals for keeping the water out. The idea I have come up with is to mould and attach resin cheeks, one each side of the box.  I shall have to drill holes through them for the bolt. The only way I can do this is to drill the holes before attaching the cheeks to the centreplate box. There isn’t room for a drill between the sides of the bunks and the sides of the box. The difficult part of the operation will be lining up the holes so that the bolt will perfectly pass through them.

The plan is to thoroughly grease the bolt and nut and a couple of washers to prevent resin sticking to them.  Then I shall apply resin to the inner sides of the cheeks and to the outer sides of the centreboard case where the cheeks will be retained by the bolt and nut. When the resin has hardened, I should be able to remove the bolt. I shall then fillet the circumferences of the cheeks with resin putty before overlaying them with woven roving saturated in epoxy resin. Finally, to obtain a perfect fit when the bolt and nut are tightened, I shall apply flexible filler to the external washers, bolt head and nut before tightening them.

That is my plan, but whether it will work in practice, I’ll have to wait and see.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

The Engine - note there is no Honda insignia on the cowling.

I obtained ‘Sandpiper’s’ engine from Ebay at what would appear to be a very reasonable price. When you shop at Ebay there are certain risks. Being able to see items in the flesh before bidding or making offers is not always feasible, and when they arrive on your doorstep where they can be examined in detail, they may not match up to the description, including visuals as portrayed by photos. Under these circumstances there are avenues of redress, and Ebay does have certain guarantees if the buyer pays through PayPal.
Photo in Ebay listing.

It wasn’t until I arrived home after collecting the Honda 2HP BF2 air cooled outboard that I realised the cowling was different to the one shown in the advertisement photos - except for one of them. Had I been mislead by them when I made my winning bid? I would have preferred the cowling with the Honda insignia, and I have expressed this view to the seller. So far he has not replied.
Another view of the engine as it is.

At the time of collecting the engine I saw and heard it running, and all seemed well. At each pull of the starting cord the engine fired into life and purred nicely. There were no perceptible exhaust fumes, and the cooling water for the exhaust system flowed abundantly. I was told by the seller that he had replenished the engine and gearbox oils. He had cleaned the plug and checked the gap with a feeler gauge. Exterior moving parts such as the clamp screws and the steering friction bolt had been treated with marine anti-corrosion grease. I was given an extra propeller.
Ebay photo.

Well, apart from the cowling, I am pleased with the engine. I should have looked more carefully at the advertisement photographs. I only hope that when I come to use the engine that it will perform as it should. To that purpose, I may have to buy an outboard bracket that will allow the engine to be lowered to a point where the water level is four inches above the anti-cavitation plate, as per instruction in the manual. That is to ensure that water can enter the cooling system for the exhaust. The lower the propeller, the better it will work, but the exhaust exit must not be throttled by being too low in the water.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

‘Sandpiper’s’ Engine

For some sailors engines are an anathema; they hate them and no way would they have one to power their sailing boat. Engines smell and they pollute; they sometimes leak oil and their exhaust fumes are foul. When you want them in an emergency they fail to start, and if they work they make one hell-of-a-racket. To have any chance of working when they are needed, they must be serviced and they must be in good order. Somewhere, fuel has to be stored in a safe place, and then there’s the hassle of having to replenish the tank just before the fuel runs out. Usually, in the case of an outboard, the crew precariously hangs over the stern while holding a funnel in one hand and a jerrycan in the other - all this while the boat is pitching and rocking from side to side, hell-bent on preventing the volatile liquid from entering the fuel tank. If the funnel is not secured by a piece of string, sure as eggs are eggs, it will dance and vibrate to the engine’s tune until it leaps into the water, never to be seen again. The filler cap takes umbrage and follows suit!

So why do I want one? I do most of my sailing on the River Crouch and nearby East Coast rivers. Tides run rather smartly, particularly the ebb, and if the wind fails and I want to reach a safe haven where I can anchor, or I have to beat against a tide, an engine is indispensable. It can make all the difference between success and failure. Failure could mean waiting hours until the tide turns to bring me home. Then there may be the time when an engine can get me out of a scrape; perhaps the current is taking my boat towards an unfriendly object, or a large vessel is bearing down at a rate of knots. If I find I have to visit a marina, an engine can make manoeuvring into tight corners that much easier and safer than having to rely on sail alone. The wind may be too strong for rowing, but with an engine it’s a piece of cake.

Weighing up the balance, I would choose to have an engine every time. I no longer have the urge to be a purist, to be fanatical about getting from A to B only using tides and wind. I have been there, done it, and experience confirms that having an engine is the better for me. If it fails, I know I can cope, or at least I believe I can manage, because I have survived in the past, even when it meant rowing or paddling my boat for hours at a time.

Friday, May 04, 2012

‘Sandpiper’, snuggles into her Boathouse

Yesterday I said goodbye to ‘Talitha’, but not to her trailer. The new owner did not want it, primarily because he could not find a way of taking the object with him. There was not enough room in his van which does not have a tow bar. Rather than cutting the frame into small pieces for welding together later, he donated the item to me. As I have no immediate use for the vehicle I have placed it for auction at Ebay starting at £0.99! You can follow the bidding by entering 160794413574 into the Ebay search box. The auction ends at 1957 on 10th May.

Now that I have room in my garage after ‘Tailitha’s’ departure, I have replaced her with ‘Sandpiper’. As with the former, there is enough space for articles I normally store next to the end wall of the garage. There is also room for the mast, furling rod and boom beside the right-hand wall, and there is access to the freezer on the other side.

I am pleased my new (second-hand) boat can be kept in my garage, because she will be out of the elements, no longer exposed to rain, frost and sunlight, destroyers of any boat, particularly one with exterior wooden parts. ‘Sandpiper’ has wooden gunwale rubbing strips, a plywood sliding hatch and substantial covering boards along the top of the transom where the outboard will be mounted – that’s if it fits. If the drive shaft is not long enough for the propeller to reach the water, I shall have to obtain an outboard bracket that can be lowered and raised.

I have bought a second-hand, short shaft, Honda 2 hp BF2 outboard engine, one of the older types, but I have yet to collect it from the previous owner. The four stroke air cooled engine only weighs 12 kilograms, and it has a centrifugal clutch and a stop button. I’m hoping it will be an ideal outboard, on account of being light, yet powerful enough to drive the boat under most conditions. Maybe it won’t cope against a Force 6 or more wind, in which case, if I’m faced with that situation, I’ll have to improvise a solution. Such is the fun of sailing, as long as it does not become a life-threatening drama involving the rescue services!


Road Trailer at Ebay

Ebay item number: 160794413574

Thursday, May 03, 2012

‘Talitha’ leaves home for another abode

When you build a boat you incorporate into her a portion of your soul. She was formed by your hands. She’s like one of your babies whom you nurture into maturity by your love and care that goes into her making. You put her through her paces and enjoy the fun. If she is built well she will stand the test of time and give much joy to her various owners. 
The new owner (on the left) and his assistant.

The moment arrives when you have to say farewell, and she departs for a new life under the care and protection of another person who pledges time, money and love for a meaningful relationship, or at least that’s what you would hope. You never want to find ‘your’ boat, for she is always ‘yours’, in a state of dilapidation and abandonment. I couldn’t bear to think of anything unfortunate happening to ‘Talitha’, and I hope that she will be cosseted and well maintained. The new owner showed a keen interest in my briefing and I feel sure he will look after her. 

I sold ‘Talitha’ via Ebay on 19th April, 2012, but not until today was she collected from her ‘boathouse’ - the garage, where she was formed. This afternoon she was taken atop a large van destined for the Lymington area, possibly for sailing at Keyhaven where she should do well. The open water of the Solent is immediately available, and on a fine day there are few better places for a spot of yachting. The tide can whip around Hurst Point; therefore prudence will be needed, but there’s a fine stretch of water between Keyhaven and Lymington. Within the Harbour at Keyhaven, if she strays from the channels, and she touches bottom, there should be no problem in getting her off, simply by raising the keel a few inches. 

It is my hope that ‘Talitha’ will giver her new owner much pleasure.