27 February 2011

Depth sounder installed and it all seems to work

I got up the nerve and installed the depth sounder. The first job was to bore a large hole for the transducer. I did this with a hole saw and all went smoothly. The saw was smoking by the end and I think is no good for anything more now. The bottom is thick, over 20mm, plus plastic flaps and a final thin ply layer securing the plastic in place. Quite reassuring to see how thick it is. I had to file it out slightly before the  transducer would fit through. Then I smeared epoxy around the cut edge and, after that had set, pushed the transducer in place. I have fixed a square wooden plate on top of it which screws down onto the boat bottom. The whole thing is quite firm and the transducer face is almost flush with the bottom of the boat. Then I drilled a second largish hole in the main bulkhead for the display's electrics to poke through. Slightly unnerving to see the bulkhead is just a double layer of foam with epoxy/fibreglass on each face. It seems very strong.

To stop the plate on top of the transducer getting fouled in the sump, I have covered it in self adhesive copper tape. It looks lovely and shiny now, but I presume it will go green in the sea. I may tap in some copper tacks to hold it in place in case the adhesive works loose.

The display fits in neatly. It isn't possible to make the holes behind it waterproof. There is a foam rubber seal behind the unit which is supposed to keep water out, so I hope it works.

Then I had to wire it all up. I had no experience of doing this. I got small reels of wire and crimp fasteners from a car accessory shop. The instructions for the switch board were rudimentary. I traced everything step by step and finally wired it to the battery to test it. To my amazement it worked first time. Emboldened, I wired in the GPS unit and that worked too. Rather than risk messing it up by disconnecting things, I made a wooden box for it and managed to slot the switchboard in through the back and screwed it on he front. After much thinking I have fixed it under a side deck, next to the companion way. It slots in very neatly and can be reached from the cockpit. I have had to fit a wooden cover over the back of the display unit, to cover the wires and screws. I will fix a picture to it at some stage. I then spent the next half hour just turning things on and off and admiring the fact that everything works.

Having completed the wiring, I think I have just about finished all the jobs I had set myself for the winter. Now I "just" need to do the painting. I swept up all the leaves and dirt and washed the side decks. There is now a little painting to finish in the cabin. After that it is the topsides, the hull and a white antifoul boot top. Hope I can get it all done before launch. We go for a three week holiday at the end of March, so there isn't that much time.

25 February 2011

Spray hood and depth sounder

I have fitted two stainless steel eyes on the cabin roof each side of the spray hood. With a lanyard through these, I can lash the hood down tightly when sailing (and towing). This helps forward visibility. It also means the lanyards are always there when you need them. I am aiming to have few or no short lengths of rope in the cockpit for sail ties, hood ties etc. These lanyards will always be in place, as will the bungy on the boom for stowing the mainsail.

I have bought a NASA Target 2 depth sounder

The photo shows the sounder, not fitted. The wooden patch shows where I plan it to go. Easy to see, won't get in the way of lounging back against the bulkhead and easy access to the wires behind. Wiring it up fills me with dread. Installing the transducer on the other hand should be relatively straightforward.

The BayCruiser has three flooded sumps at the stern of the cockpit. The middle one has a huge hole in the bottom for the outboard. As you can see in the photo, there is plenty of room for a transducer in the forward corner and no need to worry about keeping the hole water tight as it is flooded all the time anyway. What I am planning to do is drill a hole with a hole saw big enough for the transducer head to pass through. The hull thickness here is about 20mm in total (one layer 6mm ply, one layer 9mm ply and some plastic faring strips sandwiched between). The transducer head is about 22mm thick, so it will just be proud of the underside, so should have a clear view of the sea floor. I will fit a larger ply "washer" over the neck of the transducer, which will screw down to the hull around it and allow me to tighten the transducer holding nut. I need to remember to slop epoxy all around the exposed edge of teh hole to keep the seawater out.

It probably isn't the purist's location for the fitting as it is close to the engine and not at the absolutely lowest part of the hull. But the ability to install it without drilling through the cabin floor is worth it, I hope. The cable will pass through the fuel hose opening into the cockpit locker and I will have to drill one hole between that locker and the cabin to get it inside. Then all I have to do is build the switch board...

23 February 2011

Solar panel in and getting ready for painting

I have mounted the 1W solar panel (£9.99 from Maplins) back on the roof. I have set it off to one side for a couple of reasons. Firstly, if it is central, where I first had it, it looks better, but it is directly under the boom when moored. Off to one side it has a clearer view of the sky so should be more effective. Secondly, when it was right in the centre I kept stepping on it if I went on the roof to stow the sail. I habitually climb up the starboard side, so putting the panel off to port gives it a chance of survival.
The 1W panel seems to be perfectly adequate for keeping my battery topped up for weekend sailing. I currently just run a GPS and a hand held VHF radio from it. I am seriously thinking of installing a NASA Target depth sounder, with a small switch panel. That will draw more current, so we will see if the panel can cope with that.

I have installed what I hope is all necessary electrical conduiting. There is a very thin conduit from the panel, over the roof to the edge of the hatch, and down inside the main bulkhead. That feeds into a slightly larger cross conduit, just below the companionway, which will allow me to run wires to either side of the cabin. The timber patch on the  bulkhead to the left of the steel mug is where I plan to install the switch panel. The conduiting (all from Maplin again) is essential. I had bare wires strung over the place before and managed to wrap them round my foot and break my first solar panel. Now there is a place/conduit for everything and everything is in its place/conduit (I hope.)

One pleasant surprise. I have half a tin of International Toplac Ivory paint and half a tin of matting agent, both  more than a year old. I had presumed one or other would be dried over and useless, but both are perfect. Not a sign of skinning at all. Mixing in the matting agent (which dulls the finish and looks really good) gives me a full tin, which should just about be enough for the superstructure this year. That saves me nearly half the price of the depth sounder... (it's economic calculations like that which lead to me not being in Forbes Rich List)

20 February 2011

Work on stowing the spars, cockpit tent and permanent sail ties

A weekend of pleasurable fiddling about on the boat. I have finally managed to rig up a functioning set of boom gallows. The only concern I have is that they may not be substantial enough, but I think in practice everything will be tied down firmly and so they probably are.
First two shoes were made up from wood an plywood and screwed to the inside of the coamings on either side. Simple scissor gallows made up to fit in them, with the top angle shaped a bit to ensure the sail track is not squashed on the mast.

Then I screwed on the old tent hoop holders I made last year and slotted the hoop back in. Luckily it comes up just below the cross of the gallows, so I can have the tent up under the boom if I want it.

The tent itself is just a clear tarpaulin with a sleeve at the rear end for the hoop. The sleeve is just made by folding it over and taping it down.

It extends right over the sprayhood and should tie to the base of the shrouds at the front. I need to shap the front a bit to fit the hood more closely. How useful it really will be will depend on the weather. On the whole the spray hood is good enough.

The plan is that on a mooring the boom can rest on the gallows and stop the risk of the lazyjacks failing and the boom crashing. When towing, the main and mizzen masts will rest on the gallows and the boom will hang in a rope sling under the hinge. One end of the sling is fixed to the gallows. The other end goes through an eye, then up over both masts and hangs down with a loop in the end. The main sheet hooks into this loop and when it is tightened and cleated it holds all the spars rigidly in the gallows. The fore ends are supported at the tabernacle. It actually works quite well.

Finally, I have rigged a sail stowage system for the main sail. I have read of a technique of running two bungy cords along either side of the boom, and hooking them together over the sail to stow it. I have modified this idea to use just one bungy, down one side. this runs through five stainless steel eyes and is knotted off at each end, slightly taut.

On the other side of the boom are four clever spring closed hooks I spotted at the boat jumble, each about half way between the bungy eyes on the other side.

In use, the bungy is stretched over the sail between the eyes, and secured in a hook. It works really well. In practice it will depend on whether unwanted things get caught in the hooks or not for it to be really satisfactory. But it means you don't need sail ties to stow the sail. It looks a bit of a mess in the photo, but no worse than it looks with sail ties. With the boom gallows, it will all be much steadier, so I should be able to stow the sail more quickly and neatly than usual.

18 February 2011

Various uses of a flat fender

I have got four Plastimo flat fenders on board. They are wonderful; as fenders, but also very useful cushions in the cockpit. To address a couple of minor issues, I have mad some very simple additions. First a solid board, with small rebates on the bottom, to act as a bridge deck below the companion way.

With a fender on top this makes the most comfortable seat on the boat. When sailing the crew can sit here with her feet in the cabin, fully sheltered from the elements. In harbour, if you put the lower washboard in to lean back on, it is a great lounging position in the cockpit. When I am cooking, I sit inside on the cabin table and have the cooker outside, on the fender and under the  spray hood.

The fenders also give just that bit more forward visibility over the cabin top when used as side deck cushions. One problem I have had doing this is that when you tack, the leeward cushion slides under the side deck, so that when you tack again, you have to fiddle about pulling it back out. I have fitted two low ogee trims on each bench which I hope will just stop the cushions sliding back, without getting in the way too much. Only sailing will tell if they really work.

The boat is filthy with dirt, leaves and sawdust. I shall have to carry out a thorough clean before I can paint anything.

15 February 2011

The luxury of working at night

I spent two hours working on the boat after getting home in the evening. The real luxury of an interior space with light and power. I have fitted two U-bolts either side of the companion way to act as safety harness points. Large marine ply pads behind each, which I hope will distribute the load successfully.

I have bedded the nuts and washers in Sikaflex, which I just cannot do neatly. I get it everywhere, but I hope I got enough in the right places. I am following a tip I read in a magazine. Only finger tighten the fittings, enough to just cause the sealant to start squeezing out. Then leave it 24 hours before tightening right up. That way the sealant goes off and isn't squeezed out of the joint. (I have only just noticed, now I look at the photo, that one of the ply pads is a bit wonky. Not much I can do about it now. You can see the Sikaflex just about everywhere.)

I have also made up a couple of wooden "shoes" to take the end of a boom gallows. This photo shows them just dry assembled. I need to glue them up, shape them to the coaming in the cockpit and then saw it in half on the pencil line to form the two shoes. Still a lot of shaping needed before they can be fitted and the gallows made up. If all goes to plan, I should have a set up which allows me to rig the boat much faster after trailing. At the moment it is literally just minutes to raise the mast, but sorting out all the shrouds, booms, halyards etc. can add half an hour. I hope to improve on that.

14 February 2011

Gradually fitting out the workshop

All the boats are in and there is barely room to move now. Bit of an exaggeration, but as always, you wonder where you kept it all before. The first photo shows Daisy G with her spars stored up on the wall on brackets. (The mizzen is temporarily propped up on the  cabin to help me size up a boom gallows. Next project.) The height of the roof means I can stand up in the cockpit without crouching. I have moved our bikes in as well and they really get in the way. But then, come the summer and when we want them, the boat will be elsewhere.

The Blue Peter stands on her transom in the far corner. I spent all winter rebuilding her two years ago but she has yet to touch the water and a lot of her paint is flaking off already. The problem is that she is so heavy she really won't do as a tender. Maybe I should finally sell her. But I have had her for the best part of 25 years, she was my very first boat.

My workshop corner is getting filled up but I am not sure on the best arrangement at all. I am already thinking I have got the power sockets in the wrong place. I need about two weeks clear to sort everything out. I don't have two weeks clear. I expect it will stay as a muddle for quite a while.

12 February 2011

Long overdue change to the centreboard case

I spent the morning, in amongst household jobs, moving the boats back into the shed. I have propped the Blue Peter up on its end at the far end and then rolled Daisy G back in. I'm very feeble. I should be able to just push her in, but there is a 5mm step up onto the concrete and I couldn't do it without swinging her from side to side and getting one wheel up at a time. But then I pushed her straight in.

It is a joy to work in a shed with power. Getting the power drill into the cabin meant I could do jobs in minutes that took hours outside. I have bolted the boarding ladder firmly in place and finally completed the hinging of the cabin table. Freeing a jammed centre board used to be a half hour job, undoing 12 screws and breaking the seal between the table and the centre boards case. Now I have fitted hinges on one side and two over-centre catches on the other. It takes all of five seconds to open the case. I'll need to renew the rubber seal, but that is easy and worth it once a year.

One thing I am planning, now I can get into the centreboard case so easily, is to rig up some sort of hooked wire to support the aft end of the board when towing. At the moment it is held up just by the uphaul. Out of the water that is under tremendous load. If it drops for any reason it is really hard to raise again. It needs to be right up for launching, so an extra support will help.

11 February 2011

Shed complete, now electrics done

It is all done. The electrician has fitted the lights and power points. The builder has taken away his tools. I've even pretty well paid all the bills. For the first day in months we haven't had to make endless cups of tea for builders. I am hoping to move the boat back inside tomorrow, but I'm planning to scrub the waterline first whilst she is still outside. There is still the remains of weed growth on the boot top which I need to get rid of before I repaint.

I have nailed up some simple brackets along the longest wall so that at last I have somewhere to store the mast. The lighting is excellent, I can really work in the dark now, so winter jobs will be far easier to do. Sadly I have to interrupt all of this fun by going out to the day job to finance it all.

9 February 2011

She fits outside, just

Parked outside for the electrician
I wheeled her out this morning and managed to just swing her round to fit in the space between the wall and the shed. Good to know that she does fit in here, but no way to raise the mast. The telephone wire overhead and the trees behind make that a no goer. If I want to raise the mast I'll have to tow her out onto the grass verge. which I probably will do just before I take her back down to Poole.
I have also rearranged some of this blog, so that the basic pages about the boat and where I have sailed her are fixed and can be opened from links above.

8 February 2011

I've got power in my shed

The electrician is storming ahead. All the underground cables are laid and I have power and light in our woodshed and power in my new boat shed. But he needs me to move the boat out so that he can install the lights. Means some scrambling around before I go to work in the morning. I want to see if I can lodge the boat in the space in front of the shed, which would allow me to put the mast up. Very tight, awkward space, so I don't know if it will work. We shall see in the morning. I should be fully wired up by the weekend and that hopefully will be the completion of the project.

7 February 2011

Electrics going in ahead of schedule

I can't keep up with it. They started digging a trench to lay in the electric cable on Friday, saying they wanted it ready when the electrician came in a week. By the end of today he had been and laid the cable and back filled the trench and there is a big black wire sticking out of the wall in the boat shed. He still has to lay another cable down to our old cow shed, install all the fittings and then connect it all up, but at this rate it could all be finished by next weekend. I shall really feel like a boat builder then. Being able to work into the evening will transform winter tinkering.

6 February 2011

Stocking up at the Boat Jumble

I spent the morning at the West Midlands Boat jumble at the Three Counties Showground. I was surprised that there were far fewer private sellers than last year. I sold some of my old stuff then and there were the best part of 20 private sellers. This year there can't have been more than three or four. Some of the big dealers, like Jimmy Green Marine, were not there either. But it was busy. I managed to find a tin of International Toplac Donegal Green for just £3 (nearly £20 retail) because it was bent and dirty. Hopefully the paint is just as green. They had two tins. Don't know why I didn't offer £5 for both.

I also found a slider to fit my length of Barton track that I am going to fit to the clew end of the boom. Sadly the dealer saw me check that it fitted the track that I had brought. If he hadn't I'm sure I would have got it for £1 rather than £2. But they are £13 in the chandlers, so all in all I did OK. I have also got the fittings for a very cunning sail stowing system I am devising. We shall see if it works. There are always several stalls where you can stock up on stainless steel nuts, bolts, screws and U-bolts. I bought two of the latter to use for safety line points in the cockpit, which are lacking.

In the afternoon I spent several hours just trying to stow things away in the shed. Making progress. The arrangement of roof joists makes it possible to store really long things up in the roof space, so I have got the Blue Peter mast and my old, spruce Winkle Brig mast up there, along with my disappointing yuloh, which I may have another go with. I have also got some heavy duty shelving up, which was saved from a skip at my wife's practice, so it is rapidly coming on. It is a delight just to leave the boat open and tools out. Saves so much time. I don't even have to put the folding steps away. Just lock the door and leave them all there.

5 February 2011

Mission accomplished, Daisy Grace in her new boat house

The builder finished the shed yesterday. The electrics have still to go in, but that doesn't stop me putting Daisy G into it. I am very pleased with the building. Probably overbuilt for what is needed, but none the worse for that. The horizontal boarding to the big doors works very well. All bolts are internal so it is about as secure as it can be. The doors are framed and braced and then backed with 1/2 inch plywood, so they are really solid.

Daisy G fits inside with a comfortable amount of room to spare at each end and around the sides. I will also be able to fit in my old Blue Peter dinghy, which is currently under leaves at the bottom of the garden. It will be nice to have my latest boat and my very first one together. I've only got two boats at the moment (not counting my inflatable dinghy). I got up to four once, which was probably excessive. But can you have too many boats? I have plans to build another one sometime soon. But immediate plans are to tidy up the enormous pile of stuff I have moved up here from our old cow shed and which is just piled up on the floor. Tomorrow I am off to the West Midlands Boat Jumble to add to the collection. Then it will be putting up shelves, making benches etc. whilst trying to finish off jobs on the boat. At least I don't care if it rains anymore.