29 March 2013

Tying a soft shackle

I used up my last offcut of dyneema making another soft shackle. It is about 12" overall, which sounds a lot, but doesn't look too big when looped. No particular job for it, but I think it will come in handy.

Insert one end into the centre of the line, at the point where the lop will be. I have used a Swedish fid because that is what I have got. I can only do about an inch at a time, bringing the inserted end out of the side and then back in again.

I wrap masking tape round the end, to make it smooth and pointed. If I can't push it through the hole, I yank it through with the forceps.

Get to the final outlet eventually and work the whole thing to get it smooth and unbunched. The pen is through the loop just to stop it getting pulled closed.

I used a Biro to form a hole through one tail, which the other is passed through to lock the whole thing up.

The end is pulled through and the whole thing tightened and smoothed.

Then you tie a knot in the end, just like that. (Watch the video. It is actually quite easy. The main problem is making it more complicated than it needs to be.)

Putting a little leash in to open the loop really helps. I opened up the loop to the size needed to pass over the knot and formed a hole in the core length for the leash with my "fid".

The leash is just a piece of whipping twine passed through the hole and knotted. Pulling it back opens up the hole and the knot drops out. Very neat.

The finished job. I will put the loose ends in a vice and lean back to tighten the knot as much as possible before I cut the ends short. They recommend leaving about an inch on home made ones. The professional ones are tightened to several tonnes, and the ends can be cut off flush.

23 March 2013

Soft shackles and SSR numbers

I have been making some soft shackles from a length of left-over dyneema, and I am pleased with the results. The first was too small for anything. The next was just big enough to go round the mizzen boom for the sheet to clip to.

The third started out 12" long but was nearer 8" when complete, but still big enough to go round the boom and through the mainsail clew, to hold the clew close to the boom when the outhaul is slackened off. I have got enough dyneema left over to make one more. I followed the instructions on the YouTube video below for making soft shackles. Not difficult at all, but a bit slow as I don't have the long fids recommended. I did it an inch at a time with a Swedish fid and a pair of long surgeon's forceps.

I have made Daisy G and honest woman at last. I coughed up £25 to get her registered on the small ships register and she now sports a neat little SSR number next to all her other ID plates. I don't plan to take her abroad in the near future, but I would like to leave her on the Baltic one year and fly out for sailing when the weather is good. Curiously, I ordered the number plate from a web site called signomatic.co.uk, which was far cheaper than any shoe repair/engraving shop, but when it arrived it had been made and sent from Sweden, so maybe that confirms that I should take her there one year.

19 March 2013

Dinghy origami

A small but very useful discovery this evening. I stow my small inflatable dinghy in the big cockpit locker. It is a tight squeeze. With the outboard fuel tank in there on top it is a very tight squeeze. There was an ominous creak as I forced the lid down, hoping the pressure would force a bit more air out. Then I had a thought. There seemed to be space around the dinghy that it just wouldn't go into. I have always rolled it up as tightly as I can, usually standing on the roll to compress it (not easy afloat). I decided to try a change of tactics. I pulled the dinghy out, unrolled it, jambed the transom end in and up the back of the locker, and then folded the rest of the dinghy down on top of it. It works. The dinghy really fills all the space up in the back of the locker and there is plenty of room at the front for the fuel tank. I could fit a few fenders in now if I want, and the lid just drops down shut. So don't roll your dinghy, practice the ancient Gloucestershire art of dinghy folding.

17 March 2013

Towing straps in place, just waiting for the sun

Spent the afternoon showing another prospective Baycruiser owner around Daisy G. He has placed his order but won't get delivery until nearer the end of the year. He seemed happy with what he saw. One nice thing about ordering a plywood boat is that you can have various personalisations built in.

I have added a Little plywood "seat" on top of the transom of the dinghy, to make it slightly less painful to sit on. It is now packed away in the locker, the towing straps are in place. I just need to recharge the battery and I think I am just about ready to go. Hoping to launch on Easter Monday, weather permitting.

9 March 2013

Gear lever extension

The engine is back from servicing, looking very good and all stiff bits now move freely. I am always surprised by how small the water pump impeller is. Doesn't look big enough to do anything.
I have tried a modification that I can't assess until afloat. Reaching down to the gear lever right down on one side has always been tricky when doing complicated manoeuvres in a marina. I have extended it with a cut off piece of my old wooden tiller extension. There is a bolt hole in the lever, so I have secured it all in place with one bolt through that. It seems to work fine but is a bit flexible due to the lever on the engine being a rather thin plastic moulding. The important thing will be not to over push it in a panic to get some reverse thrust braking...

8 March 2013

Painting pretty well complete

Had the anxious moment today when I peeled off the masking tape either side of the white boot topping. I had a horrible feeling half the hull paint would come off with it. But no, it peeled off with very little problem, leaving a very smart looking hull. Just a couple of spots to touch up near the waterline. The rollered gloss finish has really come out very satisfyingly shiny. The season's test will be to see how well the Dulux super structure paint lasts, six months on a mooring.

I added oak wedges under the repositioned mizzen cleats, just to get a slightly better cleating angle on them. Seems to all have worked well. I just need to check the lighting board, reinstall the outboard (which is waiting to be collected), and all being well, I should just about be ready to head for the slipway. Can't do that before Easter, so I may make a bit of progress on the canoe over the next couple of weeks, if I can get a bit of UV rich sunshine.

6 March 2013

Final bits getting done before the new season

The outboard is off being serviced. This time I remembered to take the remote tank and hose, at the mechanics recommendation. I have never thought that fuel flowed properly so maybe they can clear that up. The hull painting is finished but needs a few bits touching up. I'll do that after the boot top anti fouling is finished. I put on the first coat this evening. Horrible smell. I think some of the hull green might come off with the masking tape, hence my delay in touching up.

I have finally installed a rubbish bag holder. I have meant to get one for ages. It is surprising how much rubbish is generated on board if you are cooking. You can see who my main supplier is.

I have treated myself to an Origo alcohol stove. Not cheap, but I have had concerns with using the little picnic gas stoves. I am uneasy with gas on board, and they sometimes seem to leak when you put a new cylinder in. They also barely work in cold weather. Some cold mornings I have had to take the gas bottle into my sleeping bag before I can brew the essential get me up cup of tea.

I boiled a kettle of water on it, and it certainly works. Uncanny because it is completely silent. Took just over five minutes to boil the kettle, which is not bad. You need really long matches to light it. No spark ignition and a standard match just doesn't reach.

And what a kettle! Another new season treat. A folding kettle. It really works, takes up little room and can be packed away, which my old kettle never could. It also pours very well, which is a treat. But not very big, just over a litre.

Life jackets stayed inflated over 24 hours, so I have rearmed them. No need for new ones this year, which I had feared.

I have discovered that Waitrose sell single portion bottles of wine. I have never carried wine before because I never want more than a glass full, and a whole bottle would be largely wasted. Now I have a choice of wine or beer. Luxury afloat indeed.

4 March 2013

Hull painted

It warmed up today, and I had a spare hour in the evening, so I pressed on and painted Daisy G's hull. All seemed to go on easily. I am just applying a single top coat, so no depth of colour to build up. Good thing to, a single coat uses most of a can of Toplac. Ordinary manila coloured masking tape is remarkably hard to see. I have gone right over it in a few places onto the boot top. But I am going to redo that next so it shouldn't be a problem. I use a roller and a foam brush for awkward details. It seems to leave a very bobbly surface, but all being well it will smooth off. I find a roller finish is the best I can achieve. INevitable, there are small slivers of wood showing here and there between strps of masking tape, and inevitably those are the only points at which painted has dribbled over the tape. A touch of the sandr and a bit of Filter seven shoudl tidy it up.
I tested both life jackets this morning. One inflated fine, the other not so well. When I checked it over, the CO2 bottle had come loose. So the magazines are right, you should always check they haven't worked loose. It came up fine using a spare gas bottle. Now I need to buy more pare bottles. Worth it to avoid drowning. Deflating the jackets is really quite difficult.

2 March 2013

Varnishing the canoe timbers (2 hours)

All of the canoe timbers need to be varnished before the covering is applied. Apparently the linseed resin just doesn't stick to bare timber, but will stick if it has been primed with Tonkinoise varnish, which always smells good and goes on easily. The canoe designer, Simon Cook, came to have a look at the job so far last weekend, and was very pleased with how it was going. The next stage now really is the covering. I need a whole, sunny day to do it, and relatively warm, so probably not for a couple of weeks. it is feeling springlike at last, but still cold.
I have started refitting everything into Daisy Grace, but I still need to paint the outside of the hull. All sanded and taped, but too cold just now.
I am amazed to see that this blog has been looked at over 100,000 times. I only started it as a basic log of the boat for my own benefit. Interesting that others seem to find it worth looking at.