Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Meeting Bill and Other Matters

I finally managed to meet up with Bill Serjeant yesterday at his home. For anyone not familiar with his adventures he writes a fabulous blog ( that puts most of us to shame. I had hoped to catch up with him while he sailed from Burnham on Crouch to the West Country over the last couple of months but it just didn't work out.

Bill's boat "Sandpiper" is now up for sale as Bill wants a change so if you look at his blog you'll find the details but I have to say, if I didn't have my project I would be sorely tempted. Bill has done a fantastic job making her into a practical boat for single handed sailing - she's a bargain.

Sandpiper looking resplendent in the sun

My better half is spending a week with a friend in Spain, chilling out. I have also taken most of the week off to capitalise on the good weather and unfettered time. So I am finally completing the rudder assembly. As I have said previously, the thickness of my acquired rudder has  meant that the stock is rather wider than I had previously intended so has required a little lateral thinking as I was unable to find a pintle and gudgeon to suit. The solution has been to fit them to the inner assembly and fit the two cheeks outside.

However this has required the cheeks to be modified to allow clearance for the fittings.

Modification to the cheek to allow clearance for the pintle and gudgeon

This has also meant that the fitting holes have had to be countersunk so the screws do not foul on the cheeks. Once the fittings were screwed on then the cheeks could be attached - plenty of epoxy. Mind you I had to work quickly as the temperature was in the high 20's and the epoxy went off very quickly.

So now I have the stock assembled and ready for finishing. A little filler, some sanding, a coat of epoxy and three of varnish and she should be good to go.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Screwfix Addiction

Today I managed to spend a couple of hours working on the project and managed to prepare the stock for glueing and varnishing.

The first task was to screw the assembly together so that it was firmly located and could be disassembled. I had purchased some stainless steel screws from Screwfix - 50mm x 5 self-tapping. However they still required a 4mm pilot hole before I could screw them in.

I had tried a number of ways to finish the edges of the ply assembly including a belt sander and a file. However I decided that what I really needed was a Surform and a proper rasp - another trip to Screwfix! So in a couple of hours I had faired everything off ready for final filling and sanding.

Beginning to look like a proper job but still needs filling and sanding

I then cut the forward bulkhead out ready for epoxy coating and fitting next weekend. I've decided that while I measured the rear bulkhead carefully I should also create a template for it before finally cutting the ply, as I had for the forward one. Hopefully I will have time to do that during the week.

Hope it fits!

Monday, 3 June 2013

Woodwork and Flowers

Some things are meant for each other, strawberries and cream, G&T, cheese and chutney (ok Branston then) but probably not woodwork and flowers - but that is what inspired me this evening. Though it didn't start well - my better half took one look at my jeans which by this time were covered in sawdust and said "You're not going to sit down inside with those on!". I didn't take that as a promising offer given the despairing look on her face!

I managed to cut the ply for the inner parts of the stock and even managed to fit the rudder to make sure it would turn correctly. In fact that still needs a bit of adjustment before I'm happy with it and the stock needs a lot of trimming but I'm quite pleased with the progress. It almost looks like it was meant to go together. I'm aware the proper shape would have filled the whole of the stock base but to look a gift horse....... neigh!

Looks a little better in the raised position but once it's in the water..... and yes it does go higher

Once I had cleared all the tools away and swept up the sawdust I took a quick look at the garden before heading in to prepare dinner and realised some of the flowers were at their peak. I'm not normally a great fan of blooms, in spite of the Cherry and Japanese Magnolia in earlier blogs, but these are stunning.

The alliums we planted early last year and they gave a good display then but they are coming into their own now while the Azalea we have had in its pot for many years but and always blooms well.

Wonderfully architectural 

Blooms everywhere

I will be athletics coaching tomorrow night so it will be Wednesday before I manage to do the next task, though in the meantime I intend to buy some thinners for the Hempel varnish I bought in Wroxham and find some stainless screws to pull all the layers of the stock together. Then it will be on to the bulkheads.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Rudder Nearly There

Amid all the decorating (hanging lining paper in a small misshapen room!) and cycling with my better half so she could test her new bike, I managed to prepare the rudder and stock cheeks for varnishing. While not the perfect size and shape I think the rudder will look fine alongside the mahogany (or similar) faced ply. I may at some stage build a bespoke rudder to the original shape but my aim at this stage is to go sailing, not win any beauty contests - that comes later.

OK it's not perfect but it will certainly do the job

I just have to make up the infill pieces now and fair them into the cheeks. It looks like three thicknesses of 12mm ply is just too big but I may get away with just a little sanding with a bit of luck. I'm going to use a stainless bolt through the cheeks and a plastic sleeve in the rudder just to avoid unnecessary wear.

The rudder's held well in place with clamps - have to replicate that with the assembled stock

So tomorrow I plan to finish the infill parts and prepare for gluing it together. My first task for the West System Epoxy! I'll also prepare the two bulkheads for fitting, though I don't think I'll be doing that until the weekend.

On a final note, congratulations to Ben Ainslie for breaking yet another record, this time on the Round the Island Race.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Norfolk Broads

As might have been realised, I have been very remiss in the blogging stakes over the past couple of weeks. Work commitments have kept me very busy combined with a few days holiday in the Norfolk Broads and the remaining couple of days decorating a bedroom. That's also meant very little has been done to advance the boat. Hopefully I'll be able to spend some time tomorrow preparing the stock and rudder for varnishing, borrowing a belt sander from my father to finish the wood off.

As suggested in my last post I had to buy a new jigsaw. After a lot of research (well a few minutes reading reviews) I chose a Evolution RAGE 7-S 80mm 710W Jigsaw from Screwfix for £60. It has a better spec than many twice the price and appears to be very well put together with the main parts being cast aluminium. I have put this to good use cutting the outer cheeks for the stock and forming the top edge of the rudder so that it will turn properly around its pivot. My Dad had three unused rudders from his Finn sailing days including a beautiful and very light fibreglass one. However there was also a very attractive wooden one which was going to be simpler to make usable.

Beautiful wooden rudder - saves a lot of fairing!

I still have to make the internal parts of the stock which I'll hopefully be able to do tomorrow so it will all be ready to complete during the week.

So this post is more about the trip to Norfolk for a few days on and around the Broads. The trip there was fairly trouble free, heading initially up the A10 to Royston and then heading East on the A505 to the A11. However I had not allowed for an event at Duxford Aerodrome so ended up turning round and heading to the West of Cambridge to join the A14. Even with this the trip only took 2 1/2 hours including the dreaded A11 to Norwich which is finally being widened up to Thetford.

We were staying at the Moorhen in Horning which turned out to be a great choice of which more later. We had taken our bikes so headed out on Sunday afternoon to Wroxham for a coffee and some quick retail therapy including a visit to the well stocked Norfolk Marine - a haven for boaties.

A quick shower later and we headed out to Coltishall further up the Bure for dinner at the Kings Head, which had ben recommended. As I had to send my duck back to be properly cooked I wasn't desperately impressed so we won't be going back there. However the setting was beautiful and it's certainly a lovely place for an early evening drink.

Almost the definition of serenity, except for the mobos - Coltishall

We then adjourned to the Swan in Horning for a nightcap. This is now a chain pub but we ended up sitting in the middle of the locals so within half and hour we felt part of the community.

The following day we had hired a half-decker from Whispering Reeds on Hickling Broad so had a relatively early start, though not actually that early as we didn't arrive in Hickling until 10.30am after having to find fuel for the car. The boat was Silver Tip, a balanced lug rig centreboarder about 16ft long.

I haven't sailed this type of rig before though it wasn't much different from other single sailed yachts, only the mixture of halyards and lifts left me a little confused. We spent the first hour on the Broad acclimatising and the wind was perfect for this blowing about 3 from the South West. We then headed down to the River Thurne, turning towards Potter Heigham heading into wind and tide. This wasn't too much of a problem until we arrived at the chalets which disrupted the wind. It took 20 minutes to make about 50m and we then started going backwards so we turned round and headed back towards Hickling, mooring up to have lunch.

I had bought a selection of food from the deli in Horning including the best Pork Pie I've ever eaten and a delightful Sauvignon Blanc. Our hosts at the Moorhen had lent us a cool bag along with appropriate knives and glasses so we were well set up. The weather was glorious and we were sheltered from the wind by trees.

Silver Tip looking almost as good as my wife - note the strategically placed wineglass on the sidedeck!

The food and wine was welcome and very tasty but an afternoon of sailing beckoned so we packed up and prepared to leave. A Broads sailing cruiser left just before us looking stunning - I'm tempted to try one the next time we're there. One of the other guys moored up came over to chat and lo and behold, he owned a Potter, a B Type - it's a small world for Potterers.

At the same time there was much excitement from the other end of the mooring  - they had spotted a snake in the water. It was a grass snake - something I had not seen before so it was a real treat.

Heading back onto Hickling Broad the wind had picked up and there were white tops over most of the water. Thankfully we had a reef in or she would have been unmanageable - in fact we had a fantastic couple of hours sailing. The only problem was taking her back into the tiny channel. I had dropped the sail but we were being blown towards the shore so had to put it back up again. I didn't think I could row in so sailed - of course far too quickly. Luckily I just had space to head her into wind between two boats and my wife was on the bow and managed to slow her up before she hit.

Aside from a morning's kayaking when our hosts at the Moorhen drove us to the drop off point the other highlight of the trip was a visit to the International Boatbuilding Training College in Lowestoft. We spent a fascinating couple of hours learning about the courses they run and saw the skills that are taught - just breathtaking. Some of the boats being restored are unique but my favourite was an old Dragon that was being rebuilt with a small cabin. Such a beautiful shape!.

Heading back home we stopped at Woodbridge for dinner. After a wander round the marina and a quick peek at Andy Seedhouse's we had one of the best meals we have eaten in a long time at the Galley, a couple of doors away from the King's Head.

So a great few days, the Moorhen was a delight and Horning a pleasure to be in (except for the Ferry Inn). We will be back soon - hopefully with Aberbach, my own Potter.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Plywood ahoy!

Having worked out the various sizes of blanks needed I set about trying to minimise the amount of ply used. As can be seen below, it worked out quite well but I guess I was lucky. In the distant past I worked in a sheet metalworks and programmed a CNC Turret Press. One of the tasks that was important was to be able to lay out the various parts in the most efficient way. More recently clever Computer Aided Design systems have automated this process so like many other skills, it is not being learnt any more.

An almost perfect layout - very lucky

The simple rules when cutting materials is measure three times cut once. This was brought home to me today while I was marking up the 12mm marine ply for the bulkheads, rudder and stock. Having marked up the grid for the stock and sketched the outline I then moved on to the rudder. I again marked out the grid and began to pencil in the outline, taking a couple of measurements from the stock blank. This was where it all started to go wrong, I found the rudder ended up 10cm short and couldn't work out why. Then I realised the measurement I took from the stock blank was wrong so almost every line I had made on both blanks was incorrect.

So it was literally back to the drawing board. I'm glad to say the second effort was much more successful and I'm glad I hadn't cut anything!
Stock outline drawn - correct this time!

One of the delights of the Potters is the sheerline, I suppose it could be described as a cheeky curve. I am sure that the curve of the stock was designed to complement that and help give the little boats such character. It would have been simpler for me to use straight lines but will look so much better per the original.

I drew up the rudder to be roughly the right size and shape but it is a little different from the original which has a slight point at the tip. I drew mine a little more rounded but I'm sure it will work fine - I just preferred the shape. It has been suggested that I make this out of two thicknesses of 12mm ply but that seems a little thick to me so I'm going to risk a single thickness and see how it works. I'm intending to put the stock together with screws so it can be taken apart at a later date for wood treatment on the inside surfaces. Therefore if I need to have a sturdier rudder I'll be able to thicken up the centre of the stock as well without having to completely remake it.
Rudder outline - one 12mm thickness should be ok (I hope!)

So jigsaw in hand I started to cut the rudder blank and within five seconds managed to break the blade. First problem was that I didn't have any spare blades so a quick trip to the local store was made. Second problem was that I couldn't remove the old blade. 

I had borrowed the saw from work and it has seen a lot of use over the years. A quick disassembly showed it was missing a couple of parts critical to removing the blade and no amount of "adjustment" (for which read brute force and ignorance) would release the blade. I'll have to wait for tomorrow to talk with the guy who normally uses it - he must have a knack! However it looks like I'll have to invest in a new saw - more unplanned expense, though I justify the expense as an investment towards my retirement career - just don't tell SWMBO - LOL!

Friday, 10 May 2013

Andrew Simpson

No matter what form of boating you happen to be involved in and no matter how much care and attention is given to safety there is always risk. This has been brought home today with the loss of Andrew Simpson while training with Artemis for the America's Cup. This is the pinnacle of competitive sailing, a little like F1 is to cars, with huge resources and attention to detail, but it is still dangerous and shows what can happen when any of us set sail.

My thoughts go out to Andrew's family and his teammates.