“Ship shape and Bristol fashion”
“Ship shape and Bristol fashion”
Many have debated the origin of this expression- I don’t really care. I’m not usually so callous with language. In fact I’m rather a huge fan of how things are said and what meaning they carry. But I feel like with any art, what is observed from one person to the next can be different.
All I know is that I’m a fan of this expression for describing a boat, ship, or craft that has had lots of care put into its appearance and functionality.
I have acquired a 16’ sloop. Wooden hull with fiberglass sheathing, gaff rigged, with lovely lines. She is sound and just needs cosmetic work: sanding, painting, and a small amount of patching up fiberglass on her port rub rail.
My goal is clear to me- restore her, get her into the water and explore the lake. Maybe even coastal sailing after I have the feel of her and confidence to match.
This work would not be at all daunting to most, but I’ve never done it before. I know how to weld, and as far as carpentry I have attempted the obligatory spice rack as well as a rickety trestle table. However my trestle table and spice rack never had to worry about if they could float or not. My spice rack never had rigging or complicated lines to care for. My Trestle table never had a sail.
Late summer/early fall for initial refit completion and launch. To be certain- she is, as many are, a work in progress and I can see this work continuing on longer than this deadline.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Last day of my vacation (well Sunday will be the last day, but who's counting). I spent some time re varnishing the mast and boom. I know - I have much more pressing things to be doing right now, but varnishing is so much fun (actually I think it is fun, how bad is that).
I still have to epoxy the rub rail in place, but I'm learning a bit more about epoxy before I go live on the boat. Good plan eh?
So this is not a complete shot as she doesn't have her bowsprit installed or any of her rigging (the board on top is just to keep the shape of the boat cover- not actually a mast- thankfully)
Here's a shot of her for now. I will my friend who previously owned her and see if he will mind if I post some shots of how she looked a few years back. I think it will be nice to see the progress getting back to her prime.
- sorry couldn't resist some Shakespeare wooden boat combination joke- how often do you get to do that anyway? The rub of it...hahahah... I know it's tacky to laugh at your own jokes, but oh well.
After some careful research and one phone call to my good friend (lets call him Jacques for fun). So Jacques and I talked about what wood would be useful to replace the rub rail. There are a lot of opinions on this out there- my god there are a lot of opinions. Some people say use teak (but only specially grown), mahogany, white oak, etc, etc, etc. Ash was the wood of choice that Jacques recommended. By the by Jacques is probably one of the cleverest folks I know and certainly being an engineer qualifies him to a great degree. So when he says use ash- damn right I use ash.
So I picked up a nice board of ash and promptly discovered that I don't have the right router bit to round the wood (that pesky round shape should be easier to come by than this). Thankfully I'm slightly clever myself and have the ability to work with hand tools- funny that. So with my trusty block plane I rounded the board and then trimmed it to length and width. Fairly happy with how it came out, almost looks store bought.
So now I'm up to the point where I need to install the rub rail, but I notice that my clamps just don't like to sit still on a rounded surface. I can fix that too (wow look at me go). So I routed out a rounded trench on a pine board and trimmed it to several small sections (1 1/2 inches long and about 2" wide give or take).
Here you will see two pics- one of the rail in place and one of the clamp adapters that I whipped up. I just didn't have time to epoxy it in place, but that might happen tomorrow.
Here's a pic of my currently employed products to get the boat running- Rot Fix feel free to sponsor me. I've certainly used enough of your product to qualify and will also most likely use it on my house as I've discovered a window sill that is in need of your fine product.
If I was smart I would have bought stock in System Three.
Anyway- just thought you might get some chuckles out of this.
The rot of ages. So the first day was spent building up the rotted area (starboard rub rail) some of the hull itself looked like it needed some love so I applied some structural filler. While I was doing this my good friend (whom in order to protect the innocent (HA HA) shall be called Edwardo from here on)... so as I was saying Edwardo was on the port side scraping loose paint. We put in a good couple of hours and then suddenly I heard a ripping sound followed by "Don't mind me or that horrible sound you hear" Edwardo was trimming out some delaminated fiberglass. MMMMMM fun. Well thankfully we found it then and as it so happens I've discovered that fiberglass is actually fairly cheap as things go- so trim away Edwardo! Just don't go too far with it- or I will have a raft and not a sailboat. Nice application of rot fix and should be ready for coating in fiberglass again.
I've included a photo of the area that was formerly rotten (starboard rub rail) and now pretty well built up. It took a while to dry for the next layer, but once dry I was able to fair it out nicely.
Here goes nothing.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
so I'm long over due a post as well as an apology to my two, maybe three readers, but I have found a few moments here and there to work on the boat. I figured you probably didn't want to read through posts that all basically said "too busy/too much work to do before I can work on the boat- silly lawn needing to be trimmed, house work to do" etc etc etc.
Well I will make up for all of that inaction with a dramatic post. So I'm scraping loose paint off and just happened to put my hand on the starboard rub rail- it felt spongy... not a good sign. So I decided to risk some exploratory surgery and made a small cut in the fiberglass (not much of a risk since the glass on the larboard side (sorry port) needed patching anyway).
Just as I neatly removed a one inch by one inch square- a bit of crumbling wood fell out and hit the ground. A bad sign to say the least.
So I had to widen my exploration. I started removing bit by bit until I met with solid stable wood. Three feet of rub rail had turned into mush and dust.
This called for speedy action... to the marine supply store I flew.
A gentleman there... I will call Schmidty (all names changed to protect the innocent and all), brilliant and knowledgeable helped me select some rot kill compound and a small container of fairing/filler compound (lots of compounds going on here).
The two photos I've included are before and afters- one of the rot laid bare before the world and the other with the rot kill on it.
My next steps- reapply the rot kill for good measure, use the fairing compound to build up the surface evenly, then replace the rub rail with some ash round stock.
Thankfully I have many clamps and week off coming up soon- you will be sure I'll be working on the boat.
I don't foresee this putting my goal of having her in the water for a run by early fall, but I must certainly focus on the work to meet that goal.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
It's been raining off and on again has left me hesitant to pull off the tarps and work on her.
Sunday I did get all of 15 minutes in scraping paint. Wow…hold me back now, such progress is unheard of, I should learn to pace myself.
So that being said I have found a small crack in the glass on her deck, some epoxy with filler should be just what I need to set that right.
I do wish I had a car port so I could work on her even in the rain. Ahhh, want, want, want. The next thing you know I'll want other modern conveniences like flushing toilets and TV...(to anyone reading this who doesn't know- yes we do have TV in Maine, but it is only in black and white...we are expecting color TV to arrive sometime next fall...snicker, snicker).
On a side note-
If you ever want some fun, or to cure insomnia, check out the debates on-line regarding navigation, and anchoring lights (e.g. what is legal what is not) particularly any discussion over oil lamps vs LED lights for boats. I've been keen on this subject as I don't really want to wire the boat up with power, but I don't want to violate any regulation or royal whim when it comes to either bringing her in at dusk or camping out overnight on the lake.
It took a long time to weed through comment upon comment and at the end I came to the conclusion that probably very few people actually know what is required for small boats let alone large ones when they are at anchor on a lake as opposed to the ocean.
"oil lamps are dangerous, and are not very visible", "LEDs are not bright enough either, but safer for the environment", "save the whales..." Ok I made that one up.
I think the only way you can get everyone on the same page while still satisfying the legal aspect of this debate is to make sure you have 10 spot lights trained on your boat (all white light with 360 degree visibility), while at the same time firing flaming arrows into the night sky, as well as having a night watch wearing a neon glow stick suit… ooops no that wont cut it as they are not visible up to 2 nautical miles- so sad.
It’s like doing your taxes, just do your best and get something in writing from someone who’s in authority…though I do like the glow stick suit idea… It would probably make people think aliens were out trout fishing. Why not- fishing is fun for everyone.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Boat boat boat boat… boat boat boat? Boat boat boat boat boat boat, boat!
Yes a bit fixated to say the least. Nothing like the feeling of wanting to make progress, but not being able to.
Though I wasn’t able to work on the boat physically I have spent some time looking into items that I will need to pick up. One of those items being oar locks.
Fascinating thing is that due to being primarily a flat bottom boat she apparently rows very well. The existing oar lock brackets are wooden and checking so I will need to replace them.
This will be an excellent chance for me to show off my metal working skills. I am debating milling out/welding some brass or steel brackets in the fashion shown above.
There is an appeal to the sockets that are recessed into the deck, out of the way, things wont get snagged on the, etc, etc, etc, (said in my best Yule Brynner impression).
I just don’t think I would have the best clearance with the recessed sockets and the raised ones are already a proven success.
Needless to say I just saw an add for a car dealership on TV with big foot pimping cars- time to go to bed.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
I do of course have high hopes for this weekend – stealing away for some time to sand, scrape, and hopefully throw a coat of varnish on the mast.
Hey you never know someone might stop by and offer me another doughnut.
Monday, June 21, 2010
While out running errands I was unaware that a storm was moving in. All I could think about was the clean up that I had just done and how I’d have to go back to square one if the skies opened up and saturated the exposed wood on the cabin. Upon reflection it probably wouldn’t have done a lot of damage or caused too much trouble, but I was filled with dread of another 80-90 degree day below deck with cleaners and safety gear. Sooner or later the heat gets to me and I wind up talking to the little animals. Little animals that are not actually there. Animals shouldn’t talk- unless they are in a C.S. Lewis story and I don’t think there is enough room for Aslan in my boats cabin.
Aslan: “Sand wisely my friend, and oh yeah it’s a bit hot in here don’t you think?”
Me: “Yeah ahhh sure and could you maybe move your tail over? Thank you.”
Aslan: "No problems. Oh you missed a spot."
Me: "Don't push it cat, I've got a stone table with your name on it."
This would still be preferable to Mr. Miyagi telling me to sand a floor and then punching me repeatedly.
where was I...? Oh the rain. So with all the effectiveness of a fat kid peddling a bike up a steep hill I managed to get the cabin closed and the tarp lashed back down just in time for the rumble of thunder in the distance.
It rained for a total of 2 minutes… then it was sunny again… figures.
Anyways… I’ve been thinking about what a boat means, it is more than a thing, more than a means of travel. It’s art. It truly is form and function married with expression. The doing of a thing, the action, all of this can be empty even though it accomplishes something. It is when you can express yourself within that action that there is meaning.
One of my favorite movies is the razors edge. There is a great line that is along the same line as what I’ve just mentioned, “work without meaning is an empty motion”.
How true, how true. Wow that cleaning solution is strong stuff.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
So it's been a full day of it. 80 degrees out and I'm crawling around inside a boat wearing a respirator and work clothes with my trusty cup of bleach in hand to take some mold out. After a few minutes of work I had to take a break and drink about 3 gallons of water. I do have to say it worked better than I hoped (as you can see from the photo).
I will also post a before and after shot of the deck clean up to get a better idea of how well my bleach mix worked.
Since the cabin only had surface mold it actually didn't take too long to clean up... thankfully.
The rest of my time in the hot sun was spent sanding and scraping. A big pile of paint chips and lots of dust revealed a far cleaner deck than what was there before.
As a side note, while I was working I felt like I was being watched. I looked up to see a man (probably in his 20's) standing there. Shirtless, wearing a backpack, with ball cap and shades. I stopped sanding and fully prepared myself for him to offer me some kind of literature- possibly about how I can find inner peace by also walking about shirtless with a backpack. Not really my scene as I know I would not appreciate a fat pale man showing up on my doorstep man boobs proudly displayed for all to see.
Much to my surprise this young man just asked for a drink of water. He obviously had been walking in the heat for some time and well far be it from me to turn him down... however I told him to stay put in the driveway and you can bet that I didn't turn my back at any time.
He drank his water, thanked me, handed me back the glass, and began walking down my driveway towards the road. Just about half way down the drive he stopped, turned around, and asked me if I wanted a doughnut. I just chuckled patted my belly and said, "thanks, but I've got this thing to work off". He smiled and went on his way.
Ahhh people are fun aren't they?
All the same it was a nice break from the heat and the work.
Scraping paint of the boat sort of reminded me of picking skin off a sun burn- I know it's nasty, but at one point a large peal of paint came off and I just couldn't resist the comparison.
I hated putting the tarps back on her, but there could be some storms tonight and as much as I want her to breathe, I don't want her to get wet in her current state.
More tomorrow I'm sure.
I made my way to the unassuming flat topped building. A single sign out front was the only indication that I had in fact arrived at the right place.
I don't really think anything could prepare me from what I saw next. I opened the door and was greeted with a blast of cool air from the stores AC.
Nirvana, Heaven, Brigadoon, Shangri la.. etc etc all of these terms could have applied here- rows and rows of fenders, navigation equipment, epoxy and fiberglass, just heaps and heaps of all the things you could possibly want on your boat or anything you might use to maintain your boat.
I must say the only aisles I didn't pay a return visit to were the ones with inverters and toilets- who thought those two should be in the same aisle anyway?
There I stood slack jawed and bemused. Like some elderly driver confused by a traffic circle - Just drive you fool!!! Its a traffic circle not brain surgery, just saying.
So knowing that I was just there for recon (to get an idea of costs and get some much needed knowledge), I was able to keep my wallet firmly in its place. However that being said I did pick up a can of varnish- it made me feel like I was at least making some progress today. Though now that I've said that I realize I should be out sanding rather than making cheeky commentary right now. Back outside I go.
I'm sure I will be very tempted by all the latest whistles and bells they have to offer.
That brings to mind a sort of side goal of mine. I would like to keep whatever additions I make in keeping with the tone of a wooden sailboat. No large consoles with navigation equipment requiring me to hook up a battery and inverter... I would only go the battery route if I had to hook up a bilge pump, but at this point I see no need. A sponge and bucket will do nicely if I have any water to clean up.
I will be keeping an eye out for a nice brass ships clock, barometer, thermometer combination - I've seen them mounted all together on a plaque but they usually are very expensive. I think I'll focus on finding separate components that I can mount myself. There is a perfect spot for this in the front of the cabin.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Sooo since I've started this blog after the fact. Here's the first posts I would have made on time if I had been thinking ahead.
6/6/10- Boat Day! Brought her down from Unity. Her previous owner, a good friend of mine, was very kind with his sale price. The boat had belonged to his father and named after his mother. I have no doubt this was a bitter sweet day for him. I think knowing that she would have a good home helped him part with her.
I’ve never towed a boat before and the weather was not kind to my lack of experience. Cross winds and rain were the order of the day, but she towed straight and true with little complaint.