Lockdown 2

It’s nearly the end of April and the last few weeks have seen great changes and contrasts. The weather has switched from cold to hot and back to cold again with some welcome rain. Then it was hot again Spring flowers came out and then stuttered and slowly matured. The Bluebells have been at their most intense blue throughout the local woods. Honesty and Herb Robert compete on the grass verges. Suddenly, the Hawthorn is in flower and it’s not even May. And now it’s cold again with some welcome heavy rain.

There been little motor traffic and no aircraft, making the birdsong seem intense. Woodpeckers pounded themselves silly in the woods close by the boat shed and large bumble bees thundered around looking for who knows what. One came into the boatshed and disappeared into an empty post hole in the floor.

Despite all these distractions, the boat is coming into shape. Scantlings 1 have been glued along the outside top corners of each bulkhead, steam bent into shape at the bows.2  

The top plank (sorry, plank 3) was tack glued to this strip whilst cable ties held the bottom of it to plank 2. Similar wooden strips have been glued to the sides of the various bulkheads to provide resting places for the cockpit floor, the “capsize righting” tank and other buoyancy tanks.

Steaming with a stripper

The horizontal “decks” have been adjusted to fit and a start has been made with epoxy coating the insides of the ballast and buoyancy tanks. Now that the workshop is warmer (thanks to the weather), I’ve had to watch how long mixed epoxy lay unused and what sort of container it’s been in. On a couple of occasions, the container has been too deep and the material had been left unused for too long. The chemical reaction became strongly exothermic and let off visible fumes 3 and I had to hurriedly take the container outside.

Despite this, plank 3 has been glued in place, and the “capsize righting tank” has been painted internally and glued in place. I’ll explain all that in a later edition.  I still haven’t told you about the motor pod.

It will have to wait for the next edition.


1 Scantlings are thin strip that run longitudinally along the boat to provide form for the plywood planking. I called them stringers when building model aeroplanes several decades ago.

2 An elderly steam wallpaper stripper steamed merrily away for about 90 minutes for each scantling. By then the steamer was dry but the larch was wet and flexible.

3. No doubt toxic

LockDown – 1

As my regular reader will know, time keeping in the boat building blog is a matter of relativity. As far as the waves of effort emanating from the boat shed are concerned, only those issued from the source during the first week of UK Covid 19 lockdown have passed through the open slit of the workshop door to be resolved as particles on the screen of this blog. They can now be observed without disturbing the fabric of known space (or unknown space, who knows?).

It’s the end of week 1 of lockdown. I’ve not (yet?) received a letter from my GP telling me that I’m a real health risk, so that’s a point in his favour but it doesn’t help me get a delivery slot from Tesco. Nor have I received the letter that Boris Johnson has promised us all. By the time we get it, the info contained therein will probably be out of date. So, (shh) I’m continuing working – after all I can’t work on the boat from home……

By the way, I had query from the retired anaesthetist concerning the photo of the dead accurate placing of the centreboard case. He claimed that there was a dead animal at one end of the floor. As far as I know, no animals have been harmed (so far) in this bit of boat building but I thought I had better investigate – there’s certainly something odd in the photograph. I found the original. It wasn’t much help having been taken on a mobile phone in low light, however, I think the item in question is a tape measure with a couple of inches of tape still sticking out of the case! You can judge for yourself. 1    

This week has seen the fitting of the last internal bulkheads that will be under the cockpit floor in the fullness of time. It’s been fiddly work, either leaning over the side of the boat to reach stuff deep inside or climbing into the hull to work on bits near the centre line. This has been accomplished whilst radio 4 plays in the background, so I have been kept fully (if not over) informed about the progress of the pandemic. I note that Womens Hour has reverted to the 1950’s and now talks about cooking and “making do”: it seems to have lost  the woke focus on transgender issues. I suppose I could listen to something else but the wireless I’m using only works on VHF, DAB hadn’t been invented when it was built, let alone the internet. Also, there’s no wi fi within a mile or so of the shed and the mobile signal is 4 G if you’re lucky so the idea of streaming something is for the birds.2

Oops, I’ve wandered off topic. Back to boat building. If you’ve been wondering why there are all these bulkheads under the cockpit floor, they exist for two reasons one is for buoyancy and the other is for balance3. To keep the boat light (so an older user can handle her out of the water) the only ballast she carries (apart from the crew) will be water, so one set of under floor bulkheads form the forward and aft ends of the ballast tank. Another set, under the aft part of the cockpit form a buoyancy tank and, in the middle of this lot is a small well (or sump) that forms the bilge. You can see all this in the photo below. The front of the boat is to the left and the strip stuck to the starboard side will support the floor of the cockpit over the water ballast tank. The bilge well has a piece of glassfibre woven tape draped eligantly over one side.

On the right of the picture is the buoyancy tank that will be under the rear floor of the cockpit. There’s now a boring but essential job to be done; to glue strips of larch along the top edges of all these bulkheads to provide “lands” for the cockpit floor.

So far so good. Next week, if I’m still allowed to boat build, I’ll talk about the motor room.


1. On reflection, the photo gives little indication of the scale of this boat. The r.a. clearly thinks I’m making something about 30 feet long – in fact it’s less than half that!

2. There are a lot of those about. A pair of buzzards live in the adjacent wood, Red Kites swirl across the sky and flocks of pigeons play hide and seek with a pair of kestrels

3. Note, I’m not talking about the BBC