Battening down for a frosty feeling

As I write this it’s the beginning of November. We had our first frost of winter this morning after what seems like weeks of rain. But I must get on, I’m meant to be taking the boat to Wales to be painted in the middle of this month. Whether I can or not depends upon the new lockdown. Can I classify the trip as work? If so we can go. If not we can’t. It’s a moral question for the moral maze that we all now inhabit.

Anyway, putting that to one side of the moment (as the salesman are taught to say), I had better report on progress. The chimney has been cleaned and the stove works. A new chain on the chainsaw makes light work of cutting up pallets to feed the stove.

Most of the cattle have been sold, so I no longer hear them attacking the water trough behind the shed or noisily chewing the cud as they moodily observed progress. Charms of Goldfinches gathered in the woods as the leaves and rain fell in torrents.

The farmer tells me he is looking for more shed space. Would be customers of his appear at my door telling me that I’ll soon be finished. I tell them that you never finish building a boat and I’m keeping my retreat. I’ve no intention of moving out. I’m feeling frosty towards them all and battening down the hatches.

Speaking of which, back to the boat. I had been pondering the hole (sorry, the hatchway) in the foredeck. Was I really meant to go sailing with that wide open? Despite the buoyancy tanks I imagined the boat diving like a submarine when in a head sea. I had already glued a raised lip around the hole but decided that wouldn’t be adequate.

“It’ll need a cover to fit over the top (and round the lip)”, I thought. “ But, the hole is a ’designer’ hole, not a simple rectangle but with a curved side and corners. To help matters, the deck it sits in is curved – or cambered as the yacht designers say. It’s not going to be easy.”

This all posed a challenge. The hatch had to conform with the camber of the deck. More inventing required. I decided to make it out of a double layer of plywood. The bottom one would be a match to the plan of the outside of the lip, the other somewhat larger. The mating faces would be  coated with epoxy, there then clamped to the deck whilst the epoxy set. The sides would be strips of plywood epoxied to the sides of the bottom layer of the cover. Three were easy for they were straight; the fourth was curved and would need some sort of former to hold it in place whilst the epoxy “went off”. Then there were the rounded corners to consider.

I thought I’d leave that for another day or to and set to “make it so” (as Captain Kirk would have said)……Two days later the epoxy had set and the “trial fit” of the cover showed that, so far, it was OK.

Now for the corners. I had already used “slotted” pieces of ply to make the corners for the lip, so I thought I’d try the same pocess again. I made a jig to cut the slots, cut a trial slot, counting the saw strokes as I went until I thought it was deep enough. 20 strokes were about right. 60 saw cuts later, I had one set of “slotted” wood for one corner. Only another 3600 saw strokes to go.  

By the time I had got to the third strip, I was onto a new piece of plywood – it didn’t have the same characteristics as the first and, to make matters worse, was not very uniform. So we had a few cuts that were too deep (bad) and several that were too shallow (not good, but could be rectified). Eventually there were four pieces of slotted wood that could be carefully bent round the corners (against the bottom of the hatch) and held in place by packaging tape whilst the epoxy set. Phew.

Of course, it didn’t fit. It took few hours of “fettling” before the lid fitted, with enough slack to allow for coats of paint (perhaps).

Fitted Hatch Cover

The centre board was antifouled (I had taken this home to do over a wet weekend).

.The rudder gudeon and pintle were fitted to the transom with a stainless steel plate in place behind (well, in front really) of it. Their twins were fitted to the rudder stock and the rudder stock and blade were “trial” assembled and hung on the gudgeons and pintles.

Now what else it there to do/ Lots. Find out in the next exciting instalment.

5 thoughts on “Battening down for a frosty feeling”

  1. Its coming along nicely Riff, I have to say I was impressed with the way you have done the corners of the lid. Good luck with the painting move to Wales and stay safe from that bloody virus thing that rising up again over there!


  2. Oh my, I wish I had found this article a few weeks ago when I had to make one of those covers, by hand, out of aluminum. The was a lot “manipulating” the material. Beautiful boat by the way and your craftsmanship shows a true talent!


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