Paul’s available to do some work during August, and there’s the usual beard-tugging, sucking of teeth and considered conversations as Steve and he discuss what to do about the rudder tube, and queen plank over the counter stern. It’s all agreed and Paul starts work. As we depart for Cowes, and the final OGA Anniversary celebrations, August 2013, Paul continues working on the rudder tube, and we leave the van safely stored on Jo and Paul’s drive. We’re going back to Derbyshire from the Isle of Wight, for a couple of weeks at home.
Returning to Woodbridge in September, it looks like the weather’s set fair for us to carry on working for a couple of months. With the tent open on all sides, and the hull pretty well fair, its time to sort out the sheer.
After careful skimming with the plane, Steve and James (who’s popped by to see how we’re doing) keep taking another look, just to be sure, and the starboard side is done. With more good weather forecast into the Autumn, we’re on track to get the hull painted to protect the wood over winter.
While we were in Cowes, Paul finished the rudder tube and now its time to fit the queen plank. There’s lots of discussion about how to ensure the ‘slope’ is right for the deck over the counter to drain properly.
With a final check of the hull, there’s a few more bungs needed to be made, and glued in place. It’s an important job, to get the sheer right, and difficult to judge. So we enlist the help of Trevor and his brother this time, to help get the line just right on the port side.
Henry the vacuum cleaner has been a permanent resident in Woodbridge this summer in an attempt to keep on top of all the dust and woodshavings. Once the hull is ready, Beverley helps with cleaning it down, ready for painting with yacht primer.
Take a last look at the lovely wood, before the paint goes on! As the weather becomes more autumnal and the days get shorter, its time to go back to Derbyshire for birthday and anniversary celebrations. It’s been a good year for both sailing and boat building, we did some sailing, joined the OGA50 celebrations and managed to get the hull painted as planned.
But there’s some bad news, the tent is beginning to show its age. The battering it’s had over the past six years has worn the fabric in the roof. Now the hull’s got no drainage holes, the last thing we want is for her to fill with rainwater, so its off to buy more tarps for laying up this winter, and we create a ‘tent within the tent’ for ‘Cachalot’.
Although all the planks and frames are done, there's still lots to do before the hull's finished. Thousands of bungs, carefully made over the winter, have been counted out into coffee tins. These need glueing carefully over the fastenings, with the grain going the right way, of course. Beverley's banned from this task, as she just can’t get the grain going right! There's a bit of repair work here and there, as well as checking over knots and glueing bungs to replace them if necessary. The excess putty needs cleaning from the seams at all the butt blocks. Beverley's role in all of this is to keep everything shipshape, get the provisions in, maintain the archive, keep the business going, do all the cooking and a few of the less skilled work on the boat itself.
With the weather still cold, we stay in Derbyshire, catching up with work in the office. There’s a trip to Dublin in May, to meet the OGA Round Britain fleet on passage, so it’s June before we get back to the boat. Beverley stays in Derbyshire, as her Mum’s in hospital, and Steve makes a good start on fairing the hull. Despite the back-breaking nature of the work, he’s not suffering too many aches and pains either!
After ten days sailing with James on ‘Kestrel’, in the OGA Jubilee Cruise from Ipswich to Brightlingsea, we return to Woodbridge in beautiful sunny weather, at last. As its set fair, we can open up the tent to work in the fresh air and Steve gets into the swing of fairing the starboard side.
After a couple of weeks in the sunshine, with the tent opened up, Steve’s pretty well finished fairing the hull, another important milestone! There’s been more visitors than usual to keep us chatting, locals as well as yachtsmen from further afield. They’re attracted by seeing what’s beginning to look like the hull of a beautiful boat in the furthest corner of the Tidemill. It's known to some as ‘death row’, as we’re very close to the bonfire and the neglected boats ashore gathering rainwater in their cockpits.
The entry for 15 April 2007 declares Cachalot a ‘project’. Six years on and we’re still enjoying the challenge. BUT, six years had taken its toll on the Bongo, and she’s overwintered at Full Circle Autocare Ltd. for new wheel arches, door sill and tidying up of dents, bumps and scratches in the paintwork.
Richard and Jim have done a great job, and we’re looking forward to getting back to Woodbridge just as soon as its warm enough!!! When will the winter end??
Its the start of the OGA 50th anniversary celebrations this weekend, so we're off to Heybridge Basin to say 'farewell' to 'Witch' and 'Bonify', despite the weather, as the first boats leave on their four-month adventure.
Back in Woodbridge, we begin to make plans for this year, after another late start due to the very chilly winter . . . its still bitterly cold at night and we cuddle up in the van with extra blankets, duvets and woolly socks! We aim to get the hull ready for painting this summer, and start by thinking about the deck . . .
We turn our attention back to the deck . . . after researching the options and having some test pieces of the old teak deck sawn at the woodyard in Tansley, it's decided! The remaining foredeck will have to come off, allowing for a complete new marine ply sub-deck, a layer of glass to ensure we have no leaks, then the sawn teak will be re-laid. The Tansley woodyard has agreed to saw all the stock provided we supply it to them completely clean, with no stray fastenings to wreck their saw. So there's lots of plans and more measurements to be done. Fortunately, the inside of the tent isn’t too cold up on the deck during the day, and with the door closed and several warm layers, the van’s not too bad either.
The final planks have to ‘herringbone’ into the counter stern, which calls for some careful deliberations about how best to do this, leaving space for the rudder stock. Paul and Steve ask, ‘Where’s the old photos from when we first took the paint off?’ At last, the plan was drawn up, this is going to be one of the more tricky places to get it all in line.
It’s almost becoming a contest to complete the planking on the port and starboard sides, working towards the ‘shutter’ planks at stem and stern. There’s one or two periods of frustration for both Paul and Steve, as a plank splits at the last moment, or just won’t be persuaded to take the curve. And then we find the extra board, sourced from Pete’s remaining stock for ‘Transcur’ ten years ago, has woodworm! So out that goes, quick as a flash, and it’s back to getting the last couple of planks out of existing stock!
Beverley is sent out to town to buy the whisky, this really IS the final plank, and it seems to be going OK. Paul Masters joins us on Sunday to finish nailing up, as Beverley’s hurt her back and can’t hold the ‘dolly’. All the planks are securely nailed with roves and butt blocks. The inside is all cleaned out and we can declare the hull complete!
Steve’s had a few tentative tests at fairing, that will certainly be a back-breaking job prior to caulking her up. Just in time, as the weather forecast is gale force winds and even colder nights than we’ve had since Friday, so its back to Derbyshire for the warmth of our house on the hill!
Round trip to Woodbridge and St. Osyths, 21 June 2012
Andy had cut the larch boards, and they needed collecting, but the weather was still too unsettled for a return to Woodbridge. Steve drove the car to St Osyths, to save on fuel, taking advantage of Martin’s kind offer of a loaned van to transport the larch to Woodbridge, returned the van to Martin and drove back to Derbyshire.
He did the 500-mile journey in the one rare day when it wasn’t forecast to rain! By all accounts, the trip was quite an epic, with the long boards tied to the roof, but the larch is now safely ‘sticked up’ and ready for the next trip to Woodbridge, when it stops raining!
Another wet month in July
It was another two months before we were in Woodbridge again, and the ‘summer’ continues cold and wet, with weather forecasters providing little optimism for change. Steve’s fortunes on the work ‘front’ changed though, resulting in five weeks gainful employment in Chesterfield during July and early August. Determined to get down to Suffolk for the OGA August Classics, we eventually made it, towing ‘Cachalette’ with both bikes on the back! A phonecall from Paul, saying he’s available for work, money in the bank from Steve’s Chesterfield job, so we can say ‘yes’, and there’s plenty of Old Gaffer friends dropping by to see how we’re getting on. There’s better weather forecasts than we’ve had all year, things are looking up!
Dropping the keelbolts!
We’ve been thinking about this for a while, so let’s do it today! Paul and Steve drop two of the bolts, and check them out carefully.
They came out clean, but will need replacing. This prompted us to call Adrian, the surveyor, and he popped round to take a look while there’s still some missing planks to peer through into the hull. We’ll be off to see Moray MacPhail at Classic Marine for the new ones in due course.
Final few frames
We’ve said it before, but these really ARE the last frames, and if the weather stays fine, we should get all the planks in, with Paul working as well. There’s four planks to do on each side, just hope we don’t run out of wood again!
With the return of torrential rain, we had to resort to working inside the tent, watching the puddles grow and closing up the van. Its passes over, and at least not too cold, so planking continues, ready for Paul to join us on the final haul. The boards from Andy at St Osyths vary quite dramatically in thickness, apparently he had problems with his saw. The rain has stopped though, and Steve’s getting on well with sorting out sufficient boards for the last few planks.
The weather brightens up and Paul starts work, there’s some careful planning about how to deal with the last few planks. With nailing up to be done as well, we need to get more nails, roves and screws.
Beverley’s set the task of working out how many more we’ll need, and converting the number of nails into kilograms for the order from Anglia Stainless! How many times did she revise her calculations before calling?
Steve and Paul get started in earnest, just two full lengths to do on port and starboard. Ben from Anglia Stainless arrives with the order, and getting the bill reminds us just how important it is to keep the scraps of copper and bronze. The screws are coming up at £1 each. The nails aren’t cheap either, especially when you think about the bit you nip off every time you put on a rove!
Its the first week in June, and the weather looks set to stay cold, wet and very windy. Our plans to go to Woodbridge seem to be thwarted yet again as we watch the TV coverage of a wet procession of boats on the Thames for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Parade.
Shall we just stay at home? NO! we decided to brave the elements and drove down to Suffolk on Sunday evening, arriving just before midnight. For the first few days, we had to put duck boards to walk on inside the tent, and the wind howled around, dragging at the canvas and forcing us to keep the Bongo roof down, day and night.
We became used to the incessant noise of clanking halyards and flapping canvas, snuggling up with extra thick socks, blankets and fleeces to stay warm at night! Steve started to do small repairs, as he couldn’t do anything that meant leaving the shelter of the tent. Is this really ‘flaming June’?
The somewhat extreme weather conditions, particularly given that its June, meant working outside was impossible, and we’re still waiting for Andy at St Osyths to cut the larch we bought last time we were here. Beverley busied herself with various tasks that could be done inside the van.
Steve took the opportunity to look more closely at the boards which weren’t being replaced. Carefully crafted graving pieces and splines were made up, glued in place and sanded down. The weather brightened for one weekend, briefly, and Deborah came up to visit from London. We were even able to open up the van and put the awning out to sit in the sunshine! Not for long though, and we still hadn’t heard from Andy to collect the larch. As Steve continued with the ‘final touches’ to frames and floors, the weather turned for the worse again and we decided to head for home, well satisfied with the work done, despite the weather. As we crossed the Orwell Bridge, there’s a phonecall from Andy, ‘Your wood’s ready to collect’. Too late to turn back, so there will have to be an alternative plan.
A week before Easter, Steve set off with (hopefully) the final few frames, made over the winter in Matlock Bath. He also towed ‘Cachalette’, freshly painted, varnished and a few little repairs completed. The plan was to stay down in Suffolk for a couple of weeks, but the weather turned horribly cold and windy, so he retreated home for Easter. Sadly this meant we missed the OGA rally at Shotley, where we’d hoped to sail ‘Cachalette’ over to Harwich, but he did have time to put the frames in place . . . so we’ll be off in search of more wood for planks, and then its the deck!
The second trip to Woodbridge this year was also thwarted by the weather . . . with forecasts of gale force winds, flooding and very low temperatures we decided to travel to Suffolk by car, just for the weekend. Grateful thanks to Sue’s Dad for letting us stay at his house in the warm and dry! It was great to meet up with Rik and Fred, visiting from the Netherlands for the OGA talk about the ‘Round Britain’ event, and to see OGA members at the Nottage Institute, Wivenhoe. 16 May found us setting off to Woodbridge for the third time this year, although the weather still didn’t look TOO promising with wind and rain continuing, but the wind dropped at last. It began to warm up, in the daytime at least. The aim is to fit all the frames and floors by the end of the week, and try to source some more wood.
There’s another careful look at the depleted woodpile to sort out what is usable from the remaining planks. Steve checks it against the shift of butts plan to give the final list of what we’ll need. Hopefully this will be the last time we run out! A trip to St Osyths, and the wood is chosen from what Andy has on offer.
We took the opportunity to see how Martin is getting on with ‘Gwenili’. he’s sure she should be back in the water soon. Andy says the wood will be sawn in the next couple of weeks, ready for when we return to Woodbridge, and Martin has offered us the loan of his van to move the boards once they’re cut.
After an excellent week’s work, with all the frames and floors bolted up and painted, Steve thinks about what to do next. Waiting for the wood from St Osyths, we’re beginning to think seriously about what to do about the deck! Having carefully taken all the teak up, there must be a way to re-cycle and re-lay it, but that’s another research project.
Returning to Suffolk in August 2011, to join in with the OGA August Classics Cruise, we peep into the tent to see how Paul’s been doing. He’s been making great progress! The hull is beginning to take shape again, with the planks in place to the top on port and starboard, right back to the stern. There’s plenty of work for this week though, in between opportunities to sail and socialise with the Old Gaffers.
Beverley took two days out sailing, on ‘Cygnet’ and ‘Kelpie II’, and we both enjoyed a day out on ‘Cormorant’ in the East Coast OGA President’s Race. We also joined in all the usual social jollity of the August Classics Cruise!
In between all this, Steve got on well with a couple more new planks, repairs to the ones above the garboards and made finishing touches to the garboards themselves, now snugly fitting on port and starboard. Now more of an expert than when he started, Steve keeps finding things that aren’t quite up to scratch, and removed a couple more frames and floors as patterns to make new ones back in Derbyshire! With all the new planks, there was lots to do with the ‘dolly’ though!
Inside the hull, Steve had difficulty finding a stance that didn’t result in more holes in his jeans . . . while Beverley had to borrow the ear defenders to shield herself from the deafening resonance of the hammer on roves. By the end of August, another box of roves was gone and a hundred or so new nails are holding the planks in place.
Easter was late April 2011, followed by more Bank Holidays for the Royal Wedding and May Day, so Steve went down to Woodbridge for three whole weeks to make up for lost time over the winter. This paid off with excellent progress on the starboard side, but the decision to remove the garboards meant another extension to the schedule for finishing planking!
Another extended trip to Suffolk in June, and the purchase of some wide iroko boards from Buildbase in Ipswich, meant Steve was able to fit both new garboards. After carefully spiling, fitting, planing and securing the garboard on the starboard side, Steve decided to put in one last screw and was horrified to hear a loud bang. A three foot split had appeared in the for’ard end of the garboard. Following discussions with Paul, it was agreed that this could be repaired in situ.
Several conversations over recent months have resulted in sourcing two more loads of larch. The first has been brought from Mel Skeets, purchased from JK. It transpires that some more good lengths, originally purchased to restore ‘Clytie’, and stored at Robertsons yard in the care of Clarkie for the past ten years, was also available. With assistance from Paul Batey, and two trips courtesy of Paul Masters and his trailer, Steve has re-stocked the pile beside the tent. He’s returned to Derbyshire, leaving Paul to catch up with the delayed planking on port and starboard sides.
After leaving Woodbridge in early June, confident that Paul would be able to complete most of the planking as he’d just finished his previous commission, there was a series of phonecalls . . . The strong winds at the end of June meant Paul left work early one evening, returning to find that all his power tools had been stolen overnight. He was then told to dismantle his own tent, since it was empty, and, to ‘add insult to injury’ in the process of struggling to do this alone, he fell from his ladder . . . fortunately, he’s not injured, and we hope he’ll be able to start work again soon.
‘Anything I can do to help?’ asked Trevor from ‘Gromit’. The OGA August 2009 Classics fleet was waiting for enough water to leave the Tidemill Yacht Harbour for the ‘drift’ down to Ramsholt and the evening meal at the pub. Trevor had come over to see how Steve was doing, and while away an hour or so in the sunshine . . . ‘Well, I could do with getting that engine out!’ Steve replied. No sooner said than off Trevor went to get blocks from ‘Gromit’ to set up a pulley system and, after quite a bit of hauling and heaving, the engine was resting at the side of the tent.
Having completed lots of work planking the hull during the summer, October 2010 found Steve looking to the engine as a ‘winter project’ back in Matlock Bath . . . with help from Pete and Paul, he managed to load it into the Bongo and drive back to Derbyshire with it onboard. The challenge was how to get it up to the house, and then, of course, where to put it, since it was much too heavy to take up to the top workshop.
As usual, next-door neighbour Dave was keen to lend a hand, and after a lot of chin-scratching, tugging, heaving and heavy hauling the engine was carefully extracted from the Bongo onto a makeshift trolley and brought up the steps into the back yard.
Next plan . . . build a ‘lean-to’ in the back yard to double up as a garden store and covered workshop! This project went well, providing an ideal workshop area and doubling up as cold store for food when we had everyone to stay over for Christmas 2010. However, no sooner was it built than the snow came in abundance! From early December and into January 2011, there was little chance to do any work outside, even under cover! The same was true in Suffolk, so Paul didn’t make any progress with the planking either.