First week in October and it's still mild enough during the day, though the nights are rather chilly. The bulwarks have several layers of varnish and the last coats of paint are applied to the hull. There's plenty of tidying up and sorting through all the tools to take home for winter projects in Derbyshire.
Finally we tie down the tent as best we can and hope there's not too many storms before the Spring.
Before the bulwarks can be varnished, several hundred bungs must be made, glued in place and sanded off. It’s beginning to be a race against the weather as we get out extra blankets at night as October approaches.
28 September finds us driving back to Derbyshire for a meeting with the architects about the ‘other project’ . . .
We return on 1 October as the weather looks set fair for a week or so to finish varnishing the bulwarks and wrap her up well before winter sets in properly.
We bring the restored gaff spar back down from Derbyshire, on the roof of the van. A gaff on top did get a few strange looks from other motorists at the service area when we stopped for a coffee!
The new bowsprit, made at Larkmans by James, is now hoisted up onto the deck for safe storage over the winter. James is still working on the boom, which will be ready in the Spring.
The weather for the first week in October is mild and ideal for finishing the varnish and painting.
The final task before painting the deck and topsides is the capping rail, to be made from the remaining iroko - but will there be enough? Steve starts with the most challenging section, the counter stern, one curved piece made from four sections. It takes two to manoeuvre it through the plane and needs some careful balancing for finishing off!
Once in place, the end is in sight - eight scarfed pieces, four on each side, and after a couple of days deluge, the weather fortunately takes a turn for the better. All goes well until the last two sections, the remaining planks aren't wide enough for the curve. Steve experiments with gluing two pieces together. After a night out to dry, they're deemed unsuitable as the join will show - so it's back to Thorogoods on Monday 26 September for more iroko and, on Tuesday, the capping rail is complete.
On Sunday, Steve decides the final two pieces of capping rail may not be good enough, so wants to wait until Monday when Thorogoods will be open . . . so what can we do to avoid wasting the day?
As it will never be seen, Steve suggests Bev may like to paint below the waterline with Primocon, so at least that is ready for the winter . . . the deal is that he will sand it down and she’ll do the painting.
We really do need to tidy up the site around the tent as we see the end of the project in sight. All four sides are littered with a mixture of usable timber along with a range of waste materials and bits and pieces that 'might come in useful'.
As the Tidemill is returning to a state of tidiness, we're keen to play our part, and are told to create a pile of wood for burning beside the new mound. Beverley sets about moving timber, creating two sticked piles of usable planks, the final set of 'templates' and quite a large pile for a bonfire!As Autumn approaches, we have to decide how to secure the boat, and tent, for the winter. There's plenty of discussions with Tidemill staff, and others, about whether to dismantle the tent or leave it 'in situ' as a workshop for the Spring.
We decide on leaving it up with the scaffold well secured. The fabric is so fragile it provides limited protection against heavy rain - however, we hope to have the hull and deck painted and varnished by early October and can set up an 'inner tent' for protection.
Once the counter bulwarks are in place, it's time to think about replacements for the port and starboard sides, and the capping rail.
After careful measuring, a stock of iroko is purchased from Thorogoods, sufficient for the new bulwarks as well as the capping rail. It's all sticked up ready, beside the tent . . . but what's the best way to secure the new bulwarks to the deck?
After much discussion, with various people, and several mock-ups and drawings, Steve starts production of 14 stanchions to sit neatly beneath the capping rail.
Making the stanchions takes quite a while, and was interrupted by a few days out sailing with the OGA for the August Cruise. Bev sailed with James on 'Kestrel' for the whole week, and Steve spent most days working, joining the fleet for evening events ashore . . . It was great to welcome a crowd of gaffers at the tent on 22 August though, even though she's not in the water, we kept our promise of beers a-plenty!
Bending on the iroko for the bulwarks went well, and by the beginning of September the deck was looking pretty shipshape - just needing the capping rail and enough good weather into the Autumn to allow us time to paint and varnish ready for winter.
Time for the finishing touches! Last summer we promised to have her ready for the OGA August Classics this year, she won't be in the water but skippers and crews are all invited to visit during their sojourn at the Tidemill 23/24 August. With the deck and hull all done, there's just the bulwarks before we can varnish and paint her for the winter.
Steve starts with the reclaimed counter section, strong, laminated and possibly original. He makes a new set of knees to secure it firmly to the deck and makes good progress - it's great to see the counter restored (almost) to her former glory!
'Cachalot' features in several photos in Tom Cunliffe's book 'Hand, Reef and Steer'. The caption for the picture above is 'a fine bowsprit', and of course, she's flying the St George's cross as a Dunkirk Little Ship sailing in company on the Return to Dunkirk, 1990. However, the bowsprit now needs to be replaced since it is showing it's age and needs to be a bit stronger . . . The new one has arrived from James at Larkman's, being constructed from two pieces of narrow grained Douglas fir and, whilst the same length, has a greater diameter.
The boom has now been taken to Larkman's yard for varnishing and other refinements . . .
The mast has already been repaired and varnished with several coats, surviving a fall from it's rack during the winter storms in early 2016, and ready to step once the hull is ready . . .and the gaff has also been repaired, but needs transporting back to Suffolk from Derbyshire where it attracts frequent comments and enquiries from visitors, bemused to find such an unusual item in the garden of a house in the Peak District!
Find out more about the gaff, still being stored in Derbyshire, in the post from Winter projects 2015/16.
As Steve prepares to paint the hull, he realises the waterline doesn't seem to be level after all the moves since 2007.
Using a long plastic tube filled with beetroot stained water, he works out the line and jacks up the boat fore and aft . . . then she also needs moving port/starboard.
Just to be sure, we find a photo of her as she came out of the water in Spring 2007 and compare it with her now in the tent.
Work in June had to fit in with returning to Derbyshire for the third Eroica Britannia in Bakewell on the 19th and to vote in the EU Referendum on the 23rd. The weather wasn't really 'flaming' though, and continued to be unseasonably cold, wet and windy.
There's the added problem of dust and noise as construction work at the Tidemill Yacht Harbour is seriously delayed. With dumper trucks moving heaps of soil and mud past the tent every half an hour, it's not an ideal working environment for keeping anything clean, especially as the next job after finishing the deck will be painting.
Work must go on though if she's to go back in the water this summer. So, now the deck is glassed and sanded with all the trims in place, Steve lays the king plank on the forward and aft decks.
Once the deck is finished, Steve's keen to start getting the hull painted with undercoat, despite the continuing dust and noise. He fairs and undercoats the starboard side, but begins to wonder about the waterline. Where exactly is it?
After conversations with Tidemill Harbourmaster Mike 'the Pipe' and experiments with a plumb line, it becomes clear that the boat is not actually sitting 'true' on her cradle. This must have been the case since being moved to the North Arm to sit under her tent when the new toilet block was being built back in 2007!