Alongside the 'other' winter project at home (a radical extension to the kitchen), Steve has a few boat-related tasks in mind. After setting up in the front room to varnish the skylights and coachroof hatch, he makes a start on the new tiller at the beginning of December, where it's warm enough to glue up the laminated wood.
The planing and sanding has to be done in the top shed, but it's brought back into the house again for the varnish, then takes pride of place along with the restored coachroof skylights and cabin hatch, awaiting the trip back down to Suffolk.
With the hull painted, deck finished and all the spars ready, there’s plenty of smaller jobs to do to get her ready for launching next year.
The coachroof is not being replaced, but the skylights are in need of some attention so are brought back to the house for the winter, along with the hatch cover. The sitting room with a table set up is dry, dust-free and warm – the ideal workshop for stripping them down and varnishing!
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.
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.
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!
Once the rubbing strake's done, there's all those little bits to do. Steve carefully mitres teak edges for all the through-deck fittings. There's the cockpit to finish off, again with teak edging, before sanding down the coaming, hoisting it up onto the deck again, and setting it in place to bolt in and seal. Meanwhile, Bev's been doing OK with cycling and walking recommended, relieving the frustration at doing nothing. To keep the 'other project' on track, she set up a meeting with the architect on 25th May. Steve returns to Derbyshire for a couple of days then we both drive to Suffolk for the Bank Holiday weekend. Wide sunny skies until Monday, when 40 mph winds are forecast. With the van roof down, Steve secures the tent as best he can and we retire for a stormy night. Tuesday dawns bitterly cold, still windy, the tent flooded but no more damage and after a trip to Thorogoods we decide to retreat to the warmth of Derbyshire again.
With the beginning of May looking promising, Steve goes down to Woodbridge. Departing much later than planned on the 11th, he didn't arrive 'til nearly midnight! Bev stays at home, still hobbling around, looking forward to some advice from the physio about what she can and can't do . . . Steve's first job is to make more repairs to the tent. It has a serious 'lean', several degrees from the perpendicular, with the poles bent at alarming angles. Apart from the ripped section in the side, there's several holes along the top where the poles have rubbed through the canvas . . . an inner tent made of tarps is a necessity whenever rain is forecast now.
The tent fixed as well as he can manage, Steve concentrates on the boat, removing all the 'peel ply', filling the blemishes and finally sands the newly-glassed deck. Almost ready for buying the paint and a trip to Larkmans confirms the colour. James is finishing the deck of 'Charm': International Sand it is. Next job is the rubbing strake, carefully crafted from larch and fixed along both sides from stem to just past the cockpit coaming. A visitor passes complimentary comments on the fair of the hull.