After the launch, the bilge pumps were set and timed regularly – it all seemed to be going OK so we went sailing with James on ‘Kestrel’ with the East Coast OGA, setting out from Waldringfield for the August Cruise to Brightlingsea on 11 August. Andy agreed to keep a watchful eye on the bilge pumps, so Steve didn’t need to worry (much!) and could enjoy the sailing and a bit of relaxation for a week away . . .
On our return, the priority was to be the mast, but the bilge pumps were still running rather too frequently. Reluctantly, it was agreed this was more than just ‘taking up’, despite all the old tricks of sawdust under the hull . . . she needed to come out for a better look below the waterline. We could have had her lifted at the Tidemill, but a better option seemed to be the short motor up river to Larkmans, where James could have a look at her seams and do any work while she was left in the slings for 24 hours. The tides were just right, with high water around midday, so Steve motored up river on 23 August.
Friday morning dawns, and there’s still lots to do. Yvonne arrives with the flags and the old bowsprit is taken round to the boat as a temporary mast to dress her overall. She also has bunting for the inside. Chris has very kindly let us make use of his empty tent for storage since the launch of his boat a couple of weeks ago. He’s also happy for us to make use of it as a reception venue, so this is also dressed up and trestles laid out with drinks and nibbles.
The launch is scheduled for around high water at 1050 and people begin to arrive as the preparations continue. It’s great to see so many people coming to help us celebrate. The party goes on all day, and into the evening with another musical gathering to round off the night. Throughout the day, we’ve also received messages from as far away as the Baltic and South West England – thankyou to everyone who’s supported and encouraged us on this rather long journey. There’s still quite a lot to do before we get out on the water, so keep looking out for the next instalments of our story!
While we wait for the metalwork to be returned, there’s plenty more to do!
The long bolt is drilled, and secured just above the rudder stock and rings for the mainsheets are all secured through the deck.
The big plastic box storing yards of tangled electrical cables is unpacked and instruments are checked, then fitted in place ready for the electrics to be re-installed. The bilge pumps, in particular, are scrutinised and cleaned up ready for service.
Sadly, it seems the depth sounder hasn’t survived, so there’s quite a bit of research to source a replacement to be fitted before the launch.
Steve will be returning to Derbyshire in the Bongo, via Birmingham to pick up Simon, and plans to get the deck painted with at least one coat before leaving on 14 July. The weather is kind, with a gentle drying breeze and no rain . . .
He plans each day allowing time for a few more coats of varnish and then gets the coachroof painted in Epifanes no. 24 with non-slip pearls added, to match the hull. Before the chainplates can be fitted, due to the change in design, there’s six more frames to be fitted inside the hull – a piece of work unaccounted for in the list of ‘essential to do before launch’ list!
Bev sets to work masking up all the varnished areas in contact with the deck in preparation for painting. She takes the car back home on 10 July to get some more work done on the house before Simon and Steve return at the end of the week.
We know Dutch OGA friends Rik and Celeste on ‘Cine Mara’ and Fred on ‘Morgaine’ are visiting the East Coast. We track them down while they’re at anchor in the Deben, and invite them for a cuppa – our first visitors on board, even if she’s still in the tent on her cradle!
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!
After being forced back to Derbyshire by gales at the beginning of May, we set off for sunnier climes in Italy. Travelling by train via Derby, London, Paris and Milan then to Siracusa, Sicily (with the train boarding the boat to cross the Strait of Messina), we returned by overnight ferry from Palermo to Naples, flying back to Gatwick after a few days sightseeing in Rome.
Progress having been seriously delayed this year, Steve spent just over a week in Woodbridge in early June, achieving his Springtime goal of getting the whole of the hull interior painted at last! ‘Henry’, the hardy and generally trusted vacuum cleaner, did need the smile wiping from his face when he fell from a deck beam knocking a tin of (very expensive) paint into the bilges! With grey bilges and white above the sole, she’s looking good, and another step towards putting on the deck.
Mid-June found us back in Derbyshire for the Eroica Britannia at Bakewell Showground. Much colder than last year, the weather didn’t dampen our spirits as Beverley joined Steve and Rob for a most enjoyable (and challenging) 55 miles up hill and down dale along with 3,000 ‘heroic’ riders on classic pre-1987 bicycles.
4 July and it’s off to Suffolk again, taking the Bongo and the car for the ‘long haul’, with no distractions until August! The tent's become somewhat untidy, leading to some ‘home improvements’, clearing out old wood that ‘might come in handy’ as patterns and extending the workbench to full-width of the tent: total cost, one bag of nails at £2.49!
After more discussions, sucking of teeth and research into the definitive plan for the deck, it’s decided: marine ply and glass, painted to provide the look of canvas. Now the decision's made, Steve's fairing the deck beams and finishing jobs it’s easier to do without the deck on, and ordering the ply, of course. Water and fuel tanks are thoroughly cleaned, and securely installed along with a new fuel filter.
22 July: ten boards of plywood arrive on a large lorry from Lathams. After stacking it safely, we depart for Yarmouth, Isle of Wight for the weekend to say 'bon voyage' to the OGA fleet sailing to St Malo. On our return, we find Marion and Ian are stormbound on 'Eleanor' in Ipswich, they cycled round to see the boat and invited us back for supper. Yesterday, Trevor, Peter and Paul were in the Tidemill on 'Gromit', so we all repaired to The Anchor for an evening meal.
July 7, 2014 finds Steve and Simon in Suffolk, preparing Cachalot for caulking. Before he leaves for Berlin, Simon makes a perfect job of putting more coats of primer on the hull, and we engage Paul to start work on 22 July while we go to Berlin to visit Julia and Simon.
At the end of July, determined to join in with the Dutch OGA Cross Country Tour, Bev took her bike to the Netherlands on the ferry, joining the fleet in Haarlem to ride and sail with them to Den Helder, returning mid-August after helping Claudia to move Else. But that’s all another story . . .
Paul and Steve made excellent progress with caulking and starting with the interior and we return to Derbyshire for a couple of weeks at the end of August. After an epic furniture removal trip to help Kate and Simon (Chesterfield – Barnsley – Matlock – Birmingham – Southampton – Chesterfield in 36 hours) we return to Woodbridge as the weather looks set fair until October.
On 26 September another milestone is reached as Paul completes the caulking and ‘paying up’. We spend another week tidying up and preparing the tent for another winter, concerned as to whether it will actually survive. This really must be the last winter Cachalot spends under her tent! We head for home on 4 October.
It’s April, Easter weekend, and we’re off to Suffolk for the first time this year for the OGA Tollesbury Rally.It’s still too cold to stay long enough to do much on the boat, and we need to get back to Derbyshire anyway where we’ve left Neil and Joe tree-felling in the garden!
2014 looks like it’s going to be another late start for work on ‘Cachalot’, due to the weather, but Steve’s been making good progress in the workshop at home with the component parts for the cockpit all ready to go. Now the hull’s pretty well finished, we’re also thinking about caulking and what to do about the interior, before replacing the deck.
The May Spring Bank Holiday looks set to be fair, so we load the van with the first bulkhead and cockpit sides, made of marine ply, routed to simulate tongue and groove. Carefully put together from patterns, 300 miles away in Derbyshire, Steve starts to fit them all in place. Not only is the hull taking shape, we’re getting started on the ‘fitting out’!
The other major job is to prepare the hull for caulking, filling any minor blemishes before applying more coats of primer. In search of some sunshine and warmth though, we fly off to Italy for a week on the Amalfi Coast at the beginning of June, back in time for Steve to take part in l’Eroica Britannia based at Bakewell Showground.
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’.