There’s pressure to get all the ‘essential’ jobs done ready to launch! After a short weekend break to meet Bev’s Russian friends in Edinburgh, Steve returns to Suffolk for a week, leaving Bev at home working on the ‘other’ project. Steve manages to complete lots of small jobs, which are hardly noticeable, ticking them off the list at last: keelbolts all dropped and replaced, water and fuel tanks secured with caps on the deck, engine exhaust box recycled, and fitted, having failed to find a modern replacement that fits in the space . . .
At the end of May we take the car ferry from Plymouth to Santander for a short trip to the Picos de Europa. We return via Cowes, Isle of Wight for a chat about sails with Steve Meakin and Andy Cassell at Ratsey & Lapthorn. With plans to launch we also need to change the insurance from ‘builders risk’, so Adrian arrives to do the survey. There’s still lots of tidying up to do around the boat and tent, disposing of all those bits and pieces that were ‘going to come in useful’, and never have! In place of all the rubbish, we need to retrieve the lead from safe storage in Ipswich in one of Pete and Clare’s sheds, bring down the cushions that have been gathering dust in a back bedroom at home and carry on working down that long list.
There were two weddings, another ski trip to Val Thorens and the kitchen project to occupy us from January to mid-April 2017, but Steve made time to write a long list of all the jobs that need to be done in preparation for getting in the water this year!
There’s new sails to be made, and Ratsey & Lapthorn have been engaged to make these, so we’ll be off to Cowes later this month.
Moray McPhail, at BronzeWork in Martlesham, will be making the new keel bolts and sorting out all the other metalwork for us. Following discussions over the chainplates, it was agreed to have a channel to carry the shrouds over the bulwarks so, on our return to Suffolk at the end of April this was the first job to be done, port and starboard.
After joining the OGA at the Tollesbury Rally on 29 April, we returned to Woodbridge but the incessant wind forced us back to Derbyshire by the end of the week!
As we make progress with the ‘winter project’ of extending the kitchen back in Derbyshire, in quite reasonable weather for the time of year, we keep an eye on the forecasts for Suffolk as Storm Doris approaches with warnings from the Met Office of gale-force winds and “. . . potential for a shortlived core of very strong winds to develop.”
Sunday 26 February we receive a text from Jeff, skipper of the boat next to ours at the Tidemill: “Your roof is ripped over the forward part of your boat, not sure if you’ve been kept informed.” After a phonecall to confirm the extent of the damage, Steve enlists the help of Joe and they set off for Suffolk early on Monday morning armed with strong ropes, tarps and cable ties – not sure what they will find and if they’ll be able to repair the damage. Hoping their repairs to the tent would survive the winter Steve and Joe returned exhausted after their 500-mile round trip.
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.
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.