After a few days in Derbyshire, we’re back in Suffolk for the OGA Summer Cruise. After a passage race on Friday, 20 July and the East Coast Race on the River Blackwater the following day, the week’s cruise ends with a parade of sail up the River Orwell today. ‘Cachalot’ isn’t ready to take part, so Bev crews with James on ‘Kestrel’.
While Bev’s out sailing, Steve gets on with fitting out with evening trips to various locations to join the Gaffers by car. The work is made harder by the blistering heat and lack of shade, but he manages to to get a lot done including installing the VHF radio and navigation lights, setting up the Wykeham Martin jib furling gear, bobstay, bowsprit shrouds and anchor (without the newly-acquired winch, for now).
He spends an enjoyable couple of days with Steve, from Ratsey’s, who’s visiting the Tidemill YH on holiday from the Isle of Wight and also repairs another area of winter damage where the new capping rail has split. All these ‘little jobs’ take time, and it’s sometimes hard to see progress, despite ticking them off the list!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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’.