Friday, December 15, 2017

A long break, and then some surprises.

Running rigging
We were away for a long time, and I apologise for the silence. A great diving holiday in The Country That Must Not Be Mentioned gave me the opportunity to see how real working sailors do their ropework. As soon as we were back I put that knowledge to work in making up my running rigging. And had someone tell me that this was the wrong way to make eye splices in braided rope, and that I was using the wrong whipping twine. Well, the approved method does not work for me, as my braid is too tight to get the core out of the cover, and in any case I was making eyes around the beckets of blocks. Vindication came in video's of some old sailing ships, the tars made the eyes in a similar way. As for the right whipping twine, I used what I could find, which is far better than the stuff they used on the Cape Horners. So there.

Puzzling it out
And the masts go up

Our neighbour knocked down

Keketso and Reinhard came to help put the masts back up again. We had to change our date at short notice, so I did not book the mast crane, which resulted in us waiting for most of the morning as the yard worked on some of their boats. Then we rushed, and of course made mistakes that slowed us down even further. We did learn some interesting lessons in navigation: the automotive tides around big cities must be well taken into account when planning trips. We came home well after dark, instead of some time after two.

Another boat badly damaged
And thereby hangs a tail: We were anxious to get home, and the yard promised to park Dreamtime in her usual slot. Well, four days later a tornado went through the area, toppled the boat next to us, and Dreamtime went walkabout because the workers had not pulled the handbrake. Which is why I believe that you should do, or check everything yourself.

There was serious damage to the marina, the town and nearby villages. Houses knocked down, people hurt, and apparently someone killed nearby. Dreamtime came through her first major storm with no damage.

It is fun working with tar
I finished off some painting, and took the time to wirebrush the rusting trailer and to paint it with Chassis Black, a genteel name for tar. And so re-discovered why sailors were called tars. It gets everywhere, sticks to everything, and it smells nice. Of course I managed to dilute one batch with thinners instead of turpentine. I will insist that it was a scientific experiment. In any case, the bottles look the same. We will see if it makes a difference. 
Sea chest, with black water tank behind. 

Most of the sea chest, or standpipe is done. As usual I bought fittings for a 15mm pipe, only to find that the previous ones are 20mm. Well, the shop has a good returns policy, and I will post the finished product next time.

I also found someone selling a small diesel. An electronics engineer, he pulled his motor to fit a fancy electric system. Five minutes of conversation convinced me that an electric motor is not for me. I made an offer. If it goes through you will have a few more posts to look at.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Long range affair

Forestay getting measured
Great frustration. It takes me two hours at least to get to the boat through heavy early morning city traffic. Then four to five hours of work, and two hours back. A long day. The Cruiser likes the long distance, I get good mileage. Ok, as good as a Cruiser is going to get. At the moment I go down once a week, and now we will have a three weeks break to go diving.

So here is the report of the latest work: We finalised the doors today, now they need sanding, finishing and painting. We made a simple platform for the generator, which does stop the harmonic vibration of the hull almost completely. This needs sanding and sealing, as well as low profile rubber feet. We stepped the masts, measured the stays, then had them made up. And made up again, not sure if my measurements or theirs were off. Stepping the masts is a three man job, especially when the wind blows as it did at the time. Last cold front of spring, they say.

We also had the name and bow art done, cut on vynil, and applied. I have my doubts as to the longevity, and next option is to have stencils cut. Spray painting is my last resort.

Steel punchings being sorted
Mainmast up, stays getting measured. 
I also sourced some steel punchings to make up for the short weight of the lead, with some left over. Now this has to be cleaned, rust inhibited, coated in bitumen paint, and then bagged in 10kg units. Sounds like a fun job.

There is a lot still to be done, but I want to get her on the water now, even if the interior is incomplete. And if we have wind as we had she will sail well. Question is how to get her out of the marina against the wind. I have a 2hp Johnston, which will work in a dead calm. Now looking at new, but apparently they are making outboard motors from pure gold these days. So looking for a good used one. Later we can get fancy.

Bow art going on. Will it stay on?
Electrics, well, that will have to wait. The seachest needs doing, and again non-standard piping makes life miserable. But I have an Artful Bodger's solution. More in the next instalment. Ceilings: The last ones have to be made and are going in next time. Some internal finishing, sanding and painting has to be done.

Until next time!

Friday, September 29, 2017

I am never going to play Tetris again

Rean doing the electrical thing
The week is over. My nerves are recovering slowly, and new crises tempt me. But one thing: Tetris is not going to be fun again.

Lieb's truck got sick
Let me start at the beginning: On Monday we had a last frantic finishing session. David and Phineas did the last few floors and hung the forecabin and toilet doors, while Rean reviewed the electrical system and wired up the 220 volt side. Then  on Tuesday Lieb arrived with his truck, and we eased Dreamtime out of the nursery where she had taken root. For a few kilometers all went well, but then Lieb's little truck blew its radiator. I hooked Dreamtime behind the Cruiser, but the traffic police took a dim view, and I had to leave her overnight at a filling station.

The next morning Tendai turned up with his roll-on truck, and we were off. All went well, with a small hiccup at Henley on Klip, where a traffic police officer, herself in the heavy load category, judged by eye that Dreamtime exceeded the five ton limit of loads that may go through this benighted hamlet, and slapped a fine on us.

But then we made it to Manten Marina, and left Dreamtime to converse with a few similar boats.

Tendai to the rescue, but beware: Henley does not like trucks
On Friday I was back with the cargo of ingots. Unfortunately only lead, so if anyone knows an alchemist... because the 800 kg lead scrap I bought delivered only 600kg ingots. We need, according to the designer, 800 kg, and I feel we need 1000kg.

Getting the lead in was not fun at all. Reinhard loaded the bucket and kept tabs of the weight, Paolo hoisted it up and packed the ingots for me to stack, and I stacked. I have serious bruises from hanging over the bunk frames to arrange the perverse ingots neatly so that we achieve the highest denstiy, like Tetris with lead blocks, at the extremity of your reach.

New company
We also installed a few items, most importantly the cushions for the seats and forward cabin bunk. And she feels like a home already!

Next week I will work on the masts, take them down and see if we can step them and measure the shrouds, and then bring the shrouds back to be swaged. Yes, I acknowledged, reluctantly, that the square rigger practise of rack-seizing your own rigging was perhaps one step too far.

Thanks again for all the woodwork, Phineas. And David for your ongoing encouragement and support. Rean, the electrics are not done! And also a thank you to Reinhard and Paolo.

Testing the cushions. 

Monday, September 18, 2017


That is a German expression for the panic that sets in as the door begins to close. I am committed to move Dreamtime to water on 26 September, and now have seven million things to tie up. My plan to have her splashed reasonably nearby did not come off, so she will go to Manten's Marina in Deneysville. Check it out on Google maps... A cool 160km from here (That's 99.4194 miles, for the Americans) which means a two hour drive to go and finish all the final jobs. It's highway through some of the more congested highways around Johannesburg, and my nerves are already getting wound up.
Framework for wim platform and boarding step

Last week was miserable: Either the parts I had made didn't fit or I forgot something at home. So I try to work at home and the parts are on the boat... And then on Friday things came together: The shackles that were too big were changed by a friendly girl for a smaller size that was not in the catalog. The swim platform went on as designed, with almost no hassles, and came off again for rustproofing. The net under the bowsprit went on as planned. The electrical panels went on, but will need slight modifications.
Electrical panels: first fitting

The panels between the toilet and the waste water tank came out as planned, now for the pipework. And a problem: The standpipe to the hull is 50mm. The outlet from the tank is 48mm. A 50mm gate valve/ball valve is actually 2 inches, so 58mm thread. And plumber suppliers just shrug and rill their eyes. So that has to be fixed before I can splash her. Also the sea chest inlet is 40mm, and I need to borrow a die to thread that, a ball valve (1.5 inch) is already waiting. A friend has an old plumber friend who will lend me his old manual die, these days everyone use machines to thread pipe and you must just bring your boat to the workshop....
Pirate number one
Pirate number 2

I had help with fitting screws and unscrewing bolts: My pirates boarded me again. Such friendly, well-behaved pirates, Josh and Cooper.

I will only have helpers for two more working days, so there are priority lists...

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Sitting pretty

Research is hard work
Work has been going on, despite life happening. We went looking for an alternative place to splash the boat, and try her out, learn to sail, and have fun. The intensive research (insert smiley) resulted in finding a good steak house not far from a sailing club on a reservoir close by. Water is quite polluted, and much is far from ideal, but it can work. We plan to get out there by end September. It is close enough that one could carry on the fitting out, driving out there would take an hour each way. So that is what we will do.

Shahnaz cutting the insulation
Fitting backing blocks for the starboard bunk.
Phineas and David cutting to the middle of the pencil line.
We have been doing a few things, the most important I will cover in this post is insulation, this time with aluminium-covered bubbble wrap. This is for the main cabin, and the spaces behind the bunks. We also proceeded with the saloon bunks and the lockers under them. Phineas did his usual meticulous work, I helped and held things, David stood by and told us when we started cutting into the crate under the work.

Plastic crate going in.
Pilot berth bottom going in.
A lot of the old bunk bottoms could be repurposed, as the previous shipwright had different ideas from me. Now we are getting to where I want to be.  The shelves will hold plastic crates as drawers, and measurements are more or less standardised for them. The bunks are almost done, and the pilot berth bottom is in and sealed.

The nav table and the saloon table are made, but will only be fitted after the cushions are made and installed.

Nav table.

 Working on the boat can become lonely. Apart from Saturdays when Phineas anbd David are free to help, and Shahnaz occasionally giving a hand, it is easy to lose motivation. Yet every time I arrive the two geese come running to check up on me, and, reluctantly, to accept some grain. I wonder if I should sign them up as crew?

Next up: Some steel work, electrics, sanding, painting, sanding, painting...

And the seats work.
Cushions to follow.
Geese checking up on the progress. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Getting a handle on the interior

Galley cabinets. 
A few hitches, but Phineas is progressing with the forecabin panelling. A meltdown of my old Black & Decker circular saw slowed things down, and all modern saws are beyond my little generator's power supply capabilities. At last I found an old Makita 800 Watt saw, and this weekend it will buzz! The main salon seating/bunks await.

I am almost done with the galley cabinets. Nylon catches inside keep them closed, but I am looking for a more positive way to secure them. The doors swing down, and plastic trays will go inside to hold the stuff. I am planning to have a countertop stove and collapsible wash basin for a beginning, until I can find the right stuff.
Companionway ladder with hand rail/grab handle

David mounting a grab handle. 
We fitted the grab handles and handrail for the companionway. I stressed over it for weeks, and finally got going, but it took David to work out a way to drill through the one handle, the panel and into the second handle. The last gets a brass insert, the first handle gets its holes recessed, and then stainless steel Allen bolts go in. I only had to ream two bolt holes.

And true to Doug of SV Seeker's motto: "I learnt so much from my mistakes, I plan to make some more." I thought to try bending pipes myself. Plywood cut with a jigsaw, turned in the drill, steel angle legs, but no cigar: the 20mm mild steel pipe does not bend smoothly. So I will have the swim platform, canopy hoops and interior steel grab handles, which will also serve as hardpoints for lifting things like batteries, bent professionally.

No, not working, at least not well enough.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Interior work continues

Woodwork goes slow and I am not patient. Fortunately Phineas helps keep me in control. He is a painstaking and careful joiner, and enjoys making panels fit perfectly. Most of the galley is done, except for the doors, which needs final trimming and sanding before they go on.

Phineas trimming a panel. 
The companionway ladder is in and looks good, but I must get to making handholds now.

Fifth fitting. Almost there.
I was lucky to have some helpers over the past weeks. Well, some helped more than others. Still, a pleasure.
Brother, you missed one! Diederick and Isabelle installing floor panels. 

Painting is another job I am not good at. For me it is a question of slapping on a lot of paint and smoothing it out. Madame could contain herself, and provided some expert guidance. We will see if it has rubbed off when I do the galley doors..

So that's how it's done! 

Tools came to my attention. My cheap, light and friendly Ryobi drill started coughing and eventually cut out altogether. The problem is the switch. Amazon has one for $ 4.80, but here it sells for at least double, if you can get it. I may get lucky, but runnning down the possibilities will take time.

The offending switch. Small, but important. 

I did manage to resuscitate a Bosch cordless screwdriver and drill, by removing the batteries, and putting a cord on, then running it from an old gate motor battery. Works like a charm, but needs a bit of fettling. It will go on the boat and run off the 12 volt system.

Cordless drill, cordless no longer

 And the set square... We had a torrid time, Phineas and I, to get a panel to fit. No matter how careful the measurements, it ended up out of square. Until we checked the set square. Somehow it was out. Dropped? Never! Not on your life! It must have been perfectly calibrated when my grandfather bought it. Well, I had to splurge and buy a new one. Now I have an excuse for all the bad language over the years, when I tried to make square joints! Let it not be said that a bad craftsman blames his tools.

When a square is no longer square...

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Bits and pieces

Base for the toilet, and pan for the shower, with
insulation in and cladding coming on. 
Work has suffered from all sorts of interrruptions, but now a few public holidays, visiting friends, and other helpers has enabled me to make some serious progress.

We are still fitting out the interior and planking the lazarette, but we are now ready to tackle the bathroom, or heads to use the maritime term. The kitchen or galley will soon follow.

In the meantime we did bits and pieces: Iain, Megan and Malcolm came visiting and helped do the planks that go under the forward bunk.

Iain showing how it should be done.
Megan sanding. We will get to Hawaii a bit later.
David came along to help with the masts, and we discovered a problem. The traditional way of staying a mast has loops of cable going over the masthead and resting on blocks of wood. On our metal version the 'blocks' are all too small, so David welded loops on as well. We will have to see how this works out in real life.

Malcolm sanding finger holes. 
And Phineas helped put the shower basin, toilet base, and panels in, and started on the side cladding of the heads. Trevor visited and suggested thht we clad the heads in aluminium, but the plywood is already bought.

As usual comments are welcome.

Dog inspection: Companionway ladder.

Ladder almost done. Phineas has reason to be proud. 
David working on the masthead.