Petestack Blog

29 September 2019

Fly refit final index

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 4:36 pm

Having found myself frequently referring back to my own blog posts about Fly’s refit and knowing that many friends and fellow boat owners were following with interest, I saw an index of all the refit posts as a useful resource complementing the blog’s search function. So I made an interim version in April which I’m now replacing with this nominally final one when the refit never truly ends! For those unacquainted with the story, it’s been an initially sporadic but latterly concentrated total refit following the 2009 discovery of serious internal water damage while laid up ashore since late 2005, with things both within and without my control to blame for the obvious hiatuses but nothing ultimately stopping me…

  1. Getting back to Fly (26 September 2010)
    Alkathene tarpaulin frame.
  2. Undercover Fly (18 October 2010)
    First tarpaulin.
  3. Clearing the decks (27 February 2011)
    ‘removing just about everything that moves’
  4. Messing about in boat (5 March 2011)
    New forehatch in, lots more out.
  5. Gralloched Impala! (5 May 2011)
    ‘another day spent gutting the boat’
  6. Marine diesels and Munro tops (4 June 2011)
    ‘combining a trip to Dingwall to take Fly’s engine to Brae Classics for blasting and repainting with a run over Ben Wyvis’
  7. Back to Fly again (22 October 2015)
    Preparing for new windows.
  8. Fly has windows! (9 March 2016)
    New windows in.
  9. Stripping paint (2 August 2017)
    Serious refit starts at last with 100+ hours main cabin paint stripping a year after we finally get the boat dry but my June 2016 shed fire throws a very big spanner in the works.
  10. Stripping slime (3 August 2017)
    ‘took the pressure washer to her decks and topsides’
  11. Not well in the bow well (5 August 2017)
    ‘unwelcome discovery of rot in the floor and aft wall of the bow well’
  12. Destruction for construction (8 August 2017)
    Cutting out the remainder of the main bunk tops.
  13. Forecabin fun (12 August 2017)
    Stripping forecabin paint and testing water tank shapes.
  14. Good tarps and bad tarps (18 August 2017)
    ‘a proper little roof to allow work with the main hatch open any day and shed snow if I leave it up’
  15. Constructing again! (22 August 2017)
    New bunk tops in.
  16. More taking apart and putting together (20 October 2017)
    Starting to build an integral water tank, more rotting wood in the cockpit locker false floor and removing the companionway bulkhead facing.
  17. Bow well cover (29 October 2017)
    ‘so we’ve got shelter to get it dry and sort the problems’
  18. Constructive progress (21 November 2017)
    Water tank construction, epoxy coating main cabin hull surfaces and eliminating paths for water ingress to the bow well plywood.
  19. Easter Fly (9 April 2018)
    Bow well repairs and forecabin epoxy coating.
  20. Galley slaves (15 April 2018)
    Rebuilding the galley from old and new parts.
  21. Working after work (24 April 2018)
    More paint/varnish stripping and priming.
  22. Doing and undoing (30 April 2018)
    Varnishing, undercoating, new nav. station bulkhead and planning an integral cool box.
  23. Just doing (10 May 2018)
    More nav. station (including testing chart table fit), galley and varnishing.
  24. Two-man relay team? (15 May 2018)
    ‘nav. shelf fitting and cool box construction done by Twig mostly when I wasn’t here’
  25. The Cell of ‘Little Ease’ (27 May 2018)
    More painting and varnishing including the (awkward!) heads compartment.
  26. Sub-cockpit grovelling (10 June 2018)
    Stripping bunk-foot lockers for repainting and remaining galley paint/varnish stripping.
  27. Bunk-foot lockers (19 July 2018)
    Preparing and painting more awkward woodwork.
  28. Forecabin deckhead (29 July 2018)
    More paint and glue stripping…
  29. Main hatch (31 July 2018)
    And yet more!
  30. Cockpit locker false floor (1 August 2018)
    ‘cut out the starboard locker’s plywood false floor identified last October as rotten, non-structural and surplus to requirements’
  31. What I’ve learned about nylon brushes (2 August 2018)
    ‘Nylon brush summary [for paint stripping with electric drill] from one year and hundreds of hours use’
  32. Cavernous hellholes of peeling paint (8 August 2018)
    ‘one week and approximately 41 hours of work’ stripping the cockpit lockers.
  33. Jigsaw pieces (12 August 2018)
    ‘progress with the chart table and forecabin bunk boards’
  34. Two-month summary (21 October 2018)
    Mast step rebuild, galley, water tank and seacock renovation.
  35. No-photo report (with photos) (25 November 2018)
    Quick summary of stuff you can’t see, with a few pics of stuff you can!
  36. Two months’ work in twenty photos (26 December 2018)
    New (Jabsco) marine toilet, water pump, filler, chart table support block, switch panels, wiring, heads window and teak rings for heads door handle, as well as chart table progress, starting internal hull lining and cleaning the engine bay.
  37. Flying into 2019 (1 January 2019)
    Engine back in, new Vetus mushroom vents, painting (priming) the areas of deckhead where light would otherwise bleed through lining carpet, new stereo, planning custom speaker enclosures, battery box restoration and cleaning/recoating exposed areas of keelbolts and plates.
  38. More bits and pieces (13 January 2019)
    Battery box back in, minor tiller repair, chart table body and lid back together, and preparing for new Treadmaster in forecabin and heads.
  39. Things right and not right (27 January 2019)
    Heads and forecabin linings, and companionway bulkhead facing back in.
  40. Two weekends, one photo (10 February 2019)
    Prototype speaker enclosures and other bits and pieces.
  41. Things to see or just talk about (10 March 2019)
    Headlining panels, new spacer disks for pilot berth hanger eyes, porthole liners for companionway bulkhead and building the final speaker enclosures.
  42. Tricky stuff (17 March 2019)
    New mount for top galley door track, chart table leg and trim for speaker enclosures.
  43. Trim on (24 March 2019)
    Refitting the galley doors and starting to tidy awkward edges of lining carpet.
  44. Four weeks solo (5 April 2019)
    Refitting the galley pole, lots more carpet trim and cleaning/oiling the washboard rails.
  45. Fly refit interim index (6 April 2019)
    (Now replaced by final version.)
  46. Speakers’ corner(s) (7 April 2019)
    Fitting my speaker boxes and test-fitting the porthole trim rings.
  47. Bumper Easter Fly blog (22 April 2019)
    Stripping and epoxying pilot berth components, making/fitting traveller support blocks and helmsman’s footrests, finishing and painting the mast step plinth, some nav. station work, chart table leg, companionway stainless strip, hatch rail repair and more.
  48. Taking the roof off (28 April 2019)
    Removing the temporary roof and cleaning the decks.
  49. Crocked for the long weekend! (6 May 2019)
    Chart table lid stay, more work on the pilot berths and fitting the new mast base to its plinth.
  50. Trolley jack attack! (20 May 2019)
    Wheels off the trailer for new tires and pilot berth bases fitted.
  51. A week from the water? (22 July 2019)
    Non-slip sand for engine box, chart table cushion, renovated hinges, porthole trim rings and instrument covers fitted, pilot berth flaps fitted, topsides/antifouling etc. largely done, cabin sole templated and made, heads door re-hung, forecabin Treadmaster edge protected, increased support for cabin sole and shaft anode fitted.
  52. Fly has left the garden! (27 July 2019)
    Fly at Creran Marine with an empty space beside the house, furler and masthead light, tiller refitted, wheels back on the trailer, boat tied down, fire extinguishers and blanket, heads door catch(es) and varnished cabin sole.
  53. Fly is afloat! (31 July 2019)
    Launched by travel hoist, laughing fly mascot, and home by sea.
  54. Working through the ‘later?’ list (11 August 2019)
    Mainsail up, test sail, new cabin sole fitted, winch handle pockets, VHF mic clip, heads/main bulkhead door catches, switch panel labels, pilot berth bolts, new lifelines, securing the folded chart table and commissioning the water tank.
  55. Flying to Fraochaidh (27 August 2019)
    Not refit as such, but an enjoyable sail reaping the benefits!
  56. The money pit of usability (29 September 2019)
    Why I’ve hardly sailed since launching, what I’m doing about it (spending yet more money!), and photos of the new washboards.

The money pit of usability

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 4:10 pm

For two months since Fly’s emotional relaunch I’ve been desperate to go sailing yet hardly used her. Why?

It’s simple usability. While so many positive changes made during the refit promise so much for the future, I’m still stuck short-crewed or singlehanded with a boat intended to be raced by six and hampered for now by two crucial factors:

  1. Sitting on an exposed pontoon with a tight approach while I wait to get my own swinging mooring relaid.
  2. Struggling with slippery racing sails that really need crew to hoist and stow.

So let’s look at the problems here and see what’s happening to solve them…

While the pontoon berth was initially welcome for its walk-on access with tools etc., it was only intended as a short-term substitute for the mooring. But sourcing suitable ground tackle to relay the mooring has taken much longer than expected with what I was initially promised for mid-August only becoming available now in late September. So it looks like I’m on the pontoon for the short time left of this ‘season’, though I still hope to get the mooring laid soon in readiness for next spring. Might add that observation suggests more significant fouling (weed/slime?) to the bottom of the boat in two months’ pontoon berthing than I recall from a season’s swinging to a mooring, so guessing that’s due to some combination of static berth, static boat and water conditions.

As for the sails, the main problems have been remote hoisting of headsails (i.e. with no-one at the pre-feeder) and stowing the main after use. I managed one night’s successful singlehanded racing with main and No.3, then tore the No.3 through a pre-feeder jam when I tried to repeat the trick the following week! I also needed help to fully stow the mainsail since I can only get it all flaked down on the boom myself in flat calm conditions, and even then only with time, temporary ties and false starts. So the sails just won’t do for current purposes and I’m splashing out again (hence ‘the money pit of usability’) when I’ve probably already spent more on the refit than the boat’s worth (to anyone else)…

While a new furling genoa to fit the new furling gear was always on the agenda for next year, a new main wasn’t. But usability demands both because there’s otherwise no point to having got this far with a boat I want to sail but am currently finding (almost) unusable. Since my racing No.1, No.3 and kites are all in good order (despite the recent minor and now repaired tear to the No.3), my previous wish list might have prioritised full hoist No.2 and new racing main, with the current Pentex main relegated to cruising/backup in preference to the two much older Dacron mains that came with the boat. But that’s just not a practical plan for short-handed sailing, so I’ve now discussed and ordered tri-radial cruise laminate furling genoa, main and stackpack. The sails were the most expensive of four options (the others being cross-cut Dacron or Vectran), but some mixture of shape-retention logic and vanity still compels me to go tri-radial even after abandoning racing laminates this time round; while my plans for the next couple of years are centred on fast cruising, passage making and longer trips, I still have at least some club racing in mind and know what I like! The furling genoa will probably replace the dedicated racing headsails for typical club races as well as covering the gap between No.1 and No.3 when they’re used, and the new main (with luff slides and stackpack) should be not only more practical for cruising and short-handed outings but probably also as fast or faster than a Pentex main that’s already done the most work of my first-choice inventory.

So that’s it; the sails and stackpack are ordered and deposit paid despite a sobering total cost I’m not going to state here. While I do question the justification for such continued copious expense when I still have yet more needs/wants in mind (e.g. upgraded anchor gear, new lifejackets, flares etc.), the choice here was ultimately between a boat I can use and one I can’t. For sure I didn’t need to choose the most expensive sailcloth and construction options, but I was never going for the cheapest and the difference between each successive specification quoted wasn’t really so very much. You might reasonably ask (re. usability) if Fly’s still the most suitable boat for me, but that’s not even up for debate! She might be designed for racing, but is also just a delightful, thoroughbred, seaworthy, true sailing boat with good accommodation for her size and weight. And, since I’ve had her for nearly 21 years and already been through the protracted pain and expense of a refit that’s cost more than any complete Impala I’ve seen for sale recently, the only excuse for either having got this far or spending yet more I’ll never get back has to be knowing she’s my ‘forever’ boat and the main beneficiary is me. I might question the (financial) cost of it all, but fear the (life) cost of not doing it more!

Time to lighten up with some photos of the new washboards:

These are tinted acrylic from QD Plastics in Dumbarton, and so much smarter than the old disintegrating plywood. Because they’re also thinner and their angled common edges sit over-overlapped (if you see what I mean) in slots that were already over-wide, I had to wedge them in place with some cord behind the teak rails to get tidy photos. Easily sorted by fitting spacers to the backs of the rails for next year, but not right now. So does the refit ever end? Probably not, but another year’s another time after the ‘interruption’ of this year’s launch and perhaps it’s time to replace the ‘Fly refit interim index’ with a final version!

27 August 2019

Flying to Fraochaidh

Filed under: Sailing,Walking — admin @ 8:43 pm

So who’d have guessed I’d be back on Fraochaidh within six weeks of my ‘integrale’ traverse from Sgorr a’ Choise? Not me, but here’s how it came about…

Ex-colleague and (very much current!) friend Isabelle was over from France and keen for some long-promised sailing. Current colleague and friend Eilidh was keen to take Isabelle hill walking, so we took the two days of a fine weekend (no holiday Monday here!) to do both, sailing Fly out into Loch Linnhe and round Eilean Balnagowan on Saturday and climbing Fraochaidh from Glen Duror on Sunday.

Saturday’s sail pretty well started with a chance meeting in Ballachulish Bay with my cousin Alistair on his recently-acquired Silver Leaf motor yacht Silver Bird and exchange of hurriedly-composed photographs as he headed for Cuil-cheanna Spit Buoy and we for Ardsheal and beyond. Which course produced an interesting beat with the expected gentle breeze building to 28 knots apparent before subsiding to not very much at all as we rounded the island and pretty well flat calm from Kentallen home. But that allowed us to motor right into Kentallen Bay for Eilidh to admire her own wee house before another happy coincidence as we came across John Strachan and Jean Aitken on Hawk 20 Didima IV picking up a mooring at the Holly Tree for (I’m subsequently told) Jean’s birthday supper. A thoroughly enjoyable sail despite the odd spit of rain and that increasing and dying breeze not being quite what we’d ordered!

Now, try researching ‘Fraochaidh from Glen Duror’ and you’ll get plenty hits warning of dense forestry impeding this shorter approach, but keep reading and you’ll see that clearing has opened up some good ways through. So we started from the Forestry car park north of the river after deciding that parking for the track to the south of it suggested by Steven Fallon’s site (which would cut out the last remotely awkward ground) really wasn’t satisfactory. The former footbridge is still absent where we crossed, but the river was low enough to cross dry by stones, and our more westerly return track charts another wee track back down before cutting back to the river where we knew it would go. It was hot and sunny with great near-to-mid-distance views and a pretty-well aerial prospect of Saturday’s sail, but things further to the seaward side more hazy (e.g. the Mull Ben More and Scarba discernible, but not really Jura and definitely not Colonsay). Isabelle hadn’t done much walking since recovering from a serious leg problem and was concerned about her ability to make the summit, but got there and back in fine style in the end. It was a pleasant surprise to meet former school captain Jo Shepton and boyfriend at the summit after they’d followed us unrecognised for much of the afternoon, and a pleasant non-surprise to return to Eilidh’s Kentallen abode for the fine dinner she’d pre-prepared. Put the Saturday and Sunday together and the weekend felt like we’d been away for a great wee holiday together even if we’d all headed home separately for the intervening Saturday night! :-)

11 August 2019

Working through the ‘later?’ list

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 12:17 pm

Three blog posts ago, I mentioned my ‘diminishing, but by no means empty, list of ‘pre-launch’ and ‘later?’ jobs’. So, now Fly’s afloat, has been sailing and worked on some more, it’s good to report that just one ‘pre-launch’ job remains (taking a pattern to make new washboards) and the ‘later?’ list has progressed close to what I can reasonably achieve afloat before the winter. But let’s start with fitting the mainsail and going sailing before the new lifelines (guard rails) were even made…

So here’s Fly at the pontoon on 2 August with the mainsail up, then down and covered (when flaking it down on your own is never easy, but patience, sail ties to hand and calm conditions all help!):

And here she is out for a wee sail on 5 August under main and No.3 in breezy conditions with just two crew (Peter Watt and me), showing some main outhaul and then obvious kicker applied as I moved about looking at the shape of that sail:

That morning, I’d fitted my new cabin sole and it got its first dent during our afternoon sail from unsecured, flying washboards in the cabin… my fault when I should know better, but it’s ultimately for walking on, not admiring, and you can’t actually see the mark here even though it’s in the photos:

My other slight gripe from the sail was ripping a wee metal badge off my new Dubarry boots, for which I blame Dubarry and not me for such a vulnerable and unneeded addition to expensive boots built to be used in situations where it’s almost bound to catch on something sooner or later (in this case sooner!). So I now have one with badge and one without, and have pondered without further action whether they’d both be better ‘clean’:

I’d also fitted new Lewmar winch handle pockets that afternoon before discovering that they really don’t take my new Harken handles comfortably at all, so also already pondering replacing them with something which does.

Getting back to more interior fitting out, the best place for the VHF mic clip was under the shelf, which required the angle drill I’d wanted for months so finally just bought:

I got that heads/main bulkhead door to work in both positions with the same catch body, but had to adjust the bit I’d already done slightly now the boat’s afloat and rigged before fitting the second small part. Fortunately the main part in the edge of the door was easy to adjust because its screw holes are short slots rather than just round:

The labels that came with the switch panels didn’t have everything I wanted so I started again with Dymo (actually done pre-launch). Quite tricky when the cutter on the Dymo will only give you three letters in the available width, but careful trimming with scissors gives you four and I’m OK with most of my abbreviations (not sure about H20, but didn’t like WAT, and not set on RA55 for STEREO, but thought STE or STER could get read as STERN). Also discovered the other night that the blue LEDs stop the cabin getting completely dark when switched on, so still considering ways to deal with that if necessary. The battery switches used to say ENGINE and CHARGING but Twig told me to change that after rewiring:

If I’d known the old socket for the starboard pilot berth bolt would no longer fit post-rebuild, I’d have had that wood block off before varnishing the bulkhead. But at least I got it off clean (thank goodness it wasn’t epoxied!) and can sort the varnish sometime. I made acetal discs to replace the original wood blocks with brass plates, but needed different thicknesses for port and starboard, with 12mm just right for starboard and 16mm (what I could get) adequate to secure the port bolt:

I tried to get the fly to face out for this photo but he/she/it was determined!

Yesterday I fitted the new lifelines collected from Owen Sails on Friday. For those not so acquainted with these things, the cord lacing forward is to help keep headsails on the deck when they’re down and the cushions aft for crew face-out on the rail (legs over the side and body between lower and upper lifelines) or just leaning against from the cockpit:

I’d spent much time pondering methods of securing the folded chart table, but sometimes simplest is best. That shockcord might not be as pretty as shiny hardware, but is much easier to fit and test, and probably does the job better with negligible tension sufficient to hold the table really firmly. You can also see the velcro-attached bookstop (not backstop!) to the right of the fuses, but you can’t put books up there (even flat) and sail with the chart table down because they just come flying over the fiddles. I’ll come up with a solution sometime:

Yesterday’s final act was to give the as-yet-unused water tank a final quick clean, throw in a purification tablet, half fill it with water, wait half an hour, pump some through, let the first wee bit drain through the sink, then drink a couple of mugfuls. And I’m still alive and well, which appears to be a good sign! It tasted a bit chloriney, but I couldn’t remember the tank capacity and might not have had enough water for the tablet, or perhaps it just always does (reviews seem to differ on this point)? Whatever, I’ll try adding some more water to dilute what’s already there and may not use tablet(s) with every refill, but am naturally still a little cautious of the unknown.

So where does that leave the ‘later?’ list? Some things were always going to be for next season once launch day caught up with them, like lining the underside of the main hatch (which somehow escaped getting done with the rest of the boat), finishing the cool box and sorting the rubber sealing strips under the cockpit locker lids. Others may get done if/when the opportunity arises, like fitting red film to the ‘chart table’ light. The Harken furler is operating as a headfoil, but not yet furling because leading the line aft from the drum (in the well) requires turning and through-deck blocks now sourced but not yet fitted. So that might or might not get finished afloat when establishing and at least marking the turning block position is the critical step while the rig’s up. And I’ll be seeing QD Plastics in Dumbarton shortly about nice new acrylic washboards, so might yet declare the blog ‘refit’ series done when I’ve got those because there’ll always still be things to do! The boat’s now essentially in commission and sailable, so we’ll see…

31 July 2019

Fly is afloat!

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 10:33 pm

It’s not quite the end of the saga yet, but surely now into ‘endgame’ as far as the refit’s concerned…

Yesterday, Fly was launched at Creran Marine, taking to the water for the first time in 14 years! John Grant from Owen Sails was round to measure up for new lifelines (guard rails) while Peter Watt and I worked through the conundrum of new Harken foiler furl and inadequate clearance through the deck at the front of the bow well (solved with joint ingenuity and the tools Peter had in his containers), and then she was into the travel hoist and away when the tide was up far enough:

To say that I was close to tears as the hoist approached the water, the keel and the rudder touched it and then she was fully afloat would be, well, true! I’m always struck by how Fly turns from being quite a ‘big’ boat in the garden or on the road to a comparatively ‘wee’ one when the bits necessitating a ladder ashore drop nearly six feet into the sea, but that’s by the by; she’s perfectly formed as she is, I don’t want a bigger boat, a smaller one or a different one, and we’re talking years when perhaps nobody but me (or even me?) truly believed she’d ever sail again. If some emotion was involved, and still is, it feels good and perhaps I’ve earned that particular kind of feel-good…

Time for some levity, perhaps, so here’s the laughing fly brought to the boat so many years ago by regular crew and dear friend Gill Reavley, still laughing (amazed the battery hasn’t run out!) and now back onboard today:

And here’s Fly today on her way back from Loch Creran, this time by sea rather than by road. Peter and I had a tidal deadline at Ballachulish narrows (aka Peter Straits and, no, I didn’t make that up!) with little wind and some rain, so done mainly by engine with no mainsail, but we did get to try the old No.2 on the new foil. Fly will be moving to a mooring at Glencoe Boat Club in due course, but happy to have step-on access from the pontoon for a bit while I finish sorting her out:

And that’s (not quite) that. There will be further blogs with some refit content as I fit the new cabin sole, washboards, guard rails and stuff like that, but hopefully also some actual sailing this year because it’s been long enough coming! :-)

27 July 2019

Fly has left the garden!

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 9:12 pm

Let’s do this blog backwards for a change and start with today’s pics before continuing to the ones I took yesterday:

Notice something? That’s Fly at Creran Marine (where she’ll be launched on Tuesday) in the first pic with Peter Watt and David Southcott (who came to do what I can’t do on my own, which is get her there!). The eagle-eyed might also spot the grotty old washboards I haven’t replaced yet, but they’re temporarily serviceable if incompatible with my pride in my otherwise-reborn boat. And that’s, well, a great big empty space beside the house in the second pic where she’s sat for so many years!

Continuing to work backwards, Peter came up yesterday with Jill Mills to help put together the new Harken twin-groove furler and fit the new masthead light (replacing one that I stupidly broke the other day), but I have no photos of that because we were Busy with a capital B. But here are a few I took earlier…

While Deks Olje D.1 doesn’t last forever, the tiller’s never looked this good! And we have the wheels back on (thanks to Alan Morrison for help with that!), tires up to pressure and boat tied down just pending mast etc. lifting up to be ready to go:

The fire extinguishers are both new but the (obviously unused!) blanket is not. The second extinguisher used to be mounted higher (where the heater outlet is now), but I’ve tried the bunk and don’t think it’s in the way here:

There used to be bolts inside and out on this door, but they’re just not necessary. I have a second stainless ball catch but think I can mount just the small part on the main (white) bulkhead and use the same main part. But seem to recall this one’s best positioned with the boat afloat and the rig tensioned?

And here’s the new cabin sole after six coats of Epifanes gloss varnish. It’s had a seventh today and might get an eighth tomorrow because it gets walked on and wants to be tough, but is looking so good I’ve abandoned my original plan to matt off the shine with the softer satin interior varnish used everywhere else. I only put the hatch in for the photo; it’s otherwise back out again while I’m finishing it off:

22 July 2019

A week from the water?

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 10:13 pm

As explained last week, it’s been a while (too long!) since I’ve posted a ‘boat’ blog, but here’s a quick update based largely on available photos to show how close Fly’s got to an expected launch a week tomorrow…

So here’s the engine box on 31 May with renewed anti-slip sand on top. For various reasons, I had three goes at this, of which this is the first (subsequently spoiled along with the second!), but the principle is the same, with the sand sprinkled on varnish and then (not yet done here) varnished over:

And here’s the chart table cushion refitted on 2 June:

Here you see a selection of renovated brass hinges and bits on 16 June, cleaned with a nylon brush on electric drill and varnished, and some miscellaneous new bits and pieces exactly a month later on 16 July:

Porthole trim rings in, instrument covers back and folding pilot berth fronts (aka settee backs) partially hung (needing the stainless hooks from the previous photo to finish):

Topsides, coachroof etc. cleaned and T-Cut but not yet waxed (they are now!), boot topping and antifouling done, and top brown stripe restored:

Not yet Fly’s actual new cabin sole, but a template to test the changes from the old one (which was overweight, damaged and didn’t fit) before cutting into the priceless new striped plywood:

So I tested and retested the fit, revising my annotations more than once (but subsequently still chose to build it differently yet!):

Was I nervous about this sheet of plywood? If you know what it cost, you’ll know the answer!

I considered whether to move everything half a pattern to the side and make two cuts to get the stripes away from the edges where they’ll show against not-perfectly-straight bunk fronts, but decided finding them fortuitously symmetrical with no further waste of timber was more pragmatic! The piece on the right is the one for the cabin sole:

Hoping I know what I’m doing here:

Is it perfect? No. Is it the best I can do? Yes. Is it better than the old one? Yes. Is it good enough? Yes. There are gaps where I’ve trimmed down from the template, but you’ve also got to be able to get it in and out, and there are skirtings to cover the two main edges (note that it’s not varnished here, but that’s currently happening):

The final act of a testing day was making and fitting these battens. The screws were really just to stop the battens sliding about while clamping up (strength’s in the epoxy) and didn’t go in very far, so I took them back out the next day before epoxy-coating the back and edges:

I’m pleased with the teak rings I fitted to the heads door in lieu of the ugly old alloy handles, but did have to re-hang the door on filled and redrilled screwholes to get the fit I wanted:

You can see how the pilot berths work now; front halves double as settee backs and back halves as useful gear racks. The folding parts were built as continuous long sections, but we split them years ago because they’re far more practical like this. There are lee cloths somewhere to stop you falling out of pilot berths or main berths at sea, but not a priority to refit those right now:

The front edge of the forecabin Treadmaster needed protecting because I’d already kicked a couple of small chunks out of it which I’d had to stick back. So my first thought was some kind of solid edge trim, but I decided to try layered Gorilla Tape first as a less committing option. It doesn’t actually overlap the Treadmaster, but is built up half-width against its edge with a full-width piece over the top:

Because of repairs/modifications over the years (doubled starboard bunk front and inboard installation), the cabin sole didn’t have a lot to sit on in places. So I’ve added some more, screwed and Sikaflexed in place:

New shaft anode fitted:

And there’s lots more not even mentioned here as I continue to work through a diminishing, but by no means empty, list of ‘pre-launch’ and ‘later?’ jobs. Some small, less essential, things have inevitably migrated to ‘later?’ and I’ve somewhat stoically accepted that the boat will initially be launching with scruffy old washboards instead of shiny new ones, but, in terms of substantive work, she’s really nearly there now!

15 July 2019

More van-at-the-garage hills

Filed under: Sailing,Walking — admin @ 9:52 pm

While I’d been up Sgorr a’ Choise and Fraochaidh before, I hadn’t combined them into the single ridge traverse so obvious from the map, so took advantage of this year’s van-service-and-MOT day to get away from the boat refit and do exactly that. And it started, after a detour to the Ballachulish Co-op to augment my meagre scrabbled-together rations, with a full-on bash up the north side of Sgorr a’ Choise to leave a ‘pure’ traverse avoiding too much ‘out and back’ from the central bealach:

From Sgorr a’ Choise’s summit, and increasingly on the descent to the bealach and beyond, it was impossible to miss the proliferation of freshly-bulldozed forestry (?) tracks since I’d been up here before even if my photo selection’s spared you the worst of the scars up Glen Creran:

It feels like a long way to Fraochaidh, but the views from both undulating ridge and summit are excellent with familiar peaks and islands to admire in every direction:

And the return by the Duror–Ballachulish through-route maintains interest with attractive late prospects of Sgorr a’ Choise and the Pap of Glencoe amongst others:

It was a hot, dry day so I took two bottles of water and drank seven (!), but still suffered from the lack of ready supply on the long, central section of ridge.

Now perhaps you’re wondering why I’ve also filed this under ‘sailing’, so let me explain… it’s been nearly two months since I’ve posted a ‘boat’ blog, but work has continued unreported through a frenetic end to school term and the first week of my summer holiday. That long-anticipated, so-belated launch should be just a couple of weeks away, but I’m still working hard at it and just haven’t felt like blogging the minutiae as well (some ‘broader brush’ updates to come, I promise!). But what I did find on this very welcome boat-free day was quality time to mull over how and when to deal with some of the stuff I still want to get done, and was seeing how to get some consequential jobs (e.g. finishing templating and cutting Fly’s new cabin sole from the most expensive sheet of plywood I’ve ever bought) done right even as I walked. And you just can’t over-stress the importance of the right time away to work through this in your head!

20 May 2019

Trolley jack attack!

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 8:34 pm

Some things have gone wrong! I’ve got perplexing new deck leaks (discovered on Saturday) from things already fixed, and nearly took my finger off with the trolley jack removing the trailer wheels to get the tires replaced when I thought to concentrate my single-day weekend effort on that instead…

It’s maybe not what you think when I was simply pulling an unloaded jack out from a chocked-up trailer and am no way stupid enough to go poking about the weighted jack, but I still somehow managed to trap and half-crush my finger where you see the plywood here and will never make that mistake again:

So I spied some people coming down the street, yelled for help, and was thankful to see Donna and Robert drop their bags and come running even if I subsequently worked out how to free myself (close the valve and pump the jack carefully back up far enough to escape). After which I had deep grooves in my finger for an hour or two and tingling for quite a bit longer, but count myself fortunate to be left with barely a mark now. And I did get the wheels off and trailer chocked securely, which unfinished job was oddly concerning me almost as much as ‘am I going to lose my finger?’ or ‘can I leave the boat like that to get the jack cut off?’ at the time:

The moral is of course to collapse the jack before removing it even under conditions of zero load, but hindsight’s a wonderful thing!

In other news, I’d already finished and fitted the pilot berth filler pieces trialled in my previous post, and am at least pleased with those:

6 May 2019

Crocked for the long weekend!

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 9:28 pm

Couldn’t throw myself at Fly quite as planned this May Day holiday weekend after hurting my shoulder on Thursday night (more likely playing manhunt with S1 at Outward Bound than jumping/sliding down the Allt na h-Uamha — aka Laggan gorge — with them!), but one of the less physical things I’ve got done is fitting a stay to the chart table lid. A tricky job with its one and only position defined by needing to hold the lid as high as possible without lifting too far and sit far enough from the hinged edge to clear that corner gusset thing when telescoped into itself, but it’s turned out OK. Had to plug and redrill the pivot hole after drilling it too low first time even after testing with scrap plywood and a Gorilla Tape hinge, then drill the screw holes in the lid from the outside because there was no way I was getting them accurately marked and drilled from the inside, but it works. You might look and think why that position and that angle, but there’s simply no choice when it telescopes rather than folds!

Then, starting to get back on track with less discomfort today, you see the more awkward inner sides of the pilot berth fronts epoxy coated:

I’d got the pilot berth bases back in last Monday evening with Twig, but have been tweaking the fit by cutting teak filler pieces to cover some visible gaps, so will need to unscrew them once more to trim and glue these in. The port one’s needing more obvious treatment at front side and top (yes, I’ve cut a ‘horizontal’ piece as well as the vertical wedges you see):

Whereas the gap on the starboard one’s only the depth of the 12mm ply front, so I haven’t even tried to push my delicate filler wedge right in with the base in place!

We also fitted the new mast base last Monday evening. We got this lined up and holes drilled and tapped perfectly with a line strung along the boat and some measurements, then it settled slightly off as it was tightened down. Both perplexing and annoying (off-centre countersinks in the casting?) when it’s probably the thing I’d have liked to be perfect above all others, but I’ll just have to get over it when we’d done everything right and it’s still within reasonable tolerance:

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