It’s now (in real time 1 ) the second week of March. The last three weeks have seen almost continuous rain and strong winds across the UK. But the builder and the owners agent have not been here to experience them. We’ve been skulking in the antipodes, in relatively benign conditions (except where we particularly needed clear weather). Now back in the UK we find the local intermittent chalk stream in full flow – the first time for over four years – as the water table has finally risen above the spring line. The local fields are sodden and trodden into seas of mud by cattle or horses. But the daffodils are coming out and there’s even a sign of green leaves on the local blackthorn.
Enough of these nature notes: I wonder how the
cow boatshed had survived this turbulent atmosphere.
So, we awaken Martina from a four week slumber and trundle north west, along the valley road. Then up rocky lane, passing a sea of mud where HS2 work is restarting. Through the various copses before turning onto the farm. Still up, past the old chicken sheds, turn left by the yellow (sometime) site office, towards the bonfire site.
Somebody has helpfully put a skip in the way. Turn towards the scouts canoes and then reverse down the track to park outside the shed doors. But do make sure you miss the old site loo.
So far, so good.
The empty plaster tank is still there – so perhaps no one has been in. Slide it away and open the doors the would be boat is still there – a trifle damp and dusty but unchanged from when I last worked on it. It’s blowing hard outside, the roof creaks and groans and the sliding doors rattle on their rusty tracks. But we must get on.
Bring in the tools. Light the fire. Fetch the water. Today is rubbing down day.
Before I left at the end of January, I had tacked in place a couple of longitudinal bulkheads that make up the cockpit sides. First positioning them and holding them in place with cable ties and then “tack welding” their edges in place with little strips of mixed epoxy. I’d put the sides and end of the engine bay in, too and held the transom against them, using the former supplied to bend it to the right shape. All these “tacked” joints need to be roughened with sandpaper before a glass tape covered fillet can be laid over the joints.
So that’s todays weary task. The spaces are too small to get at with an orbital sander, so it’s all to be done by hand. The dust gets everywhere. The vacuum cleaner 2 howls in the background in an attempt to keep it down. I’d forgotten to don my overalls, so my clothes became dusty too. My hair became whiter that ever – but a least I had had the sense to wear a dust filter mask.3
After several hours of finger and hand weary work, the job was done, the obvious dust cleared from the boat and the joints all rubbed over with a tac rag or two. 4
Another day: now to start filleting the joints.5
Filleting a joint makes the glue joint very strong. You mix up a large lump of polyester resin and hardener and mix into it a filler material that bulks it up and makes it stiffer. This is then spread along the joint and shaped to make it appear a bit like the coving between a ceiling and a wall. Then glass fibre tape is coated with more mixed resin (this time without the filler) and laid along the joint, Two or three layers are applied. It’s very messy and sticky and has to be done quite quickly otherwise the resin will set before you have finished.
The joints between the longitudinal bulkheads and the planks of the hull were each about 3 metres long. It took me ages. Then there were some fiddly small ones to do around the engine housing. But they are yet to be done.
- Now there’s a phrase that’s worth conjuring with. It seems that neither physicists nor philosophers can agree on what time is or how it is made up, let alone why it can’t run backwards.
- Not the household one, the owners agent takes a dim view of such items being misappropriated for unofficial uses. It’s the one used to clean out the pond.
- was not trying to avoid Corona virus – having spent several hours in the terminal buildings in Hong Kong last week, I don’t think there’s much point. I’ll just self isolate in the boat shed for a couple of weeks
- If you haven’t come across these things, I recommend them for the final clean of surfaces before they are painted. The tac rag is a cloth impregnated with some sort of sticky stuff (a bit like a fly paper, I suppose). When you rub it across a surface that you think is clean it’s amazing how much stuff is picked up.
- No, I’ve not started a butchery business (although, looking at the quality of the carpentry, some might think so).