Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bilge Keels and Romance

We met a chap in Fort Augustus on the way through the canal, a man called Dick, who is a chef. He had taken a converted Scottish trawler to the Mediterranean and the main bit of advice he gave us was to fit bilge keels, so we have done just that. Also, his advice was not to fall in love with anyone who wasn’t as mad about boats as you are because they will make you sell the boat, and give up your dream, and cause you to go back to Inverness to work in an oven-like basement for 14 hours a day …

Anyway, our bilge keels were bespoken by our naval architect at 7m long and about 10” blades; we hope that this will cut out some of the roll, in case we ever get caught again outside a port, such as Buckie, in a blow, with no way of finding our way in, at least we'll be able to stand up to read the charts and use the bogs next time.

The hull has been totally re-caulked, and has its first layer of putty in over the caulking, which will need smoothing and then a second application of putty. There is still some fairing of the hull to do, and filling of smaller dinks and dents, although we will never get a cake-icing finish.

The most obvious change on the deck is that all the old paint around the gunwales has gone, and it is now a gentle white, and as you can see has brightened the whole area around the edge of the deck. No wood needed to be replaced here, some filler, and the timbers worn smooth and dented over the decades by ropes and nets is still apparent, which keeps the character.

The deck has begun to be re-caulked and has reached 1/3 of the way back from the pointy end but is on pause because there is too much else going on. We are planning to use Sikaflex (in black) rather than pitch because, if we ever get to the Mediterranean, then it won’t melt.

For the most patient and virtuous reader who remembers my fondness for the filthy old Lister generator, and how incredibly useful it was when all other power failed, there is a little update.

The Lister was air-cooled so whenever we started it, and so old that smoke shot in every direction, which made the engine room's atmosphere close and difficult to see to walk about in; a previous owner had fixed a 24v alternator from a car or lorry, onto the top of the Lister, with superglue or something, and the generator was joined to the engine with fan belts which didn’t really line up, and although the whole thing was a rusty, deafening smoke-machine it did get us out of trouble more than once in the long voyage.

We binned the old small keel-cooler which was just for running the refrigeration for the fish-hold, but it was not big enough anyway to cool any serious new generator. Sadly the Lister had to go, and not without a tear from the crew, it must be admitted. (The other generator, a 240v close-coupled thing never worked and was rotten) So we are starting from new with power generation.

We have decided to order a second keel cooler for the generator, and I have overheard the Skipper on the phone trying to find another, but water-cooled Lister for me. This is beyond romantic, I can’t wait to see it and I wonder if he’ll wrap it for me…

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Hibble, Bibble, Toil and Gribble

Since the new year the hull has many planks and bits of planks replaced including where there was a "skin fitting" (a kind of tap in the hull to let water in, or other liquids out, such as bilgewater) now we have a water-tight boat, and a kind of blank canvas to start making holes for new skin-fittings, which will be fewer and much more easy to get at
So every part of the hull that had a hole in it is now sorted, including places where Ship’s worms had a feast. The worst damage by these little crustaceans was to the planks were behind the keel-cooler. which was never moved for nearly 40 years and the hardest place to put antifoul – good thing we did to take the cooler off and see, and then could replace the planks where they were more like Crunchie than larch.
For more reading and how gribble destroyed another MFV ...
For more about Crunchie... Crunchie

I read that gribble are now being recruited to help generate bio-fuels from wood, I wonder if I could have sold our infested timber on Ebay...

Following our exploration of a bay in Ireland, on the way to Eyemouth, without the chart, and ignoring the depth-sounder alarm, we have invested in a new keel shoe; a huge piece of steel to help avoid damaging the oak keel if we “take the ground” ever (again.). More like if the ground takes us...

The renovated copper keel-cooler is in position and sealed into the hull with lovely sticky tar stuff... This will allow cooling water from the main engine to flow round and lose heat in the sea, rather clever because there is no need for anything more clever, as it were.

There is now extra strengthening around the "starn", the rudder mountings and where there was a bit more gribble, and up at the front an all-new steel stem covering, galvanised above the waterline. Interestingly not galvanised below, because steel won’t rust below the waterline, so it would be an adverse thing - the zinc would just bubble off like a sacrificial anode, waste of money and effort.

The stem cover was put on after the anti-fouling, fitted and then welded on, and it will be handy in case we run over any semi-submerged shipping containers.
Coping irons are nearly complete down both sides, they will be painted over and they help in small nudgings of other boats, or docks, rocks etc. , so saving the wood. Like mini metal fenders, or bumpers.