Monday, September 15, 2008

A New Project or Making a Rod for My Own Back?

Well, it looks like I’ve gone and done it again.

Regular readers of this Blogg [are there any left out there?] will no doubt remember my attempts at de-cluttering and downsizing that took place a couple of years back. This was largely successful in that I disposed of a stack of things I was unlikely ever to have use for again, but they were replaced to a certain degree by new stuff which to be fair is being used.

However having sold Inside Out and being left with just a catamaran which to put it bluntly I was too fat and unfit to sail without making myself ill, so it hasn’t been used for a couple of years – I found myself missing going on the water in a boat. Sure the Canadian was good fun, either solo or tandem, but the days one could get out onto the sea in this part of the world are fairly rare and anything over a force 3 and 2’ chop stops being fun after a while.

So when Ted [at Helen’s prompting] offered me the tatty old 18 in the field for a ‘small consideration’, I decided it was a worthwhile project and said yes. The getting it back from Oxford was an epic in itself since sourcing a trailer at a reasonable price proved well nigh impossible and I ended up re-vamping the old catamaran trailer I never used. New wheels, new suspension, new rollers and a new spine later I essentially had a new trailer which I hoped would be man enough to do the job required [it was]

Once the inevitable problems with the lighting board were sorted out I was ready to go, and last weekend I set out on the 200 mile drive to fetch the boat, on a day notable for it’s storminess even for this washout summer. All around rivers were in flood and spray and rain were everywhere. The words ‘is your journey really necessary’ kept on coming back at me as the empty trailer bounced along behind the car. Keeping to the motorway I made reasonable time considering the conditions and arrived to find Ted already working on getting the boat off the trailer.

Now the situation as was is that the boat weighing some 250 kg sat on a massively heavy launching trailer which in turn sat upon and equally heavy bilge keel trailer. The question now was how we could get the boat off this rig and onto my much lighter set up. Ted wanted to sort of get it back to a balance point and then sort of waggle it onto my trailer and slew it round to fit, so for a while this is what we did. It wasn’t long before we realised that this wasn’t going to work and that a plan B was required. Eventually we did what I had envisaged our doing all along; we dropped the boat off the back and onto the grass, with the bow propped up on logs and my trailer in front. Suitably blocked, wedged, braced and stropped back to my car the trailer was as solid as we could make it and with Ted’s 4x4 pulling the boat it rolled up and on. It did’nt actually fit that well, but we chocked and braced anew until it was on ok and not liable to drop off anywhere between Oxford and Wales.

All this had taken a couple of hours so when the rain started falling again we retreated to the house for tea and toast. It was agreed that since the weather was still abysmal, and that better was promised for the next day, it would be best to stay overnight; a much more sensible idea than my go-for-it return that same day.

Next morning dawned reasonably clear and dry, so a hasty breakfast and I was off. I stopped twice during the first ten miles, in order to check the tyre pressures and to make adjustments to the load. Six hours 230 miles and a largely uneventful journey later I had the boat tucked up at home, with the solid aluminium centreplate locked away.

The next day I started on the task of clearing out all the muck and rubbish from inside the cockpit, whilst trying to salvage what I could.

The main problem was that whoever had last done any work on the boat had used ordinary ply, which is fine if a] it is maintained properly and b] all the edges are well sealed. Unfortunately neither of these applied and the glue bonding the layers together had dissolved away turning the once tough ply into the texture of a digestive biscuit, and a soggy one at that. I literally had to shovel out the contents of the cockpit floor- it was more like gardening than woodwork.

Three hours later the enormity of the task ahead became more obvious. Not only would the cockpit floor need replacing but so would all the bearers, the wood around the centreboard casing, the coaming and the all the woodwork around the mast area. At least the decks were ok – so far as I could see but I’m prepared for more nasty news as I delve further and rip out more manky rotten wood. There’s still a load of badly fitted buoyancy to rip out as well as some weird bits and bobs. I have no idea what significance they have, but they’re gone. The more I look at it the more I think that trying to ‘make good’ just about anything except the deck and the hull is a non starter so it will be rip and replace.

So I’m back to my original question – Have I made a rod for my own back? Funnily enough I don’t think so. Once the rubbish is out and all the remaining woodwork and glass can be ok’d the next stage- that of rebuilding is well within my capabilities. It will cost for sure, but the potential for coming up with something well finished is quite high. And I have plans for that something to be a little different to what went before, but I’ll leave that for future postings.

Now, where’s that wrecking bar?