Wednesday, March 11, 2009


My new project is running somewhat behind the schedule I had set myself.

After picking up the boat – hereafter renamed ‘Sibrwd’ , which is welsh for ‘Whisper’ and getting it back to Sian’s house in one piece I started on the takedown. The cockpit floors were just so much weetabix and had to be shovelled out. The ply had completely degenerated, ditto the bearers holding it up, the centreboard cheeks, the decks and the carlins. Once all that was removed, it was the turn of the outer and inner gunnels which although not rotten, were suspect enough to warrant replacement. What I had left was essentially a glass fibre shell.

Sibrwd gutted

I decided against leaving Sibrwd at Sian’s some 8 miles away and after we returned from holidays in October, I carted her home where she sat on the trailer for the next couple of months whilst I made abortive attempts to grind away all the loose and suspect glass fibre inside her.

Whilst this was happening I was also vainly looking for a suitable building to use as a workshop, so she could dried out and worked upon in somewhat more comfy surroundings than the parking area opposite the house. After a couple of weeks of looking, I stumbled upon a building barely a mile from where I lived, in a place I had long known about but had completely overlooked.

The garage

There was room aplenty at the new site – an old stable/garage attached to the outbuildings of a large house, now a restaurant. The range was still owned by the original family and although in a state of some disrepair would do nicely. The rent at a mere £10 a week swung it. I spent Christmas clearing the ivy off the roof and trying to push some of the looser slates back into place. Then I lined the interior with the tarp that was covering the boat; tacking it to the principal rafters with battens. This would ensure that any rain getting in would run down the tarp and then the stone walls, not that much would. Once summer is here I can do a better job of it. The place was a bit damp, a brick floor ensured that, but I can warm it up courtesy of a gas fire donated by my sister. Once I’ve salvaged the decent workbench which I found in the ruins next door, I’ll be ready to go.

The boat was duly installed, sliding of the trailer and onto wooden bearers without much bother. Now I could start work in earnest; grinding back the nasties being the first job, followed by prepping the floors and cockpit sole, turning the boat over using the already installed Large Piece of Timber up above to attach my block and tackle to. I fired up the generator and prepared to do battle, only for it to die some minutes later. The engine was running lovely like, it just wasn’t pumping out any juice. So it will be off to the repairers and I guess I’ll be hiring one in for the w/end.

Sibrwd ensconsed, ready to go

I’ve been quietly amassing the timber needed for the rebuild and seem to have most of what I require for the first part. Now I have to go and be nice to an old guy who has a nearby timberyard and sawmill.

The rebuild brief is simple: put in a new cockpit sole on new floors, seal the edges to make a watertight compartment so that in the event of a capsize the boat won’t sink – easier said than done I suspect given the ease by which water can get into things – especially boat shaped things. For years I was pumping out rainwater from the Soling, and wondering where it all got in. I eventually traced it to a tiny screw hole in the deck that had’nt been sealed properly.

Once the sole is down and the gunnels, inside and out are renewed I can start on re-building the deck: again this is reasonably straightforward on paper, or would be if I had plans. No, I’ll be doing it ‘by eye’ where things will sort of *hang* where I want them to be, whilst I make up bearers and wedges and whatnot to make them permanent.

Then, once all that is completed and the bright work done and everything painted and varnished, and all the hardware installed, I can start thinking about building two masts, various spars and then acquiring sails…

But that’s a way off yet so I’ll just have to entertain you with all the trials and tribulations I meet along the way.


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