Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Birthdays, bronze and boat movers...

Work has been fun here since we got the mast glued.  This had been a worry and a challenge, so we didn't feel we could book the boat to be moved until it was done, and we knew where we were.

So Impetuous is listed on U-ship to be moved on or after the 8th of March.  We've a long list of local boat movers to call but for the next few days we'll see what u-ship comes up with.  This is an auction website that I (Ruth) used, to help my mum move with great effect.  In that instance it quartered the cost from her first original quote!  You register the details of the job; to move a 38ft boat with mast from Dickinson to Kemah (only about 12 miles) and wait for the hauliers to place bids.  With this job we'll be perhaps a little picky; I insist on proper insurance and someone who takes careful consideration over what to do about our rusty cradle!

I had a quiet birthday here working on the boat.  We're chugging through the jobs nicely but I couldn't help but think how nice it would have been to celebrate my birthday with a big splash!

We borrowed Rogers big truck to go and buy batteries on one of the rainy days we've had.  Whilst on the road we stopped in at the 'junk shop' and got our best ever bargain there yet; a BCD (buoyancy control device) each for scuba diving and a pair of fins for me, all for $50. Then it really felt like birthday treat time!
We've taken lots of advice on our chainplates and have decided to make new ones from bronze.  It was not as expensive as we'd first been lead to believe.  Bronze will be easier to work with and potentially last forever.  We found out that stainless steel has a life expectancy generally agreed of around 25ish years.  In the end the decision was easy.  Almost as wonderful as how it will look is that we could get the bronze from Galveston, delivered for free for very little more than the stainless would have cost us online.
Here's what $500 worth of bronze looks like.  Don't be fooled by that relative tidiness, the other end of the workbench is a chaotic pile of allsorts!

We'll be posting the finished products all in due course.  We're eager to make the first soon but we have eight to make. The grinding might get a little old in the tooth by the eighth chainplate so they won't all get finished until we're in the water.  At that time our jobs list will change; 'before splash day' to 'before mast stepping day'.

At first we were a little concerned by these little cracks that were down one side in amongst the mill marks from where they pull it out of some gert big machine. 
But then with a little light sanding they soon polished out.  Evidently this is why where we ordered 3/8" they sent us almost a 1/2"!  We're already trying to think of a use for all the bronze dust.

Now that the boom is being varnished, the mast shaping has commenced.  This is going to be a bit of a job. The routing and planing don't take so long and you can see the results as you go.  The sanding at the end is another matter.  Even with Duncan's beloved 40 grit (very coarse sandpaper) it is very tiring.  Perhaps if we swapped the paper more than once an hour...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Now that the mast is all clamped up we thought it was time to put our ideas as to how we were going to shape this sixty foot box of wood in to something elegant in to action; the boom.  Glued up last year and still in its rectangular hulk; a little less than a third of the length of the mast but sporting the same radius we hope to achieve on the mast it seemed a suitable candidate

 This clever little guide follows the length of the boom allowing the typically butterfingered clown operating it to make a succesion of cuts in to the boom. After passing along the boom and back on the other side, the router is moved along in the jig and dropped down a little and the process is repeated.
 The result a series of facets along the length of the boom providing an excellent guide for the next step.

Ruth descended the steps to find me, plane in hand with a smile on my face, whistling a tune; so pleased was I.  This is fortunate as I've a lot of this to do once the epoxy is solid on the mast and the thunder clouds no longer burden the forecast.

Having spent two thoughly pleasurable days honing not only our planes blade, but also my ability to use it; I thought I would really try my luck and fit the gooseneck.
 Ruth has also been enjoying herself too.  She has been adding the finishing touches to the cockpit. In reality that means sanding black caulk until new teak decks with sharp lines of parallel caulking are revealed; easy for the most part but the devil is in the detail.  Once that was completed she had the enviable task of oiling it.  Unfortunatly with both the boom and mast not yet in their rightful home, we can't scale the rigging to give you a birds eye view.

On a less interesting note we fitted the keel cooler for our fridge and a ground plate today.  The ground plate is for ssb radio transmission and came with the boat, though upon reading up, we have realised that having such a keel cooler negated the need for a ground plate.  However as we don't have a ssb radio as of yet, fitting the ground plate served the valuable job of covering over four bolt sized holes. Which in a way is purpose enough.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

It's Stuck!

Today was a momentous day.  Glueing the mast was a huge milestone along the way towards the water.  It went very smoothly as we had all the help we could hope for.

Duncan giving his first briefing (of three!!!!)

Taking it apart together was the first step so that everyone could see clearly how it fitted.

Some signing and general graffiti was encouraged!

All four 60ft lengths and infill got a thorough coating and were pushed into place without drama in little over an hour.  This was very comfortably within the happy glue window.  It seemed like much more than an hour to us.  Photos might show us rather red and intense; however, it was great for everything to go to plan.

 Industrious workers
get the job done; quicker than we'd even hoped!

Greatest thanks go out to all our helpers today.
Couldn't have done it without you!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

G day is tomorrow!

We're going to bed early because tomorrow is the day our mast gets glued up. 

Just baked shortbread, flapjack and our first attempt at meringues are going to stay in the oven overnight, hopefully one of the attempts will keep our army of helpers happy in the morning.

The weather is perfect; cold and dry, we're almost entirely ready...

Wish us luck

Ruth and Dunc

Monday, February 11, 2013

Less than four weeks to go...

The bowsprit crosstrees being glued and bolted down
So, less than four weeks to go, and the only thing in our minds is the mast.

Though no doubt there could be considered to be several more pressing engagements; this is the one that matters to us, and we cannot leave without!

Unfortunately we have been hampered by rain so have been doing what we can under cover.

We bought, carefully selected and chose our sitka spruce mast boards last time we were here. We scarfed them together in order to make 60ft lengths and now have the 'mere' task of glueing them up.

As well as choosing what I now think is Duncan's brilliant design (patent pending); choosing the taper and (trickiest) choosing the glue that we are going to use; the mast is a slightly maverick challenge for us.

It seems amazing that the design we have chosen is apparently original.  Our plan entails a groove in the fwd and aft pieces and a tongue in the two side pieces which means that when the mast is together once it fits; it fits.  This is intended to both make the mast super strong and to make the clamping pain free; in that once the clamp is tight; it can't be wrong.  Of course it is then up to us to worry over thickness of glue... but it is ever thus.  No matter which glue you choose.

We are delighted how the mast just slotted together (as i thought it should) after plenty careful consideration and hard thought.  We now have to tweak the infill of all the solid parts; mostly the top of the mast taper, and finish glueing them up.  Then we are ready for the ... drum roll please... glue up day.
Although we generally share a very cheary nature and positive outlook on how generally things do go right.... this is not something that we want to be wrong about....
The factors are... Glue, wood, clamps.  Fairly simple; yes?   Hmm.  Enough glue? we overbought,hopefully, after being surprised by how much we used up just glueing the boom together.  The right glue?  We did extensive research both by asking around (fairly unhelpful in texas) and trawling the internet.  We took a long time to choose and in the end went for gel magic, a type of epoxy made by system three. 

On other matters... 

When drilling a gert big hole in one's foredeck you ought to be concerned but hey, we couldn't be happier; hark at the deep thick solid fresh looking wood and fibreglass we pulled out.
The Staysail should sit tidy in there.

 Corners of the cockpit deck, taking shape beautifully.
Terrible photo I know, but it was getting darker and so the exposure took it slower and so... the point is: THE MAST FITS!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Birthdays and Bowsprits

After a happy birthday had by Duncan, we've been playing very nicely with a few pleasantly rewarding jobs. The Rudder cheeks are now bolted on.  Once again one of those simple jobs that we started in the morning... 

and ended up that we were still doing in the dark.  It was cold too!  Every cloud has a silver lining though, as this meant that the sealant did not kick off too fast.
We've been Caulking our lovely new teak cockpit deck which was a very messy job indeed. The masses of blue tape were Roger (our boat carpenter landlord)'s idea and whether it made any difference or not to the chaos that insued, it was very rewarding pulling it off.  Nevertheless, once the teak decking system (sealant) was hardened, lots of sanding had to be done.  We look forward to posting the picture once the varnish/ oiling is done and the cockpit locker hinges are in place. 

One sanding job that we were both eager to do!

 With the painting finally over we were polishing up our chainplates ready to put them on when we found a nasty little surprise.
Does anyone have any knowledge or experience with stainless steel?  We can't be sure how big a problem these cracks are, or what caused them.  This is by far the worst one and is on the Starboard Upper stay. 
Under close inspection several of the plates have at least one very tiny problem.

We are currently seeking advice and toying with the idea of making four new ones as we already needed to modify these four for our double spreader rig (originally single spreader).  It would be great to know more about metal stresses and normal wear and tear... sigh, more hours of trawling through google pages...
Some of the flaws are so tiny, we can't imagine what would cause this one in the top right of the photo.
On a much happier note our bowsprit is coming along in, well; bows and sprits!   We epoxied the three big planks of douglas fir together back in January 2010!  Did some very basic shaping and then stopped.  Here it was with all it's clamps on. 
Now the real fun begins! 
 Duncan cutting an angle in the end as the samson post has a rake to it.

 The bull nose takes shape.
 This shape was achieved using only hand tools; saws, chisels and Duncan's beloved 40grit (very coarse sandpaper).
Cutting in the recesses for the crosstrees to sit in.  We later tidied these up a bit with the router.

Dunc's face says it all; the router is noisy and blows sawdust at you in a most unfriendly manner.  However, the results are so clean and consistant that we use it all the time now.  It's a powerful tool though so you've really got to be sure who is boss whenever you use it!

 Can you see what it is yet?
Ta Da!  Next job is drilling the holes to bolt it down through the deck and bolting on all the crosstrees and platform.  We're about ready for it after much thought and consideration but we need a really long drill bit so we're on our bikes over to Kemah in the morning. 
In answer to many questions the splash down date is provisionally the second week of March.  However, we aren't going to find transporters until the mast is glued up.  This will be a real turning point and our plans should be easier to judge then.  Mast building phase two is starting in the next couple of days so stay tuned!
Ruth and Dunc