Thursday, March 31, 2011

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 53

Three photos show how I have progressed with making the keel. The top photo illustrates the cable and tension block; the middle one shows the bottom of the keel inverted and how the cable is fixed to it with a screw, and the third one lets you see the epoxy fillet between the aluminium and the leading edge. If you examine the third photo very carefully, you’ll see that the cable has been epoxied into the groove at the lower end of the keel. It is also epoxied along the bottom. That means the keel should never part from the cable.

All I need to do to finish the keel is to make fillets on the aft edge, sand all the wooden parts and epoxy them, fair the lead weights, drill holes through them for the locating pins and holes for the locking pins; finally paint everything, except the aluminium pieces.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 52

There are days when progress is negligible, but what I achieved this morning was worth doing. I sanded the second piece of wood that I added to the keel yesterday, and I prepared both pieces for a little bit of shaping and filling with epoxy resin putty. A small amount of fairing at the edges of the aluminium will bring benefits by lessening drag when the boat is sailing.

I took pains to clean the metal surfaces thoroughly by removing as much Sellotape from the edges of the aluminium as I could with my fingernails and fingertips. Then I further cleaned the surfaces with Acetone soaked in absorbent paper. I discovered that Acetone was an effective solvent for dissolving gunge left on the aluminium after I peeled off the Sellotape which I had placed there to protect the metal when attaching the wooden pieces with epoxy. I also discovered that Acetone could dissolve patches of Evo-stik that I had unintentionally allowed to adhere to the surfaces.

After visiting a friend in hospital this afternoon, I went to Boatacs, a chandler’s at Thorpe Bay, but I found the shop was no longer in business. People at the nearby TCS chandlery told me that Boatacs at Westcliffe-on-Sea were trading as usual. Parking there was difficult, which meant I had to carry the keel some distance. I wanted to have a length of Bowden cable made with eye splices at both ends to fit the keel. As I explained in yesterday’s post, this piece of flexible stainless steel wire will be attached to the bottom of the keel, and it will travel upwards in a groove along the leading edge before passing over a pulley at the front of the coaming where it will be clipped onto a block purchase for raising of lowering the keel. If it is correctly made to length, the cable will snugly fit into the groove on the forward edge of the keel, so that the top eye splice will hook around a retaining screw on the aft side a few inches from the top. A small chock will be placed between the wire and the upper surface of the keel to tension the wire, so that it will not get in the way when the keel is inserted into or removed from the keel box.

Such jobs, although small in themselves, can take time and effort, but that’s part and parcel of building a boat.


Boatacs Chandlers

TCS Chandlery

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 51

Top groove

Aft piece added

I can see the end in sight for building the keel. Today I added the aft piece and cut the remainder of the groove - that’s over the top and under the bottom of the keel. The Bowden cable will be epoxied into the groove under the keel and up the leading edge for 10 inches. That will well and truly secure the cable so that the keel can be lifted or lowered without fear of losing it.

All that remains to be done to complete the keel will be to add a small amount of epoxy fairing to both of the wooden pieces where they meet the aluminium. This will streamline them and increase the strength of the bond joining them to the keel.

I shall have to finish fairing the lead weights and drill holes through them. I shall also have to have a Bowden cable with talurits at both ends made to the length required. Finally, the keel will be painted, apart from the aluminium which I shall polish with wax.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Building 'Sharpy' Part 50

Continuing with the keel, I made the leading edge from hardwood - in fact, a piece of skirting board from Homebase. The tricky bit was cutting a semicircular groove along the front where the sides converge to form a ‘v’ section. The piece of wood was thinner than shown on the plans, but I shall fill the gaps either side with epoxy putty. Instead of screwing this piece of wood to the plywood between the aluminium pieces, I nailed it with bronze nails. Before doing so, I epoxied both surfaces and protected the outside of the aluminium pieces from epoxy dribbles with Sellotape.

Make a note that I first cut the groove with a small chisel and shaped it into a semicircular section with a small half-round file and a piece of sandpaper rolled around a drill bit. After I had made the groove I fashioned the ‘v’ section with a hand plane.

Shaping and fixing the aft edge of the keel piece should be easier than the forward one, because it does not have a groove. The semicircular groove on the leading edge is to accommodate a 2 millimetre Bowden cable which takes the weight of the keel and runs over a pulley housed in a bracket at the front of the coaming. The lower end of the cable is attached about 2 inches from the bottom of the keel on the aft side and it runs through a groove under the bottom of the keel and up the leading edge. The upper end of the cable is clipped to a double fiddle block operated with a 6 millimetre rope that passes through a jam cleat on the deck. The crew can hoist of lower the keel by pulling or easing the keel haul rope. For safety reasons the keel is tied down with a line that is threaded through three small holes that pass through the keel near the upper edge.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

No Boatbuilding this Sunday

Rubbish at an annex of The Granary

Pots at the garden centre

Polyanthus at the garden centre

Sunday for me is a special day, but it is not sacrosanct, i.e., it is not sacred - a day set aside exclusively for the worship of God. What’s special about Sunday is that it is a time when Christians come together to worship God, to praise Him, to give thanks for His merciful love and to pray for the wellbeing of those who are experiencing difficult times - those in need, the sick, the poor and the destitute. It is a time when Christians fellowship with one another, a time for sharing and getting to know each other better, not just as acquaintances or nominal members of a church, but as members God’s family. The spiritual relationship between one another through the power of the Holy Spirit has to be experienced before it can be appreciated. Those who are embraced by the bond created by Christ Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross are truly blessed.

There is only one real purpose for the Christian and that is to love Jesus and glorify God for ever* which is the same thing. By loving Jesus you give glory to His Father.

Now today, I have rested from boatbuilding, not because it is a Sunday, but because I’ve had enough of sticking bits of lead together to make keel weights for ‘Sharpy’, a roof rack keel boat I am slowly building.

Instead of setting up my workbench by the garage on this fine sunny afternoon, I took my wife to Battlesbridge for a visit to The Granary, which is in fact an old mill house where there are numerous antique shops. She wanted to see a guy named Wally who restores old photographs, and a really clever chap he is. From faint, torn and tattered images he can transform them into brand new photos resembling the pristine originals. (That reminds me of what Jesus does by transforming sinful people into persons resembling Adam before he fell from grace. The real transformation comes when they are made in the image of Christ. All men are in the image of God, but before rebirth by the power of the Holy Spirit they are badly flawed, unable to help themselves.)

Before we made our way home we called into an adjoining place where there are for sale, many weird objects which I would define as rubbish or garbage. Whatever people see in buying such junk I cannot imagine. We also called into Battlesbridge Mills Garden Centre which has been revamped with fresh displays of flowers, shrubs, trees and a collection of ceramic pots suitable for large plants.


*Westminster Shorter Catechism

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Building 'Sharpy' Part 49

I accomplished two things today: I prepared the keel for pieces of hardwood that will be screwed and glued to the leading and aft edges, and I faired the lead weights in preparation for adding some sort of fairing, possibly plastic padding as is used on car repairs.

Surprisingly, the most difficult task was removing a few spots of Evo-stik that had adhered to the outside surfaces of the keel. The best solution I found was to scrape the hardened Evo-stik with a credit card. I removed some of the glue with my fingernails, but the thinner, harder patches were nigh impossible to get off.

Derek’s keel fits pretty snugly into the keel box and to enable it to move easily he waxes the keel. I shall try to achieve a snug fit, but not too tight a fit. If there is too much slop in the box the keel could slam and I don’t want that to happen when the boat is on the run, or when there is very little wind, as can be the case if there is some movement of the sea.

I suppose I’m now able to build the keel box because I know the exact dimensions of the keel. In fact, it is as per plan, i.e., 15 mm thick and 10 inches wide. I could also build the leading and aft edges of the keel. I never finished the rudder, which requires its yoke. So there are a few small wooden parts to make before I get back building the hull.

P.S. If you are very observant you will notice that the keel weights are on the wrong sides of the keel. The thinner of the two, should be on the port side, but I have not yet attached them, or drilled holes through the weights for doing it.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Building 'Sharpy' Part 48

The starboard weight is thicker than the port one

Final clamping of both weights

By working most of the day at laminating the remainder of the keel pieces, I completed both weights. The starboard one weighs 36 lbs and the port one weighs 32 lbs. Both marginally weigh less than shown on the plans, but by the time I have faired and shaped them with an application of suitable filler, they will weigh very nearly what they should.

I shall have to research what filler will be best. Perhaps it should be slightly flexible and certainly adhesive to lead. If the keel comes into contact with the ground when sailing, inevitably it will be subjected to abrasion; therefore whatever I choose for fairing the weights, it must be durable and semi-protective. I may consider encapsulating the weights in GRP, but that may not be practicable because of the sharp edges. I would also have the problem of completely sealing the edges of the holes through which the retaining pins pass. The best solution would be to encase them with stainless steel, but how that could be done without melting the lead when welding the steel, I do not know.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 47

Ready to bond

A total of 5 hours working on the keel weights enabled me to cut 5 extra lead pieces, clean all the remaining bits with white spirit plus assemble and bond 20 of them. Bonding 20 pieces actually entails applying Evo-stik to 38 surfaces!

Retaining pin and nut (Not to scale)

Another 27 pieces have to be added, to complete the starboard weight, and possibly 4more pieces will be needed for the port weight. Another two sessions could see the weights bonded. I shall have to do a bit of shaping and filling to make them smooth. Then will come the tricky bit of drilling through them to accommodate the two transverse retaining pins. When the starboard weight is slotted onto the retaining pins, vertical locking pins can pass through holes drilled from the top of the starboard weight so that the locking pins can also pass through holes in the transverse pins.

Locking pin (Not to scale - the retaining pin is the larger of the two)

The reason for having two keel weights is for ease of transporting them from the car to the boat. The boat is laid on her port side so that the keel can be partially pushed into the keel box, then she can be supported by her keel so as to be ready for slotting the starboard weight onto the retaining pins. When that’s been done, locking pins are pushed home. When not in use the locking pins are retained in their holes by a thin flexible cord which is attached to the aft end of the weight. This cord sits in a fore and aft channel along the top of the weight.


I am comforted by the fact that Ron Cannings has said he can make the stainless steel parts for ‘Sharpy’. He hopes to start on them in about three week’s time. His workshop is at Rice and Coles, Burnham-on-Crouch where ‘Ladybird’ is currently laid up.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 46

I didn’t get a great deal done today on building the boat, but I managed to cut six more pieces of lead for the keel weights. I also checked the dimensions of the port weight and weighed it.

The port weight currently consists of 36 pieces laminated together with Evo-stik and it weighs 29.5 lbs. According the building plan the weight should be 33 lbs, which means there is a shortfall of 3.5 lbs; therefore I would need to add another 4 pieces. A thickness of 40 laminates would equal almost 57 mm - the amount shown on the plans for the part of the ballast retaining pin that would clamp the weight to the keel.

It seems to me that I shall need to add 4 extra pieces of lead to the port weight.

From the above findings the actual thickness of the lead flashing is 1.44 millimetres and as the thickness of the starboard weight will need to be 67 millimetres I shall require a total of 47 pieces to make it. One piece of lead weighs 0.8194444 lbs, which means the weight of the starboard ballast weight would be 38.5 lbs, nearly the 40 lbs as shown on the plan.

I have available a total of 46 unused pieces. In order to finish both the port and starboard weights I shall have to cut another 5 pieces. I’m hoping I shall have enough lead flashing to finish the weights.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 45

Removing labels with white spirit

I’m glad I have not been able to work the whole day, because laminating the keel weights in small doses is the right way to tackle the job. Spreading Evo-stik evenly on lead surfaces and waiting for them to dry before squeezing parts together is not appealing to me. Being out of doors in fine weather makes the task tolerable. I would not want to do the laminating inside, because of the overpowering stench of the glue.

This afternoon I stuck several more pieces together. In fact, I did enough to finish laminating the smaller of the two weights, i.e., the one that will be permanently attached to the port side of the drop keel. I needed to make the thickness equal to 2 and 3/16 of an inch. I was surprised by the amazing amount of Evo-stik required to bond the lead parts. Altogether, inclusive of laminating two pieces of aluminium either side of the plywood core of the keel, I have used just over two 500 ml cans of the adhesive, each costing £11.99. Today I bought two more cans; therefore in total I have spent £47.96. Information on the can stipulates that the coverage should be 2.8 m2.

The port keel weight

Before I could begin joining parts together I had to clean off 4 of them because they had sticky labelling attached to them. I discovered that the labels would come off by applying white spirit, then vigorously rubbing the surfaces with kitchen roll. I removed a few recalcitrant pieces with a wooden spatula. A metal scraper would have damaged the surfaces of the lead.

I can’t say I’m looking forward to making the starboard weight, but a boat does no build herself, and if I am to achieve my objective, I have to press on with each stage of the building process, whether pleasurable or otherwise.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 44

Glued surfaces

Well, I’m back on the job again, continuing with making the keel weights. I first did some experiments to test laminating lead with epoxy and drilling through lead. Before gluing four offcuts together I cleaned them with white spirit. I shall try tearing them apart tomorrow after they have been clamped together for 24 hours.

To test my Black and Decker battery operated drill, I bored a hole through an offcut of lead. At slow speed it cut a clean hole through the lead with little resistance, which means I shouldn’t have a problem when it comes to drilling through the assembled keel weights, but as I don’t have a bench drill, I’ll need to take great care that both holes for the retaining pins are at right angles to the outer and inner surfaces of the weights.

Joined in pairs

Having tested joining offcuts of lead with Evo-stik I felt confident to go ahead with laminating the actual keel weights. I started by laminating 12 pieces together. These I lightly clamped and set aside until I can continue adding more pieces. I noted that their total thickness was approximately 18 millimetres, which confirmed that individually they were 1.5 millimetres thick. I now know that I shall need at least 80 pieces to make the required combined thickness of the lead weights. Derek Munnion, the designer of the boat, laminated 96 of them, so somewhere there is a discrepancy of 16 pieces, and as each piece weighs about 13 oz my keel would be 13 lbs lighter than his. I’ll have to see what actually happens when they have been made to the correct dimensions. Perhaps my lead flashing is slightly thicker than Derek’s.

Twelve pieces laminated together

Incidentally, I’ve made contact with the chap who may be able to make the stainless steel parts for the keel. He is now in possession of photos of the drawings, and I await what he has to say.

Active Day with the Grandchildren

At 0550 the sound of tiny voices could be heard coming from the back bedroom. Breakfast was on the table at 0645. A curry for the church meal had been cooked the day before and chocolate cake was soon being baked in the oven. The youngsters shared a bath together at 0800. Dressed in their new clothes they played in the lounge until it was time to leave. At 1015 we strapped them into their seats and loaded the car with gear. A place for the curry was found on the floor because there was no room in the boot.

Miraculously all of the traffic lights were in our favour, allowing us to arrive at the church with five minutes to spare before the service began. A visiting preacher from Caring for Life illustrated the sterling work being done in Leeds with the homeless, the mentally ill, abused people, and those with learning difficulties.

Lunch was on the table by 1300, and what feast there was too! My wife’s curry was irresistible. People very quickly demolished it, with no chance of a second helping.

About mid-afternoon we left the church and made our way to my daughter’s place to collect the boy’s tricycles. Then we set off to the park where the boys sped along paths before playing on swings, slides and climbing frames.

We were back at my daughter’s for tea by 1730; then the boys played again and watched a film. My wife dressed them in pyjamas to be ready for bed at 2000.

We didn’t arrive home until 2230, and since then I’ve been occupied writing this Blog!


Caring for Life

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Brief Note

Exploring steps over the sea wall

Hi People. I’ll not elaborate on happenings today, other than to say it has been active. The latter part of the morning my wife and I took the boys to Shoebury beach where we had a run-around and a picnic. There was a haze that reduced visibility seawards and a cool wind from the east.

After picnicking we played games in the garden and the youngsters had a lot of fun with their tricycles, and so the day progressed with more games, food and drink, until bedtime.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Things Today


The weather was pretty ropey this morning, and rain continued to fall throughout the afternoon. I was not at all inspired to work on the boat, but I was able to confirm with the sailmaker that he was on track with sewing the lateen sail for ‘Sharpy’. He hadn’t started cutting it, but he had the spinnaker cloth ready for him to commence making the sail.

I also found the phone number of a metalworker who may be able manufacture the stainless steel parts required for the keel and its hoist mechanism. I left a message on his answer phone, and I’m waiting for him to get in touch.

I don’t cross my fingers when I want something to happen; instead I hope that it will turn out OK, and if the situation is serious enough to warrant prayer, then I’ll pray. Having parts manufactured for my boat is not that high on my list of priorities, hopes or necessities, sufficient for entering into prayer with a request for God to sort things out. My prayer today is for help when my three young grandchildren stay with me and my wife over the weekend, as from this afternoon!

Looking after three four year old boys who are thoroughly inquisitive, bounding with energy, requiring action both indoors and out, will fully occupy me and my wife until late Sunday evening when responsibility for them will be passed back to their mother and father.

I hope there won’t be any tears, tantrums or testing times. I shan’t be crossing my fingers, but I may be shooting a few arrow prayers to the all-knowing God. I am reminded of a verse from the Bible on the theme of answered prayer.

Here are the words:

‘For His anger is but for a moment,
His favour is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.’
(Psalm 30:5)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Building ‘Sharpy’ 43

Placing the template

Yesterday it took me an hour to make 18 lead pieces for the keel weights. That was one every three minutes and twenty seconds. Today I made 30 in two and a quarter hours, which work out at one in a little under six minutes. Altogether, including previous ones, I have 76 pieces which may be close to the number I shall need for completing the weights.

I shall have to laminate a number of them together by bonding them with Evo-stik, so that I can measure their thickness. By using that measurement I shall be able to calculate exactly how many lead pieces I shall require for finishing the weights.

The above photo illustrates how I placed the template on the lead flashing to achieve the maximum number of shapes that could be cut from a 6 meter roll, i.e., 28.

Cuttings left over to date

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 42

Momentum is very important when building a boat. Progress in action encourages the builder, but if you are an amateur boatbuilder you are unlikely to be at the job full-time – such full-timers can more easily generate momentum. I have a gut feeling that most amateur boatbuilders, enthusiasts like me can only turn their hand to their hobby when time presents itself. There are days, weeks and perhaps months when opportunities are far and few between for boatbuilding. That puts paid to momentum. Somehow, the odd hour has to be fitted in, so that the builder can see that the job is not dead, and that there could be light at the end of the tunnel.

Today, I managed to squeeze in a little more than an hour, and, amazingly I cut 18 more lead pieces for making the keel weights. Altogether I have 46 pieces, which means I’m more than halfway to finishing those I shall need.

The repetitive process of cutting these pieces of lead reminds that there are a lot of duplicative dull tasks in boat building; therefore the boatbuilder has to stick at things, be consistent, endeavour to keep high standards and be determined to see the job through. As progress is made, spirits are lifted, and in the end there will be joy and satisfaction.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 41

Keel Weights

The saga of building the keel weights continues. I managed to find an hour-and-a-half for cutting more lead laminations. In fact, I ran out of lead after making a grand total of 28 pieces. Altogether they weigh 23 lbs – that’s according to the bathroom scales, which may not be accurate. 23 lbs is 10.43 kilos, and the total nominal weight of one roll of 6 metres of 6 inch Code 3 lead is 13 kilos; therefore the leftovers approximately weigh 2.57 kilos, i.e., 5.7 lbs. That’s quite a bit of wastage, but nothing can be done to make it any less.

From a total of three rolls of lead I should be able to make 84 laminates, each about 1.5 mm thick, giving a final thickness of 126 millimetres, which is 4.96 inches. The plans show the port hand weight is 2 and 3/16 inch thick and the starboard weight is 2 and 5/8 inches thick, giving a total width of 4 and 13/16 inches. In theory, this means I should have enough lead to finish the job.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 40

There was a flurry of activity today. Early this morning I rushed to the factory that was making the remainder of the metal parts for ‘Sharpy’, but I discovered it had gone bust! Consequently, I’ll have to find another metal fabricator who can do the job, or do it myself.

I then sped to Homebase where I found a length of hardwood for making capping pieces for the forward and aft edges of the keel. I managed to buy it for half price, because a section had wormworm in it, but the rest was excellent with a straight grain and no other blemishes.

Next I visited three suppliers of Code 3 lead flashing and paid £42.90 for 6 metres by 6 inches at the cheapest store.

Back at home I cut out the streamlined profile of the keel weight from a piece of paper, and used it to make a plywood template.

After I placed the template on the lead flashing I scored around the edges with a bradawl to mark the shape which I cut with a pair of scissors. I subsequently cut out 13 pieces of lead before I called it a day and downed tools. I shall need up to another 80 pieces for making the keel weights. The final number will be determined by the total weight of the lead pieces; the port weight must be 33 lbs, and the starboard one must be 40 lbs.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

‘Mirabaud’ Dismasted

Team sailors Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret aboard their yacht ‘Mirabaud’ are competing in the Barcelona World Yacht Race. At the time of composing this, their dismasted yacht is in the Southern Atlantic Ocean about 650 nautical miles east of Argentina and 450 miles north of the Falkland Islands. The IMOCA Open 60 is under engine while riding out a storm. Neither of the crew is injured.

At 1640 UHT Michèle radioed the Race Officials at Barcelona informing them that the mast had failed. It had broken near the top, and due to the movement of the yacht this upper piece subsequently damaged spreaders below it. The crew therefore decided the best course of action was to bring the mast down in a controlled way to avoid further serious damage. They achieved this, but not without damaging some of the stanchions.

When sea conditions permit, they plan to set up a jury rig with the boom which they managed to save. Their intention is to sail towards Argentina. Meanwhile, the leaders, Jean-Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron, aboard Virbac-Paprec 3 are 1,085 miles south of the Equator, and their nearest rivals, Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez, aboard MAPFRE are 345 miles behind.


Barcelona World Race


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 39

Well, everything went as planned last evening. I set up the Black and Decker workbench in the kitchen and prepared the area for applying Evo-stik to both sides of the marine ply panel and to the inner surfaces of the two pieces of aluminium. Before spreading the Evo-stik on the respective surfaces I lightly sanded them and vacuum cleaned them. To clean the surfaces of the aluminium pieces I swabbed them with Acetone soaked in kitchen roll. This removed minute particles from the metal, so as to provide a perfectly clean, dry surface for the adhesive. I made sure that my hands didn’t come into contact with the Acetone and Evo-stik by wearing rubber gloves.

When the aluminium pieces were in place I clamped the whole lot together, paying particular attention to the edges, ensuring they were tightly bonded. I found the most effective way of spreading the Evo-stik was to first apply it with a spoon; then spread it evenly with a serrated plastic spreader that was supplied with the adhesive. Before parts were joined, I waited until the Evo-stik on both surfaces was touch-dry; this took approximately ten minutes. I was careful to ensure that the pieces were perfectly positioned before I joined them and applied hand pressure to seal the bond. The whole job was completed within an hour.

Fumes from the Evo-stik were not at all pleasant, and I was glad my wife was not home at the time. Before she returned, I opened the windows to allow the fumes to escape. This must have worked, because she did not mention that she could smell an obnoxious smell, as was the case when I was varnishing wooden bits for my daughter’s yacht a few days ago.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Building 'Sharpy' Part 38

Initial shaping

Early this afternoon I set about shaping the marine plywood for the keel. I used one of the aluminium pieces as a template; then I cut out the plywood with a jigsaw. The job only took an hour, including the final shaping with a plane and sandpaper.

Planed and sanded

This evening I intend bonding the ‘sandwich’ together with Evo-stik impact adhesive. The original ‘Sharpy’ keel was sandwiched in this way, and it is still going strong after several years. I questioned Derek Munnion, the designer of the boat, to assure myself before joining the parts that I would do it correctly. He did not advise scoring the wood, or severely abrading the aluminium parts. He used a plastic kitchen scouring pad to slightly roughen surfaces of the aluminium parts that would come into contact with the Evo-stik. He also cleaned the metal surfaces with white spirit before spreading the adhesive. I think I shall clean them with acetone in preference to white spirit. Derek slightly sanded and vacuum cleaned the plywood surfaces, and I shall do the same.

The sandwich

Finally, I’ll clamp them together to ensure they are properly bonded.

My next job will be making a template for cutting the sheet lead pieces that will be laminated together with Evo-stik to form the keel weights. These will be streamlined like a torpedo or fish.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thomas Colville and ‘Sodebo’

‘Sodebo’ is a 32 metre (105 ft) Maxi trimaran designed by Nigel Irens and Benoît Cabaret. She is currently being sailed solo around the world by Thomas Colville in an attempt to become the record holder for the fastest non-stop solo circumnavigation. Francis Joyon, the current holder, did it aboard IDEC (29.7 metre trimaran) in 57 days, 13 hours and 6 seconds.

Colville stands a chance of achieving his goal, but only if he pushes his trimaran hard without damaging the vessel and exhausting himself. To beat Joyon’s record he will need to average a speed of no less than 20 knots over the complete course. At the time of writing this, he has just over 17 days to complete a record-breaking circumnavigation. By comparison with Joyon’s position when doing his solo record, Colville is only 489.5 miles behind, and he has 6,213.6 miles to sail, which means he has to achieve 365.5 miles a day, at an average speed of 15.2 knots. Providing he doesn’t get stuck in the Doldrums he stands a very good chance.



Sodebo reaches Halfway Point

Trimaran Sodebo

Sodebo Rounds Horn

Sailing Round Cape Horn

Fastest Solo Circumnavigator

Francis Joyon and IDEC

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Master Boatbuilder


Now and again when surfing the Internet you come across something that registers in your mind. You think of it when you least expect. One such website made an impression on me, not because it was scintillating or exciting, but because its pages tell a story of a remarkable man who is very humble about his achievements. His love is working with wood, doing joinery and boatbuilding. His name is Mark Harris. He says that over the past ten years he has had a variety of jobs, including theatre set design and construction, green oak timber framing, fitting out narrow boats, and along with other things, building replicas of Victorian railway carriages. He studied boatbuilding at Falmouth and gained a City and Guilds qualification for the same, before setting up his own business building traditional boats, sailing and selling boats.

By Pontoon

Now all this information can be found on his website at , but more remarkably there are photos of some of the boats he has built and renovated. A very beautiful sailing yacht of his is ‘Isolde’, which would appear to be for sale. She’s modelled on the lines of a Mevagissey tosher. You must have a look at a fascinating time lapse video* showing how she was built. The photo gallery contains stills taken of the boat during the building process. You can’t fail to be impressed with the quality of workmanship.


I took a look at the page about the restoration of ‘Lady Hamilton’, a Helford fishing boat that had been severely damaged in a collision and sank. How she was brought back to life is a miracle, considering the extent of the damage. Mark and two others were involved in putting her right. Just take a peek at photos illustrating the laid deck of ‘Marguerite’, a Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter that Mark and Barnaby Shepard jointly renovated, which included the removal and filling of half a mile of deck seams. Then there’s the work on the beautiful ‘Monie’, Vertue number 3 that he and Barnaby completely refitted – even the interior was removed and put back in place.

Mark does not advertise himself as a Master Boatbuilder, but he does have the skills of one, and it’s a joy to look through his website photo gallery illustrating projects he has undertaken.


*Time lapse video of the building of ‘Isolde’

Video clip of ‘Isolde’ sailing off St Anthony’s Head