Sunday, 20 January 2013

Westerly Nomad

Checkout new Quiz and get the answers to December questions on Seaward's Quiz Page

New mouthwatering cruising recipe on Susan's Page 

For the past week, whenever I have had the chance, I’ve been sanding the wooden bits of the boat that are detachable and it’s a pretty boring occupation I must say. It’s an opportune time however, because regular readers will know that I am also heavily involved in renovating an old fisherman’s cottage on the Rance Estuary near St Malo in France. Now that work has got to the point where underfloor heating has been installed and the ground floor is being tiled. So, there is a lot of dust from the tile cutting and my contribution of sanding dust hardly makes any difference to the general chaos. It means I can work inside with warm feet thanks to the new under-floor heating, and the mess I make gets swept up occasionally along with the builder’s dust and rubble.

It also means that I can plug in music to alleviate the boredom – thank goodness for BB King, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Lightning Hopkins, Mississippi John Hurt, The Doors, Janice Joplin, Chris Rea and a whole host of others!

I mentioned the purchase of a Bosch detail sander which cost me about E50, because I burned out two others in as many months working on the floorboards of the house – to date it hasn’t let me down – maybe this is a real example of getting what you pay for. I certainly won’t be buying Black and Decker again.

In an earlier post I mentioned that despite her GRP hull and topsides, much of the boat seems to have been traditionally built – fittings are screwed-on rather than moulded-in and this has proved very helpful because I can take gear and furniture off to replace or restore. Now in doing this, I came across a number handwritten in pencil on the underside of one of the companion way steps. Westerly Nomads were not built in huge numbers and the production run was only about two years so I wonder what the number could tell me – were the steps made specifically for this boat? If so, does the number indicate an early or late model? Maybe someone out there can solve the mystery – Oh the number, by the way, WN 8653. Presumably WN stands for Westerly Nomad. It’s silly really, but I couldn’t bring myself to sand it away, so one small part of the boat will be left practically untouched in memory of the builder who scribbled that part number on the wood back in 1967, 1968 or 1969.

Now – here is a brief article from Brian Turner ( He has a blog himself and is very concerned about DIYers who come into contact with old asbestos. I undertook a boat surveying course myself before embarking on this project and great emphasis was placed there on the dangers of asbestos in old boats – especially as lagging for engine pipes and compartments – his short article below therefore is especially welcome. You can find Brian’s profile on Google blogger.

Take Precautions When Renovating Your Home in 2013

Home renovations are growing in popularity this winter season. People are replacing their windows, replacing their rooftops and replacing insulation in the walls. Any of these tasks can expose renovators to asbestos. This is a dangerous and deadly mineral that can be deadly if inhaled. Once the mineral lodges into the tissue lining of the lungs or other organs, it can develop into
mesothelioma, which is a cancer that lies dormant for a period of 10 to 50 years. Here are some ways that you can avoid being exposed to asbestos.

1.  Do Not Disturb Asbestos If Discovered
Asbestos should not be drilled, sawed, broken, or hammered through to prevent inhalation. If floor tiles are made of asbestos, the tiles should not be sanded or buffed. The buffing process should include low abrasion pads, and the buffer speeds should be below 300 rpm.

2. Solicit the Help of Professionals
Professionals should be hired to check the home for asbestos and remove it if necessary. Professionals have the appropriate equipment to prevent being exposed to asbestos. The service may be costly, but it is worth the effort and cost if no one is exposed to asbestos. Make the investment to prevent an untimely death due to exposure.

3. Wear Protective Gear
If you must remove the asbestos yourself, wear protective gear. Protective gear may include an aspirator, goggles, gloves, hat or hairnet and a full body suit. This will protect the renovators from asbestos exposure. Protective gear is of utmost importance during renovations and should not be an option but a requirement.

4. Remove All Clothing and Shower Before Coming in Contact With Your Family
You should remove all your clothing and shower to remove any asbestos before leaving the home site during renovations. You should avoid hugging your family or friends before changing clothes and showering also.  If you are diligent about this process, you will lower the risk of asbestos exposure.

Consider These Tips Before Performing Home Renovations
Home renovations are important, but you do not have to sacrifice your health for home renovations. Always wear protective clothing and take precautions to avoid exposing family and friends to asbestos. Consider these tips and take precautions before performing home renovations.

Thanks Brian


Thursday, 3 January 2013

Boat Renovation – Sanding, Sanding and Sanding

Got myself a Vespa for visiting the boatyard -- almost a 100 miles to the gallon of petrol so it helps keep the costs down. Essential tools are kept in a wooden wines box that  I varnished and gave a hinged lid to. Vintage wine box for a vintage scooter, to visit a vintage boat!

So, many of the wooden bits of the boat are at home, and sanding seems to be the name of the game. There are two kinds of wood on and in the boat, solid wood for such things as the tiller and companion way steps, and marine ply. The solid wood is Iroko, a kind of Teak substitute which sands to a rather pleasant orange colour, and turns a beautiful honey colour under the oil/varnish I have used so far (International Paints – Woodskin).

The ply however, is a different matter. It seems to have had several treatments over the years and sanding it isn’t a pleasant job. The sandpaper seems to clog very quickly when it hits a layer of some dark plastic kind of substance (maybe it is a polyurethane type varnish applied several years ago). Either way, I seem to hit it once the top layer of a rather brittle varnish has been cleared away and then, once through it, there seems to be another layer of something more traditional at the wood surface). So, sanding is unpleasant tedious and boring, but I can’s see a way of avoiding it. Than goodness for the I-pad and a large collection of BB King and Buddy Guy tunes!

The worst, I guess, is that the end result of marine ply sanding is not particularly encouraging. The ply doesn’t seem to be Teak or Iroko faced – or if it is, it certainly doesn’t have the same quality of colour that the solid wood has. It’s much paler, more like ash or maybe chestnut. I’m not sure what to do with the interior wood, varnish, paint, stain, go for some kind of limed effect? I’ll worry about that later. The exterior wood (that which I don’t replace) will get an initial coat of Woodskin and then I can worry about the aesthetics later.

On a brighter note however, one of the pleasant things I have discovered about this old boat – and I suspect she shares this will many other GRP boats of the 1960’s and 1970’s, is that she was built during a period of technological change and in some ways the ‘intermediate technology’ applied is very useful to a restorer. Sorry if this sounds a bit obscure, what I mean is that the 1960’s was the period when GRP began to be used for small craft, it was new technology, not fully understood and therefore the boat hull and shell are very strong and heavy – overbuilt and solid. That much I understood and expected BUT having built the hull and shell, much of the rest of the boat was put together using more traditional methods. There are few moulded-in parts. All the furniture and bulkheads are built with proper woodworking joints and are screwed into place with brass screws therefore they are relatively easy to disassemble, remove and renovate.

Now where was I? – oh yes sanding, sanding and sanding.