Sunday, 3 February 2013

Boating Confessions – sometimes it feel like…

Am I renovating this boat or destroying her? Well, today I have to confess to two acts of destruction and one unholy thought – giving away my Roman Catholic upbringing here – but I have an excuse which I’ll come to in a moment, firstly the acts of destruction.

Act One.

Along both edges of the cockpit well there were solid wood beams which acted as runners for two marine ply sliding doors which offered access to lockers under the seats. The marine ply doors were ugly, delaminated and, in one case, swollen so that opening and closing was very difficult. The runners were held in place by bolts through the GRP seat moulding and they were not pretty, one had been shortened at some point and one had several soft spots. Economy should have suggested careful removal of the runners and maybe replacement of the doors. The bolts however were rusted and didn’t want to budge. I managed to remove a couple but, well there is always at least one which doesn’t want to play – in my case there were several. I coated them in penetrating oil last week but it had no effect. I was also hampered by the fact that my tools are metric whereas the boat was built to good old fashioned feet and inches – so tools, spanners and the like, are always either a trifle too big or small. When they are too big it’s very easy to round off the angle of the nut and then the job becomes impossible. One option was to try to saw through the bolt but the heads were sunk into the wood and dowelled over and from the other side (inside the locker) they were unreachable. Well, the wood wasn’t in very good condition so it was relatively easy to cut it away in sections – and then the bolts were easy to remove with a pair of blot croppers – job done, but nothing is recoverable, the wood is good only for the stove – so I now have to fashion some new ones out of hardwood and make up two new locker doors. Mmmm not sure my woodworking is up to it.

Act Two

Two marine ply bulkheads either side of the companion way hatch are as ugly as sin itself. They’re covered in an almost black varnish with an assortment of holes drilled through at various times to accommodate electrical wires and screws to attach instruments. The wiring is frightening tangle; some of the threads seem to go nowhere. To call it a cobweb would be an insult to the whole arachnid species. I was pretty sure I’d have to re-wire the boat but now it’s certain, I cut through hundreds of wires in an attempt to get the bulkheads out.


Varnish lovers, forgive me for what I am about to do. I spent a good deal of time sanding the face of these bulkheads with a view to varnishing but having got back to the original wood, well its just plain ugly. I don’t like it – the colour is non-descript, neither a rich mahogany nor a pale beach, the overriding colour is grey with a black grain in places. I don’t know what it is but a clear varnish will not be the solution and I don’t like woodstain. So my solution will be to paint the wooden bulkheads and edge them with varnished hardwood strips. I’m thinking too of running some vertical strips of hardwood down the bulkheads at 4 inch intervals before painting to give the impression of planking rather than ply. We’ll see – and I’d appreciate your thoughts. 

In the meantime I’m trying to console myself  with Belgian beer and by remembering that if you wish to make an omelette you have to start by breaking a few eggs.