Monday, 25 November 2013

Boat Hatches

Sometimes it’s good to take a break from sanding, polishing and cleaning. Sometimes it’s good just to stand back and reflect on what you are doing, look at progress so far and improvements you have made. If you have an ice cold Belgian beer in your hand, you can actually become inspired!

It happened to me a couple of weeks ago and I’m still excited by it even though further thought and research
now leads me to believe that it wasn’t my idea at all. Rather it was the blossoming of the seed of an idea I discovered in a book several years ago (more of that later).

Anyhow, to you it may seem a small thing – but to me – not the most creative of people - it was like a shining light hovering above the road to Damascus.

There I was standing back looking at my work to date and wondering what to do about the wooden cabin hatch – truth is, it has rot, it has delaminated and it needs repair or replacement. I had already decided to replace it but not until spring. Use the old one to see me through winter. I had also decided that the new hatch should look planked (even if the planks merely hide plywood beneath).

That afternoon though, my eye was caught not by the rotting main hatch but by the equally ugly plastic box that pretends to be a fore hatch. I love this boat I am renovating but I am constantly aware that she was designed by Rayner – a naval officer who put functionality way in front of aesthetics. So the fore hatch works, it does its job – but why didn’t Rayner build it in the same style and material as the main hatch? Probably because the idea never entered his head.

Now, am I restoring this old boat, in which case things would be put back as the designer originally intended,
or am I doing something else - up-grading her maybe?  In which case I am free to make changes and, in this case, I think the change will be an improvement.

So, if replacing or covering plastic hatches with planked wood wasn’t an original idea of mine, where did it come from? Well there is a very good book that I bought several years ago which has proved to be a constant source of ideas and inspiration. It’s called ‘Smart DIY Boat Ideas by a guy called
Bruce Bingham. It’s full of suggestions and fully illustrated with pen and ink drawings. For me, the value of the book is the ideas he has for internal change. It’s relatively easy to stroll around a boatyard or marina and come away with several good ideas for the outside of a boat – but its harder to get views inside – so this is where his book scores. As well as ideas for covering significant areas of GRP with wood, he also explains a very effective method for obtaining measurements within boat cabins where every line seems to be a curve. I tried his method on a previous boat in it worked like a dream.

So, a sunny afternoon, a bottle of beer, and I have now doubled the amount of hatch-work I have to do! I know she’ll look so much better. Will she be faster or safer as a result of the additional effort?  No, but she’ll look prettier to me and she’ll be more ‘personalised’. Can’t imagine anyone else will notice – but I’ll know I have done right by the old girl.

You can get Bruce Bingham’s book here:

Smart D.I.Y. Boat Ideas (UK Readers)

Finally, a number of people have requested more information on my other activities mainly about downsizing, living frugally and setting up a homestead in France - This blog isn't about that and I don't want to dilute its contents, so here is another site which deals with all that stuff:

Frugal Living in France