Monday, 27 January 2014

NAVICOM RT 210 hand-held VHF - and other things

So where are we? Midwinter and a boat a long way from launching – but launch we will even though the interior will probably be untouched. After a year, any kind of sailing – even just day sailing will be good.

Where am I at? Well the boat at the moment is in a hangar so, in theory at least, I can work on her despite the weather – The hatches are off and rotten wood has been cut away from them. At the moment I’m busy sealing the GRP that I sanded. I had to do a lot of research before deciding which sealing product to use – and it wasn't easy partly because different manufacturers use different terms and there ares big differences between them. I’ll post on this in the near future because it seems important (even though it’s a topic of little interest to more general readers)

I’m also repairing the main hatch with two 6mm sheets of Marine Ply, one glued on top of the other. 6mm ply is easier to bend to shape, but even then I have had to route a few grooves in it to make it take up the curve more easily. Over that I’m hoping to put some thin laths of a suitable hard wood to make it look good. Teak is almost impossible to find here but a friend has found a source of some other red hardwood. I’m told it’s a good marine wood but I don’t yet know the English name. Hopefully I’ll get a look at it this week.

The fore hatch is an ugly but functional GRP box lid. Commander Rayner, the designer was more interested in function that aesthetics, so I’m going to clad it in whatever wood ends up on the main hatch.

The twelve volt system is in place (more of that later also) and currently I have an expert putting a 240 Volt system alongside – as a means of charging the batteries whenever I have shore power.

So, things are happening – even though at times it feels like I’m walking backwards – uncovering more problems than I’m solving.

In the meantime I’ve been digging through bits of gear currently stored in the attic. I have found a  NAVICOM RT 210 hand-held VHF without an antenna. Internet searches have not yet located a source for a replacement – so If you have any ideas of where I can get one – or maybe one that is compatible – please let me know.

Meanwhile for more general news from this neck of the woods please visit my other site Frgal Living in France


Monday, 20 January 2014

Over-Wintering a Wooden Boat

Sometimes there is so much in a simple picture. I love wooden boats but I have never felt skilled enough to
take one on to look after. Doesn’t stop me dreaming though – and here is just about as good as a dream can get. Mid-winter and yet unlike the other boats shored up and dripping in the boatyard, this thing of beauty sits here happy in her winter mud berth – safe protected and cared for by the most natural of all elements – mud.

Here's one that dried out earlier
I wish I had a pound or a euro for every time a wooden boat owner has complained that his boat leaks when he launches her in spring after she has spent a winter shored -up in a boatyard. The simple matter is that no matter how wet a winter can be a wooden planked boat will dry out to some extent when she is taken out of the water for any length of time. During that drying out period the planks shrink and when she is put back in the water she’ll leak – until the moisture content increases and the planks swell up again.

Put a boat in a cosy mud-berth though, and the planks retain their moisture. Mud berths tend to be cheaper than boatyards too. Ideally on a mud berth a boat floats only at the top of the tide and even then quite briefly. The rest of the time she is cradled and supported by wet mud which keeps the moisture content of the wood at a pretty even level. At the top of the creek or salt marsh she is better protected from the weather than if she were shored up in a boatyard somewhere or even stored in a  dry hanger or barn.

It’s a pity that my theoretical knowledge isn’t matched by practical skill. I know for example how to scarf a joint, fill seams with caulking, and replace deck beams. I’ve read all about it in books. But (and here is the rub), I also know that the surest way to kill a traditional wooden boat would be to leave her in my hands for a year or so – the brain is willing  but the experience and the real knowledge isn’t in the hands. Ah well, back to the Glass Fibre day job.

for more inforamtion on the frugal life in France visit my other posts: Frugal Living in France


Monday, 6 January 2014

Two Books for a Winter Read

So, did I get my wished for Christmas Presents this year? Well no. I got some great stuff but none of the items on the list that I kind of hinted I would like. Am I downhearted no-way! Because there were one or two books from Susan that I hadn’t thought of and they made perfect holiday reading by the log burner while the wind and rain hammered the windows. The bottle of Cognac and the mince pies added to the delight.

The Last Grain Race by Eric Newby

Sailing literature as good as this is rare indeed. Square rigger sailors at the end of the age of sail were not particularly skilled writers. In fact I can think of only three:

‘Dana’ who wrote ‘Two Years before the Mast’ an account of crewing a sailing Merchantman from East to West Coast USA

Joseph Conrad was essentially a novelist but based his stories on his experience as a seaman in the age of sail.

And this guy Eric Newby. This book is the story of a young man sailing one of the last grain carrying square riggers in 1938. A round trip from Europe to Australia aboard a four-masted barque.

He then went on to become one of the greatest travel writers of this century. The Last Grain Race is Eric Newby's spell-binding account of his time spent on the Moshulu's last voyage in the Australian grain trade.

He has a sharp eye for detail and the hardships, dangers, squabbles, and occasional sheer joy of shipboard life. Its all here and it deserves a place on every sailor’s bookshelf.

The Magic of the Swatchways by Maurice Griffiths

This is about small boats and small waters in the first half of the 20th Century when sailing boats were built of wood and expected to leek. This is one of the best yachting books I have ever read. A series of stories based on the boats Maurice Griffith's sailed around the Thames Esturay and the low-lying shores of Essex.  Maurice went on to become a very important and influential UK boat designer and many of his designs are still afloat and much loved today. More than any other book I have read, it evokes the spirit and all the emotions and feelings people have for sailing.

Simple sailing, simple times, timeless literature.

You can get both of these books here:

The Last Grain Race Around the Horn in 1939 (USA Readers)

The Last Grain Race (Picador Books) (UK Readers)

Magic of the Swatchways (USA Readers)


For non-boating aspects of Frugal Living in France please visit my other site:Frugal Living In France