Sunday, 5 September 2021

Progress, or rather the lack thereof ...

It's been four weeks since we flipped the boat upside down, and I was hoping to get the bottom at least partly finished by now.

But it hasn't happened. For various reasons there have been a lot of distractions from boatbuilding and August was pretty much a write off as far as progress is concerned.

But not to worry. This isn't a race and I don't have any real deadlines other than a desire to finish PocketShip this year, which seems eminently achievable.

The boat has been built, and I have all the hardware and materials to finish it. I even have the sails ready to go.

So, watch this space.

Next step is to fillet the keel and 'glass the bottom of the hull.

I have also decided to fit the bow eye while the boat is upside down and before I paint it. I think it will be easier now rather than waiting until fitting out time.

Cue G&T.

Onwards and upwards!



Sunday, 8 August 2021

Flipping The Boat | Over She Goes!

At 6.30pm on Friday 6th August 2021 a momentous event took place in Tanners Lane, Eynsham.

PocketShip was flipped upside down!

It went perfectly without any drama, and was a lot of fun.

The boat is now sitting securely on dollies in the workshop, awaiting completion of the lower hull sides and bottom.

Here is the boat seen from the stern.


And here she is viewed from the bow.


At 6pm I assembled a large crew consisting of seventeen or eighteen friends and family members.

I had anticipated that the beer would be consumed  after the flip had taken place, but the crew decreed otherwise. Cold beers, chilled wine, and G&Ts soon flowed freely.

We lifted the boat off the supports and carried it out onto the driveway, where I had laid six 8x4' sheets of Sterling board to provide a flat surface for the dolly wheels and to protect the boat from damage on the gravel. Nine or ten people carried the boat with ease.

Then we turned it over and set it down carefully on the wheeled dollies and pushed it back into the workshop.

The whole thing took a matter of minutes!

Here we are carrying the boat out.


And here we are turning her over.


Here the boat is being set down on the dollies.


And lastly here the crew is pushing the boat back inside.


And that was that!

This is son Nick's crew.


And this is my crew ...




A fabulous evening was had by all, with a delicious meal of home-made pizza and salad provided by the two Alisons and Nicky.

A very proud and happy day - thank you everyone!


Flipping The Boat | Finishing The Dollies

I had previously made a pair of dollies to support the boat when it is flipped upside down, but I had not finished them.

They needed vertical supports to support the hull at the bow and stern at a height of 10 1/4" and 17 1/2" respectively.

So this is how the front dolly looked when finished. It's just a block of wood attached to the dolly.


And this is how I completed the rear dolly.


I fixed a vertical post to the dolly to take the compression load, and used a strong plastic bucket securely fixed to the post and the dolly to take any lateral load or twist when moving.

The bucket happened to be exactly the right height!

So the dollies are now ready for the big day.


Flipping The Boat | Test Run Disaster

I decided to have a test run for moving the boat out of the workshop onto the driveway, on its wheeled cradle.

I had laid some sheets of Sterling board on the gravel drive to provide a flat surface for the wheels. It was the cheapest sheet material available and I bought six sheets.

My lovely wife Alison advised against this without the assistance of more people, but I went ahead anyway.

There is a raised hard rubber strip across the garage floor, just behind the bottom edge of the closed main door. I installed it to prevent rain ingress, and it does that just fine.

However, as soon as the wheels on the rear cradle hit the strip the cradle collapsed.

The boat was now half outside the workshop with the keel resting on the driveway and the bow still supported by a partially destroyed front cradle.

This was a serious setback. There was no way we could lift the boat by ourselves, and rain was likely.

I should have foreseen this. The two halves of the cradle are held apart by a length of MDF, which is very flimsy and snapped as soon as it met resistance.

We managed between us to raise the stern enough to slide a furniture dolly under the keel, and we then carefully pushed it back into the workshop still supported by the collapsed front  cradle.

Somehow we managed to slide the dollies which I had made for the flip under the keel to support the boat.

I then clamped blocks of wood to the sawhorses to prevent the boat from falling over. Like this.


You can see the rear cradle on the bench with the snapped off MDF spacers.

This is the dolly at the front of the keel, and the partly collapsed front cradle still supporting the boat.


And here is a view from the port side, with the rear dolly clearly visible supporting the stern.


I put a cargo strap around the hull to hold the blocks against the topsides while I made permanent supports to fit on the sawhorses.

Here is a view from port of the fully supported boat.


I also made a pair of keel blocks to take the weight of the boat so I could remove and finish making the dollies. Here they are.


The boat now looked and felt even more stable than when it was on the cradle!

It was clear now that we would have to carry the boat to move it. I guess it was better that this happened now rather than when we make the flip.

Onwards and upwards!


Cabin | Painting The Interior

The build manual tells us to paint the rest of the cabin interior when the boat is upside down, because it's more accessible.

So that's the upper half of the cabin and the underside of the cockpit deck.

I decided to make use of the delay in flipping the boat to at least start painting the interior.

This the first coat of undercoat on the starboard side.


Pretty patchy, as expected. A second coat was applied.


That's a bit better!

I was running out of time now because a date for the flip had been set, but I managed to apply a single top coat. It will definitely need a couple more coats when finishing, as you can see here.


It looks quite nice though. It looked even nicer when I removed the protective layers from the floorboards.

Here is a view of the starboard side.


And here is a view of the rear of the cabin.


She is looking quite smart now!


Ballast | Lots of Lead

As I thought about about turning the boat upside down I started to think ahead to completion of the build and when to purchase two vital items needed for launch day.

A lot of lead for ballast in the bilges, and a trailer.

The lead time for the trailer is about six weeks, so I decided to order that when I flip the boat right way up again.

But I might as well get the lead ballast now, since I didn't know how hard it would be to find a large amount of the recommended lead shot.

A call to the supplier of lead for the keel revealed that they could not supply any shot but they knew someone who could.

The new supplier did not make lead shot, which is apparently very expensive and I'm not even sure if you could get it in the UK now because it has been banned for use in shotgun ammunition. It's poisonous and kills wildfowl which ingest spent shot when feeding on mudflats and in shallows.

The good news though was that they can supply lead pellets, about 1cm in diameter. Ideal!

The build manual recommends a minimum of 36kg in each side of the boat, so 72kg in total is required.

The pellets are only available in 20kg bags though, so I purchased 80kg at £2.77 per kilogram plus shipping. I didn't think that was too expensive.

This is what 80kg of lead pellets looks like, in 4 heavy bags.


I'm not convinced it will fit into the compartments under the lift-out floorboards. We will see!


Upper Hull | Final Sanding

The time came for me to sand the third and final clear coat of epoxy resin on the upper hull.

I had been prevented from doing so by the failure of my Festool sander, so I had it repaired. It turned out that the brushes were worn out. I didn't even know it had brushes. Oh well, I suppose that three years of more or less constant use isn't bad for one set of brushes.

This is the sanded cockpit viewed from the starboard quarter.


And here is the view from the bow.


That's the upper hull structurally complete now.

This is in mid July and we could flip it now to work on the lower hull, but pandemic restrictions on social contact do not yet allow a crew to be assembled. So we just have to wait.


Ship's Cat | Again!

I mentioned in a previous post that our feline friend had started to visit my workshop.

She continues to do so, sure in the knowledge that she owns all that she surveys and tolerates us as guests in her house purely because she needs someone to feed her.

Here she is, trying to decide if there is anything of interest to her here.


Apparently there was nothing, so she left and went to be fed.


Thursday, 8 July 2021

Upper Hull | Sanding & Third Clear Coat

I left the second clear coat to cure for a couple of days before sanding it to a P80 finish.

Here I am nearly through sanding the port half of the boat.


The Rotex 90 sander fitted with a medium soft sanding head is ideal for this, allowing small and curved areas to be neatly sanded to a matt finish.

I finished the cockpit deck and had just started on the starboard topsides, reflecting on how well this sander stands up to continuous use, when with no warning it abruptly stopped working. Totally dead.

This was something of a setback.

Fortunately I had the second sander to fall back on. It's Rotex 150 and is a much bigger and more aggressive beast, so not ideal for this task, but I completed the starboard half of the boat with it.

The third and final coat of clear resin was then applied.

Here is the cockpit viewed from port at the stern.


And here is a view of the forward starboard topsides.


Luckily there is a Festool dealership close by so I was able to put the sander in for repair on the day it failed.

I can't finish-sand the third coat until it comes back from Festool which will hopefully be next week, so I'm taking a break from PocketShip until then.


Upper Hull | Second Clear Coat

There are two more significant activities to carry out on the boat before we flip it over to finish the bottom hull - clear coating the upper hull with epoxy resin, and painting the interior of the cabin.

There are a few minor activities to finish also, such as drilling the footwell drain holes. But they can be done at any stage.

I decided to do the clear coating first.

The entire upper hull was covered with fibreglass cloth in November last year, with the exception of the forward deck and inside topsides which were already finished.

The upper hull had been sanded to a P80 finish and was ready for resin, so thankfully no big sanding job was required.

In a previous post I said that I had problems gluing the mast because the resin had crystallised without me noticing until it became too 'gloopy' to pump and failed to cure properly.

The cure for this is to put the resin container in boiling water and warm it until the resin flows freely again. I did this for all three resin containers which I currently posses and it was completely effective, although it does take 20 to 30 minutes and a lot of hot water to restore a 4 or 5kg container.

But now I was ready for clear coating and had no problems rolling out a thin coat over the exterior of the upper hull. It took several hours, reminding me yet again that this is a big small boat!

Here we see the port forward topsides and roof.


And here we see the cockpit viewed from starboard.


Lastly, here is view from starboard of the forward topsides and cabin roof.


Clear coating is always fun because it covers large areas really quickly!


Friday, 2 July 2021

More Clear Coating

Some parts of the boat still remained uncoated with resin so I gave them a first coat.

This is the slot in the transom for the tiller.


And here are the tabernacle backing plate and the drop board flange in the cabin.


In the above pic the mast has just received its third and final clear coat in situ on the boat..

Cabin Interior | Sanding The Fairing

Some time ago I applied fairing compound to all the seams in the cabin interior, to hide any unattractive joins or gaps.

They now needed to be cleaned up and sanded smooth.

Here is the finished article on the starboard side of the cabin.


And here is the forward cabin wall, with the backing plate nicely faired in.


Sanding these seams was a horrible job. It had to be done by hand and created a lot of dust.

Here is a top tip for sanding right into tight seams. Use an old plastic card and a folded piece of sandpaper, like this.


The card is hard and rigid, but slightly flexible, so you can sand right up to the seam or join and get a neat, clean edge.

Time to think about painting the interior. The manual says to do this when the boat is upside down but I can't see how that would be easier than doing it now.

I'm looking forward to that!

Air Bubbles & Patches

Way, way back when I 'glassed the upper hull I managed to get a few small air bubbles underneath the cloth.

I marked them with a bit of blue tape so I wouldn't forget where they were.

Here is one on the forward cabin wall, in the forward deck well.


This one I created myself when I used the hot air gun to remove a temporary screw. The heat must have forced some air out of the wood.

I will sand out the bubbles and apply fibreglass cloth patches before I clear coat the upper hull.

Building Flip Cradles

We can't realistically flip the boat yet to finish the bottom. There are still too many pandemic restrictions in place for me to comfortably ask people to help me turn it over.

However, with the time available I can do everything that remains to be done before the flip.

When upside down the boat will need to rest on a support of some kind at bow and stern, and the supports will need to be on wheels to allow the boat to be moved.

After some experimentation and measurement I devised this cradle for the bow.


It is actually a dolly rather than a cradle, made from cheap studding timber and fitted with braked casters.

And here are both dollies outside.


The bow dolly is 30" wide and will need to be chocked up to a total height of 10 1/4" when in use.

The stern dolly is 72" wide and will need to be chocked up to 17".

They were set aside to await deployment when feasible.

I will need to find a way of providing a flat surface on the driveway to roll the boat out of the garage. The driveway is coarse gravel and impossible to navigate for anything with small wheels.

But it's good to know that the dollies are ready and waiting! 

Mast | Clear Coating

The mast received the first of three clear coats of epoxy resin in situ on the boat.


I put a piece of plastic sheeting under the mast where it rests on the boat, and in this way was able to cover all four sides at once.

Mast | Rounding Over & Sanding

It was time to finish the mast in readiness for clear coating with resin, so outside it went for rounding over the edges.

Routing edges makes a lot of mess so I always do it outside, like this.


This was done with a bearing guided 1/2" round over cutter in the router.


The bottom 30" are left square, where the mast resides in the tabernacle. Here you see the small shoulder where the round over stops.


The tape told me where to stop routing.

And here is the top of the mast, rounded over with a rasp and sandpaper.


 Then the mast was taken inside and sanded smooth, as here.


Here is the sanded shoulder, looking nice.


Lastly it was stowed back on the boat to await clear coating.


We're getting there!

Mast | Trimming & Cleaning Up

When the front face of the mast had well and truly cured I took it outside and sanded the seams smooth.


The seams aren't all as tight as I would have liked, but they look fine and are certainly good enough.

Then I trimmed the excess material off the ends. Here is the masthead.


And here is the foot.


Finally (and with some relief) I stowed the completed mast on top of the boat to await finishing.


All is well that ends well!