Sunday 11 December 2022

Frequently Asked Questions

When visitors see PocketShip for the first time they frequently ask two questions.

"When is the launch date?", and "Does it have a name?".

I wish I knew the answer to the former. At one point I thought it might be the summer of 2021, but that year came and went, and we were still nowhere near the end of the build.

I started to believe it could be the summer of 2022, but again the year will shortly draw to a close with the boat still in the workshop.

But I am now feeling quietly confident that she will be in the water in the summer of 2023. After all, all I have to do now is finish painting her and do the fitting out. Right?

In the final analysis, the only honest answer is that it will be launched when it is finished, and not before. It has taken a lot longer than anticipated to get things finished to my satisfaction, and that's just the way it is.

The answer to the second question is yes, she does have a name. But only one person knows it, and that's me ...

And again the name will be announced on launch day, and not before.

Here's to launch day, whenever it may be!

Rails & Other Bits | Finishing the Finish

I left the varnished rails to harden for several days before finishing them in the now usual way of wet sanding and polishing.

Rub rails, toe rails and companionway hood and slide grab rails were all initially wet sanded with P800 through to P2500 grits to achieve a smooth, flat surface.

Here we are sanding the port rub rail.

All rails were then buffed with P5000 and finally P9000 polishing compound to bring them to a nice shine.

This is the starboard rub rail being polished.

I did all the polishing by hand rather than use a machine. I found this to be more effective when finishing the spars, so continued the practice with the rails.

This is the companionway slide grab rail being finished.

I had previously managed to sand through to bare wood in a couple of places when wet sanding the drop board retainers, so I revarnished the bare patches and wet sanded them back to a smooth, flat surface before finishing them off with polishing compound. As here.

They turned out well.

And this is the starboard toe rail after polishing.

Things were starting to look quite nice!

The polishing was completed, and the great moment came when I pulled all the masking tape and coverings.

Here is a front view of the topsides.

And here is the side view from starboard.

This is a close up of the starboard rub rail at the bow.

All the sapele rails turned out really well, I'm relieved to say.

The ash grab rails on the companionway hood and slide turned out nicely too.

Here is the rail on the hood.

And here is the rail on the slide, back in the house for safe keeping.

The hull is nearly finished.

All I have to do now is finish painting the blue and white frame around the transom and tidy up inside the companionway hood and the cabin.

We should then be ready to start the fitting out!

Tuesday 6 December 2022

Spars & Other Bits | Finishing the Finish

While waiting for the varnish on the rails to harden I finished off all the spars and other varnished bits and pieces.

I wanted to achieve a smooth, flat, shiny finish - like the paintwork on the upper hull.

So, I started with the tiller. Being quite small it would not be a big deal if it didn't go well and had to be revarnished.

I went through the same routine as employed on the paintwork. Wet sanding with P800 through to P2500 grits and finishing off with P5000 and P9000 polishing compound.

Happily, it turned out well. Here it is sanded and polished.

The boom gallows followed. Here it is being sanded.

Next came the bowsprit. Here it is being polished.

The gaff followed. This is it being sanded.

I left the mast until last, being the biggest task by a long way. It also turned out really nice.

Here it is being polished.

That's the spars all finished. We are definitely getting there!

Transom Frame | More Primer Required

While working on the rails I also started to finish off the transom.

Specifically, the blue and white frame lines around the edges of the transom needed to be completed.

Here is the already varnished transom with its protective covering removed.

You can see that the lower edge of the blue line across the top of the transom had already been masked off earlier in anticipation of this activity.

The varnish needed a little bit of tidying up but otherwise looked great, whereas the two white lines across the bottom of the transom had a nasty surprise in store for me.

They had both partly blistered while covered up and didn't look very good at all. Like this.

I have no idea how it happened. It looks like they have been exposed to solvent or something corrosive, but the adjacent blue paint and varnish are perfect.

It's yet another PocketShip mystery.

Both lines will have to be repainted.

In this pic the top blue line has been masked off, and both white lines at the bottom have been sanded to remove the blemishes and also masked off.

I covered the transom with plastic sheeting for protection.

Lastly the top and bottom lines were primed, as here.

This is the first coat. I will apply at least five coats before sanding ready for gloss.

Rub, Toe & Grab Rails | Varnishing

When the paint on the upper hull was fully hardened, I removed the masking tape from all the rails and then masked them off from the hull for varnishing.

This is what the starboard rub rail looked like.

Similarly, here is the starboard toe rail.

You can see that I have masked off the companionway hood grab rail as well, ready for varnish.

I also prepared the grab rail on the companionway slide, as here.

Five coats of varnish were then carefully applied by brush.

This is the starboard rub rail after varnishing.

I will now leave the varnish to harden off for several days before wet sanding and polishing to a nice, shiny finish.

Monday 14 November 2022

Upper Hull | Finishing the Finish

The last post described how the painted upper hull was wet sanded with a P800 grit to obtain a smoot, flat surface.

I then carried out what seemed like an interminable amount of more wet sanding with progressively finer grits, going through P1200, P1500, P2000 and finally P2500.

This created a very smooth, flat surface but as expected it was quite dull and unattractive.

Experience from painting the lower hull and the companionway slide showed that the answer to this problem was to finish the paintwork with polishing compound - effectively liquid sandpaper - using a foam pad on the rotary sander.

One pass with P5000 and then two more with P9000 compound produced a good surface, followed by a thorough wash with finish cleaner and a final buffing with a soft cloth to give it a nice shine.

This is a view of the finished cockpit.

And here is the view from the bow.

It's hard to tell from the photos that there is much shine at all, but you can get some idea from this look at the forward deck well.

And again here in this look at the upper breast hook.

I'm much happier how the upper hull turned out, compared with the bottom of the boat. So painting the bottom and sides was as hoped a very useful learning experience.

Next task is to remove the tape from the rails and varnish them. That will be fun!

Saturday 29 October 2022

Upper Hull | Final Gloss & Wet Sanding

A lot of work has taken place since the previous post but there has been almost no visible change in the appearance of PocketShip so there was nothing to post about.

Glossing of the upper hull was completed, with the addition of five more coats to make a total of ten.

Here is the hull after the tenth coat was applied.

It looks pretty nice but the finish is marred by brush strokes, even after very careful rolling on and tipping out of the paint.

So, as discovered when painting the underside of the hull, a massive task now awaited me - wet sanding the entire upper hull to a very fine finish.

I knew this was going to be tedious in the extreme, so I girded up my loins and got on with it.

The worst job would be flatting off the entire upper hull to a P800 surface, ready for finishing with finer grits.

It's best to buy the P800 grit in 5m rolls - we get through an awful lot of it. Here it is.

I investigated wet sanding techniques on the internet and found that I had been doing it all wrong. Not for the first time ...

When wet sanding you are supposed to sand unidirectionally, in the direction of the brush marks.

Not with a circular motion as I had been doing. That's for dry sanding.

So now you tell me...

You are also required to use a sanding block. Here is the one which I close.

It is a big and heavy rubber block slotted at each end and fitted with sharp pins to hold the grit firmly in place. It's also very slightly flexible so it doesn't dig in and leave tram lines.

And here is the wet sanding tool kit. Buckets of water for the sanding block and sponges, and a water spray bottle. Plus the sanding block, and a sponge for wiping down the sanded surface.

As previously mentioned, a really good light source is essential for achieving a good, flat and even surface.

Here I am using a 45W work light to illuminate the upper hull sides when trying the sanding block and revised techniques for the first time.

It all worked very well. I found that using a small hair dryer to dry off the sponged down surface was an excellent way of immediately seeing how good the surface was and how many brush marks were still visible. Here it is.

So far so good!

Having learned the correct technique for wet sanding I settled into the mind numbingly tedious business of wet sanding the entire upper hull.

Many hours and days followed when I did nothing else, until the day came when the P800 sanding was finally complete.

This is the upper hull seen from the side.

And here it is from the front.

Here is a view of the cockpit.

And here is the forward deck.

It's probably impossible to tell from the photos but the resulting surface is very smooth, and the fillets have all blended in beautifully.

Now for the next and final phase of wet sanding and buffing all the way through to a P9000 grit.

It will of course be just as tedious as this last phase but shouldn't take as long because now I am effectively polishing rather than flattening out.

We will go through P1200, P1500, P2000 and P2500 wet sanded grits. And the final finish will be achieved with P5000 and P9000 buffing compound.

We're getting there!

Sunday 25 September 2022

Upper Hull | First Gloss

When the upper hull was fully sanded smooth, I applied the first coat of gloss.

As with the primer I rolled it on with a 4" foam roller and tipped it out with a 4" foam brush.

Here is the boat after its first coat of Ivory White, seen from astern.

More coats of gloss followed. Here is the same view after the fifth coat.

I know you can't see any difference in the photos, but it does improve in depth of colour with each coat.

I glossed the tabernacle and drop boards at the same time. Here they are after their second coat.

No more priming to do - that's it!

Five more coats of gloss and she will be ready for wet sanding to the final finish.

Upper Hull | Sanding the Primer

While painting the lower hull and the rudder I learned a lot about how to paint a boat, mostly by trial and error. The main lesson was that the condition of the surface of the primer determines the final finish of the boat.

If there are thin patches where the primer has been sanded back too much or insufficient paint has been applied, they will show through the gloss. No amount of gloss will cover such patches. The gloss only provides colour and shine, and it needs a deep and even coating of primer to do its job.

Equally, if the surface of the primer has blemishes or brush marks they will show through the gloss. In fact, the shiny nature of the gloss paint merely amplifies the effect. It looks awful in daylight. The primer was applied by roller and tipped out with a foam brush, so it is quite smooth but still shows brush marks.

So, it was really important to make sure the primer on the upper hull was entirely flat and smooth, with even depth of colour overall.

First the entire upper hull was sanded with P150 or P180 grit to substantially remove the brush marks.

Here we are sanding the cockpit deck.

I quickly discovered that really good lighting is essential for this process, otherwise it is impossible to see brush marks and other blemishes. The direction of the lighting has to be perpendicular to the brush marks to show them up by casting a minute shadow, as in the above photo.

I found I sometimes had to go to ridiculous lengths to achieve this, especially when sanding vertical surfaces. Here I have suspended the work light above the deck when sanding the footwell sides. 

Here the work light shines down on the forward deck while I am sanding the Dorade box sides and forward cabin wall.

I made rubbers from foam and cardboard tubing to sand the fillets. Here they are.

They worked well. Here I am sanding the fillet on the rear cabin wall.

In this photo I am sanding the sides and the front of the companionway hood.

I clamped the work light to a piece of scrap and balanced it above the hood on a box to get good lighting on the vertical surfaces.

Inevitably I sanded away too much primer in several places.

As stated earlier I learned to my cost when painting the bottom of the hull that these would show clearly through the gloss as a slightly different shade of colour, very obvious in natural light.

So, they all had to be properly covered. I marked each patch with a piece of tape. Like this.

It's impossible to keep track of where all the patches are if I don't do this. Another lesson learned from painting the bottom.

The patches were all painted over and gently sanded back with a P220 grit until they disappeared.

Lastly the whole upper hull was sanded for a second time with a P220 grit to completely remove any vestigial brush marks.

It now looked like this viewed from the bow.

 And from astern.

That's as good as I can make it, so will hopefully provide a good substrate for the gloss.

Getting there, slowly but surely!