Friday 27 October 2023

Paint Blisters | Update (1)

I got in touch with the paint manufacturer who had supplied all my paint and asked them what could be causing the blisters.

They were really helpful and sent someone out to inspect the blisters and offer any help.

So Andy from TeaMac spent an hour with me and gave me some extremely useful advice.

I explained how I had painted the boat. Five coats of primer sanded smooth, followed by ten coats of gloss which was wet sanded with wet'n'dry and then polished with buffing compound.

I was relieved to be told that was the right strategy, but the tools I had used were not suitable. I used a soft foam roller to apply the paint and a foam brush to tip it out. These are my tools.

It turns out that the foam in both roller and brush actually introduce tiny air pockets between the layers of paint which are sealed in when the paint dries but expand under certain conditions of temperature and humidity.

That's what is happening to my boat. I was so relieved to find out.

Andy said that he would usually remove a square of paint for testing by cutting it out with a knife, but he was very impressed with the build quality and would not damage the surface. He knew what the problem was.

Again he said he would normally tell some people to just live with the blisters but in my case he said I should repaint the boat because he knew I couldn't do that.

He was really, really complimentary about the boat, which made me feel a lot better about messing up the paint.

He told me what I should be doing, and even brought a top quality roller set and a brush for me to use. This is them.

The roller sleeves are short pile micro fibre and interestingly the brush is synthetic. I have always been told to use pure bristle brushes for solvent based paint. But I am going to do what Andy says!

He is going to send me some fresh paint and thinners to have a practice at getting this right. I should be using a special Thinners 14 for cleaning brushes and rollers - not brush cleaner.

I asked about when and where to do the repaint. Andy said it would be best to wait until the spring, and do it indoors.

My idea of using a PVC car tent was not good - they harbour moisture and cause humidity problems. So that's out.

So it looks like the boat is going back into the garage at some point. Unless I can find a suitable workshop but that's not looking likely so far.

I need to make a pair of dollies for it to rest upon upside down again. We are certainly getting a lot of practice at this!

The build has now entered its sixth year. I fervently hope it will be its last.

The great thing is that I will have an opportunity to correct some things that I am not happy about, apart from the paint.

I have always worried about the centreboard pendant. The hole in the board was too small but I didn't know at the time and forced the knot into it. I also didn't seal the knot very well and was concerned that it might fail. I can fix this now because I have to remove the board anyway to to repaint it.

And the keel fillets are not very good. It's purely cosmetic, I know, but they can now be made much nicer.

What a journey she really is turning out to be...

Cockpit Drain Holes | Enlarging

I reported in a previous post that I discovered that all the drain holes were too high and allowed standing water to accumulate in the Dorade boxes, seatback lockers and footwell.

That was no good at all, so making them larger was a priority task.

I tackled the cockpit first.

The footwell drain holes would need to be made considerably bigger to make them flush with the footwell sole. I measured and reckoned that a 30mm hole would do the trick.

I made a template using the Iris drawing wheel given to me by my son one Christmas. Thanks Nick! Like this.

The template was then stuck to the outside of the transom in the correct position and the holes enlarged, as here.

I used a rasp to enlarge the holes downwards and then a fine file and sandpaper to finish them neatly. Like this.

I masked off the transom and applied two coats of clear resin inside the holes to seal them.

Then I used the Dremel with a small flame burr to shape the seatback locker drains.

This is the starboard drain hole, taped up and with a coat of clear resin.

I think they will disappear when painted.

The Dorade boxes are next.

Boat Cover | It's On!

The cheap plastic tarpaulin which I was using as a temporary boat cover was not performing very well. It stretches and forms deep pools of water when it rains, so I was looking forward to getting the real thing in canvas which was being made for me by Frank at Seal Seam.

So I was very pleased when Frank showed up at my door with the cover. It was pouring with rain so we couldn't fit it there and then. But I thought I could manage on my own.

A fine dry day arrived and on went the cover. It fights very nicely and looks great.

Here it is.

It is held in place by elasticated cord which runs in a seam the full length of each side of the cover and is tied at the bow and the transom. The cord snugs the cover into place below the rub rails.

Here is another view.

That is so much better and I am confident it will do the job.

Launch Site Let Down & Hiatus

When the boat was installed on the trailer I started to think about the launch day.

It had always been my intention to make the splash at Oxford Sailing Club. It has a very large reservoir and a wide, sloping concrete apron from which to launch, and it's just a ten minute drive from my home.

So I contacted the club and asked about joining, only to be told that I cannot launch from a towed trailer. The reservoir is owned by Thames Water, and they do not allow vehicles on the apron.

I don't know why - I suppose it's a health and safety thing. I had seen some large racing catamarans in the car park and assumed that they were towed to the launch area by car, but no.

It's fine for the many dinghies which race there which are pulled along on their trolleys, but there is no way we can pull a PocketShip around - it takes ten people to lift her.

So that's no longer an option. There are lots of sailing clubs around here, but they are all very small and don't have a launch ramp. They're for dinghy sailors.

Some research revealed that there is a fabulous sailing club about an hour away by car and trailer. It is the Cotswold Sailing Club, and it has a ramp and they allow boats to be launched from a towed trailer. The facilities look great, and the club seems very welcoming.


So I contacted them, only to find that they have a waiting list for membership and we won't know until the end of the year if they have any openings.

So back to square one.

We are at a hiatus. We can't launch until we have a venue, and in any case the issue with paint blisters has not been resolved.

It's starting to look like launching will not be possible this year.

Time for one of these.

Sometimes it's the only thing to do.

Tuesday 17 October 2023

Moving The Boat | The Movie!

In a previous post I announced that PocketShip had been moved out of the workshop and onto her trailer.

This epic event took place on the evening of Sunday, 10th September.

What I didn't say in the post is that PocketShip's name was announced to the crowd.

I spent ages thinking up names at the start of the build, noting them in the build log. But none of them withstood the test of time. Sooner or later I decided that they were all just silly.

Eventually I stopped thinking about it at all, reasoning that the boat would name itself at some point.

And that's what happened.

It's no secret that I have been frustrated, even despondent, when things have not gone well in the build.

And I would complain to my wife and son about it, seeking sympathy. But I didn't get much.

Instead my son would say "Hey dad, it's a journey. You should relax and enjoy it".

He was right, of course. My whole purpose in this build is to enjoy the journey - not the arrival at the destination.

And so the boat named herself over the past year or so, and she became Journey.

And we also have a video which was made by the amazing Steve Cottrell. He's the tall one lifting the boat in the film.

Click on this link to see the video: A Short Journey

A massive thank you to everyone who helped on the day. It was a fabulous thing to see Journey finally out in the evening sun, admired by all.

Monday 16 October 2023

Boat Cover | Making The Pattern

As I have previously mentioned I need a proper cover for PocketShip to keep her safe and dry over the winter.

I contacted several companies but settled on Seal Seam who are fairly local, down to earth, and reasonably priced.

They make covers for pretty much anything, and their boat covers look good.

Frank from Seal Seam came to the house to make a pattern.

Here he is, working at the transom.

He is making the pattern from a blue plastic tarpaulin - the same thing that I am using as a cover!

My new cover will be made from canvas, and I am looking forward to fitting it.

Thanks Frank!

Paint Blisters | Cock Up or Disaster?

I  mentioned in a previous post that rain water had got into the boat, and I had to empty it all out.

Well, it happened again after a torrential overnight downpour when the cheap plastic tarp sagged and spilled a load of water into the cockpit.

I emptied it out and cleaned everything but I was concerned to find that that the white gloss paint had blistered where it had come into contact with standing water.

They were tiny blisters, the size of a pinhead or smaller. And they appeared in rashes on flat horizontal surfaces.

It happened in the footwell, on the seatback tops, and on the rudder bottom plate.

This is what they look like on the port seat back top.

And here on the starboard seatback top.

Truly horrible. And I have no idea why this is happening. The blue gloss and the varnish are not affected.

Is it the paint, or is it something I have done?

I have asked the paint manufacturer for advice but they haven't got back to me yet.

I really don't want to repaint the boat ....

If any readers out there know about paint and have any advice to offer, I would love to hear from you!

Cordage | Buying The Rope

I was really hoping to install the tabernacle and bowsprit and mast quite soon, so I could fasten the chainplates in place.

For that I would I would need the jib halyard to haul the mast upright, so it was time to buy the rope.

I got a shopping list from the PocketShip forum, detailing the thickness and length of each line, but I know next to nothing about rope.

So I decided to visit a decent chandlery and talk to someone about it rather than guess what I need and buy it all online.

It was clear that you can spend a lot of money on rope, and the choice is overwhelming.

Now, I live near Oxford in the very centre of England and the only chandlers around here cater for river and canal boat users. They don't sell much rope, and they don't know anything about sailboats.

So it meant a trip to the coast.

I went to Force 4 Chandlers in Southampton, on the south coast.

It's a great place. A lovely lady called Katie helped me to buy what I needed without spending a fortune on high spec rope designed for racing yachts.

Here is the cordage, all colour coded.

The rope is made by Liros, which is a big rope manufacturer.

But it's reasonably priced.

This chandler sells lots of this rope to cruising sailors, so if it's good enough for them it's good enough for PocketShip.

I can't wait to rig some of it up!

Tiller & Drop Boards | Varnishing

When the new tiller and the drop board flange were sanded smooth I applied the first of several coats of varnish.

I used a spring clamp to set them upright so I could cover all sides in one go, like this.

They should turn out nicely.

Acrylic Drop Boards | Marking Up & Making

The kit came with a pair of pre cut transparent acrylic drop boards for the companionway, but I made mine from marine ply using the pattern also provided.

So in that sense making the acrylic drop boards would be another vanity project, because I don't actually need them.

I thought it would be fun, though. So I went ahead.

I marked up the flange on the upper drop board. This will cover and seal the gap between the two boards. Like this.

Then I marked up and cut out the flange itself from 8mm Sapele. Here I am trimming the end with the block plane.

Next I drilled holes for machine screws in the flange and the acrylic sheet.

I was extra specially careful to get this right, because you can't just plug a hole in the acrylic if it's in the wrong place.

I used the drill guide to make sure the holes are perpendicular, like this.

I am using the other board to provide a flat surface for the drill guide to sit on.

I fastened the flange temporarily in place with M4 pan head machine screws and nuts. This is what it looked like.

And last came the test fit. Here is the drop board in the boat's companionway.

Looking good!

Tiller | Making Another One

One of the jobs on the snagging list could be more accurately described a a vanity project, because it was purely aesthetic.

When test fitting the rudder I found that for whatever reason I had located the aperture a bit too low in the transom, so the tiller looked out of place. Like this.

The rudder is in the right place, so it must be the aperture that is wrongly located.

I thought about enlarging the aperture but that would be a lot of work, and the rudder seems to be perfectly functional as it is.

Then I thought about grafting a piece onto the lower face of the tiller, to fair it in and make it look nicer.

And in the end I just made a new tiller. I always thought that the tiller looked a bit flimsy and was going to make a spare anyway, so that was the decision.

I made a pattern first. Here I am marking it up.

I checked that the pattern fitted correctly, as here.

That looked good so I marked up a nice piece of Ash, like this.

I am using the original pattern so I can spring a lath into place and mark a fair curve on the inside.

Then I cut out the tiller with the jig saw. Here I am shaping it in the vice.

This is the final shaped and sanded tiller.

And lastly I rounded it over with a 3/8" roller guided cutter in the router. This is it.

Varnish next.

Boom Gallows | Test Installation

I waited for a fine day before pulling the tarp off the boat and making a test installation of the boom gallows.

The port stanchion fitting for the support pole had always been a tight fit and I thought it might make the installation of the boom gallows harder than it should be.

A close examination revealed that the hole through the seatback top was too tight, and was impeding the stainless steel pole.

I wanted a snug fit, but thinking about it realised that it was the stanchion fitting that held the pole - not the hole.

So I reamed out the seatback hole until the pole fitted easily, and sealed it with two coats of epoxy  resin.

I had to remove and then refit the stanchion support but that was simple enough, and I found that sealing compound is not very adhesive and fittings are easy to remove.

So I fitted both poles and sat the boom gallows in place. I didn't really expect it to fit perfectly first time, and of course it didn't!

It was only few millimetres out though, and only required minimal reaming of the holes for the poles to achieve a good fit.

Here we are doing the reaming.

The boom gallows was then installed, and looked like this.

The stanchion fittings hold the poles in place with grub screws. This is the port fitting.

They are surprisingly effective!

This the 'persuader' that I used to tap the boom gallows home.

It seemed very solid and secure when in place.

I labelled everything so each piece will be installed in the same way. Like this.

That went better than I expected, and it looks great!

Gaff | Replacing Screws & Refinishing

I had a number of little tasks on my snagging list, and now seemed to be a good time to get them done.

The build manual tells us to use 50mm wood screws when fastening the eyestrap on the gaff for the peak halyard, because it is heavily loaded.

That makes sense but the kit only provides us with 25mm screws, which clearly won't suffice. But I had used them anyway.

So I purchased some bigger screws and refitted the eyestrap. Here it is.

I found that covering the screw threads with clear sealant both lubricates the screws and creates their own seal at the same time.

The other job was refinishing the varnish where I touched it up after planeing a flat surface for the sail track and plugging screw holes where I had fitted the eyestrap at the wrong end of the gaff.

I wet sanded from P400 through to P2500 grit and finished with P5000 to P11000 polishing compound. Like this.

You can see by the low afternoon sun streaming through the doorway that autumn is here and I am running out of time to finish fitting out.

I really need that boat cover too!

And that's the gaff ready to install.

Tabernacle | Refinishing

When I was fitting hardware to the tabernacle I used masking tape for the marking up, and I was a bit dismayed to find that it took a very thin layer of paint with it in some places when peeled off.

I wasn't too worried because I had learned how to get a good finish with wet sanding and polishing.

So when I had some spare time I wet sanded the blemished patches from P800 through to P2500 grit, and used polishing compound from P5000 to P11000.

Here it is.

It worked out just fine.

I put it back in the house to await installation.

Non Slip Finish | Product Test

I had been thinking about a non slip finish for quite some time.

It seems inevitable that without such a finish it will be difficult and potentially dangerous to move around the boat - especially on the cabin roof.

A tin of anti slip floor paint was supplied with the paint package, and that had always been my default assumption and choice.

Here it is.

But a visiting boat enthusiast (Steve) told me about a product he was using on his yacht, which consists of tiny rubber granules which are painted onto the surface.

He said it was excellent, so I purchased a pack.

This is it.

It came from Holland and like all things to do with boatbuilding was quite expensive!

I wanted to find out which product would be best, so I primed a pair of scrap boards for the trial.

Then I applied a coat of gloss to the first board and sprinkled on the rubber granules, making sure that the surface was completely covered.

I applied a coat of anti slip paint to the other board.

The following day I brushed off all the loose granules for reuse, and applied a second coat of gloss.

A second coat of anti slip paint went onto the other board.

When they were both dry I compared the two. Here they are.

The anti slip paint feels rough, and the aggregate material is unevenly spread - despite careful use of a roller. I think it would feel uncomfortable underfoot, and it doesn't look great.

The other board however is evenly covered and feels nice to the touch. It isn't soft, but it isn't rough either. So that's what I will use.

Again I'm not sure when the non slip surfaces will be applied, but at least I know how to do it.

Thanks Steve!

Tarp & Ridge Pole

The week after the boat found its new home on the trailer, it rained. A lot.

I immediately discovered two things.

The first was that I needed a cover, soon.

The second was that all the drain holes were too high, allowing rain water to accumulate in the forward deck well and Dorade boxes, and in the footwell.

The footwell in particular held a huge amount of water.

So, I will need to enlarge the holes at some point so they drain properly. I'm not sure when that will happen, now that she is outside and winter drawing nearer.

Nonetheless a cover was needed immediately to keep that water out.

So I bought a cheap plastic tarpaulin from the DIY store and tied it down with string. Here it is.

And here is the view from astern.

Oh dear. Poor PocketShip. That is not a good look, but it will have to do until I can get a proper cover made.

It rained again that night and there was a large pool of water in the middle of the tarp in the morning, sagging down heavily.

So I knocked up a 'ridgepole' to support the tarp. Here it is in place.

It worked, but it's quite flimsy and I doubted that it would support a canvas cover. So I made a much stronger version for future use. This is it.

That will do the trick.

I gave it four coats of Danish oil and put it up in the rafters to await deployment. I will pad the ends before installation.

Now I just need to find someone who can make a cover for me.

Trailer Side & Stern Supports

I climbed into the boat shortly after getting it onto the trailer, and I was immediately concerned about its stability.

Compared with the build cradle, it felt very unstable. And of course it was only being held upright by the bunks, which only make contact with the hull at one place on the bottom panels.

So I got out of the boat - quickly.

At one point in the build, before it was turned upside down, the boat was out of its cradle and held upright by a pair of modified sawhorses. And it was very stable and safe and easy to work on and in.

So I decided to do the same again.

I strengthened the sawhorses and added an upright to each of them to fit under the gunwale.

Here is the starboard support in place.

The top of the support is padded. When both are in place I lower the trailer until both gunwales are lightly resting on the uprights.

The boat is then perfectly stable to work inside.

The guys at the trailer supplier said to make sure that the rear of the trailer is blocked off, so it can't tip down when weight is over the stern.

So I made a support to clamp to the trailer. Here it is.

And here I am applying four coats of Danish oil to the support and base plate, so it's moderately weather proof.

Now I can finish fitting her out.