Sunday, March 18, 2018

Progress on Long Steps, work on the ship and grumbles about the weather of late.

 In the last few days I’ve had time to do a bit of work up there in the shed , Long Steps is all planked up now, if you were to toss her in the tide she’d not only float ( being made of wood) she’d float upright and dry inside, and even look like a boat. Woohoo! That’s a milestone indeed!

All planked up, she's looking like a real boat now. Lots still to do but its nice to be working on a "boat" rather than an odd looking 3 D jigsaw.

An aside here, we’re a metric country, kilometres is how we measure distance but the word “milestone” has stayed in our lexicon, that’s interesting.

So I have “ a boat”.  Still lots to do, but we’re into the more fiddly parts now. I’ve made the rowing seat, fitted the seat rails and the side seat nose pieces with the soft edge radius that is so helpful to the comfort of the crew.  I’ve made a lot of little bits and pieces, fillers and doublers, filled a heap of screw holes with epoxy, coated a lot of the interior and am well along with roughing out  out all the pieces for foredeck, side and after decks.

 Rowing seat rail and the edge nosing for the side tank seats, note the gentle radius which reduces the discomfort that happens when ones thighs are creased over a sharp cornered edge.
 I made up the rowing seat yesterday, it can be slid along those rails to position it conveniently for sail or rowing, or sleeping but cant lift out, it has to come out at the after end should it need to be removed. Its 18mm plywood, plenty strong enough to jump on if I'm getting in off a high dock.
The "off"centreboard case cap, it hooks under the fixed part of the cap at the after end and will have a tower bolt at the forward end to retain it, this gives access to the lifting line and pulley.

Before I fit those I have to sit down and design the circuitry for the electrical system.  That has to power an SSB/VHF radio, navigation and anchor lights, cabin light, GPS / Chart plotter and spotlight.  It also has to provide USB points for charging the cellphone and laptop.
Yes there will be a battery, a 140 Amp Hour deep cycle marine battery that weighs around 30 kg, that’s 66 lbs, a useful addition to the ballast!  It a biggie because there is the potential for quite a high electrical load on it, and the solar panels may not be enough to keep up with the use if I’m trapped by less than clement weather.
The water ballast tank by the way holds 225 lbs of water.  I'm expecting that plus the battery to keep her on her feet when its blowing a bit.

The battery box by the way is a project that I’ve been avoiding, yes I’ll have to do it soon, certainly before the lid goes on the cuddy, building and securing it through the hatch wouldn't be fun.

The wiring too, needs to go in before I put the side decks on,  much of it will run along inside the gunwale out of any potential harms way, but that’s difficult to access with the side decks and cockpit coaming on, so, like the battery box, its time to get that done.

The tiller pivot layout has been giving my thinker a bit of exercise, and I attacked that today. There are two issues, one being that its to be remote from the rudder and connected by pushrods, that takes it around the mizzen and forward to where the crew weight needs to be, leaving the lazarette ( the area under the after deck) as  bouyancy and storage, about 0.6 of a cubic metre, in imperial measurements that’s 1,2220 lbs of bouyancy. This boat by the way has over 2 tons of built in bouyancy distributed between 11 compartments, even with several holed she’d float high enough to support her crew and still be stable enough to make progress.

The drill all set up with the jig to keep the angle right, I used a set square for the other axis. Visible too are the blocks which give faces at right angles to the pivot pin between which the tiller head will swing. Yes the drill is a Ryobi, no I don't like it much but I own two of their batteries plus charger and the bare drill was really cheap. 

Here's the tiller head resting in place, there will be an aluminum plate bellcrank screwed to the top of that block, and the pushrods go back through the holes in that bulkhead, along a "tunnel" to another bellcrank on the top of the rudder head.

But back to the rudder and tiller, with the tiller connected to the rudder head by solid pushrods its important to have the tiller pivot axis and the rudder head pivot axis the same so the distance between the bellcranks on each, remains the same as the assembly turns. So there was a bit of fiddling, some wedge shaped pieces, a jig to set the angle of the drill and some wild guesswork with the “eyecrometer” to get that done.
There is a hole right through there which will take the pivot pin, a chunk of 19mm ( actually ¾ od) stainless tube out of my collection of “hey that might be useful someday) items.
So its near done, I’ve some 6mm aly plate from which to make the bellcranks, a piece of scrap aly channel to make the hinge for the tiller so it can be lifted up out of the way when needed, and plenty to do tomorrow.

Meanwhile, New Zealand is feeling the effects of global warming, we’d normally get the tail end of one tropical cyclone every 5 years or so, this summer we’ve had three. It was the same last summer. Sea temperatures are so much higher than normal that we’ve changes in our local fish species evident, different types of seaweed beginning to flourish where its not been seen before, and RAIN.
We’ve had the hottest summer on record, and the wettest, which has been a pain in the very low back!

Ah well, I did get out sailing some, plus Denny and I took the ship away for a short cruise, and yes it darn near blew our socks of so the passages were made very late at night to try and catch the calm of the night time.  Fun though, we enjoyed it.

In between all that I’ve repainted Sei, she’s now a rich navy blue with red trim, have sanded off and painted quite a bit of my ship, and at 40 ft x 12 ft and two decks high there is a lot of her, and redone a lot of the electrical system.
All the “house battery” powered circuits went dead, and when I looked in behind the wheel to try and find the problem, the rats nest of wiring in there was beyond my ability to figure out, even after two full days with the multi metre it was still a shake of the head.  So, off to the wholesalers and back with a big roll of wiring and two new bus bars and some switches, and I’ve rewired all of those circuits all the way from the battery to the action.
Along the way replacing several panels of plywood where I had to smash the originals to get into the spaces where the wiring was. Ah well, the new panels are removeable.

Autumn now, its blowing like stink out there, forecast for rain but its not cold. I’m hoping to take the rowing boat up the river at daybreak tomorrow, Indy the little terrier and I will sit up there under the trees’ listen to the birdsong as they wake up, and watch the sun come up.

That makes it all worth while.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Time to get back to work.

Christmas and New Year are been and gone, done and dusted, but the year is still young and full of possibilities.  Weather being one of the things that affect us, this year started off with a serious storm combined with the highest tide we’ve ever seen.  On an exceptional spring tide my seawall gets topped by a few millimetres, there will be a puddle or two on the grass but that’s all. This time though the “Wolf Moon”, that is a full moon when the moons orbit is at its closest to the earth, combined with a spring tide pushed higher by a storm driven onshore wind, and that exacerbated by the low atmospheric pressure associated with the storm meant that at high tide we had the water about 300mm higher than any previously seen.
It didn’t come up to the floor of the boatshed, but I’d spent the morning running around lifting lumber, power leads, storage boxes and such,  and watching as the level rose and rose. 
At its peak it was about 100mm over the dock, and 300mm over the grassy area where just a few days before, our daughter and family had been holidaying in their tent. That would have dampened their spirits!
So, no damage, other than chasing the neighbours kayak down the river and bringing it back, but I’m told that this is likely to happen more frequently in the future. Both storms coming down from the tropics impacting the coast here and the tide surges that they push.  I see that there are areas of the Tasman and Pacific, out there in the open ocean that are up to 6 dg C warmer than normal, that’s a lot, and the heat energises those storms which in past times would have run into the cooler waters and dissipated.
So, although where I am, we’re pretty sheltered, it’s a sobering thought. Tropical cyclones and super king tides, I have double dock lines and am making moves to shift things up out of reach of the weather and water.

A bare three days before this hit, Daughter and family were here for a few days, camping up on the grassy area at the end of my dock. We all of us had a good time, the two girls ( 3 and 8 ) getting their first taste of being out on the water in a small boat.  Sarina taking her girls out in Dennys sit on top kayak, beginning lessons on paddling for 8 year old Aysha who might be up to a solo next time she visits.

 There are times when being a grandfather is one of lifes best treats.  Thats our daughter Sarina and her girl Aysha out in Dennys 'yak, Indy the dog watching to make sure that they're ok, while I stay close enough to be there if needed but far enough away to have them think that I'm confident in their abilities to stay upright. It was evident after a few minutes that my concern was unwarranted, but it was really nice to be out there on the water with them.

We took the family out to Tiritiri Matangi island, about 15 miles away.  Thats a bird sanctuary run by our Dept of Conservation which, with the help of a team of dedicated volunteers have reforested most of the island with native flora, then introduced rare and endangered birdlife.  Its a lovely place to visit,    Extraordinary scenery and the birdlife is not at all bothered by people so they can be viewed from quite close up.

There are several events coming up, one being the Mahurangi Regatta on the 3rd of Feb, that’s one I cant miss, 250 or so classic and small boats parading ( they call it "racing", but its too close in to get really serious) up and down the river, meeting friends on the beach, sailing a small boat in among all those lovely old vessels, it’s a great day out and one that I have attended regularly for many years.

Kenepuru Kapers, the second of what we’re hoping will become a regular cruise in the Marlborough sounds, this year its in Queen Charlotte sound, and a small group of hardy mariners are planning to sail across Cook Strait to attend.  Here’s the link to their facebook page.

I’m hoping to get Spook out this season, she’s been sitting under her tarp feeling neglected for the past couple of seasons, so in a week or so she’ll be towed around to my mums place where I can get an electric lead to her, have all her varnish sanded off and recoated, the trailer checked out, her rig overhauled, and a few other jobs done so I can keep her on a mooring for the summer. Within a few hours sail of here I’ve a choice of some thirty sheltered anchorages, friends on several islands, a part of the coastline that I’ve not explored for many years to look at, and its past time I was out there sailing her again.

We’re planning to do another sail across to Kawau Island in March, I think I can make that ok, Spook will take maybe three or four days to get sorted, I can launch her at the yacht club at the mouth of the river and bring her up here, set up an anchor off the end of the dock and put a running line out.

Denny is here for the weekend, I’d promised her something special as  Christmas pressy, we’re all booked, and she’s not got a clue as to what it is I’m planning, it should be fun, its something really different. I’ll report later on.

Long Steps is making progress. Slow and not very steadily but there is progress, this morning I glued parts of the cockpit sole in, the “wing” pieces out to the sides in the cuddy. I’ve started the tedious task of coating everything that wont be seen once the “tops” go on, have begun the tiller pivot structure, and have begun painting the patches that will be behind some of the fittings that have to go on early while the backs of them are still easily accessed. 

 The compass binnacle, it hides the scupper into the footwell ahead of it, plus supports the rowing footrest ahead of it. That footrest will be hinged to fold down flat to enable me to move back and forth past it without tripping over it.

 Yes I know, I should have thought of it before I put the king plank in, but a large part of boatbuilding for me is sort of "thinking aloud" and I hadn't quite figured out how I was going to pivot the tiller or to mount the boomkin before I put the tiller line tunnel in.  Now I've thunk it through the tiller will pivot on a pin going through between that rectangular piece and the curved piece underneath it, the after deck will curve around and over the rectangular bit which is to be trimmed back some.
Note that the tiller pivot will slope to match the slope of the rudder pivot so I can use solid pushrods between the yokes rather than lines.  Why? I've not done it that way before and want to try it out.

Just a general view of the mess, in fact I'd just been through with the vacuum cleaner, (Shopvac, I found one on on special for $60, its a lot better for this work than a domestic one, it can swallow big chunks of wood, shavings, heavy paint dust, even water. I'm sure that there are better ones but not at that price)  
Note that the cockpit floor doesn't get fitted until the boats been rolled over and the skeg fitted. While she's upside down the bottom will be fiberglassed and she'll be painted up to the gunwale. I'm not looking forward to the job of flipping her, but it will happen, the plan is to suspend her at each end from the rafters and just spin her, then sit her on some padding of some sort. 
There's lots to do before that happens though.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

It will be new years eve here tomorrow, so here's a progress report on Long Steps.

All the very best wishes to everyone for 2018, may good fortune and happiness be yours wherever you are.

Christmas time is busy here, engineering customers wanting to get orders out the door needing machinery running again,  family to visit, a bit of sailing to do and my dog still wants to take me for a walk every day.
But 25th Dec has come and gone, I’ve managed to keep the sander and the paintbrush going on small things around my ship, Kairos, and I’ve even done a tidy up in the shop.

Consequently drawing and boatbuilding has been on hold to a certain degree, so there is not a great deal to show.

But, here is what has been done.

First of all the tiller line tunnel is all complete, the beginnings of the tiller pivot is there, and the hatch into the lazarette is in place although not fastened yet.
Some will note that I’ve put a single hatch in there rather than the two shown, but there are reasons. One is that I only had one in my store of parts, and didn’t feel much like buying another. Two is that I want to build an anchor well in under the tiller, while its not usual to carry the ground tackle back there, there will be a monster truck battery up in the bow and I want  to even the weight distribution out, and  the third is that given the anchor well being there I’m going to bridge the gap from the well sides out to the stringers with small seats so I can lounge back there with an arm draped over the tiller when on a broad reach or running downwind.
Those seats would not leave enough space for a workable hatch through that bulkhead, so it all works out.

Yes, I changed my mind, filled original pair of hatch holes back up and hacked out a central one. The anchor locker will be just below that white hatch and come out just into where the old hatch openings that you can see are. The seats will go from the walls of that out on the level of the black line you can see out on the right of the pic. The "tongue" sticking out is the lower support for the tiller pivot pin.

Next, I’ve started on the rowing footrests, they are a single piece of 12mm plywood, cut to fit across the removable “footwell” section of the cockpit floor and shaped so it will still allow visual access to the compass, and have high enough “rests” for the feet. It hinges down flat when sailing.

The rowing footrest, just rough cut at this stage, will be hinged to that removable deck over the footwell, and it is to be supported by the compass binnacle in the middle, and a pair of cleats on the seat fronts. Rowing without footrests is not really much fun, but permanently mounted rests would be in the way when sailing. Hence the fold down setup.

Third little thing, I’ve put the nosing piece on the port side seat, that has a carefully made profile on it that lessens the stress on the underside of the thigh when seated, and it traps the rowing seat between the underside of it and the rowing seat support rail.
That rowing seat can be moved forward and backward to any position needed, rowing, sailing, cooking or whatever, but it has to go out the ends of the slide as it cant lift out, so its secure.
Thats visible in the pic above, next to the Whale Gusher hand bilge pump, one of a pair to be fitted in addition to an electric 800 litres a minute one.
No, the gusher wont be mounted there, it goes on the end of the seat  with just the handle sticking up back toward where the coaming will be.

I’ve also got the towing eye in place, it’s a big heavy 10mm stainlesss steel eyebolt, 185mm long, with a 25mm inside diameter eye. It’s a big lump, but its possible that Long Steps might be under tow at some stage, so its strong.
I’ve counterbored the hole through the stem at 30mm diameter, and 30mm deep, filled that with epoxy filler and run the drill through it again. I’ve also proofed the hole for the rest of the way through the plywood stem.
The filled area will have a small countersink in the face, then a 3.2mm neoprene “o” ring will be fitted over the eye bolt, coated in anhydrous lanolin and the whole thing done up tight.
At the inner end, there is a grown crook, I think its from where two similar sized branches met in a fruit tree of some kind, and I’ve bandsawn it to shape to fit between the third pair of stringers up where they meet the stem, and run some really big screws through the stringers into it so it will carry the towing load out into the main structure.

I’ve a few of these curves and crooks, thanks to my friend Bill who’s moving house to a smaller space, he’s kindly passed them on. Thanks Bill.

That’s about it for now, but if anyone can find some Rotring Rapidograph Kapillarpatrone MF black  ink cartridges I’d be very grateful, the New Zealand importer cant supply and neither can the major mail order suppliers.  The standard ink doesn’t work on polyester drafting film and if I cant get it, that’s about two grands worth of pens that I have to replace with Mars ones.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Best wishes to all.

For some its Christmas Eve here in New Zealand,  for others its midwinter and the beginning of the rise to springtime, for us here its full summer of course, but in any case it’s the festive season whichever way you see or celebrate it.

For me, a new year is only a few days away, and the new years resolutions involve family, adventures planned, boats in build to complete, a major paintjob on the old ship on which I live, and boats to draw plans for. 

I’m hoping to spend more time out sailing this season, last year saw me travelling in southern Chile so I “lost” a lot of the time I’d have had over the summer and didn’t get out much, but as of last weekend we’ve already begun cruising with an overnight trip out to a popular island just north of here. There will be more of this!

So, from here, all the very best for the season, the new year, the winter or summer whichever applies, best wishes for a year in which things go well for all of you, best wishes to, to your friends and family, and best wishes to all those who venture out on the water.

May good luck go with you wherever you go.

John Welsford
Weiti River,

New Zealand.