Saturday, 12 November 2011

The process of creating a solid and long lasting hull is time consuming but worth the effort!

Ok so this week has been full of long hard days of work on the hull of Good Expectation. The week started with Mr Cochrane finishing the work of replacing rotten and damaged planking on both the hull, deck and doghouse sections.


Meanwhile Herbert and I focussed upon cleaning out the seams of the hull to ensure that when it came time to caulk and seal them that there would be a tough strong bonding surface to ensure many years of healthy planking.
The Topsides, which is the part of the hull above the water on the side of the boat were taken to bare wood and the seams thoroughly excavated by hand and electric grinder leaving a solid platform on which to build the new layers of protection for the wood.

A different section of the topsides, this section is original "purpleheart" a type of wood commonly sourced from Guyana in South America, its very hard, strong and longlasting, dense like mahogony and beautiful, but very tough going to sand!

So once the seams have been cleaned out its time to caulk them. This involves banging cotton string into them, the string is called caulking twine and its a long and labourious process which includes rolling the twine on your thigh like you're making a Cuban Cigar! This specialised job was undertaken this week by Manny a new member on the team. He is very experienced in this process. By the end of the week Cochrane and Bowtie had joined in the caulking and the side they worked on was a constant mix of banging and heated debate on many topics, but mostly about the state of local politics and understanding the fairer sex!

Caulking Mallet and Twine

Once the seams have been caulked its time to fill them. Above the waterline this is done with Putty, mixed with linseed oil and redlead powder. Its a surprisingly tiring job and tough on the fingers as the constant kneading of the putty gives you cramp! The putty is similar to that used to bed window panes. Below Herbert prepares the putty for filling the topsides seams...

Below the waterline we use a different material - West System epoxy, which hardens like cement but stronger. Not only does it make the wood totally impervious to water, it also forms an impenetrable barrier to the dreaded worms! Not as obvious as the orange putty, below image shows the West System sanded smooth and filling the seams. Next job here is to paint a film of West System epoxy other the entire bottom to make a complete impervious barrier. This is a costly process but well worth the investment for the long term benefit of the boat.



Here you can see the putty clearly filling the seams. Next it needs to be sanded and then a coat of the primer can be applied, once this stage is reached the boat will start to take shape very quickly with the back breaking works all behind us...


Earlier in the week we were treated to an amazing lightning display out to the West over Montserrat. I managed to capture a couple of shots, but as usual they do not do the display justice!






Sunday, 6 November 2011

This Week - Rumbles the Spaniel, Tyre Fire, Engine arrives, Good eating spots in St John's and the Arrival of Sweetheart!

Its amazing how much can happen in a week and how quickly it all blends together over the passing days.

Last Sunday I was invited to go sailing with George, Stacy, Sam and her lovable dog Rumbles. No offense to the other shipmates but Rumbles was the highlight of the sail due to her love of swimming.


Spaniels were bred to retrieve dead ducks from lakes after being shot, so they have a natural urge to leap into the water. Rumbles is no exception and Sam has a doggie lifevest for her, not that she needs it because she is such a strong swimmer, but it does make it a LOT easier getting her back on board as she can be lifted by the strap on the back of the vest!!! It is still under debate whether her constantly wagging tail helps with propulsion...?

Another source of excitement that morning as we sailed out of Jolly Harbour was the plume of black smoke rising from the otherside of the hills North of Jolly Harbour. Later that day it came through the news that a dump of used car tyres had caught fire (arson suspected). It seems there is a mountain of old tyres at the municipal dump and recent contracts had been signed to ship them overseas for recycling. Its a shame the Antiguan government don't invest in the machine to chip them up for use in road aggregate which not only increases the lifespan of the road surface but saves huge amounts of money as well as providing an excellent end use for the tyres...

The juxtaposition of the fire so close to holiday centres such as Jolly Harbour and the ultra exclusive Hermitage resort must have had many people feeling very uncomfortable...


Monday was eventful in that we discovered that the stem (the front) of the boat was suffering from rot and needed replacing. Mr Cochrane was not phased and wasted no time in cutting out the rot leaving a gaping hole in the front of the boat...
He then went home to get some mahogony in the form of a raw trunk and proceeded to fashion a replacement with a chainsaw. In my view, its art, sculpture and the science of boat building all rolled into one and exactly what makes these boats and the people who build and maintain them so special....

Tuesday was also Antiguan independence day so the boat yard was shut, but by Wednesday morning the stem was being replaced...

And then by Wednesday lunch time it was fixed in place and looking better than ever...


Also on Wednesday the Engine arrived newly renovated by diesel mechanic Dassa. Shiny Fire Engine Red to boot! Its a make from Denmark called Bukh and they are used in North Sea lifeboats, designed to be indestructable, reliable and very fuel efficient, sounds good to us! The goal is to have her fitted back into the boat sometime this coming week and then have the prop shaft lined up and attached by this time next week...



By Thursday Good Expectation had also been joined in the yard by another Carriacou Sloop coming out for renovation. The well known Sweetheart, who like Good Expectation had been neglected for a couple of years and now needs some close attention as well. Its great to have a sister ship being put back to her former glory in the yard at the sametime. Its also interesting to note the similarities but also the subtle differences in lines, design and layout of the different sloops, all with their own unique individual charm and character...

Like Good Expectation Sweetheart is going to enjoy plenty of new planking...


On thursday it also became clear that a trip to town was required to purchase some tools and a vacuum cleaner to help stay on top of the dust and wood chippings down below. This gave me a chance to explore the capital of Antigua - St John's for some good places to eat. The following spots all looked good for various reasons. AJ's for its pure Caribbean flare in the colours of the building (located on the southern side street from the cinema - which you can the top of in the back ground of the picture)...

Swhole looked great for its clean contemporary take on fresah and healthy vegan foods its located on the opposite northern side of the Cinema to AJ's...



However, this time round I chose Roti King on High St. due to the simple fact that it had a steady stream of local office staff coming and going for their lunch break, always a good sign! And I have to say, the wholewheat boneless chicken Roti and fresh local Guava juice did not disappoint one bit!

I also loved the little sign in the small outside eating area, scrawled upon the plastic water tank, that itself sat upon a much older original stone and brick cistern, which probably dates to the 18th Century...

Watch out for more updates next week when we will be showing progress on the replacement of some of the deck planks, the frame to the doghouse, cleaning of the seams and the caulking process (filling the gaps between the planks with cotton prior to sealing)....
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