Friday, July 8, 2016

Wintertime, a good time to work on Long Steps.

Wintertime.  No blues though.
Well, only a few.

Its been a wet week, high winds, thunderstorms and torrential rain.  Even my little dog hates going out in this, so apart from the usual engineering jobs, two this week, its been a time for at home and inside.
Its too cold to draw, I can work ok but the ink wont dry in this very cold high humidity weather, so one of the jobs to do very soon is to move the drawing board and all the odds and ends that go with it back onto the ship.  I wont do that when its raining, too much of the equipment is sensitive to the wet, so with luck that might happen tomorrow.
So I’ve done my company paperwork for the quarter, tidied up in the shop, cooked and frozen enough meals for a couple of weeks, and got into action building “Long Steps”

I’m working on several bulkheads, B#2 has a curved doubler across the front face to support the foredeck and foredeck king plank, ( that’s the one down the middle) rather than use solid wood for this I’ve made it  up from several pieces of scrap 9mm plywood, two layers with the joins staggered.  Being glued to the front face of B#2 its not going anywhere, its really just there for the foredeck.
So B#2 is almost done, there are a couple of 20x20 pieces that will support the cabin side to bulkhead join and then I can start coating it.

B#3 is next,  that’s the one at the forward end of the cockpit floor, up under the “veranda” in the cuddy. I’ve just cut out the hatch doors and am busy making up the edge pieces for the hatches. 
I want to try the PT Watercraft style hatches where surgical rubber tube sealing ring is set into a groove and the hatch door dogged down on it.  This requires pretty precise work, and a very stiff edge to the opening so I’ve used 9mm plywood here as well, that makes an edge 18mm thick, nearly 3/4in.  We’ll see how it goes, the opening is the right size to take a big So Pac Marine hatch, and if mine doesn’t work out I can run the jigsaw around and drop those plastic ones in.

Before I cut the hatch openings. These are wide enough for me to get a shoulder in so I can reach right to the back of the locker forward of this bulkhead. Like so many of the parts of the boat this one is important in that it keeps the water out.

And here with The hatch openings cut out.  The edge doublers come 20mm in from the edge of the opening that you see here, and I've made the lower edge of the opening at a height where should I swamp the boat, the hatch opening will be above the water in the cockpit.  Same goes for when the boat is on its side, the outer edge will be above the static water level. 
Welsfords first law of seamanship, "Keep the water out" starts back on the drawing board and is a factor in every stage of the build, and of course that also applies when she's sailing.

I’m also working on B#4.  Having several jobs on the go at once means that if one is waiting for the glue to set I have others to carry on with.
B#4 is the one at the after end of the cuddy, and the forward ends of the seats and of course the “off centercase. Its also the forward end of the ballast tank,  busy piece of work!
So I’ve put the seat supports on, the web across the bottom which supports the cockpit floor, the doublers on the edges of the opening and the laminated beam across the top that supports the after edge of the cuddy roof.
I was asked the other day why I bother putting doublers on the exposed edges of  the plywood where it overhangs,  easy,  not only is it stronger and better looking, but if you get thumped up against the edge of a piece if 6mm plywood it hurts, really hurts.  If that plywood is doubled up thicker its possible to put a nice rounded edge on it which will hurt somewhat less.
I’m a bit allergic to pain, try to avoid it where possible so a little bit of work at this stage is worth the effort.

Lots of clamps, that green thing on the bench behind is my Ryobi cordless nail gun, a huge timesaver for work like this but those pieces being held by clamps are too thin for the only length stainless steel nail I can get here so its spring clamps for those.

Here "tis with more bits on, these are the seat supports, angled slightly for comfort.  Note that the offcenterboard case forward end log goes on the starboard side so there is no doubler there for the seat front.

Tomorrow I’ll be marking out B#5, that will about use up the second sheet of 9mm plywood.  So far I’ve got through  ½ sheet of 6mm and have really only scraps of 9mm left from 2 sheets.  I’ve not done a bill of materials yet but it looks like 5 sheets each of 6mm and 9mm, that’s not counting the (off)centerboard and rudder blade, which may end up being made from fiberglassed plywood.  Lets see how I go when I get that far along.

Its been a nice day out there, not so cold that the epoxy wont cure, and pleasantly light in my little shop by the river.  More tomorrow, I’m looking forward to it.

Meanwhile, this evening  I’ve had my dinner and am sitting in my armchair with a hot cup of tea,  dog curled up by my feet, the river rocking the ship a little and I’m listening to  this extraordinary guitar music as I write and browse.

There are some nice little video clips on YouTube, little windows on summertime.
Sometimes its nice to sit and watch others enjoying the warm and sparkling waters.  Thanks guys for posting those, they're a delight to watch when the weather is as it is here in the Southern winter.

This blog is worth  watching, there is quite a lot of information in there on cruising in open boats. Good reading!

Here is a thought for the day. 

“Houses are but badly built boats so firmly aground that you cannot think of moving them. They are definitely inferior things, belonging to the vegetable not the animal world, rooted and stationary, incapable of gay transition.
The desire to build a house is the tired wish of a man content thenceforward with a single anchorage. The desire to build a boat is the desire of youth, unwilling yet to accept the idea of a final resting place…. When it comes, the desire to build a boat is one of those that cannot be resisted. It begins as a little cloud on a serene horizon. It ends by covering the whole sky, so that you can think of nothing else. You must build to regain your freedom.”

Arthur Ransome.


  1. So glad to see you building on Longsteps and being happily productive. Enjoy developing and completing her.

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  3. Some great progress John. Thanks for the links too, Rodrigo's Guitar Concerto especially :) Also the Aurtur Ransome quote from Rucundra's First Cruise, a particular favourite of mine, I have a treasured1949 edition.