The end of our saloon or end of half term or both?

We ended with a day of better weather and real progress.

We were able to test the bow roller with the anchor despite not having been able to do any outside epoxy work all week.

Our 30kg Spade anchor fitted nicely.

And the remodelling of the saloon went through a further destructive stage.

In the process we have made progress towards a new layout with slightly reduced seating in return for a better guest double bed; a much larger galley, more comfortable seating and a better table position when there are only two of us; more storage space and considerably more structural strength.

At least that is what we are hoping to create. Stay tuned to see if we can achieve all this!

Another stormy day outside

In fact there has been so much rain that when we did leave the boat to use the clubhouse facilities our ladder was standing in a bit of a lake and we had to paddle.

Despite this we decided to clear the port side of the saloon to improve the access for fitting our new chainplate backing plates. Again we found that the unpainted plywood used for the soffit was rather mouldy and rotten in a few places. The cupboards also had mould which was deep in the disgusting 1970’s mustard colour vinyl.

We have a nice timelapse of removing the cupboards which should make it into our next Refit Progress video.

We have some decision making to do about the u-shaped settee. It isn’t angled and sized right for lounging comfort. So we will probably tweak it a little to be as comfortable as possible for dining or working at the table (it will also make a double bed for guests). We are also still planning how to use the space for storage.

One real oddity is how the forward most chainplate bolt has had the nut glassed in against the bulkhead to the forward heads. It seems unlikely the factory would have done this one differently to all the others.

It is also odd that we have 4 10″ mooring cleats with very varied bolt sizes, 3 with large backing plates (like 10x the size of the ones for the chainplate bolts) and one with just tiny washers.

Our new backing plates are large enough so that each one can be for both a chainplate and a mooring cleat.

The backing plate for the cap shroud is going to be tied down the side of the hull to the first stringer with a combination of FR4 (with epoxy fillets) and glassfibre cloth with epoxy resin. This will replace the stainless steel strap bolted to the plywood knee (currently much more substantial on the port side).

The wind has been gusting to 53mph (Force 9) according to the Met Office, with the heavy rain this has uncovered a few small leaks. Generally where we have temporary bathroom sealant in holes where we have removed bolts that are going to be replaced by something different. I’ve just noticed a window bolt that is weeping a little so that will need tightening tomorrow.

We spent the evening in the NWVYC clubhouse as I needed the better WiFi for some work. While we were there Jane spliced two more mizzen chainplate loops. They are looking great, we are really looking forward to finishing refurbishing the masts in the Sprint and getting them both up.

Meanwhile I’m trying to work out how to build a test rig for the chainplate loops that will allow us to get enough pull on them so that the knot will properly tighten up. Remember that our chainplate loops are based on the technique for a soft shackle where the 6mm version broke at 64Kn (which is approx 6,500 kg).

So a 6mm dyneema chainplate loop would break at about 6,500 kg which is more than double the breaking strength of the 6 mm stainless steel shrouds we are replacing. Yet our chainplate loops are made from 9mm dyneema. Seems like we have a pretty huge safety margin here!

It does mean that I’d like to be able to get in the order of 1,000kg pull on the chainplate loops to get the knot to tighten to a stable point. So I need a “plate” with a 20mm hole (so the chainplate loop can be pulled through the hole with the knot stopping it coming all the way through) that can withstand a 1,000kg pull. Plus I need to be able to achieve the 1,000kg pull (and have a measure to know I’ve done it). H’mm.

Mixed bag progress

Today was definitely another no outside jobs day. So we went to Aldi in the morning and got soaked as we came out.

In the afternoon we worked on different things.

Dyneema Chainplates

Jane started learning Dyneema splicing and after a practice, she produced our first real Mizzen chainplate:

This works in this way. The knot stays below the backing plate. The eye (with the low friction ring removed) goes up through a hole in the backing plate and the deck above it, to emerge above the deck. The hole is, of course, lined with epoxy and will have been sanded and rounded off so it is very smooth. The low friction ring is then put back into the loop. This is now your chainplate. Our shrouds will end with another low friction ring and they will be attached to the chainplate with a dyneema lashing. This lashing will be used to tension the shroud (and take out any creep).

Once the chainplate is fitted we have two issues to address. One is protecting the Dyneema from damage and the second is to stop water running into the hole and wicking down the dyneema so that it drips into the cabin.

First we need to stop the dyneema chainplate from being damaged. There are three main ways damage is likely:

  • dirt washing into the hole in the deck and cutting into the Dyneema.
  • ropes rubbing against the Dyneema where it is visible above the deck and causing chafe.
  • Sunlight causing UV damage which weakens the dyneema.

We have a two part solution to protect against all these forms of damage.

On the deck we fix a “mushroom” around the hole, with the hole extending through the middle of the mushroom. This stops water running down the deck going into the hole. Then we have a Sunbrella fabric sleeve that fits around the chainplate and lashing. At the bottom this is drawn tight around the base of the mushroom, at the top it is a close fit around the shroud above the lashing. The fabric stops larger waves getting into the hole and reduces the amount of water that will wick all the way down. It also protects the lashing and chainplate from UV and chafe.

Below deck we create a simple watertight “box” around the knot. This catches any water that wicks all the way down and can be easily removed to empty it and inspect the dyneema chainplate knot.

The whole chainplate can be removed for inspection by taking off the fabric sleeve, slackening the lashing and pulling out the chainplate from below. With a 2.5m dyneema line and a few minutes work we can make a replacement which can be fitted anywhere in the world, even at sea.

Navigation destruction

Meanwhile, I tackled removing the plywood soffit from the underside of the deck above the navigation table. The vinyl headlining had fallen off this very early on due to being very wet from the window above leaking. As expected the hidden side of this plywood showed a lot of water damage.

Then I removed the vinyl from the side of the hull and cut out the plywood that it was stuck to. This was much thicker than the plywood lining has been elsewhere, presumably to provide a good surface to fit instruments to. Now we can reach the bolts for the genoa track and for the gate stanchions – both hidden and unchecked for 44 years.

As you can see the actual chart table has significant water damage. Long term our plan is to remove the whole chart table. We will do on passage navigation and pilotage from the wheelhouse (which we will be able to pretty much fully enclose) so the chart table won’t be needed.

Overall, quite a bit of rubbish removed from the boat:

We haven’t fully decided what to put in this space. The current favourite idea is a comfy forward facing chair with small desk. It should be comfortable to sit in when sailing and also suitable as a quiet place to sit and do computer work. We will wait to see if we do want to fit a Refleks diesel heater, if so then that will go alongside the desk.

We have realised that we can simplify our galley if we can use the electric “Instant Pot” (actually a KingPro branded version) in the current navigation area. At the moment it can just sit on the navigation table (as can an electric filter coffee machine). However, eventually we want a gimballed shelf that we can put up over the desk whenever we want to use one of these appliances at sea. This means that our galley can have a permanent gimballed shelf for the microwave and for one of the induction hobs which is a lot simpler than our original plan.

So we ended up quite happy with today’s progress. Hopefully better weather tomorrow so we can make easier progress.

Adding more simplicity :-)

We have been busy with the rest of life this month (September is always a very busy time at work for us both).

However, our thinking has been progressing and we have been finding lots of inspiration from very small boats and from other people’s projects. So for example this video from Sailing Magic Carpet

It ties in with our Foredeck and Forecabin plans update or at least it confirms that we are making some different choices.

Our chain lockers were quite similar. We totally agree on the need for more space for chain and for the weight to be further aft. Initially our plans were quite similar (see Plans for anchoring). However, this is where we have been able to simplify things a lot.

A combination of things have meant that we are completely changing our forecabin, it will be a lot simpler in many ways. We started that thinking in Foredeck and Forecabin plans update but we can now go further.

The two key things that have led us to a simpler solution are Water and Beds.

Water

When we decided to remove the stainless steel water tank and use some of the space for our batteries we have been through a number of ideas for water tanks. Now we have realised we can build them into the hull and this gives us huge advantages:

  • far greater capacity as no wasted space
  • much safer. They strengthen the hull and create extra crash boxes

We also realise that we can use the same technique for the batteries (rather than a drop in box build it into the bull), for the chain locker and for storage/crash boxes.

Beds.

Already we have reduced the number of beds by removing the fold out pilot berth above the starboard settee (it has saved weight and created a much more usable space). We have also replaced the “V” berth in the aft cabin that worked best as a 2 singles with one double Pullman style berth.

When we realised that the “V” berth in the forecabin wasn’t actually long enough for an adult, let alone 2 it simplified things a lot. It also means that we have a chance to create a much better chain locker than Magic Carpet 2.

So.

The key limit on the “V” berth length was avoiding having the chain pipe come down through the middle of the bunk. By moving to one single bunk we can move the chainpipe slightly to starboard so that there is plenty of space for the single bunk to extend past the chainpipe on the port side. Not only does this make the bunk full length and a good width it also means that we can use the chainpipe to drop the chain vertically into the chain locker despite moving it aft. That is a huge advantage over our original plans and what Aladino can do on Magic Carper 2 where the chain slides into the chain locker almost at the bottom – the chain can stack better, be further aft and have a deep crash box forward of it.

I’m now planning 4 watertight areas under the original”V” berth height. Each of them will be considerably higher than the waterline and all of them will be able to have a removable, watertight lid.

At the very forward end there will be a proper crashbox that we will probably fill with foam (there will be another forward of this beyond the foot of the bed that will also be filled with foam). These crashboxes will mean the whole bow from below the waterline to the bow roller will not be able to flood the boat if damaged.

Aft of the crashbox will be the chain locker. When at sea we will disconnect the chain from the anchor and attach a line between a deck bung for the chainpipe and the chain which will drop down to the locker. That will allow a watertight lid to be fitted over the chain locker. The bottom of the anchor locker will drain into a much smaller locker aft of it. This will have a pump to remove any water that comes in to the chain locker with the chain. This small locker will also have a watertight lid so that the two act as another crashbox.

Aft of this will be a full width built in water tank. The top of this will be the “footwell” when sitting on the bunk. It too will act as a crash box so a hole in the hull here will contaminate this water but not flood the boat.

The doorway into the forecabin will no longer be full height. The bottom will be level with the top of the water tank with a step in the heads compartment so that you can get up and into the cabin (no standing headroom but full sitting headroom on the bunk). The heads compartment will be your dressing area. There will be a door for this cabin, separating it from the heads.

Additionally, I want to learn something from the older Amels (like Delos). So we will carry a sheet of wood that can be bolted over the doorway on the forward side of the bulkhead. It will have a rubber seal so that the whole forecabin can be turned into a watertight crashbox. I can imagine that when sailing with only the two of us we might put that in place quite often when at sea (and just use the forehatch for access to the forecabin as a storage area.

Simpler

By embracing the limits on the size of the forecabin which mean a V berth for two adults isn’t practical we end up with a much simpler, stronger and safer boat that will suit our needs much better. We don’t need to be able to sleep 3 couples and 2 singles on board, but we do need to carry enough water and would like extra protection from potential damage caused by debris floating around our oceans.

Thinking about this has also helped us think about simpler supports for the Bow Roller, Anchor Windlass and Inner forestay. So we can hopefully progress them soon.

Once I can get the companionway steps removed, this approach of watertight compartments built into the hull is going to make the battery boxes much simpler and more compact. I think the outcome will be larger water tanks and being able to move the Inverter and Mains Galvanic Isolator into the motor room so that we can keep the wet locker behind the steps.

It takes a long time to simplify things, but the results are well worth it.

Mast top coats of paint finished (for now)

Today was beautiful weather and we were able to get the last coat of paint on both masts (at least for the moment) m

We are not in a rush now to get the masts up. There is nothing to be gained by putting them up in the boatyard for the winter.

We still have a lot to do anyway in terms of chainplates, fittings on the masts, dyneema standing rigging, wiring, lights, wind sensor, aerials, running rigging. None of this will be improved by 6 months of autumn, winter and spring outside in the boatyard.

So most of these jobs can wait until the couple of months before we launch. Until then we can do a lot of preparation (such as mast tangs and splicing) plus ordering everything we will need.

Mast top coat 1

Today has been less certain when it comes to rain than we had hoped.

However, this morning we sanded the masts with 400 grit, then washed and dried them.

In the end we waited until 3pm for painting in the hope of more certainty about it staying dry.

This time rollers are not recommended (or at least need to be followed by a brush). So we went for brushes only.

We changed the way of supporting the masts so that they are “balanced” on the sail track with as few points of contact as possible. We then painted everything else. When it comes to the 2nd coat we will rotate them 180 degrees and so the areas where they are supported will all get one coat. This avoids a long wait between painting sides and reduced the chances of resting the mast on bits that are not fully cured.

One tin is supposed to be enough, it certainly didn’t feel that it would go far enough as we were painting the main mast, but in fact it was plenty for both masts (we are going to get extra paint for the spreaders and mizzen boom all of which we can do in the garage at home).

The results:

Despite the name of the International Paint we are not expecting Perfection in terms of finish 🙂 However, they should be good from a distance and certainly better than they were before we started. Of most importance to us is that we have dealt with all the corrosion and should have a well protected mast for years to come (we can work on any small areas where there are problems over coming years to ensure that the protection lasts).

Should be another part of the boat that will outlast us 🙂 That has to be good for sustainability 🙂

End of holiday mast painting race

Tuesday was the last day of our holiday and so was always going to be busy packing up all the tools and materials that we have been using for just over two weeks.

However, our biggest decision and challenge was where do go next with the painting of our masts.

By Tuesday morning the 2nd coat of two part epoxy primer was nicely cured. It was ready for over-coating although that could wait for upto 6 months. The problem was that this left 1 coat of undercoat and 2 coats of topcoat still to do. These have stricter over-coating times of roughly between 20 hours and 3 days. We figured that finding 3 or 4 days in a row when we could be at the boat with dry weather in the next 6 months was next to impossible (and as temperatures drop the time to be able to over-coat increases).

So after checking the forecast constantly we decided to paint the undercoat on Tuesday hoping that we could come for Friday and Saturday with good enough weather to put on the topcoats.

An extra challenge has been to find the best way to support the masts while painting to give good access and be able to also paint the areas where the supports are.

So Tuesday started with sanding the primer (and filler that had been put on between the primer coats) with 120 grit paper. Then with the masts on their sides we painted the first side before lunch. Then back to packing up.

Eventually we decided the paint was dry enough to rotate the masts and paint the second side. That painting started at about 6.30pm.

We eventually left to go home well after 8pm, which was much later than we wanted (and then the journey was delayed by lots of road works). We decided to buy some sandwiches from a garage on the way rather than taking longer with fish and chips, however, the first two garages we stopped at had completely sold out. Got home just before 11pm.

Still the masts looked good 🙂

The forecast had been a 10% chance of rain so we took a chance in the way we loaded the trailer for home.

As usual a 10% of chance of rain in Beaumaris means it will be dry. However, we got home to a 10% chance of rain which in Manchester means it will rain and it did. Fortunately not too much and the wood protected the tools 🙂

All in all a productive and enjoyable summer holiday. We had time with family, time on the water and have made lots of actual progress on the bow roller, masts, dyneema rigging and starboard settee/sea berth plus lots of sorting out plans for the foredeck, forecabin, batteries, water tanks and more.