Sunday, September 18, 2005

More frustration

Under pressure at work and unable to get down to the boat at all this weekend...why do New York lawyers insist on working at weekends and making the rest of us come in and be there with them? Still, they're effectively paying for the work being done by the yard, so I have to humour them.

On which subject, the yard called me to say that they've done the work recommended by the surveyor. Things are looking up! I haven't had the chance to look at what they've done, of course, but still, yay! I might actually get this yacht into the water sometime before Christmas...

Monday, September 12, 2005


Little progress since my last entry, except that I managed to get down to Southampton one night late last week and get a third coat of varnish and a fourth coat of Dex on, and started to polish the hull, which ended up looking nice but is clearly going to take awhile based on how little I got done in the hour I had to spare.

No-one had started work on the surveyors' recommendations that I left with the yard. Grump.

I had to go overseas at the weekend, so everything is parked until this coming Saturday. I think I'll get some plastic sheeting to put over the companionway, and then at least I could bring the washboards back and get some more coats of varnish on them here at home. Be interesting to see on Saturday if the yard company has started work...

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Joy of Dex

I spent two long days working on Arabella's exterior woodwork this weekend.

I sanded the three companionway washboards, filled a few cracks where the water had got through the old vanish, stained them to something approximating red teak colour, and then got two coats of varnish on to them, the following coats will have to wait until I can get back down to Southampton again. I took a look at the prices of 'marine' woodcare products in the swindlery and, after I had fallen over and got back up again, got myself over to Homebase a bit sharpish, where I paid about 50% of the swindlery's prices for filler and woodstain. I surrendered to the inevitable on the varnish itself, though, and paid the swindlery about £12 (gah!) for a small tin of International "Classic" and a can of No.1 Thinner - I just couldn't be sure that I wanted to risk the cheaper household exterior varnish from Homebase against sea water, even though logic tells me I probably could. In fairness, the International "Classic" varnish does go on well, as long as you thin it about 10-15% (and accept that you'll be applying more coats as a result), and it seems to give a good finish. I can slap emulsion on walls and ceilings with the best of them, but I'm no Michaelangelo with oil-based paints and varnishes, so I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of finish I ended up with, even with two more coats still to go. Using a roller seemed to work especially well, as long as I laid off the varnish with a brush afterwards.

I wasn't going to get caught buying expensive marine products for the teak rubbing strake, though - good old Cuprinol would certainly do for that job. Arabella's rubbing strake seems perfectly intact, but it had clearly gone for a long time without TLC and had dried and bleached to light grey colour. I used Cuprinol teak restorer (oxyialic acid, foul stuff - use latex gloves) which magically brought the original wood colour back, then sanded it thoroughly, washed it down with Cuprinol teak cleaner, let it dry out in the hot sunshine and followed up with three coats of Cuprinol garden furniture teak oil. Total cost: £9.50 on products (of which I used less than a quarter by volume, so there lots left for next season); about two hours' work overall, in between applying coats of varnish elsewhere; and a bloody great splinter in the palm of my hand which I haven't yet figured out how to extract without screaming like a girly. It struck me as I wandered about the boatyard how many other boats, ashore and afloat, had similarly bleached rubbing strakes. I can't understand why people don't care for them more. While varnishing seems to strike irrational fear into the hearts of at least 50% of the local yachties down here (based on the evidence of their boats, at least) oiling teak is the world's cheapest, easiest boat maintance job and the amazing before-and-after effect makes you feel really virtuous, too.

The final job, that I at least got started on today but will have to finish in a fortnight if the weather lets me, was the restoration of Arabella's handrails and companionway hatch slides. They appeared to have been done at some time or another in Dex or similar, given the rough looking finish. A lot of the old finish was flaking off, and the bare wood had mildewed, so I attacked the woodwork with a vengeance to find out what the teak looked like underneath before deciding which product to use (being chocked up only 10 metres from the swindlery is awfully convenient for this sort of last-minute decision). The result of all that aggression was some basically sound but unprepossessing woodwork, so I plumped for Dex 1+2 and got the mandatory 3 base coats on. I'm not a great fan of Dex, despite International's claims that it is a wonder product - I used it on my last boat and the woordwork never really came up very well, but it is easy enough to slap on and seals and shines the wood. As expected therefore, the woodwork didn't look especially amazing once I packed up tonight, but at least the wood was protected and I can concentrate on the finish with the next 6 or 7 coats, I hope.

I was fortunate to get finished on all of the above before the threatened thunderstorms swept in from the south west, and it was good to see the deluge of water beading up and running straight off the woodwork -even where I'd just used teak oil - so the hard work wasn't all for nothing. I think the teak rubbing strake looks great, the companionway washboards are definitely getting there and the 'Dexed' handrails, etc...well, we'll see.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Arabella on the move

Arabella made it safely down to the south coast today, and is now safely chocked up at the marina in Southampton. It's a going to be fine weekend with breezes of F3-4, sea state slight, so I'm going...varnishing, while I wait for the surveyor's recommendations to be carried out. Doh!