Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Over the winter months....

Over the winter months I have been working on the hull of my boat, cutting away rotten wood, plastic filler and fiberglass repairs and cutting and shaping new laminate strips to repair the hull.
The new Tool
It has been hard slow work and at times I wondered if I should find someone else to do the work because I feared I would never accomplish the task. One thing I did do was to buy a router to mill away the really tough filler and resin to get back to wood and this really did help a great deal.
Another issue that has slowed work is the air temperature. My garage is quite warm as it has the boiler in it and my office is above it but even so it has been too cold for gluing and I hate the idea of heating the garage as it really puts up the lecy bill. But as winter begins to lose its grip and spring presses in, the temperatures have risen high enough.

The following photos give some idea of the progress.
early stages of removing the old filler
gradually removing the old material
Part way through removing the rot and old repair
Using the router to cut away the rubbish
gradually removing the resin of old repair
ready for the middle layer of laminates
measuring out the laminate strip 
Laminate strips cut to approximate lengths/widths
New laminate pieces for middle layer in position.
all glued in.
Next job was to cut away some more of the outer layer around the glued areas, sand it all, then fit the outer layers and glue them in to complete the reconstruction of the hull. I have made some progress since theses photos but forgot to take photos. It now needs a bit of work to complete the task and I shall upload some shots then.
Then I shall sand it all nice and smooth, prime and paint it. I had considered looking for more problems by removing more of the paint and then coating with epoxy resin to give a clear finish but I want to go sailing. So that's a job for another long winter.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Fixing my 'Darling's' bottom

The name of my boat is Acushla which is a Gaelic word meaning 'Darling' or 'Beat of my heart' or 'Heartbeat'.

Anyway over the last few months I have been very slowly working on my boat, first exploring the problems with the hull and then preparing for the new wood to be fitted. I'm working on the major fault first, tidying up the hole and cutting away laminate layers to allow new pieces to overlap and bond in.

Next I cut to size strips of laminate to fit the holes for both the inner layer

And then for the middle layer

And then I glued the whole lot in using SP106 slow cure (so I had time to move it about and get it right)

and this is the repair so far

It looks crap but its rock solid

The only problem is a slight dip in the surface which could mean I have to fill the void with epoxy resin when I put the outer laminate in place. But I'm thinking I might just try and put a very, very thin laminate layer into the dip and see if I can avoid using a big glob of epoxy to fill the void as I'm not convinced it will give a resilient fix and may cause cracking when the boat flexes. 
Another alternative is not to try and fill the void but for the top laminate to follow the dip and then to fill on the outside with suitable filler.

My next task is to cut back the outer laminate on the hull to give a good border for the new wood and then I have to shape of the top laminate to fit. This is going to be tricky because its very big and I have to be able to apply pressure over a large curved area while its gluing.

The other problem I have is temperature. The garage is quite warm (if you think 10 degC is warm) but it needs to be 15 degC for the glue. So I have to pick the right day ( a nice sunny day) and time to start the gluing in the late morning. Not always easy when you're working too!

Thursday, October 09, 2014

My old girl has a big crack in her bottom

Yep. Its a nasty one. It all came to light in the last race of the Nottingham SC open meeting. I was just getting into 3rd place when after a gybe I noticed water gushing in through a crack and decided we needed to retire.

I got the old girl home and into the garage, tipped her on her side and with a heat gun I began to remove the paint to find the source of the problem.

The initial problem centred around a repair I had to make in the summer of 2013. I had to use a piece of plywood and I knew at the time that the underlying problem was a previous repair using a plastic filler. It turns out that the rot had got in a bit further than I thought. So I have removed my repair and have removed all the filler and begun the process of cutting and fitting new wood laminates.

And then I began to explore one or two other 'suspect' spots and discovered yet more problems.

Some lunatic decided in their 'wisdom' to use fibreglass to fill in some rotten areas of wood. Its crazy because it doesn't behave as wood, it doesn't flex in the same way and inevitable at the boundaries of  the materials you get water ingress. Plus it holds moisture in the wood so that it rots the inner layers! 

In places there was so much water in the wood that when I put the heat gun on to scrap the paint the water was boiling and forcing itself to the surface! Some of the plastic filler burst like mini volcanoes as the water trapped below the filler boiled and pushed its way out. 

Now I have a good few months of hard work just to sort out the stupid 'repairs' of past owners (Some folk should just not be allowed to own wooden boats). I'm dreading finding more and almost dare not remove any more paint for fear of what I will find. 

But Acushla will be on the water next season.

p.s. Even with only two race finishes we finished 3rd overall at the Open meeting. Results here

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Nationals 2014 edited

Here we are just after the start of the last race working our way through to leeward on the boat above us.

This year the national championships were held in Poole bay and hosted by Parkstone YC.
three days of racing became two of contrasting conditions as the winds went from light on the Friday, to heavy on the Saturday and unsailable on the Sunday. It was a great event never the less with some excellent racing with Saturday being the best with some awesome sailing. 

I was racing with my daughter Jo who made herself extremely helpful before the racing by assisting in the weighing and checking of all boats. We sailed well together and it really enjoyed the racing and the social side as well. Sailing to and from the race area took a good while and it was an opportunity for Jo to get some time on the helm and she demonstrated some skill in managing the boat in the gusts as we sailed back in on the Friday as the wind piped up quite nicely. I think she will make an excellent helm one day.
Our results were good but could have been better. I made some stupid strategic errors and wend the wrong way up the beat on more that one occasion, But when we got it right we did well with our best finish being a 6th in the last race. So we finished 14th out of 36 and were the winners of the Silver Fleet. I admit to feeling apprehensive in the first race on the Saturday in such strong winds and we took the first lap carefully but I decided that I could handle the conditions ok so we really took it up a notch or two from then on and what a difference! Such great speed on the reaches! Really great fun!

At the gybe mark close on the heals of 6918

Rounding the windward mark 

There is no picture of us reaching like this but we certainly went this quick!
Jo and I holding the Silver fleet winners trophy

This post has been edited to remove elements that, in retrospect I feel were overly harsh criticism of some aspects of the race management. If anyone who had read them prior to this editing and was offended, I offer my apologies as it was not my intention to offend. However my opinions on the matter have not changed. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The mid-week weekend race!

Another wonderful evening of racing, food, friends and beer (Of course! what else do you expect at a sailing club?)
This evening my crew was Graham Sim. Graham and I met through my work with the Bromsgrove and Redditch Methodist Circuit. We discovered a common interest in sailing and we finally got our act together and got racing this evening. Graham used to sail at Midland SC many years ago and I thing he enjoyed the visit to his old club.
The racing was good. winds light and from the north coming from over the dam wall which made the top half of the reservoir a no go area for racing, the winds get far to random. Our Race Officer set a good course, although those with spinnakers complained that the reaches were too close and I noted there were no dead runs ( a relatively good point of sailing for Albacores). But all things considered he did a fine job.
Once again a pursuit race and we started at 11 minutes and quickly passed the RS200 and one of the Enterprises. Graham was quickly getting to grips with the flyaway jib pole and the constant need to adjust the settings, by the end of the race he was getting back into the swing of sailing although he said he has a nice bruise shaping up. Boats are so unforgiving! Anyway, we soon had only 5 boats ahead of us and by the start of the penultimate lap just the remarkably quick Europe was ahead of us.

We chased hard and finished a few minutes behind; she was just too quick. This evening no curry but a jacket spud with cheese, beans and salad washed down with Hoping Hare ale. Excellent.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Racing on Goose Poo Pond

Last weekend was Broadwater Sailing Club open meeting and my daughter Jo came down and together was trailed Acushla down to the meeting. A nice simple drive down the M40. It wasn't until we arrived we discovered that the number plate had dropped off the lightboard. Anyway forgetting all that we rigged the boat and along with all the others we waited for the wind because there was none. In fact there was very little wind all day long but the Race officer did sterling work in setting courses and running three races in very difficult conditions.

Things started well for us in the first race but the fluky winds saw us go from 3rd to 6th. The second race was no better and we finished 6th again. I could say that the wind was just so fluky that it was a lottery but the same guy was winning both races and  that suggests that there was definitely scope for skill to win through. I was fairly relaxed going into the last race, I didn't expect too much and to be sure I was on form on the first beat, rounding the mark in 5th place. The four boats ahead were only just in front and on rounding the mark the wind died off so everyone was very close together. It was at this point I made the best move of the day, as I rounded the mark I gybe towards the left hand side of the course, effectively sailing away from the direct line to the next course but I could see wind on the water out to the left. I got to it and sailed in a big curving arc following the wind on the water and arrived at the next mark with a substantial lead. I joked to the rest of the fleet "Don't worry, it won't last long" to which the reply came from the indomitable Andy Pierce: "Enjoy it while you can". So we did. All the way to the finish line. Yep we won the race. So that was cool but I thought with a 6th and a 1st place to count we would be perhaps in the top 5. We shared 7 points with two other but because we won the last race we were placed 3rd overall. Yep we were actually in the prizes. I didn't get to the prize giving. At the time I was in the shower. While I was drying myself off the changing room door briefly opened and I heard the announcement. I did think about rushing out with a towel around me but how do you shake hands and take a prize without letting go of the towel? The picture is probably one you don't want to dwell on. No don't do it. Too late? Well hopefully the image will fade in time. So Jo collected the prizes on our behalf and now we both have a nice engraved glass to enjoy a drop of port in.

Results are here: http://www.broadwatersc.org.uk/results/2014/2014AlbacoreOpen.htm
(I noticed that they spelt Jo's name wrong but I rather like it, Mrs Snakey! :) )
Somebody was taking photos of the racing but there is no sign of them on club website just yet.

in the meantime here is one of Acushla waiting for the wind

Oh and the Blog title? It was inspired by the water quality of Broadwater sailing club. I'm sure its not always like it but I have never encountered as much floating goose poo before.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Racing, Curry, Beer and Conversation.

This Wednesday evening my new crew, Stuart Jones, and I participated in battle of seamanship skills, tactics and strategy in light winds among a fleet of various boats and competitors of varying levels of competency and managed a 5th place (very nearly a 4th). Considering it was our first race together and Stuart had never crewed in an Albacore, I think we did very well in very interesting and quite testing conditions. It was one of those races where you needed to keep an eye out for the gusts of wind and respond quickly in adjusting the sails to get the best boat speed. It was great fun. Afterwards we all enjoyed curry and beer and chatted about everything from why men are really never any older than 12, to racing and sailing experiences to even talking about religion and spirituality.
Below is a video of the race from the perspective of the end of my boom (and why not?) and you can get a flavour of the racing. Its quite long so just skip though it and catch bit of it - unless you're really bored. I'm afraid you really had to be there to enjoy the curry, beer and conversation; no video could do it justice.