Sunday, 18 April 2010

A new season begins

The long cold Edinburgh winter has finally passed on and the smallcraft of Granton Harbour have once more been reintroduced to their native element.
The main boat improvement project we undertook this year was to make the windows watertight again, as most of them had developed slight but annoying leaks.
This involved firstly removing them and covering over the window openings with blanks of varnished (skip-raked) plywood, sealed on with silicone to keep everything dry over the winter.

We then carefully packaged up all eight of them and shipped them off to the original manufacturers (Branchsound, in Essex) for a complete strip down and refurbishment. The boys at Branchsound made an excellent job of this, rebedding the glass into the aluminium frames and replacing parts such as hinges on the opening windows, all at reasonable cost.
After the windows were returned to us, I went round and cleaned off as much as possible of the old bedding compound and then carefully touched up any damaged areas on the anodised finish (using the Por15 paint system) to protect them from further corrosion. All of this took a surprising amount of time...

Lift in was quite early this year (3rd of April), so time was getting a bit tight when conditions were good enough to get on with re-installing the windows into the boat. We did make it, without a lot to spare, and wasn't it lovely to have plenty of natural light below decks again?
Here we are, removing the ply blanks and prepping the openings to recieve the nearly-good-as-new windows again:

They were bedded into the hull with Dow Corning 781 sealant. I haven't taken a photo yet with the windows back in, but anyway they look pretty much the same as they did before.

What else have we been up to...
Replaced the aft end of the exhaust outlet. There was a solid bronze swan neck, made up from apparently large ship pipe fittings, which led to a substantial (but unfortunately non-functioning) seacock before exiting the hull.
I had always been a little uneasy about that seacock not working, particularly on long offshore passages. There was one occasion in particular, when running up the Irish Sea before a gale, when I would have liked to be able to close it off to eliminate any possibility of large following seas forcing their way back through the exhaust into the engine.
My original intention was to replace just the seacock, without messing about too much with the rest of it, but the disassembly turned out to be a challenge (involving some very large spanners, a couple of hammers, one of the sheet winches and some line, a blowtorch, a hacksaw and the usual blood sweat and tears) so I decided in the end to overhaul the complete after end of the system.
The brief was to simplify, reduce weight and the need for maintenance. I replaced most of the bronze bits with highly flexible exhaust hose (giving the same overall rise in the swan neck) and the seacock with a very nice GRP non-return (check) valve.

Replaced the VHF aerial. Just before putting the mast back up. That was fun, particularly when the old cable snapped as I was pulling it out. That meant taking off the cap and foot of the mast and scrounging up a length of fence wire to fish the new cable through. I have a Dri-plug still to be fitted at the deck, which will make life a lot easier the next time the mast is taken down.

Replaced the lifelines. Yeah.

Aside from that, it was just the usual painting, antifouling and general maintenance.

Ongoing projects:
Fitting an extra bilge pump, to allow pumping from the cockpit without having to open the cockpit locker where the existing pump is sited.
Doing away with gas on board. I have purchased a pair (one as a complete spare) of beautiful new-old, British made paraffin stoves, one to be mounted up in a similar manner to the Atom stove. There are just too many stories out there of gas explosions aboard small boats. Besides, it seems to be getting more and more difficult to have cylinders filled abroad, to the extent that in some places one is forced to buy an entire new cylinder and regulator just to get some gas.
The list goes on.

Maybe, just maybe, we'll get out for our first sail of the season this afternoon.

We did go for a sail and it was delightful. The sun shone, the breeze was light, the seals were basking and there was not a plane in sight.

And here's one especially for Fran. Fettler has her eyes back! We finally managed to get our hands on a drop of white antifouling paint:

No comments: