Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Paint removal

Just a brief update on how project boat is coming along - rather nicely in fact. I’ve managed to remove the majority of the paint from the outer hull and I’m hoping to have the remainder stripped tomorrow or Friday at the latest. As I’ve mentioned earlier this wooden boat restoration thingy ma jiggery type project is a new experience for me and is stretching the old grey matter a little so any tips, help or advice is always welcome.

For those of you interested in the process used in the removal of the remnants of the little lady’s outer garment I found (by some trail and error!) that the use of a hot air blower and a wide ish scraper has achieved the best results thus far. I did try the dreaded nitro mores, but I found that it would have taken copious amounts of the damn stuff to fully strip the hull and also the massive coughing fit achieved by sucking in the fumes did sway my opinion of the stuff to the negative. One important lesson learnt is, as with most bladed tools, to keep the lead edge of the scraper as sharp as is possible with frequent visits to the small grinding wheel and the oil stone, the only point to watch is that the angle of the scraper is not to severe so as to avoid digging into the marine ply beneath the layers (and I mean layers!) of paint.

This stage of the project has let me inspect the outer hull fully and to be honest no more damage has shown its ugly face apart from the starboard rubbing strip which has previously been repaired by somebody apparently lacking their opposing thumbs. I’ll probably replace both starboard and port strips, but I am looking for something other than the traditional wood for this job.

So there we have it project boat is plodding along at a steady rate of knots and I’m hoping to have her back on her keel by the weekend ready to start upon the removal of the varnish after my next block of shifts. Time for some of that sloe gin I do believe.....

Thursday, January 21, 2010

In Ernest

So there I was pondering over project boat in the holy place, do I dunk the Hob Nob into my tea or should I eat it un-moist, decisions, decisions…. When I suddenly thought, bugger this, I’d best be making a start.

The major concern at the moment is that the dinghy had been left upright but uncovered for most of last year and with the paint and varnish being on the tired side (ok knackered) the wood, although thankfully not rotten, is in places absolutely sodden. With the temperatures at the moment in low single figures at the best (much lower at night) the prospect of her drying out enough to allow work of any substance to be carried out was looking to be eons away. I needed to remedy this and help the drying process along a little but without drying her out to fast either, I don’t want to warp her lines if it can be helped. My simple answer was to turn her turtle and place under her a small paraffin greenhouse heater with just enough output to dry her out gently over the next four days whilst I’m wasting away in work (oh bliss). So I really needed to turn her over today, and after much head scratching, straining and tea the little lady now sits upside down and at a decent enough height to allow room for the heater to sit without being to close. I was fortunate enough in that the frame that I’d built to hold a dinghy upright, once it was turned over, supported the turned turtle boat, forward planning or what? (I know, just lucky). So below are a series of photos showing the stages of turning, it would have been far easier if there had been two of us doing the lifting but hey once a stubborn ass always a stubborn ass!

The rest of the late afternoon and early evening has been spent in stripping all the loose and lifting paint allowing the wood to breathe and hopefully aid in the drying process. This has allowed a closer inspection of the hull in which a couple of things have come to light, firstly there are three repairs to one side of the hull which all require redoing, but do not look to serious, and there is one repair which looks to been done ok but just needs finishing off for a better appearance before painting.

Hopefully my lack of experience in this sort of work will not prevent me from making a decent job of this project, but if you see any flaws in my plans or work please don’t hold back with any advice, god knows that I’m going to need it!!! Now then I’ll think I will dunk those Hob Nobs after all……

A good day...

Today was a good day, for the first time in a long time my poor excuse for a body has allowed me to complete a day of outdoor walking as well as time in the hallowed retreat of the garage without breaking down or starting to run on three cylinders. I do believe that at long last I have turned the corner and can now push on without fear of this dilapidated shell of flesh and bone screaming “stop enjoying yourself again” (anyway that’s Clare’s job).

So this morning it was off to the hills with the intention of a gentle stroll for about half an hour and then home for oxygen, tea and biscuits! (well that has been the general pattern of late). Three hours later myself and the bog monster arrive back at the car park with my face on fire from the biting wind and Lucy covered in crap (nothing new there then).

The snow that has retreated from most of the local area is still holding on up on Moel Famau with some tenacity making the walk more of a slide and grapple for footholds than a gentle stroll. The buzzards were conspicuous in their absence with only the crows braving the higher parts of the hills, there was plenty of sign of small mammal activity, I guess that they need to take every opportunity of the weather breaks. But as for any actually wildlife spotting only Lucy and the crows showed their faces.

Coming down the hill the amount of water run off was as large a volume as I have seen on these hills, it’s no wonder that the river Alun’s banks on the plain below are near to bursting, much more rain or snow and I’m guessing Mr. Mole will be needing his life raft.

So I arrived home feeling at one with my body, no oxygen required! Lucy’s had her predictable clean down and towel rub, which always turns into the 'I’m not standing still for you' game, and is now curled up in my favorite chair. And me? well I’m off to my shrine in me padded overalls, cup of tea in hand, to ponder the next step on project boat (over a Hob Nob of course). So yes, today is a good day.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Avast ye, ya land lubbers...

Now then, regular readers of this blog (well at least I hope that there are some!) may well be aware of the mirror dinghy that used to occupy the floor space within the base for my many projects (and plans for world domination) known to all and sundry as ‘the garage’. The sharp eyed amongst you have possible noticed the past tense used within the opening line of this post, indicating that said dinghy is no more and I must admit, albeit a little sheepishly, that this is indeed the case. Now just desist with that wailing and the gnashing of teeth as all is not lost, for I have good reason for giving the little lady a Viking funeral.

Upon removing the gunwhales and side pieces it became apparent that the dinghy was not so much of a restoration project but was more like a total rebuild apart from the top decking at the bow, with much cracking and very large areas where the ply was very soft even after drying. The problem with this would that it would take a huge part of my ‘out there’ time denying myself and Clare valuble time in the fresh air together. The idea was that the dinghy was to be a winter project allowing another form for both of us to enjoy the outdoors this year. So it was with a heavy heart and a lump rising within my throat that the little lady has been carried by bright flames to Valhalla (along with a varied assortment of garage debris). All that remained were the top deck pieces of marine ply (and with good reason!).

So there I was, little boy lost with me lower lip jutting out some considerable distance when the spirits of the outdoors must have taken a look at the pitiful sight of my despair and smiled, nay grinned, at me, well outdoor spirits in the form of me matey Jim that is. Remember my posting some weeks ago ‘a slight dilemma’ where the prospect of another mirror dinghy had arisen? Well to be honest I’d given up any notion of this ‘phantom vessel’ ever appearing over the horizon until just the other day when Jim pipes up in work “get your backside into gear; we’re picking the mirror up tomorrow”. Well would you credit it, God pats me on the head and says “good boy John”. The following morning duly arrives and low and behold by midday there is a mirror dinghy hull (not hulk) residing within the hallowed walls of the garage – result.

Not only has she arrived, but the little lady is defiantly a winter project with considerable less work to do on her to get her on the water. This is the project that I’d been hoping for and even though there is still some considerable work to be done I’m really looking forward to it. At the moment she’s been given some days to dry out before the stripping of all paint and varnish commences and a more detailed inspection is carried out.

Call me fickle if you like but this lady now has my entire garage time attention with the other old crone just a distant memory, although the ply from her top deck will be used for some of the minor repair work so she’ll not be forgotten totally. Oh and how much has this cost me thus far? The cost of the fun cruisers diesel to pick her up, yep cheap skate really is my middle name.

Oh and one final piece of news, a little bit of freebie ‘kit’ has magically wormed its way into my life in the form of a stainless steel divers knife, from when divers considered big blades (7 inches!) the bling to be strapped upon their legs. For me it’s going into the sea fishing tackle box.

Now then if I can just figure out how to group related posts you’ll be able to follow my progress on the restoration of Carpe Diem II a little more easily than trawling through all manner of me musings. Damn this technical stuff……


Monday, January 11, 2010

A Winters word

I was just catching up with everyone’s postings when the shortest of scribings by Len at 'the stream of time' got me to musing a little, his post was simply “I Am So Sick Of Winter”, and it got me to thinking whether or not I like this season.

Without Winter the other seasons would just seem as nothing really special, I mean to say, which other season can stop us in our tracks and make us take the time to do something other than ‘be out there’? This season sometimes just is great for nothing more than sitting by the fire, a dram in hand, watching the flames dance their magic dances whilst warming my chilled body through, after too long in that infernal, unheated garage, dreaming of the heady days of summer to come.

Winter? I love it for what it isn’t, it isn’t hours of daylight that if I don’t make the most of every moment doing whatever outside then the frustrated feeling of not achieving enough hangs my head, it isn’t 12 hours in that sweat shop where I earn a crust glowering through far to small windows at the world outside baking on a warm Summers’ day, thinking ‘why aren’t I ‘out there’, life doesn’t seem as fair then. It isn’t as fast paced nor as hectic as the other season, it is the time to slow down a tad and recharge yourself. Without it there’d be no balance, no enjoyment of the other seasons for what they are, because without the dark, short cold days of winter how would you know that the days of summer are long, light and warm?

Hopefully from my blog you know that I try and fill all the daylight hours that I can (and plenty of the night ones as well!) with as much outdoor stuff that I can, like fishing, walking, rabbiting etc. as well as the ever increasing project list that I burden myself with. But when, like now, the weather is just to damn cold to be ‘out there’ other than out of necessity, this season is a wonderful time to look back on the former year’s highs (and lows) but also a time to plan and prepare for the forthcoming year to ensure that it’s another fulfilled time. Yep I do love the winter for it tells me spring is on her way.
All the best,

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Belated Wishes

Well hello one and all and a very belated Happy New Year to each and every one of you me hearties. Please excuse my tardiness in not keeping up with my postings but what with the festive spirit (yes I filtered and consumed most of the sloe gin!), working every hour I could over the ‘holiday’ (this bit through gritted teeth and with clenched fists, hard to type like this you know!), to claw back some money from my tight fisted employers who believe that operations and recovery time do not require paying for, especially just before Christmas, and getting some suburban walks in to raise my now extremely poor fitness level I’ve been a tad busy to say the least.

Looking back over my first tentative months of blogging I’ve really enjoyed myself and it has been a pleasure to meet (in a tippty tappty keyboard sort of way) so many like minded people. I don’t usually like singling out specific people as all of you add warmth, knowledge and a sense of belonging but I’d just like to thank Albert Rasch, Hubert Hubert, Wandering Owl, Mel, Wolfy, Le Loup, SBW, Gabe, Kari, Emily, T.MichealDan, and Amber for their support, encouragement and great blogs which I hope one day to be equal to for the wealth of life, amusement and knowledge that they bring.

As for what good old saint Nick brought me two items stood out head and shoulders above the rest (and no it wasn’t the socks), firstly is the my new “stealth” coat by Jack Pyke and bought for me by my beloved Clare (oh she knows me so well) and secondly was the .177 Diana mod 52 air rifle bought with me crimbo money, needs an overhaul but me thinks it’s going to be a very good 'stationary' rifle.

Enough of that, tis time to be looking forward to the year ahead in what (I really do hope) will be full and rude health. As seems to be the custom I’ve compiled a short list of what will be attainable (we’ll see!) goals for the forthcoming year:-

Book Clare’s birthday present, a falconry course (But don’t tell her!).
Walk; - At least 15 ‘day’ walks at a minimum distance of 15 miles, with at least 5 different routes used, and at least 5 ‘night’ walks at a minimum distance of 5 miles, with at least 3 different routes used
Climb; - Cadair Idris, Snowdon, Ben Nevis and a minimum of 5 other peaks over 3000 feet.
Fish for and catch; - Carp (10lb plus), Perch (2lb plus), Pike (5lb plus), Wild brown Trout (1lb plus), Bass (3lb plus), Tope (10lb plus), Mullet (3lb plus), Conger eel (5lb plus), Wrasse (2lb plus)
Photograph;- Buzzard, Red Kite, Merlin, Any British owl, Fox, Badger, Stoat, Weasel, Hare, Door Mouse, Coastal whale or dolphin, Any British reptile, Any British bat, Grey seal, Dragonfly, Golden Eagle, Otter, and Red deer.
Clear all debt (excluding mortgage) by the month of September, 2010.
Sail in a race single handed without coming last!
Enjoy wild camping in Scotland.
Kite buggy with Jim.
Embark on a survival course.
Three long breaks away with Clare;- Scotland, The Mumbles and the New Forest being preferred locations.
Navigate (properly) using only a map and compass.
Learn to sing fully the welsh national anthem

Ok so it’s a small list (ish) but it should keep me going this year at least. Of course there will be changes and additions as time, money and circumstance change throughout the year but without targets or dreams then what do you have to aim at? So that’s about it for now, I really hope that the New Year brings you all that you desire and that you all stay healthy and safe ‘out there’. Till the next time……