My last post was written towards the end of 2019 – sadly the world is now a very different place.
However, despite everything, sound progress has in continued in Birdham and Leading Wind went back in the water in September 2020 !
Recap : Before the first lockdown it was deemed sensible to instal an automatic 12v electric bilge pump with a float switch. This helped contain the infamous leak as I was having to manually pump out the bilges every other day. In itself, that was not really an issue but when you live twenty miles down the road it was becoming one !
In March 2020, Covid reared it’s ugly head, resulting in the first lockdown in UK and sadly I could no longer keep a watchful eye on things (the state of the 12v battery for one) so I bought a solar panel, which was installed by Tim Gilmore. Fortunately, Tim and his team of specialist shipwrights were able to work throughout the lockdown and a potential disaster was averted, meaning the boat could be left to it’s own devices. At this point I should like to add my sincere thanks and appreciation not only to Tim Gilmore but to all the marina staff and various onsite friends who slackened off mooring lines for exceptionally high tides and made sure that the lines were doing their job throughout several very wild storms.
I think we all thought the Covid lockdown would be over in a few months but it was not until June that the restrictions were eased and I was able to visit the boatyard and see my solar panel in action.
To a certain extent, all wooden boats leak but Leading Wind’s leak began to get worse so we arranged for the boat to be hauled out and asked Tim to investigate. This resulted in having about 12 more ribs replaced. Although access to the source of the problem was difficult, it was considered sensible to keep the engine where it was and laminate new frames (ribs) around the engine. Hats off to Richard Powell, of Tim Gilmore Ltd, who had done the lions share of the restoration and took this new and very awkward job in his stride !
For my part, whilst the boat was still out of the water, the topsides were sanded down with an orbital sander and a couple of coats of primer were applied followed by two new coats of Teamac yacht enamel. No matter what the weather is doing we always complain about it and as luck would have it – August 2020 enjoyed a heatwave – a consequence being that the underwater planks began to dry out and contract – so although I enjoyed working in the sun I ended up having to rake out some of the seams and bang the caulking cotton back and fill with putty and red lead. Naturally, I complained to anyone that came near me ! Next I applied underwater primer, followed by two coats of Teamac anti fouling. The water in the marina is not particularly salty – it’s fairly brackish and consequently the barnacles don’t seem to be such a problem and the growth of weed is not that bad (possibly due to the anti fouling) ! So with new ribs and a much tighter area underneath the cockpit, when the boat went back in the water in September 2020 she swelled up and the infamous leak was pretty much history ! Before the boat came out of the water the automatic pump came on every 10 minutes or so but after the repair the pump now comes on once a day !
Once back in the water, I continued working on the bright work (exterior varnishing) and the interior – that was – until the second lockdown in about October 2020 !
The next major project was to replace the standing and some of the running rigging and again fortunately, I was able to find a rigger who was working and willing and able to replace the standing rig, whilst the boat was afloat and the mast was still up ! So now my nice new Collars mast is attached to the boat with shiny new stainless steel rigging, with much stronger “swaged” end fittings. As the rigger was already up the mast it seemed wise to get him to replace the elderly halyards with nice new colour coded braided ropes and in the case of the spinnaker halyard and the topping lift, I broke with tradition and now have 8mm Dynema which is incredibly strong and a nod to 2021 ! Whilst the boat was built in 1938 and largely speaking I have restored her to her former classic self – I have no desire to compromise on safety and whilst I was brought up to use compasses and Walker trailing logs – I will be investing in a few bits of electronic wizardry too !
The second lockdown eased in early May 2021 and although floating and still tethered to the dock – the boat’s woodwork was no longer “concors d’elegance” and I had to spend quite a bit of time rubbing down and revarnishing the outside and cleaning black mould from the interior surfaces and repainting.
Boats are naturally rather damp and without regular ventilation the condensation provides an ideal environment for mould to propagate ! On posh boats, owners install dehumidifiers – something to think about for next autumn/ winter.
One further modification was getting my shore power cable officially installed – so now I can use power tools. One such tool that I recently enjoyed using was a hot air gun to help strip paint from inside the hanging locker !
Next the engine was re-commissioned and she now fires up and happily chugs away to herself. I still have several remaining jobs before my inaugural sail but with the arrival of better weather the temptation to just go for it is proving hard to resist ! I’m also running out of excuses !
More to follow later . . .