The Tyro Saga 9 – Preparing for the new


Friday 6th – warm and sunny

After a trouble-free drive down from London in the morning I arrived to find the boat in the same state as I’d left her.  No floods, no disasters – and no progress in the engine compartment.  After opening all the hatches and unloading I took myself off to Aldi to lay in the victuals (now there’s a disturbing metaphor), said hello to various people and found that it wasn’t currently possible to get any mains electricity.

Eventually I set to and attacked the bilge water, grease and grime in the engine bay.  Starting by scraping, proceeding to wiping and finally washing with soapy water, I managed to remove the lion’s share thereof before calling it a day.  Depressed at the number and size of the tasks facing me, I invited Billy in and, once he’d had a shower, we attacked a bottle of wine.

The engine bay in its initially utterly filthy state
Significant progress
Filth removal in progress

Saturday 7th – warm and sunny

A few bits and pieces in the morning, before taking myself off to the library to research tinned cable (i.e. cable with the copper wires covered in tin, rather than canned…) and other electrical gubbins.  Then various shopping, this time mostly for boaty bits, and back on board.  I set to and made an adaptor, then was able to connect up to the mains.  Kettle on was the first job, then I got out the power tools and started on removing the rust from the port keel. 

I was amazed how fast it came off, with wire brush and abrasive disc by turns and I finished the outer surface in an hour or so.  It turned out that the apparently ubiquitous rust was actually derived from relatively small areas dotted about and had been spread around by rain.  Most of the keel is still covered with two or more layers of old antifoul.  It’ll need KurRust, Hammerite or similar and then some primer before I put the new antifouling on, but at least I won’t have to rub the whole lot back to bare metal.

Heartened by this success I resolved to attack the engine bearer angle ions, in an attempt to save some mechanic’s time and hence my money.  I wasn’t very hopeful but gave all twenty nuts and bolts a spray with WD40, and when that ran out with Aldi’s own-brand equivalent.  The 15mm socket from my new set fitted exactly, and all the nuts turned!  It took time, and a certain amount of contortion on my part but in a couple of hours all the bolts were out and so were the angle irons.  I was just dropping them over the side when the mechanic turned up.  I hope he was impressed.

Once I’d cleared up (using my new can of degreaser) I heated up the remains of last night’s casserole and added a can of beef & vegetable soup.  Just what the doctor ordered.  Well, maybe not, but it did me.  A good shower, then Billy came over to finish the wine.

Some progress made at last!

Sunday 8th – hot and sunny

Bit of a lie in, but still made it up, made sandwiches and got to the boat jumble at Netley by about 1015.  First of its kind I’d even been to and I was impressed by the size and organisation.  £4 to get in but I saw immediately that I’d be able to save a lot more than that.  Final tally:     

Item Cost £ Cost at Force 4
Spinnaker/spare halyard (10mm x 27m)            40.00 45.90
Topping lift (8mm x 26m) 29.90
Marineflex sealant (like Sikaflex) 7.00 9.95
Float switch for bilge pump   7.50 27.95
Port & starboard LED lights   10.00 29.90
Steaming light   5.00 9.95
5 hose clips   2.00 4.00
4 mini crocodile clips   2.00 n/a
3x small swivel blocks   8.00   44.85
2x D-shackles   2.45
Rubber bucket   12.95
Ball valve for fuel pipe   0.50 9.75
  Totals  82.00 227.55

(I can’t manage to get all the numbers in the right places up there, so the totals appear wrong – they ain’t)

The first six items were brand new.  Quite a good day’s work I thought.  And if I’d had more cash on me I could also have bought a couple more fenders, another extension lead, a sacrificial anode, complete with rubber pad, nuts and washers; primer and anti-fouling paint – and a lot more besides.

On returning to Tyro I was too tired and dehydrated to do anything useful, so sat down with a book, the radio and a glass of water for a bit.  A cup of tea, and then I was about to start work on the starboard keel when the owner of the first half of the extension lead I was using announced his intention to remove it.  So I had to organise my own – given the route I had to take, my 50m reel and 15m extension between them just enabled me to get a 13A socket on board and under the dubious shelter of the spray hood.

The old, but apparently unblemished, exhaust elbow

I set to work to abrade the outer surface of the starboard keel with the wire brush on my big drill.  A lot of noise and black dust, which I did my best to avoid inhaling, and an hour later it was done.  After some faffing I then had a go at the rest of the engine bay, and also managed to remove the exhaust elbow, a saleable item (I hope), from the pipe.  Once I’d swept up I’d had enough, washed my hands (a major undertaking) and cooked some pasta.  Shower, shave and collapse.

Monday 9th – warm with some sunshine and a few light showers

The port keel before treatment. Pretty, eh?

First thing I took myself to the nearby paint shop and spoke to the boss.  He was kind enough to come and look at the boat and recommended treating the rust with a dedicated stabiliser, then priming those areas and any bare metal or GRP.  A hard antifouling (the most expensive sort, of course) should follow.  Total cost about £180, which did not greatly please me.  The owner (or was he just the manager?) didn’t seem unduly concerned whether I bought it or not, so I said I’d think about it.  The price was cheaper than at Force 4 (of course) but a lot more than I’d have paid yesterday at the boat jumble.

Shortly afterwards I mentioned this to Bob who was busy preparing the paintwork on Tubbs and needed to share my electricity.  “Ar”, quoth he, in a rich Hampshire burr that put me in mind of John Arlott, “Oi’ve gart som o’that at ‘ome”.  As he only wanted £25 for it I thought it might be an idea.  He turned up with it at lunchtime: enough primer to do all I needed and a full 2½ litre can of antifoul.  It wasn’t the ideal stuff, but as (a) Tyro wasn’t going to be in the water till midsummer at this rate and (b) it doesn’t really matter if she grows a little weed, I agreed to buy it.

I also popped over to the joinery workshop to see if I could find a nice offcut of hardwood to replace my rotten companionway top step.  I couldn’t catch anyone’s eye in the workshop and didn’t like to risk flouting the safety rules by entering uninvited.  A smoker outside directed me to the office upstairs and I gave the measurements to ‘Derek’ who said I should come back later.  When I did, there it was, a nice piece of iroko, the right width and thickness and a little too long so I could make a plinth or something as well (someday my plinth will come…) but I shall take it home with the original as a pattern, and fettle it nicely.  A little more expensive (at £15) than I was expecting but still a reasonably good buy.

For the rest of the morning I faffed about, unable to settle to anything, except investigating the side and stern lights – which will be easy enough to replace/repair.  I think I’ll replace the sidelights with the new ones and just get a new LED bulb for the sternlight.  After a mug of soup and a sandwich I took myself off to the library to have a look at my email and see if I could find a supply of tinned cable (see Saturday’s entry above for disambiguation) and to investigate thinners.  Unsuccessfully.

Then into the ‘village’ to draw out some money and do a little shopping, home for tea and then a two-hour session in the engine bay.  It’s now largely clean but the side bays still need doing and then a final degrease all round.  I even undid the stern gland and had a go (unsuccessful) at removing the prop and shaft.

I wish I could motivate myself to start these jobs earlier in the day.  But then I’d’ve been too filthy to go out!

Tuesday 10th – rain all morning, sunny p.m.

Filthy?  I didn’t know the meaning of the word yesterday.  After spending the wet morning getting the boat organised inside, cleaning the after end of the cabin sole in preparation for cutting a hatch therein and talking to one or two people, once the sun came out I started serious work on the keels.  By tea time I’d done the insides of both – and they were, especially the starboard one, much rustier than the outsides – I was covered in a fine powder consisting of two kinds of (probably highly toxic) antifouling and rust.  Good job I had a mask and gloves on.  After a brew (I did at least wash my hands first) I went over to the paint shop and ordered the rust treatment, which should be here at 9 in the morning – quite impressive, I thought.  Less impressive is the cost, but since I’m getting the paint a lot cheaper I don’t mind too much.

Bob came by, and I was able to pay him for the paint, a deal which was advantageous to us both.  Then I made a start on the hull, first the areas where the slings had been when the boat was lifted out, which were liberally provided with barnacles.  This needed a slower speed of the abrasive disc to avoid damaging the hull, but it still cut satisfyingly through the beasts.  And finally I attacked the sacrificial anode (back to full speed) which came up nice and shiny.  No need to replace that this year, although I must find out whether I also need one on the prop shaft.

Tidy up, scratch meal of pasta, ham, tomato and a sauce made from a packet of minestrone soup.  Quite palatable really.  Wash up.  And then to the shower, which revealed how utterly filthy I had become.

Achievements so far this week:

  • Engine bearer angle irons removed
  • Engine compartment more or less cleaned
  • Exhaust elbow removed from pipe and cleaned up for sale
  • All four surfaces of keels given their first and major abrading preparatory to painting
  • Sacrificial anode cleaned up
  • Cabin sole cleaned up in way of companionway, ready for cutting a hatch
  • Wood bought for replacement companionway step
  • Various items bought from boat jumble, saving £145

Plan for tomorrow:

  • Buy rust treatment
  • Buy various painting tools, abrasives and other items from Tool Station or similar
  • Get online at the library and deal with email, research tinned cable etc.
  • Sand down the hull and have another go at the keels
  • Apply rust treatment where necessary to keels
  • Finish cleaning engine bay
  • Ascertain whether electric bilge pump will fit under engine (ask engineer)
  • Take more photos of old engine (and its separately saleable parts) (ditto)

Wednesday 11th – rain till 11, then brightened up; hot & sunny p.m.

Wow.  Just looking at the above list – I’ve completed almost everything on there!

After the usual faffing around first thing (maybe I should routinely have a cup of coffee after breakfast to get me going) I began.  Bought a litre bottle of rust treatment/converter (£15+) from Automotive Paint Supplies here at the quay and set off for the library where I found that one of the electrical suppliers had come up with the goods.  After several emails and a visit to their office I eventually secured delivery for Friday.    Also an email from the light supplier saying that my order was on the way (what took them so long?). Then I toured what seemed like the whole of Southampton looking for a new abrasive disc for my disc sander – unsuccessfully – but including Tool Station where I procured rollers, trays, cloths and white spirit to make a start with the painting. 

Finally, a trip round Aldi, and back to the yard, by which time I was too hot to do very much.  Alan appeared, grouching about the pallets I’d collected and wanting my mast moved, so that occupied the next half an hour, and I eventually got started on the paintwork about teatime.  Sanded the port side of the hull but ran out of steam and decided to get on with applying some coatings.  Time will tell whether I should have spent more time on preparation, and I suspect the answer is ‘yes’.  Anyway, painted on the rust treatment and sorted out the primer.  I started brushing it on but after half an hour of excruciatingly slow progress converted to one of my new 4” rollers.  Within a further ten minutes it was done and I was cleaning the brush and ditching the gash when Martin turned up with some cider, to share mussels and cassoulet.  And biscuits.   I settled him down with an amusing book while I went off for a much-needed wash

Also talked to the engineer about the bilge pump and decided that he’d have to fit it; will have to leave the photos for the time being.

Quite a lot done today.  Must try and crack on tomorrow, as I only have three days left.

Thursday 12th – rain o/n and at first; warm and sunny later.

Four, actually.

Today was the first day I didn’t actually go off site.  However, I’d slept badly and had trouble escaping from my sleeping bag in the morning, for which I blame Martin’s cider.  Nevertheless, by 9.30 I was wielding a paint roller and had all four surfaces of the keels a rather fetching bright blue by 10.  Clearing up and feeling quite pleased with myself I stopped for coffee and promptly ran out of steam.

After coffee and a few puzzles I cleared some space and began to think about cutting a hatch in the cabin sole so I could pump out the water (now) and keep it clean and dry (in the future).  I thunk so hard that it went on till lunchtime, after which I did indeed cut the aforesaid hole. This undertaking was somewhat handicapped by not knowing the architecture of the cabin sole, but I discovered some asymmetric strengthening ribs which I managed, fortunately, to avoid, damaging.

Having exposed the cabin bilge I pumped out about 10 litres of filthy water and then fished out an assortment of rubbish, equally filthy, that had accumulated therein over the last 41 years.  I also found that the drilling of a limber hole would be complicated by the shape of the fibreglass moulding there.

After a cuppa and several of Martin’s biscuits I spent a merry couple of hours trying to clean the engine bay.  Some progress made but I don’t really have the right materials.  A long, hot and very welcome shower, a shave, change into clean clothes and then cooked myself a delicious dinner consisting of a tin of Aldi meatballs and some beans left over from last night’s cassoulet.  Yum.

Friday 13th – chilly at first, then warm and sunny.

I was awoken at what turned out to be 5 a.m. by a loud bang, followed by a succession of what sounded like firework noises.  I peered out of the window and saw a large column of smoke not far away, in the direction of the skip and my first thought was that someone had set off some flares in there.  I then realised that it was further away and remembered that there was a firework shop in that direction, just beyond the station and assumed that it had caught fire.  Before long there was the sound of sirens and, although the noise continued for some time I drifted off to sleep again.  More details here and here.

The remains of the firework shop, later that day

Later on Alan said he’d been greatly delayed on the way in, by road closures, and confirmed that it was indeed the firework shop.  He said they’d arrested a woman, and she’d been named as a Mrs Wheel.  Catherine.  He said.  Don’t blame me.

Once I’d got going I drove off in the direction of Central Bridge to pick up the cable, and discovered that the bilge pump switch had also been ordered for me.  I hadn’t intended this, but as it was a fait accompli and the price was reasonable, I accepted it.  I decided (wisely I think) to give the local library a miss as it’s just round the corner from the firework shop and went to the one in Portswood instead, to do some research about Centaur floor architecture and limber holes.  After a trip to the excellent old-fashioned hardware shop to buy some Gunk to clean the engine bay it was back for lunch.

The whole afternoon was spent brushing that into all the nooks and crannies (as well as the big surfaces) of the engine bay, washing it out, drying it and then spraying brake & clutch cleaner on to remove the last of the grease. Under the new little hatch as well.  The wood of the sandwich construction) around that is still very wet, and will take some weeks to dry thoroughly.

A good wash, do the washing up and write up this log while listening to The News Quiz and The Archers and I’m now off for a walk on this sunny (but breezy) evening, and to reward myself for a good day’s work with a meal out.  And I found an angle grinder in the skip.  Whether it works remain to be seen.

 Saturday 14th – sunny but breezy and only just warm.

The aftermath

It doesn’t.  Unsurprisingly.   Plugging in and switching on results in an alarming hum, presumably from a seized motor.  However, it’s cost me nothing, so I shall take it home and see it I can get it fixed.[1]

A pleasant hour or so in the Bitterne Balti last night, and a look at the remains of the fireworks shop as I passed.  It and the shops either side are completely gutted.  As, no doubt, are their owners.

Today: detailed cleaning of the corners of the engine bay, even under the stern tube and gland and then painted same with Danboline, purpose built for the job.  Then some lunch, change and walked across the bridge (observing the rowing regatta under way) to Force 4 at Shamrock Quay.  There I bought a tube of Marine Filler at an exorbitant price, and a copy of the estimable Tom Cunliffe’s equally estimable Channel Pilot at an even more exorbitant price.  However, it’s a tome that no Channel sailor should be without and my aged mater has been pestering me to get it or similar for a long overdue birthday and Christmas present.

The crack between the engine and main bilges – and until I drilled the limber hole, the only drainage route from the main bilge

Back on board and cleaned out the crack that needs repairing; also grasped the nettle and drilled a limber hole.  No disasters, the boat didn’t fall apart and the moulding was only a few millimetres thick.  Unfortunately it’s proved very difficult to extend it down to the hull and the crevice underneath will be a horrible dirt trap.  What I need is a Dremel or similar to grind out the hole.  Billy has offered to lend me his.  He’s also moved his boat to the berth opposite mine on M pontoon for economic reasons, but is worried what will happen to his bilge plates when the tide goes out.  Which it’s doing now.

Then a walk into Bitterne for fish & chips, and back. It’s about a mile.  And very good they were, too. And I ate them at the table, and they gave me a mug of tea as well.

My new solar-powered anchor light is pathetic.  The first night, on half-power, it lasted all night, but only bright enough for background lighting.  Last night, and tonight, despite charging in bright sunshine all day, it lasted only 20 minutes on the bright setting.  Unless it pulls up its socks, it’s going back.

Sunday 15th – sunny but not over-warm

…in fact it was cold enough to wake me up overnight, and cause me to add a blanket to my normally snug sleeping bag.

Billy’s boat seems unharmed by drying out overnight.  His Dremel (actually a Black & Decker copy) did the job admirably and I also used it to widen and key the crack, ready for filling.  Once the filler had hardened and I’d sanded it down and cleaned up, I applied a second coat of Danboline: the engine bay is now gleaming white.

Line Callout 2: Fuel filter
The gleaming white engine bay

And that was it. I’d had enough, and couldn’t motivate myself to do any more.  Apart from an inconclusive discussion with Derek (who’s working on his motor cruiser nearby) about the wires in my mast that was the sum of my work today.  Still, at least that’s done.  I did chat with Amanda about the work she’s doing on her boat, as we watched a sports boat driver ruining his engine by sucking up muddy water.   I’m hopeful that she’ll want a sailing lesson from me before my boat’s ready.  Not, I suspect, unlikely.

Quite a lot of reading of the Pilot though, and a few puzzles.  Eventually, while listening to Pick of the Week and The Archers I sorted out the boat, in particular the tools I needed to take home to make tables, and then loaded the car.  So all I have to do in the morning is sling in my own kit, empty the after half of the boat into the fo’c’sle – and talk to the engineer!

Dinner was a highly nutritious tin of ravioli supplemented with a few little tomatoes and some bits of cheese.  Home cooking soon.

Monday 16th – warm & sunny

Eventually hauled myself out of bed and finished loading the car.  Finally managed to pin down Tom and discussed fitting the engine, bilge pump, ancillaries and moving the batteries to the port side.  That makes sense, as all the electronics are there already, and the starter and alternator are on that side of the new engine.  If he can get them both into the same locker (and this should be possible) it will actually create a bit more storage space – at least until I use up the freed space on the other side to fit the calorifier.  He says he’ll start this week.  I think I’ll send him an email emphasising the need for celerity.

Didn’t get away till about 10 in the end, but still made it to Mum’s friend near Guildford in time.

[1] I couldn’t

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