Page published 19 January 2021
11 October 2010
It was a surprisingly warm and sunny day as I sat at my computer this morning. I emailed a casual enquiry to Ian (my crew in the 2009 Three Rivers Race ) to see when he might be able to assist in getting Imagination home. In exchange for this boating help, I keep offering to assist with the digging of his allotment, but it seems to be turning into a one sided arrangement - with all the benefit going to me!
It wasn't long before I got an "I'm free" call. We arranged that we'd each have an early lunch and then he'd come over. I heated a bowl of soup and cut a hunk of bread which I ate before going out to get my trailer ready.
By the time Ian arrived all was ready and just seven minutes later we were at the boat. Perhaps foolishly, I hadn't brought my outboard, ladder or shorts. However, as it is less than fifty yards from my mooring to the slipway and the conditions were near calm in the sheltered backwaters behind the pub, I planned to paddle the boat there. The lack of ladder was more of a worry but, when it came to it, was no problem, and the water level was so high that not only did I not need shorts, I didn't even need to take my shoes and socks off.
I mounted the rudder and tiller, securing them with a bungee cord, so that the rudder could be off-set from dead ahead, to counter-act my paddling, then grabbed a paddle from the cabin and set off while Ian walked round the moorings to reach the slipway.
Recovering Imagination at Hickling Parish Staithe
The whole process was handled just as described on the SeaHawk site. The water level was an inch or two higher than the last time I took her out of the water, and the boat slipped onto the trailer with ease, as it didn't need to be anywhere near as far down the ramp as seen in the photographs on the site, copied here.
There was one drama. In trying to pull the boat hard into the rubber mounts by the winch, I tried too hard. The strap parted. There were a few anxious moments while Ian tied a temporary line from the bows to the trailer, and we worked out how rotten the strap was. We decided that it was only the last few inches that were mildewed and suspect, so we simply tied the remaining end directly to the mooring eye on the bows.
There was more one thing that I realised, once we had the boat on the trailer. I need to add to the existing text on the SeaHawk site that one should lift the keel and secure it, with the pin through the hole in its tip, before starting the whole manoeuvre. In my case the keel lifted without problem, but the strop got bunched up and pinched in the gap as the tip of the keel forced the handle out of its socket in the last couple of inches.
With the boat now clear of the water, it was time to lower the mast and secure it for travelling. I found it easy enough to climb over the bows, so the worry about the lack of ladder proved unfounded. I feel I have some excuse. My trailer is much taller than the conventional one and my keel lies a full ten inches further off the ground than on a typical SeaHawk trailer. The only other drama was the discovery that the tabernacle bolt was extremely loose and I didn't need the spanners that I asked Ian to pass me. The nut just span between my fingers.
Imagination at at home near Stalham
Then it was back home again. I still need to strip the boat of all its fittings. I'm hoping that most will be easy to remove. Inevitably, there will be some bolts that will start to spin as I turn the nuts and I won't be able to reach to both sides to hold the bolt still, but Ian says he is available later in the week and my brother is due to come and stay at the weekend, so I am hoping that Imagination won't stay outside the house, more honestly, outside my neighbour's house, too long. Then it will be off to the yard and the sanding will begin...
15 October 2010
Why is it that life does sometimes get in the way of boating? Tuesday seemed to tie me up in other things, However, on Wednesday I managed to get started on the business of stripping of all the bits and pieces attached to Imagination.
There were some very light showers on both Wednesday and Thursday. Being a bit of a wimp, I retired indoors during these and got on with other stuff. However, by Thursday evening the foredeck and cabin were clear of all fittings other than the solar panel. One worry had been whether I could do the job single handed. However, it turned out the the Evo-Stik Plumbers Mait that I had used to seal all the fittings managed to keep the bolts from turning so I was able to remove all the nuts with ease.
Imagination with the foredeck and cabin cleared of fittings
My next worry is how to keep the inside of the boat dry once I remove the cockpit lockers. These must come out next, to gain access to the nuts securing the guard rails, mooring cleats, motor bracket and the rest. It had me wondering whether I need some kind of tarpaulin to drape over the boat once I'd got to the point when I needed to remove the cockpit lockers.
The Galley and forward cabin lockers in Imagination
A lack of sealing round the cockpit lockers is the cause of many a complaint about water getting into a SeaHawk. Rain collects from all over the boat makes its way to the smallest holes round the lockers. Once they're removed goodness knows how much will find its way in. As a minimum the berth cushions will need to come out. Last time I did this kind of strip down, in 2005, I had a farmer's barn to put the boat, and it only came out of the barn when it was dry.
One thing I had become aware of this year, was that Imagination's bows had been lying much lower in the water. I figured this had happened slowly over the last couple of years. Originally, the cabin had been bare forward of the bulkheads. I built the first part of the galley in 2008 and added further shelving in 2009. It means I will have to reassess the measurements I give for the waterline on the SeaHawk site. The photo shows how aft of the mid-point the waterline remains a couple of inches below the anti-fouling, but forward of this the water line creeps higher and brown staining appears on the white paint.
Imagination's Waterline at the End of 2009
Visitors, this weekend may mean another possible hold up with the job of getting the boat ready for the great paint strip. We will have to see what will happens...
18 October 2010
So the weekend came - so did my brother - and went - so did he, and now it's back to work on the boat.
To be fair, Mike did offer to help. He even came with some working clothes, but I turned him down, saying that it really should be a one man job, unless I have trouble with a bolt starting to spin as I loosened its nut, and that on the basis of the first part of the job, that was unlikely to happen.
The cockpit ready to be cleared
I didn't managed to get round starting work till after lunch and then had a chat with my neighbour who came up with two more ideas for ways and places to store my boat over the winter.
Then it was on with getting as much of the cockpit cleared as I could. So the first thing I did was clear out the cabin. Why? Well, my plan was to take out the cockpit lockers so I could gain access to the nuts holding most of the fittings to the boat. But if you do that and it rains the boat is going to fill up with water.
Out came not just the obvious things likely to succumb to water damage, such as the cushions and loo rolls, but everything, from cooking utentials, to crockery and cutlery. It was all dispersed around the house and garage.
Then I took out one of the lockers, and then promptly ignored the nuts that I now had access to and went into the cabin to release the forward guard rail anchorage and fairlead on the gunwale. I worked backwards down the port side of the boat. I then did the same down the starboard side.
All went reasonably well. I did come across one bent bolt and on another the head sheared off, but the thing I found most annoying was trying to keep hold of the washers. If the washer comes away with the nut, it is easy enough. However, most of the time the washers have embedded themselves into the surface of the GRP. Then, when you come to prize it out, if you don't manage to grab it, it bounces all over the bilges under the cockpit sole and can end up almost anywhere.
With a lamp strapped to my head, I lower my now upturned head into the locker aperture and peer into the gap under the cockpit sole. The lamp proves to be of extremely limited value. With my head upside down my varifocals begin to drop off my nose, if you can call it that, and rise towards my forehead making everything blurred. In the end I recover all bar one of the washers that I lose - a better result than last time when several hit the gravel, not to be recovered.
It begins to get gloomy so I pack up. Both lockers, guard rails and fairleads are now removed, as are the small straps that secure the blocks used by the main sheet, the main mooring cleats and the rudder pintles. Now all that is left to remove is the motor bracket and stern navigation light. I shan't remove the various bits that hold the hatches together and to the boat until Imagination is at the yard where the paint is to be sanded away and the surface prepared for the repaint.
After the day's work
I think I've decided it will be epoxied - but you never know. Keep reading...
22 October 2010
The final two items, the motor bracket and stern navigation light, have now been removed. Yes, I know that it's taken a couple of days longer than I planned but, as ever, life got in the way.
Part of that life was a visit from two fellow SeaHawk owners. They both moor their craft at Hickling. Amongst other things we discussed were the benefits of genoas on a Broads-based boat. In short, we were unanimous in concluding they have none at all!
One told me how he had bought some new sails. When he called at Jeckells sail loft, Chris Jeckells told him he had recently designed a "River Jib" for a SeaHawk. This had the longest possible luff, much like the standard genoa, but the foot was short, so it swung easily in front of the mast. Unfortunately, there are no photographs available yet to add to the SeaHawk site, but I was promised some measurements.
I have also been to visit the yard where I plan to keep the boat when start the rubbing down of the paintwork, but haven't yet finalised arrangements. Hopefully, that will get done over the weekend and the the boat towed to the yard early next week. Then we'll really see how much determination I show in trying to get the job done quickly and so keeping the price of storage as low as possible.
One thing I have decided, is that the boat will be all white and it will be finished in a two-pack paint. What's not decided is whether I do it myself or let the experts do it.
More news next week...
27 October 2010
We'd been warned! The power went off today from just after 9:00 till just after 17:00. They were laying a new cable a few hundred yards along the road. It meant I hadn't got an excuse to sit in front of the computer.
Finally, at the boatyard!
The pleasant weather, a mild 14 degrees, meant I felt encouraged to get out of the house. I used it as an opportunity to store neatly all the stuff from Imagination in the roof of the garage and get the boat down to the yard where she'll stay till the repaint is complete.
Now I have my garage back and the car won't have to sit outside.
6 November 2010
When getting Imagination out of the water and onto the trailer, back on 11 October, I reported that:
In trying to pull the boat hard into the rubber mounts by the winch, I tried too hard. The strap parted. There were a few anxious moments while Ian tied a temporary line from the bows to the trailer, and we worked out how rotten the strap was. We decided that it was only the last few inches that were mildewed and suspect, so we simply tied the remaining end directly to the mooring eye on the bows.
Looking at a photograph taken as Imagination was about to be towed from home to her mooring on 15 April 2009, I can see that there were already signs of mildew in the webbing.
Trailer Winch in April 2009
It is hardly surprising, therefore, that two summers on, with no special measures taken to protect the strap from the sun, the UV rays should have got to it and that it should have parted this year.
The Webbing Parted
Earlier in the week I had shown the parted webbing to a man in a local shoe repair bar and explained the job in hand. I pointed out where the strap was from and the loads it had to bear. He confirmed that he would be able to do the job.
Yesterday, I took him the strap, handing over the hook, already threaded onto the strap, neatly folded back so the length exactly matched the original. I also gave him the remains of the original end, as a model for the stitching that he was to use and left him to it.
The Strap Repaired
What I picked up from him a little later was not what I expected. He'd decided to make a double loop of the webbing passing it through the hook a second time, and the loose end of the webbing was now folded in on itself a couple of times. Not only that, the thread used looks about a third of the gauge of the original. It also looks as if the tension of the thread has not been adjusted correctly and the stitching looks a little uneven.
I am not sure whether I should trust this repair. I guess I'll have to put it back on the trailer and give it a test! Of course, I could complain that the job hasn't been done according to specification, but it's not really worth the hassle for the £1 charged for the job.
There's no more messing about to be done. From now on I really must get my sander to the boat and start getting the old paint off her. Before I can start I still have to buy the required round pin plug, the kind used for a mains hook-up on a caravan site. Then the real work starts. But will it? Next week I'll be in Yorkshire and the boat will left alone again.
25 November 2010
In two days time it will be a month since Imagination was moved to her winter storage area. The plan had been to start sanding her almost straight away. However, all kinds of things got in the way, including what ended up as three trips to Yorkshire.
I no longer have the excuse that I don't have all the materials I need. The connector for the electric hook-up was bought almost a couple of weeks ago, though that remains untested. I've also bought some cheap masks and goggles, as well as a small supply of sanding materials - more for a little experimentation than anything else. I'm sure I'll find some more excuses for not starting before I do.
One might be that we had the first snow flurries of winter this morning, another that I've showing signs of developing a cold. And then there's my brother, due to come and visit this weekend. However, he did volunteer to spend some time working on the boat on Saturday morning, so you never know...