I bought this boat from the original builder and owner who now lives ‘down under’. She has sat almost untouched for the last 12 years,and he has continued to pay the yard fees for all of that time! Keith,the builder,spent 7 years in 1970’s building her,and despite the attempts of certain car manufacturers of the time to prove differently,the steel was of good quality back then!
The construction was inspired by the exploits of a certain Dr David Lewis,the first man to circumnavigate Antarctica in his boat,Ice Bird.
Prior to that he competed in the first solo Transatlantic race in 1960.
Other competitors included Sir Francis Chichester(who came first) and ‘Blondie’ Hasler. Lewis finished third,despite breaking his mast not long after the start.
Later he became the first to circumnavigate the globe in a catamaran.
There is lot more about his life and adventures online,well worth a read.
As already mentioned,my boat was inspired by ‘ice bird’ and is based upon the design of it. Lewis bought ‘ice bird’ second-hand in Australia,where she was designed by a Dick Taylor. The best information I’ve managed to find describes her as a Sydney Harbour sloop.. She now resides in the Powerhouse Museum.
My boat isn’t, nor was ever meant to be, an exact copy or replica of ‘ice bird’ but was one man’s own interpretation of the design.
I hope to meet Keith later in the year and I hope he’s pleased with the care and effort I’m putting into ‘his’ boat. I’m sure he’ll have a lot to tell me,and I believe he’s got some old photos of her construction and the times he sailed her.
One change I’ve made is her name,originally she was ‘Devonian Explorer’, soon to be Vagabond 2. Everybody that knows me thought that Vagabond was a brilliant name for a boat I owned,(not sure what they’re trying to say!)and my daughter had some vinyls made for my birthday last year which didn’t get used on the original Vagabond, so…….
After my failure to get any painting done on the Thursday and Good Friday, the weather turned on Saturday so I was confined to the interior jobs. Out with the saw and the tongue and groove then!
Another 2 half bulkheads sorted and galley worktop trial fitted. Hardest part of all is getting everything true and level, lots of measuring and transferring measurements from parts of the boat that should be plumb/level…..
Time will tell if I’ve got it right or not.
Update: The micro wood burner I installed has been a godsend, fuelled with scrap wood,its done a good job of taking the chill off and keeping condensation at bay. But keeping it going any length of time can be a chore. I tried coal and it didn’t really make much difference.
Then a ‘eureka’ moment! I had a disposable BBQ kicking around. I used the charcoal from that in the stove,what a difference! Once alight,you can fill it to flue level,shut the air intake to just a crack and it burns nicely,slowly, and a lot lot hotter. At one point the body of the stove was glowing in the dark!
Now the bulkhead is installed between the stove area and the galley,I’m going to fit a couple of 12v computer fans to draw the warm air from around the stove into the main cabin. Will also re-mount the stove nearer the cabin sole so more flue length is inside the boat. That should also increase the heat output. All in time for spring,hey-ho!
Update no 2: The cheap McAllister angle grinder from B and Q is a good value bit of kit. It has taken all the use and abuse i can throw at it without a murmur of complaint. Seems to be £20 well spent.
As usual,the weather put paid to my plans for my boat time this weekend.
On Thursday I got a lift down to the boatyard with my eldest sister,I had a car boot full of accumulated swag from work to take down with me,so that was that sorted. By the time I’d given her the guided tour and gone for a cuppa with her,it was lunchtime.
In the afternoon,I walked to the local ‘wickes’ and picked up another batch of tongue and groove cladding. I’d heard weather was going to be iffy so wanted to make sure I had the necessary materials to hand if the forecast was right and we got rain. Forward planning……
Friday was dry and sunny,so I thought I’d crack on with trying to get the deck ready for paint.Started off quite well,stripping remaining paint and fibreglass from around the anchor locker and Samson post. Found a few small holes,but they were drilled,not rust,so I decided best course of action would be to fit nuts,washers and bolts to seal them. I might find out what they’re for at some point.
Onto the foredeck proper,out with the grinder-mounted wire brush to remove any last bits of paint and to get rid of any loose, flaking rust. Discovered a few more holes and a few places where the steel is very heavily pitted. Originally,I had thought I would smooth the pitted areas with a bit of filler,but on reflection,I think it wisest to cut them out and let in fresh steel. I’ve already accepted the fact that the boat won’t be afloat this year,so for the sake of an extra day or two welding,I might as well get it right.
Which brings me nicely to my next dilemma!
The forward hatch is a mess. It’s very heavy,the perspex is shot and there’s a fair bit of rot around the framework attached to the boat. Around the aperture is an outward facing flange and most of the rot is that area.Impossible to get to without removing the whole framework.
So,after much contemplation(and tea!) I have decided I have 3 options.
1: Strip it all out and redesign/rebuild it.
2: Remove it totally,plate it over,and try and find a suitable used purpose built hatch.(this is probably the favourite option at the moment) or
3: In a moment of madness, I have considered rebuilding that whole section. Follow the line of the cabin roof and sides and square off the front of it. This would vastly improve headroom in the v- berth area and a portlight could be installed in the vertical( or nearly so) front section.
A lot of work!
So, there we have it, no painting! In next post,I’ll show what I did instead!
Being at the mercy of public transport for nearly a year has taken its toll, I’ve bought myself some wheels. Only 2 as opposed to 4 though. I couldn’t really justify the expense, or even afford to run a car, but I just had to be more independent again.
So, I’ve bought myself a 125cc scoot
er! Economically it makes good sense, it should save me about a tenner a week(I currently spend £30/week on bus fares) but far more importantly, it will save me a lot of time. It’s a 2 hour bus journey to the boat, I hope to be able to halve that.And with lighter evenings on the way, a midweek trip down there becomes feasible.
If I choose I can stay over Sunday night and still get to work on time Monday morning, that’s currently impossible.
The bike itself is nearly 5 years old, but was in storage unused for most of that time, its only got 400 km on the clock and is very tidy(never been dropped!). Its a Chinese import, which I said I’d never buy, but I was swayed by the condition, mileage and PRICE! I particularly wanted a Honda, but everything available in my price range was rough/battered/thrashed. The engine is a clone of a Honda one…….
So, after a break of over 30 years, I’ll be a bike rider again. I know, it’s a scooter, I was always more of a rocker(still am!) than a mod back in the day, but I didn’t particularly want to proclaim ‘ mid-life crisis’ by having a sports bike.
Now, where’s my parka……….
Finally,spring seems to be starting to make an appearance,and most welcome it is too!
Just had the most productive weekend on the boat for quite a while,amazing how a bit of sunshine and warmth can motivate you.
The past month saw very little progress, I had a week in Wales in middle of February,so lost that weekend. The following weekend,after getting to the boat Friday evening,raring to go,I woke up on the Saturday morning in absolute agony with a bad neck so came home early. Took 4 days and diclofenac to shift that! And the last 2 weekends have been cold and damp and although I still spent them aboard, not a lot was achieved! Hugging the wood burner and drinking tea mostly…….
This weekend though was a whole new ballgame! I confess,the lack of progress recently had made me start to question whether I had bitten off more than I could chew, and the odd doubt had crept in. I gave myself a stern talking-to more than once.
I woke up bright and early Saturday though to early spring sunshine and my spirits soared,it was a lovely day.
The morning and a lot of the afternoon was spent removing any remaining paint from the port side deck, cabin side and half the coachroof. Hot air gun and a selection of scrapers did the trick.
Later in the day, plates were cut to size for the necessary repairs and the areas of rust cut out ready for welding, which was done Sunday morning. To date I’ve used a 1m x 300mm sheet of steel, another the same should take care of all the remaining deck and coachroof welding. The port side is close to being ready for paint, along with the foredeck. A few minor plates left to weld. I’ve a feeling the starboard side should be quicker, there doesn’t seem to be as many holes, but don’t quote me on that one! The more welding i get done, the quicker and neater it becomes, by the time i get to doing the few areas of the hull that need sorting, I’ll be almost proficient!
Hopefully, Easter weekend will see some paint going on, I’ve got 6 days off so we must get a day or two of painting weather,surely?
I’ve achieved over 6000 views, thank you all!
I was intending to carry on with the deck welding last weekend,but things didn’t go to plan. I was armed with a shiny new angle grinder, I succumbed to poverty and bought a MacAllister from b and q. £20, with a 2 year guarantee. 750w instead of the 500w predecessor. Gotta be better right? We’ll see. Needless to say,the receipt is carefully tucked away somewhere safe. Ha! Until I need it.
So there I was,armed and dangerous. But….
For best part of 3 weeks I had been suffering badly with my left eye. Constantly sore,watering and very sensitive to light.And a dull headache that refused to go away. At first I thought I had something in it and was bathing it twice a day with Optrex which brought temporary relief. I couldn’t watch TV for longer than about 10 minutes before the discomfort got too much. Suggestions were made at work that I had ‘arc-eye’ but it had begun to play up prior to doing any welding. My daughter thought it to be conjunctivitis so an appointment was made to see my GP. He examined my eyes and declared them free of infection or foreign objects,and suggested a trip to the opticians, and in particular,a test for glaucoma! Shit,cue panic mode! In common with a lot of people,going blind is my biggest fear. I had visions of an eye patch,and doing a Nelson,’ ships?I see no ships’
The other possible cause was given as temporal arteritis,an inflammation of the arteries leading to the eyes and brain( yes,I googled it!) and that was just as scary!
Anyway,couldn’t get an opticians appointment until last Sunday,so I thought it prudent to avoid welding until after I knew what was going on. After a thorough check-up, I was given the welcome news that I didn’t show any signs of glaucoma and that my problems were purely my eyes telling me that they needed help. I’ve been using ‘off the shelf’ reading glasses for a few years but hadn’t realised my distance vision was quite so bad. So,soon to be a full time four-eyes!
So,unusually,I didn’t sleep on the boat last weekend,got the crack of dawn bus down there and came back on the last bus the same day.
Spent most of the morning ‘pottering’ and resisting the almost overwhelming urge to get the welder out! And tea drinking,of course.
The afternoon was spent with cardboard templates and recycled 18mm plywood, which will eventually form part of the new galley area.
Not an entirely wasted weekend then,but not what I envisaged getting done. Sorry, no photos this time around.
And on Sunday,I managed to get a replacement angle grinder out of Argos. I found an email receipt for one of them. I had bought it via ebay,from Argos and collected in store. Yay,a minor result, although I don’t suppose it will last very long! Out of interest, they no longer do the ‘challenge’ range,the new one is packaged as ‘Argos simple value’ or something similar. Perhaps ‘ challenge’ got a bad press?
For a change this weekend, I didn’t go to the boatyard until Saturday morning. Got a soaking at work in the rain Friday and just had to go home and dry out!
So,Saturday morning was mild and dry,time to crack on with the welding,yay,real progress.
Got the first section(640mmx100mm) cut out and a nice new piece of shiny mild steel plate cut to size.
Cut the rusty piece out with a Black and Decker Scorpion saw,a bit more neighbour friendly than the angle grinder(noise,and flying sparks) and its a neater cut. The Scorpion was a Gumtree bargain at £10 and I highly recommend it. Steel blades a couple of quid on eBay.
Time to weld! Out with Sip Wizarc 140 (ebay £15)and away we go. All my previous(lots) welding has been with mig and 15+ years ago,so I was slightly apprehensive (and rusty!) but after watching a few you tube videos on the subject,I was pretty sure I could get good results.
I only bought the arc welder in the knowledge that I wouldn’t be using it on
anything less than 2mm steel,and mostly thicker.A few adjustments to the amps and I was laying down nice neat welds with good penetration,as per photo. Excuse the quality of the photo,bit dark and not an easy place to get to.
Time to tidy up with the grinder. This was bought new,I actually bought 2,to cut down on disc swapping. But, I bought cheap.£15 each from Argos. Shit.waste of money. Bearing in mind I only got the boat in August,they were less than 6 months old. They’ve not done much work,mostly wire brushing and flap wheels. First one died a fortnight ago,and the second one died 3/4 of the way through cleaning up the first welded plate. And guess who can’t find the receipts?
All my of my other power tools have been bought second hand,but reasonable brands. Two new ‘challenge’ grinders die rapidly.
So,that was the end of that welding session! Other than the obvious( Bosch,makita,dewalt etc) can anyone recommend a good reasonable priced grinder? By the way,it was the motors that burned out on both the others.
Obviously, I’m on a restrictive budget with this project,economies have to made where possible,but I certainly won’t entertain any of the ‘challenge’ tools again! Rubbish.
Another,better,pic of new cabin doors. Note galvanised fittings,while stainless would be nice,and longer lasting,I couldn’t justify the price. And there’s no stainless fittings elsewhere,so they’d look out of place.
Belated Happy New Year to you all,here’s to a year of plenty of boat time and if we’re really lucky,some good sailing too!
The posts have been a bit thin on the ground of late,I sort of made a New Years resolution to post at least once a week, but like all good resolutions,it didn’t last long. I will try harder,honestly;)
Although I’ve been spending every weekend on board,there hasn’t really been a great deal to write about.
I seem to have got overwhelmed with rubbish! Where I’ve been stripping most of interior out,I’ve fallen into the habit of compulsive hoarders and have been loathe to throw anything away,in case it might”come in handy”,so whatever I try to do involves moving stuff around the boat to make room to work. This normally involves piling it all on my berth,and then come bedtime,having to move it all again. Very time consuming and bloody frustrating.
So last weekend I spent a morning carrying bits of plywood (some rotten,some possibly salvageable) and 4 big sheets of galvanised tin down the ladder and under the boat where I’ve sheeted it over. The sheets of galvanised tin,by the way,were the sides of the heads and hanging locker. They were pop-riveted to the internal framework and covered over with lovely brown cork tiles. Nice.
What was the starboard hanging locker is now the heads,a false floor has been installed,and I’ve made a start panelling it out with tongue and groove.
The original port heads is hopefully to be transformed into a shower space, I think I can just squeeze one in.Currently plucking up courage to cut a shower tray to fit. Hot water will be supplied via a wall mounted tankless LPG boiler unit,the waste will drain into a custom made tank that will fit in the bilge. Within the tank will be an auto bilge pump to get rid of the water as level rises. That’s the theory anyway.
New cabin doors have been made and fitted, just a little finishing off and painting required.
Hoping to make a proper start on welding the holes in deck this weekend,but of course that all depends on the weather.
I’m sort of hoping to launch by the end of May,very optimistic I know!
I’m not expecting her to be finished by then(far from it!) but hopefully watertight,able to move under her own power and habitable enough to move on board. That is the goal,to live aboard!
The micro wood burner mentioned in my last post is now in place and producing heat. Best £60 i ever spent!
In the true tradition of make do and mend, I didn’t even need to buy a flue pipe, the old steel pipes from the sea toilet are the perfect size,a bit of work cutting and shutting and it was good to go.
I built a raised plinth for it to sit on from 19mm ply, this will be tiled at some point and when I reinstate the panelling on the bulkhead I will need to fit something to protect it from the heat.
So, fully armed with co alarm, fire extinguishers and the local emergency services on speed-dial, it was time to test it.
Couple of firelighters, bit of kindling, and it was alight.
As it heated up there was a bit of smoke and smell from burning paint etc but that soon cleared and it got HOT!
Bearing in mind, there is no insulation at the moment, very little internal panelling and a number of holes still awaiting my attention with the welder, the results were incredible. At one point I had a digital thermometer reading of 32c a metre from the stove,and 22c at the furthest point away. Yes, it was a mild day, about 10c, but I had the doors open!
At the moment I’m only burning scrap wood(plenty of that on board!), if it gets really cold i will try some coal.
The only downside is due to the tiny size of the stove, you need to keep on top of keeping it fuelled. I’m hoping coal will burn a bit slower,and that by leaving it just ‘ticking over’ it may burn all night
Most importantly, it will boil a kettle in an emergency!
I may try bacon and eggs on it next weekend, and with Christmas coming, chestnuts could well be on the agenda.
I’ve also started to panel the bulkheads. Wickes tongue and groove cladding is a cost effective and fairly straightforward solution.
The ‘stepped out’ section serves 2 purposes, it conceals an ugly bit of steel bracing, and will also house the stereo speakers. I will also ‘borrow’ some of the space behind to create a small shelf.
A lot of thought has gone into utilising all available space in the best ways possible. Eventually, the boat could be my home, so i want it to be as comfortable and practical as possible, but without compromising what it is was made for- sailing.