Sunday, December 10, 2017

_______________________ A WHITE CHRISTMAS ? _______________________

Our daughter sent us this photograph today from Cambridge England. This view is so familiar to us (minus the snow) as we looked out every morning onto it during our recent two month sojourn there. Now it looks like the UK may be in for a white Christmas. Whatever the weather, one thing I know is that England has central heating and double glazing sussed! Any sortie outside to make snowballs and snowmen will be greeted on return with ample warmth and good cheer.

For some reason this photograph reminded me of a story written by the late Maurice Griffiths, yacht designer and long time editor of the UK magazine 'Yachting Monthly'. He had harboured for a number of years an ambition to spend Christmas day on board his small cruising yacht, which he did; in conditions not dissimilar to the above photograph. I must dig out the story - I can't remember whether or not he rowed out to his boat or simply walked across the ice - yikes!!

Monday, December 4, 2017

________________________ BLACK PAINT ___________________________

Today I painted my little cruising dinghy black. This coat is the first of two. It is 'two pot' paint (i.e. epoxy paint and hardener) and I painted it on with a high quality bristle brush. Despite this brushing strategy I have ended up with a few runs in the paint (I blame gravity). So instead of painting 'wet on wet' (within the three day cure time), I am going to let this coat go off until it is fully cured, then sand and apply the second coat with a roller. I am not after a perfect finish but I don't like runs in the paint.

The hull colour black in conjunction with a grey interior and a 'tan-bark' coloured sail is a traditional combination of colours. I have an old tan sail that I can cut up and use for the sail.

The photo (above) shows the rig I am hoping to make. It's a handy little lugsail outfit that when disassembled will lie flat inside the dinghy. I found this photo on the 'Bursledon Blog' site - Thanks Max.

The other job that occupied my time was drilling and fitting the new self bailers to 'Slipstream'. To get good access to both sides of the hull I had to lean the boat on her side vertically. All that is required now is a couple of coats of 'Everdure' preservative around the oblong holes in the bottom of the boat and I will fit the new venturi self bailers. I will then be able to join the Tuesday night racing series - something I have missed while being overseas for a couple of months.

My good mate and fellow Zephyr skipper Bernie came around today to see what I was up to and offered to machine up some new cedar floor battens and cockpit trim which will then tick the outstanding issues on 'Slipstreams' measurement certificate; leaving no obstacles in my way come registration and measuring day in February 2018 at the Zephyr Nationals at Worser Bay Wellington. The 'things to do' list continues to sort itself out in a timely manner.

Friday, November 24, 2017

__________________________ BACK TO JOY ___________________________

I was going to call this blog post 'BACK TO WORK' but as the retirement projects I undertake are a great joy ......  then 'BACK TO JOY' it is.

Despite the fact that spending time in one of my favourite countries was an interesting and engaging time, as we returned from eight weeks of late autumn and approaching winter in the UK I could feel and almost hear the promise of a great New Zealand summer as the plane landed.

One of the first jobs I undertook was to give three coats of anti-fouling paint to 'Mariners' little work horse dinghy. This small six footer is permanently tethered to a pontoon and gets a lot of hard knocks and in the past has not had the protection of any bottom paint. With a bit of a scrub every couple of months the dinghy should stay barnacle free until the next round of painting.

The second job I am tackling is replacing the two 'Supersucker' brand self bailers / venturis. These two little beasts have been a nightmare and have leaked copious quantities of water into my Zephyr 'Slipstream' ever since I purchased the boat. I have two new Anderson self bailers on order. The good news is that the new bailers will fit exactly into the holes exited by the old bailers without any modifications. I will be pleased when they are fitted as staring at a couple of oblong holes in the bottom of my boat is a little bit counter intuitive and unnerving.

The third job is to paint 'Mariners' old 8 foot work horse tender that I converted into a traditional sailing dinghy a while ago. This conversion has been one of a few jobs that went on hold when I was dealing to 'Mariners' diesel engine. The colour I have chosen for the hull is 'Pirate Black'.

'Mariner' herself is pretty much in sailable condition although there are a bevy of peripheral reconditioning issues to deal with - bilge pumps, compass, stove being the main ones.

With a very sailable Northland summer on the way, the Zephyr Nationals early next year and my desire to get the traditional 8 footer up and sailing, there is plenty to be going on with.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

_____________________ STICKING TO YOUR KNITTING __________________

The idiom "Stick to your knitting" means to concentrate on what you are good at and familiar with rather than get involved with things you know absolutely nothing about. I have to say this advice is not something that I intuitively follow with the result that I sometimes get involved with things I am not familiar with and always have strong opinions about things I often know absolutely nothing about. Such is life, and I can tell by the sage like nodding of various shipmates heads as they read this that my approach rings a bell in that great book of ubiquitous human behaviour.
Anyway shipmates, recently while in the UK awaiting the birth of our second grand child I happily fulfilled the request of our daughter to use up a couple of large skeins of wool she had on hand and knitted a blanket for the wee sailor who was about to be born.
 Little Salem (above) cooed his approval as he tried out his new blanket.

I have now knitted three articles of clothing. A scarf in the 1960s (When my mother taught me how to do those rudimentary purls and plains - A woollen jersey in the 1990s (yes really, and a pretty good job I did of it too he said modestly) - and now this triumph of large fat knitting needles and chunky wool in 2017. 

With an average interval between knits of about thirty years I will probably be ready to knit something again in 2047 when I will be 96 years old - I can't wait, it's interesting what you can achieve when once begun, you stick to your knitting.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

________________________ A GREAT BLESSING ______________________

Salem John Elliot Hawkins was born in Cambridge UK on the 13th of October 2017. 

All new life is special and in Salems' case this is especially so because the road to his arrival has been a six year journey. His arrival was not without drama as he spent the first six days of his life in intensive care. But all is now well. He is the apple of his parents eyes, a wonder and a great joy. He is all this too for his grandparents who add the observation that: " There's only one thing better than having a grandson and that is, now, having two of them! "

The name Salem means; Peace, Wholeness and Completion. Salem is also reputed to be the original name for Jerusalem - JeruSALEM. His arrival has certainly encapsulated this meaning for all involved. Salems' grandparents will return to NZ feeling ... well.... Blessed!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

________________________ SPACESHIP EARTH ________________________

Whenever I see photographs from space that show the curvature of the earth I am reminded again of two things. First that we live on a giant spaceship that is thundering around the sun at 30 kilometers per second, or 67,000 miles per hour and second; how fragile it all looks. We really do need to look after our only home - spaceship earth.

Monday, September 11, 2017

_______________________ RUMOURS OF SPRING _______________________

Despite the stormy blustery weather our Iris bulbs have sprung up from deep within the soil and begun to spread rumours of spring.

 The ever green Camellia tree in the background seems to have had any DNA regarding seasons or hibernation eliminated eons ago as it simply decides for itself when it will flower. Such unexpectedness is rather nice.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

______________________ BACK ON THE MOORING ______________________

'Mariner' had been out of the water for about three months, so it was with a great feeling of relief that I motored back to the piles earlier this week. Accompanying me was my good mate David whose help was indispensable. We towed Riverside Drive Marina's very fat flat bottomed pram dinghy behind us and had to row back to our cars at the Marina against the wind and tide. It was Fathers Day so what better way for this old bugger to celebrate by putting his little ship safely back on her mooring and then tottering off late for a family get together.

Today after having spent a couple of days completing some fiber glassing repairs on my own little dinghy I lifted it onto my roof rack (bloody near killed me), transported it down to the pontoon and rowed out to 'Mariner'. I ran the engine for an hour to fully charge the battery and stowed the rest of the boat gear.

One of the little jobs I completed was the installation of a 12 volt car charging socket directly to the boat battery so that I could plug in my new battery maintenance solar cell. This solar cell doesn't require a regulator as it only maintains the batteries current charge. This arrangement should ensure no more flat batteries after longish periods of inactivity.

Having completed the work I turned the motor off and sat in the small cabin, glad that the back breaking work and all the worry and expensive was over. I have a longish list of small jobs to complete but this is manageable and will be easy and pleasant work to complete over time.

So I sat in my little cabin and listened to the sound of the water chuckling against the hull, the thrum of the wind in the rigging and felt the gentle rocking of the boat as she pulled on her mooring ropes.

I sat and remembered some favourite lines from W. B. Yeats:

"And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, 
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings
    There midnight's all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow, 
And evening full of the linnet's wings"
It wasn't morning; I couldn't hear any crickets or see any linnets; but I think you might get my drift.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


My old yacht club - Pleasant Point Yacht Club - sited on the Christchurch estuary in the South Island of New Zealand found a high profile supporter this year in Grant Dalton who is the CEO of Emirates Team New Zealand who recently won the Americas Cup and bought it back home to New Zealand.

I really hope things go well for the PPYC and a new club is built on their new site. One of my goals for the future is to take my Zephyr class yacht 'Slipstream' back to the sailing ground of my youth and race again on those unique tidal waters.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

_______________________ BACK INTO THE WATER _____________________

Today 'Mariner' was lifted with great care by Mo the Trav-lift operator and placed gently back into her natural element. We ran the newly restored engine and found that that the water pump wasn't working. After pulling it apart the consensus was that a new pump is required. So 'Mariner' will be lying here at the Riverside Driver Marina until I can purchase a new pump and fit it to the engine.
Shipmates, I can hear some of you murmuring that God sent me a diesel engine of a particular character to help me to develop patience and you are quite right.....  quite right.

Despite all this drama, it was good to see the boat back in the water and see her floating in her characteristically buoyant manner.

 A well designed small yacht is like a small flower - beautiful.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

____________________ THE CADENCE OF FLOWERS ____________________

Christine chose and arranged these flowers in a small vase. She's clever like that. This little apparition sat on the table with the light shining through it and looked so beautiful I decided to take a photo of it.

I have always liked flowers, but in the last few years I have noticed their impossible beauty with increasing interest.

Friday, August 25, 2017

______________________ A BRIGHT SHINING LINE _______________________

The area on the side of the hull just above the anti fouling paint is a high corrosion area. The constant wetting and drying stresses the paint making it vulnerable to erosion of the surface, pitting and staining. There were a few small areas of paint close to the waterline that were a little worse for wear, but rather than paint all the white paint (which is in reasonable condition) I decided instead to sand back the trouble areas and paint on a 'boot top' stripe.

After transferring a line vertically approximately 50mm above the waterline on both sides of the boat I sanded, undercoated and painted on a bright blue boot top. I am happy with the result. We should be back in the water some time next week.

Monday, August 21, 2017

______________________ TALKING TO THE RIVER ______________________

The morning began with oil and temperatures gauges and their respective sender units - the verdict: they don't work; yet. Tomorrow an auto electrician will arrive to hopefully sort all of this. The afternoon was full of the high octane fragrance of anti fouling paint and the full on frisking buzz of my paint roller as the first coat of below the waterline paint was applied. All the time I could hear 'Mariner' talking to the river. "Soon" she said ...... "Soon".

Friday, August 18, 2017

_________________________ WORK CONTINUES _______________________

I had thought that the penultimate step on this long voyage ashore was going to be the painting of the newly fiber glassed area around the keel with a two pot undercoat, but this step required a 'wet on wet' coat of anti fouling paint straight afterwards. Instead I painted with the two pot undercoat but not the anti fouling paint because the uneven curing after the two pot coat (one side of the boat faces all day sun, the other side mostly in shadow) would have resulted in an unsatisfactory bonding of the anti fouling paint. So the solution has been to coat the area of two pot undercoat with a few coats of single pot undercoat; wait for this to cure and dry; then paint the anti fouling paint 'wet on dry'. I will do this step tomorrow if the weather is reasonable.

The back seats, front passenger seat  and the boot of my car are all loaded to the gunwales with boat renovation gear. I think it is time I seriously considered purchasing a ute, a truck or possibly a 747 cargo aeroplane.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

_______________________ BACK ON AN EVEN KEEL _____________________

Today I sat and worked on my excellent little work stool and put the penultimate touch to the keel. 

The work on the keel has been a mammoth undertaking. The first stage (above) was to expose the damp timber and dry it out in a tunnel made of plastic sheets and a couple of fan heaters. I then tightened up the keel bolts.

Stage two was sanding the keel and fairing it with west system resin and micro balloons powder. This fairing compound is a purple concoction which I carefully mixed to a consistency of peanut butter making it easy to spread.

Stage three was fiber glassing the keel and bilge area with 4 ounce double bias fiberglass cloth. Three layers of double bias cloth were laid on top of each other longitudinally along the garboards in 100, 200 and 300mm widths (narrowest width first). The rest of the keel required only only one layer of glass. I had help with this from the very capable Steve, a professional boat builder. We worked together all day without a break. He introduced me to the use of fiber glass peel ply which produced an excellent result.

Stage four was completed today when I painted the glassed area with three coats of two pot primer undercoat. Stage five will be a light sanding of the primer and the application of anti fouling paint.

The plan is to run the motor tomorrow and make sure everything is working as it should. Then a coat of anti fouling paint to the under water hull areas and it's back into the water. Then I will be able to motor my way down stream underneath the lifting bridge and go for a sail! Bliss.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

__________________ A TRIBUTE TO GLEN CAMPBELL __________________

The last song Glen Campbell recorded - I'm not gonna miss you (A sad poignant fact about Alzheimers)

Tonight on 'Prime Rocks' we watched a documentary about Glen Campbells struggle with Alzheimers disease as he toured for the last time. It was a moving tribute to his musical talent, his courage, humour and the love of his family and friends that surrounded him at this most difficult time.

Gentle On My Mind (Great Guitar Break)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

_____________ A PORSCHE 911 AIR FILTER AND POOH BEAR ____________

Shipmates, I am aware that many of you have been waking in the early hours of the morning plagued with the question: "Just when am I going to be able to view a photograph of the good ship 'Mariners' engine exhaust plumbing?" Well folks today is the day and not only do you get to see the plumbing but you get a full technical description straight from the installers mouth:

- The big black object mounted on its very own stainless steel bracket, that looks a bit like a vacuum cleaner is the exhaust water lock. I think it provides a chamber where the engine exhaust gases mix with sea water from the water pump before being ejected out through the stern exhaust fitting.

- The big black hose is the exhaust pipe. The part of this large hose to the right leads the exhaust back to the exhaust pipe at the stern of the boat.

- The first small black hose to the left brings water from the water pump to up to the  grey coloured anti-siphon 'U bend'.

- The second small black hose to the right take the water and ejects it as a coolant into the engines manifold. The water and exhaust fumes then flow to a connection at the base of the black water lock through the side of the cockpit well on the right hand side.

- The clear hose leading from the grey 'U bend' is the anti siphon hose. It provides a way (by letting in air) to ensure that when the whole system is loaded up (with water) and the engine is off, the exhaust system doesn't siphon water.

- The green hose in the above photo that is hanging down and looking a bit lost is a vent from one of the water tanks.

If you are still reading this and have not been put to sleep by my scintillating poetic explanations and  by the gentle cadence of words such as siphon, U bend and plumbing then you have passed the test. Well done.
The grey coloured metal U bend to the top left of the photo (directly above) is the motors new exhaust manifold. I won't tell you how much it cost to get this fabricated because you simply wouldn't believe me.

If you look closely you can see the bottom of the manifold exiting into the water lock in the cockpit locker. Water from black hose (center in the photo) ejects cooling water into the manifold.

The bright red air filter is a component I acquired when I was recently viewing a brand new Porsche 911. Sometimes if you look keen and gullible the car sales person tries to get you to take the car you are viewing home for the weekend. They know this technique usually seals the sale. In this case it was I who asked to take the car home; but the only part they would allow off their premises was the Porsche 911s' air filter (which I had to pay for) and it has come in pretty darn useful I must say - and I know again, you simply won't believe me on that one either.
Features (above) that I hope will improve the running and maintenance of this little motor are:

- Large flexible engine mounts. These are twice the size of the previous ones and should smooth out vibrations more efficiently.

- Lower left in the photo - a draining tap from the diesel fuel tanks sump. I will be able to readily and frequently drain off any water or other contaminants from the fuel tank.

- Middle left in the photo - The tallish silver cylinder with the black tap on top is a remote greaser for the stern gland. A quarter turn of this after running the motor each time is all that is required to grease the stern gland and stop it from dripping.

- The new stainless steel engine bearers and their new cross bracings should provide less vibration in the wooden bearers that they are bolted to and won't rust in the manner of the old ones.

If you have been very observant you will have spied two rope controls in the above photograph. One is the motors decompression control (the motor starts on half compression). The other is the engines stop lever. I can hear some of you muttering the words 'Heath Robinson' under your breathe - cut it out right now - you know about the kiss principle (keep it simple stupid).

The only stupid, or more to the point, slightly alarming aspect about this whole drama has been my regular descent into the port cockpit locker to install the exhaust system. The entrance is so narrow I have to exhale the very last gasp of air in my lungs to squeeze my diaphragm through. It gives one the experience similar to one Pooh Bear Esq who after visiting his friend Rabbit and consuming a number of pots of honey got stuck halfway in and halfway out of Rabbits door - I know the feeling, it makes me exclaim "Yikes" with a slight squeak of the terminal consonants and vowels every time.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

_______________________ ONE STEP CLOSER ________________________

It has been a bit of a slow train coming, but a week or so ago after I had reinstalled the fuel tank the engine was finally hauled aboard with a chain block and placed on its brand new rubber mounts. Since then it has sat on its engine beds as I have waited for a very busy diesel mechanic to make some decisions regarding propeller shaft couplings etc. Long story short - new billets of steel have had to be ordered and milled into shape on Terry's lathe and then fitted and checked. Everything is taking a lot longer than I had planned; but Shipmates all aspects of sailing tend to be slower journeys.

On Monday the new propeller shaft with its new couplings will be aligned and connected to the gear box before everything is bolted in place. I have installed a new water lock exhaust box in the port cockpit locker and purchased most of the peripheral items that are required to allow the motor to work. These include, exhaust, fuel filter, drip tray, remote stern gland greaser, new temperature, oil pressure and engine hour gauges, engine controls, various fuel lines, engine cooling lines and electrical wiring. The alignment of the engine and the wiring will be completed by my diesel mechanic Geoff and his son Ben. I will complete the rest of the work.

Yesterday I had a tidy up of the cabin and, usual story, found tools I have been hunting for all week and a few others I forgot I actually had.

When the installation of the motor is finished I will complete the fairing and fiber glassing of the keel. Despite having erected my protective transparent plastic tent around the hull I have been waiting for a break in the cold, wet and very windy weather to do this. It is Winter here in New Zealand and both Islands have been hammered pretty hard by stormy weather.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

_________________ A TRANSPARENT PLASTIC TENT ____________________

Yesterday was a great day out on the water. There was nothing quite like sailing down the coast with David and Alice on 'Chez Nous' to remind me why I am doing all this work on 'Mariner' and to reinforce my resolve to bring this work to a satisfactory conclusion.

Now that it is the middle of winter in New Zealand and I have a some fiberglassing to do on the keel I have taped a clear plastic tent around the boat to keep the cold, wet weather out and enable me to work on 'Mariner' without weather interruptions. A good working temperature above 10 degrees is required for a successful fiberglassing outcome and the plastic tent does raise the temperature to that of a small tunnel house that a tomato grower might use.

The somewhat jigsaw like aspect of the work on 'Mariner's diesel is also piecing itself together in a slow but worthwhile manner. Hopefully the many simple changes that I am incorporating on the advice of my diesel mechanic Geoff will ensure trouble free motoring for many years to come.

Now that we are on the downward face of this large wave of work I am really, really looking forward to a nice winter sail - a windy, boisterous trip somewhere ending in a cozy, snug anchorage and the sound of the kettle boiling on 'Mariner's little stove - bliss.