Monday, August 24, 2015

The Starling Project - Part 27

Paul Simon wrote a song called, "She's Got Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes".  I think these words are meant as a sort of metaphor of how riches can separate a person from the reality of the earth when compared to a poor person walking in bare feet .... and there is the implication (which is a paradox to some modern minds ) ( and obvious and a delicious irony to others ) that the poor person connected to the earth with bare feet is somehow often richer. The bare feet enable connections with many experiences, people, ideas and things that money can't buy.

I am neither a financially poor or rich person by modern western cultural standards and in terms of connection to other aspects of my cultural context I guess I am rich in some things and poor in others. It is what it is and generally I cope adequately with my situation just like millions of others on this planet; which is another way of saying that half the time I wander around with costume jewellery on the soles of my shoes and the other half of the time I freely go bare footed.

"What has this got to do with yet more photographs of a Starling yacht restoration which after a thousand years of work is still only half finished?" I hear you ask.

I guess what I am doing is affirming the worth of small boats. I have a 30 foot keeler with a buggered motor and in need of a scrub and some anti fouling paint - time and expense. Small boats don't require this amount of time and money. Now don't get me wrong, this isn't an either / or argument AND I enjoy my sailing on my yacht Mariner very much indeed, BUT! sometimes small boats just seem a bit easier and the experience of wind and wave is more immediate. (And the comparative maintenance a cinch ).

Yesterday I undercoated the Starling cockpit and varnished the cockpit slates. Why varnish this heavy duty part of the cockpit? ....... because I can, because of the aesthetic appeal of varnished mahogany and because I like the balanced look of it .......... and it's a surface that will feel great under my bare soled / souled feet.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Starling Project - Part 26

The center support for the splashboards has been glued and screwed into place.

The first coat varnish has been applied. I will apply one or two more before flipping the boat over and fiberglassing and painting the hull. These first one or two coats of varnish are mainly to protect the deck from scratching, marking and staining.

There is no sheen on the deck after this first coat. The thirsty wood just soaked up all the varnish. Varnishing is nice work and a reward for all the hard work of filling and sanding. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Starling Project - Part 25

The plan was simple. Sand the deck with the orbital sander before gluing and screwing the splashboards on. This seemed logical and meant I didn't have to negotiate my sanding around awkward space occupied by the new splashboards. The next step was to varnish the deck giving it a protective cover then flip the boat upside down ready for glassing.

So I sanded the deck and taped out the gluing area carefully. But I found the gluing and fastening a lot more awkward and difficult than I had imagined. Despite having carefully pre-drilled the screw and nail holes things turned pear shaped. My idea of being left with a pristine well sanded area all ready to varnish turned to custard - or rather returned to its former rather grubby glue stained state.

The difficulty lay not just in the deck camber but because the boards were angled forwards from the vertical they were very unstable until they were fastened. I made one small slip, ended up with glue on my hands rendering them slippery. Then one board moved beyond the masking tape area dumping glue everywhere and then it was all on! buggerising around all over the place. Never mind - been there and got the T-Shirt many times before.

To get a perfect fit in the centre I had to hold very firmly and maintain a slight twist for a long time while nailing (The dance of bronze nails on a gluey hammer head tested my sense of boat building Zen to the limit).  I think it was this that severely strained some chest muscles that had me headed to the hospital the next day. (See previous post).

BUT!!! Despite all that marlarky I am now very happy indeed with the new splashboards. I have made them a little bit larger and chunkier than the originals and I think they look great. I'll sand the glue marks off the deck, clean up the splashboards, fit a central supporting block and on we will go.  We are back on the wagon again LOL.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

________________________ A BIT FED UP __________________________

"A bit fed up" - which doesn't mean that I have had a lot to eat. This photograph was taken earlier this year (about 6 weeks ago I think) somewhere on the road to the Italian Lake district. It was very hot, my dodgy knee hurt like hell and I was very tired of walking. But this moment didn't colour the whole trip which was interesting, enlightening and very enjoyable. Christine and I enjoyed it immensely. I posted this photograph because of the look on my face - and tonight I am fed up. I have just spent about four hours up at the local hospital getting checked out - stuff to do with my heart. I spent a long time waiting while connected to about four million wires and other beeping monitoring equipment. I watched a continuous display of my heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen uptake, a morbidly fascinating view when there are a dearth of magazines to read. I was dealt with promptly and efficiently and then had to wait a veeeeeeeeeeeeery long time for the test results. So that's why I am fed up. My current face looks like the face in the photo. Fed up. And now its half past eleven at night and I  am going off to have a good sleep. Bugger all this bloody health crap - I am really fed up with it.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

__________________ CONGRATULATIONS CHARLOTTE _________________

I remember once many years ago attending an Intermediate School (Years 7 and 8) end of year prize giving. Charlotte was to the fore in all the supporting Singing / Drama items that were part of the evening. She came and sat with us during the prize giving. During the presentations of all the certificates and prizes Charlotte said, "I have never ever been awarded one of those prizes, ever." She looked a little sad when she said this. I remember at the time feeling her sadness. She never saw herself as being an academic achiever.

[ I think Charlotte was referring here specifically to academic certificates at end of year prize givings, I remember her having clear files full of all sorts of other certificates and awards ].

Today a large white envelope arrived from NorthTec College. It contained:

1 - Charlotte's Bachelor Of Nursing Degree.
2 - Charlotte's Academic Record which includes Merit and A Grade passes - pretty impressive.

She also got notification today that she had passed the New Zealand Nursing Councils Nursing Registration Exam.

Well done Charlotte, we are all immensely proud of you and your accomplishment.

Friday, August 14, 2015


 This (above) is the current New Zealand flag. The Southern Cross (stars) speaks of the southern hemisphere and the Union Jack pays homage to our colonial past - The Tangata Whenua (The original indigenous people) are not included - not a Maori motif in sight.

The government is spending NZ$26 million in a process that it hopes will create a new flag that we will reflect some sort of consensus. These 40 designs (above) have been chosen from over two thousand flag design submissions. This is how the process works:

1 - Flag submissions are made.
2 - A government appointed panel chooses forty designs.
3 - Four  designs are short listed from these forty designs.
4 - The public votes and chooses one of these four flag designs.
5 - The public then vote for either the existing flag or this one new design.

My feelings about the need for a new flag are somewhat ambivalent, as are the rest of the general public. My ambivalence has only been amplified by the rather insipid and uninteresting designs that have surfaced in the whole process.

This flag (above) featuring New Zealand footwear in the form of a pair of Jandals by New Zealand Herald newspaper cartoonist Rod Emmerson was submitted for consideration but did not make the long list of 40 flags (no surprise really).

I am not saying that I would want this particular flag with jandals as the new New Zealand flag but I think we need something of this ilk, something arresting, interesting, eye catching - something that has that 'Wow' factor. Most of the designs to date look more like corporate logos. I wouldn't be surprised if when 'push comes to shove' at voting time we just retain the status quo, not through conservatism, the inability to change or any sort of intransigence but simple because nothing that is being presented so far actually 'knocks our socks off'.

Although we are no longer a colony of Great Britain we are still part of the British 'Commonwealth' (Englands' club of old former colonies) and have other colonial attachments. As I post this, Queen Elizabeth the second is officially also the Queen of New Zealand and we have a Governor General who is the Queens representative.

Perhaps the time for a new flag is when New Zealand becomes 'The Republic of Aotearoa.'

Thursday, August 13, 2015


Gary Larson is another great cartoonist whose cartoons I like a lot.

This cartoon takes on a certain poignancy in light of the recent killing of Cecil the Lion in Africa and the pending visit to New Zealand of another Looney Tunes hunter who seems to think that killing for pleasure is something that should be considered 'Sport' and be applauded.

Saturday, August 8, 2015


It is better to light one small candle (or switch on a Leunig torch) than to curse the darkness.

Friday, August 7, 2015

________________________ NEW BEGINNINGS ________________________

Together until we all meet again:

Left to Right - Grandson Zane, Daughter Charlotte, Son in Law Nathan, Son Nikolai, Son Alex (Zanes Father), Daughter in Law Ramiza (Zanes Mother).

The crossroads of young lives are full of comings and goings, endings and new beginnings. In a few days our daughter Charlotte and son in law Nathan head to England for a few years. We wish them well in their new beginnings. We will miss them a great deal. They go with our love and blessing.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

___________________ MISSION ACCOMPLISHED ___________________

.......... After

______________________ TRANSFORMATION ______________________

The downstairs self contained flat is now ready for the carpet to be re-laid. It has been a bit of a mission to get it completed but it is now finished and I am reasonably happy with the results. New paint always makes a room look clean and fresh; its the blank canvas upon which the room will be decorated with carpet, curtains, furniture, book shelves etc, etc, etc.

As I mentioned in the previous post, it makes my eyes cross eyed and fuddles my brain trying to decide whether the colour of the walls is 'Quarter Tea' (Light Brown, English Breakfast) or 'Quarter Tea' (Light Grey, Earl Grey). The fact is the colour seems to change a bit with the changing light.

I was able to paint these rooms all up for under $300. So there are considerable savings to be made if you do things yourself compared to having work done professionally. For example, having the original carpet that I pulled up so the floor could be resealed, re-laid, and approximately one square meter of lino laid in the small kitchen area completed professionally will cost nearly $800. But I am happy to leave lino and carpet laying to the professionals.

I will now turn my sights on getting the Starling completed and the diesel engine taken out of Mariner and some big decisions regarding either repairing the engine or purchasing a new one.

Monday, August 3, 2015

_____________________ Anyone For Earl Gray Tea? _____________________

Flash new drain. Before this was installed rainwater would lie here forever unless I went and dealt to it with a yard broom. Now it drains beautifully and leaves the area nice and dry when the sun comes out.
My inspiration for becoming Picasso the house painter comes from the antics of our grandson. On a recent visit there was a longish silence. He was found with a ball point pen and a big smile on his face beside this little stool that he had removed the cushion covering from. Good on ya little fella, a blank canvas is begging to be drawn on!

Here is Picasso the elder, not in his wildest dreams is he able to match his grandson for panache and originality.

This is the first of two rooms to be completed. The paint on the walls is called "Quarter Tea" (I don't really know why they don't just call it "Very light brown") ........ anyway the wall looks more grey than brown ....... maybe the "Tea" the paint shop was promoting was Earl Grey Tea and I wasn't paying enough attention? Bugger.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

------------------------------- Retirement - What Retirement? ---------------------------------

Here is the main reason that I am not making much progress at the moment with the Starling Project. The downstairs 'Granny Flat' got flooded earlier in the year and it was time to roll up the sleeves and put things right.

The concrete floor has been painted with four coats of two pot epoxy paint to seal the surface and hopefully keep the water out. The grey coloured lines in the floor are where some extra epoxy has been applied to cracks in the concrete where water has being getting in. Under todays more strict building regulations none of this water problem would occur. This work combined with some flash outside drainage pipes should restore these rooms to their former use.

I have painted the skirting boards and the scotias and done some jib stopping of the walls ( Photo above - left under the wall plugs and above the recessed book case.

My new WorkMate folding bench has come in useful for this work as has my growing collection of saw horses. I have modified most of my saw horses by attaching strengthening battens on all sides and baffles on the ends to make them as strong as possible. They now easily take both the weight of a scaffolding plank and me.

Painting and decorating, renovations and the building and restoration of yachts always reminds me of the contrast between the huge declarations of intent that can be contained within a few sentences and the reality of making it happen!!

Tomorrow I begin painting the walls.