messing about in boats

Scrub, scrape, paint

Posted in Boat Building & Maintenance by Joseph Moore on May 1, 2011

Spent a day working my backside off on Nervous Tension yesterday. The plan had been to spend the weekend down there, but my feeble office-job arms can’t take the pressure and I made more progress than anticipated so I headed home for a well earned bath.


  • Crud scraped off the keel and two coats of zinc primer applied
  • The last of the barnacles scraped off the hull and scrubbed the waterline
  • Removed any flaking paint from the topsides and dug out any soft wood behind
  • Roughly filled and faired topsides, then a good coat of undercoat (as a guide coat more than anything)
  • Removed loose paint from the deck and applied half a coat of aluminium primer (at which time I ran out of both paint and daylight)

I could have sworn I had a Quarter Tonner, but after that I’m wondering if she might actually be a Super Maxi!Nervous Tension - mayday weekend 2011Nervous Tension - mayday weekend 2011

Tagged with:

What a mess…

Posted in Boat Building & Maintenance by Joseph Moore on April 28, 2011

The weather’s been fantastic lately, so I’ve been attacking the Land Rover with a tin of red gloss. It’s pretty bright now, but a couple more coats and it’ll be looking great.

Nervous Tension’s still at Lauren Marine on the Itchen, and they lifted her out last week. If the weather stays fine this weekend I’ll be down there scraping, scrubbing,  grinding, glueing and priming. I’d like to get her back in the water by the end of May. It’s an ambitious target given the state she’s in at the moment, so I’ll probably have to save some jobs for later in the year, but a fresh coat of paint all over and a good slop of antifoul will work wonders I’m sure.

Nervous Tension on the hard at Lauren Marine

Back on it

Posted in Boat Building & Maintenance, Sailing by Joseph Moore on January 25, 2011

Sunday I’d hoped to go for a bit of a sail, but it was fairly breezy and on rehanging the rudder I noticed a huge great crack where an old repair had gone bad. Probably best not to sail when the rudder was in danger of falling into two pieces, so we spent the day repairing it and doing further jobs on the boat – more patching of the deck and repairs to the stem, plus she got a good dry out inside with the fan heater.

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks in terms of getting emails from various people – first from Rupert Holmes who recently restored the Extension 24 “Minestrone”. He had a lot of useful insight into the boats and the issues he encountered in doing a fairly similar refit. Then this morning, a load of comments from Mike and Hilary Payne – owners of Nervous Tension for 5 years up until Spring 2009 – offering encouragement and stories from their days spent sailing her.

Roll on the warmer weather when some serious progress can be made!

Tagged with:

Ah, the angle grinder

Posted in Boat Building & Maintenance by Joseph Moore on December 15, 2010

That most favoured tool of the DIY boat builder. I took mine to the front of my boat this weekend. Time was short so I figured a rough and ready job is better than no job at all. Ground the repairs back a few millimetres, filled, roughly faired then glassed over them. It was cold so the resin will probably bloom, but it’s more of a covering layer than a structural layer on the bits I did, so not to worry really. It’s progress.

I also repositioned one of the struts I’d fitted as when I was sitting on the pontoon I noticed the bow roller was at a rather jaunty angle. Took it off and lined everything up by eye. I think I’m going to glass over the whole lot then refit the roller. Give that stem some proper weather protection on it’s end.

Still need to deck over the front, cut out the (largely rotten) front bulkhead – glass everything on the inside and reinforce the whole lot. At least once the deck’s on it’s mostly working inside where a fan heater actually does something.

More snow forecast across the UK for this week – not an ideal time for working on boats.

Dare I say it: it’d be nice to take part in the Red Funnel Easter Regatta. Now there’s a deadline.

Tagged with:

A bit of retrospective

Posted in Boat Building & Maintenance by Joseph Moore on December 6, 2010

I was looking back through some old posts and came across this one from earlier in the year. So I guess now it’s time to see what’s left and reassure myself that actually more or less everything now is to satisfy my desire to have a tidy boat rather than a structurally sound one.

  • Patch a crack in the deck
  • Repair the port quarter under the pushpit base
  • Fill and fair scuffs on the port topside
  • Repair section of starboard bow which has been torn off (on closer inspection – very structural!)
  • Repair area of damp wood from a previous repair on starboard bow
  • Rebuild missing section of starboard transom
  • Repair transom crossbeam (now removed from boat)
  • Figure out where the water in the bilge is coming from
  • Repair stringers on port side (just needs glassing)
  • Refit bow roller
  • Reattach deck to stringers on port side
  • Repair top of companionway
  • Deck over bow well
  • Investigate what’s behind suspicious bits of plywood under the heads
  • Build forward bunks (and maybe move the sea toilet)
  • Make cushions
  • Make new hatch lid that actually fits
  • Rewire everything
  • Go for a sail
Tagged with:

Work starts, properly this time…

Posted in Boat Building & Maintenance by Joseph Moore on November 4, 2010

Now the boat’s on a pontoon it’s much easier to be productive with regard to getting her fixed. With the exception of the 2 hour drive each way, that is. Last Saturday, Sarah and I went down and braved the somewhat torrential showers to get some work done. Really, it turned out to be quite a lovely day, only ducking for cover occasionally.

Sarah cleaned the heads and painted the remaining bits of interior and I set about hacking chunks of rotten wood out of the boat with some gusto. Mostly it’s old rushed repairs which have probably been there for a decade or more coming back to haunt, so out the soggy wood has come, ready for some new ply and glass.

Interestingly, there are a pair of matching square holes, set back maybe 18″ and dead in line with where the shroud plates come through the deck – perhaps she once had swept spreaders? Who knows…

I’ve ordered a can of vinylester resin. Never used it before but it’s supposed to be quite good for the price. Not as strong as epoxy (but miles better than polyester) and around a third of the price.

I need to get a new shore power cable as well – just one of those mains hookup kits with the RCD that they sell in camping shops as the one I borrowed from my mum seems to have stopped working since the last time I used it. On the plus side though, I was donated a nice working battery and my echo sounder switches on just as it should – it only reads ‘E’, but that’s a different matter. Maybe it can’t see through the beard on the bottom of the boat. Can’t say I blame it. Speed log is dead as a dodo currently. The whole boat needs rewiring though, so I’m not really worried about it. Someone used regular cheapo twin core cable so it’s probably corroded to nothing inside the insulation.

Mercury 5hp propeller – on the cheap

Posted in Boat Building & Maintenance by Joseph Moore on September 10, 2010

So, the book price for a new propeller to fit a Mercury 5hp two-stroke is nearly £70. Yes, £70 – for a small propeller! The thing is, the Mercury is basically a rebranded Tohatsu and the list price for an 8″ Tohatsu propeller is £45. Much better.

Still, Extreme Marine are doing them for just over £20. Ideal! Mine arrived yesterday and apart from the colour (white, not black) it’s exactly the same casting and fits perfectly. The only downside is they don’t stock the nut and cotter pin, so I need to order those through a Mercury stockist.

Bank holiday boat repairs

Posted in Boat Building & Maintenance, Sailing by Joseph Moore on September 2, 2010

It hardly seems possible that the August bank holiday has passed already. This summer’s flown by in a flurry of boat-related mishaps and long hours at work. Summer’s coming to a close and the wind’s already picking up as if it were well into Autumn. Time to take stock and figure out where to go from here…

The good news is that Nervous Tension‘s essentially ready to sail. Sarah, Chris and I spent the weekend hammering, sawing, screwing, scrubbing and painting. The stem’s braced back to the first bulkhead, the old vent holes have some rather fetching plywood screwed over them, the port side stringers are back in place and most of the surfaces down below have had at least one coat of fresh white gloss.

Something had to go wrong though – it wouldn’t be boating otherwise. My shiny new (well, new to me) Mercury 5hp which had done a sterling job starting first pull and chugging us, towing one heavy old clinker dinghy, over to the marina waiting pontoon lost it’s prop just as we tried to leave the pontoon to berth in the marina. Fortunately with a force 5 on the beam we were pretty much pinned to the pontoon so there was very little chance of getting into trouble. Couple that with a Sigma 38 getting itself wedged into a corner and crushing Chris’ elderly clinker boat so it now takes on water and we were a bit stuck for getting back to the mooring the following day. Thankfully the chaps at Southsea Marina are fantastically friendly and agreed that the boat could stay there if Chris went back the following day and helped them tow her back to the mooring using their launch. Nice one guys!

So; taking stock. I’ve got a boat that’s just about ready to use at a time when most people are preparing to put theirs ashore for the winter. Maybe I should take a leaf out of Dylan’s book and indulge in some chilly but peaceful winter sailing. Something needs to be done about that mooring though. I can’t leave an elderly racing yacht on an exposed buoy through the winter storms again – it’s just asking for trouble.

I’ll write more on my thoughts and efforts to find a reasonably priced, accessible and practical mooring soon no doubt. In the mean time, a few photos from the weekend.

Panoramic "before" shot looking forward

"Before" shot looking aft

Port quarter berth with damaged stringer

Starboard quarter berth - what a difference a coat of paint can make!

"After" shot looking forward - mostly shiny and white now

On the waiting pontoon at Southsea Marina

A cockpit full of junk - painting down below

Stem braced back to front bulkhead

Repairs to front of boat - not pretty. Solid though!

Panoramic shot on Southsea Marina waiting pontoon

Eastney Lake from near Locks SC

Southsea Marina waiting pontoon and channel

Progress at last

Posted in Boat Building & Maintenance, Sailing by Joseph Moore on August 2, 2010

Had a cracking day down at Langstone yesterday. Really great.

Got up early enough that the roads were clear and the beaches around Eastney Lake almost deserted as I went for a stroll before knocking on Chris’ door.

It was a 4pm tide and Chris’ clinker dinghy I use to get out to my boat wouldn’t be afloat until after lunch, so we spent the morning tinkering on his Matilda, 4Jays. The plan originally was to give her a bit of a shakedown sail and take her over to Nervous Tension, but a couple of days earlier while rigging the sails on the mooring in a bit of a blow he’d put the rudder down in the cockpit and somehow the flogging sheets had tossed it overboard. Murphy’s law strikes again, as Chris said “He’s got a lot to answer for, that bloke…” – so a new rudder’s being cobbled together this week.

I’m still having engine issues, in that none of them work at the moment. Well, the Seagull 102 would work if I put some time and effort into servicing it but I’m relatively busy at the moment so it’s kind of easier to just resign myself to throwing a chunk of cash at a decent engine and rebuild the others when I come across some cheap spares.

Nervous Tension’s now happily sat on her mooring in Sinah Lake. Access is a bit rubbish at spring lows, but the tide flows very slowly there – in stark contrast to the deep main channel where it must run at easily 7 knots. It’s also a damn long way in a laden boat with a Seagull Forty Plus chattering away. Anyone locally with a powerboat who’d like to ferry me to my yacht could be my new best friend.

Repairs are going nicely. The stem’s now braced back to the first bulkhead on one side. The saw I’d picked up was so blunt it was quite hard going so we didn’t get the other side done before it became a little uncomfortably lumpy when the tide turned and the wind picked up.

The electrics need a good going over as well. Took the battery aboard but nothing was working – might just be the corrosion on the terminals. Either way it’s a job for a calmer day. There’s nothing like sitting in the bottom of a boat focusing on some work in a short steep chop to make you want to be back on the shore.

I’m also working on a plan to get her back home over the winter for a serious tidy up. So she’s getting there, slowly…

Belated Update

Posted in Boat Building & Maintenance by Joseph Moore on May 12, 2010

I did actually manage to get down to Nervous Tension at the end of last week. The front’s largely fixed, though in desperate need of a healthy dose of epoxy and glass, the bow roller’s back on and all is well once again! I shall say this for the last time: One more day of graft and she’ll be ready for a sail. Bring it on.