Friday, March 24, 2017

a two bench job

Not really 'benchwork' when you bury two good sized benches under the 'piece' and have cascades of off-cuts, tools and timber all over the floor. I'm proud to say all of these pieces  are from timber I have saved from other jobs, some going back decades. This is a cockpit roof for Bandicoot. The really tricky part has been accomodating the asymmetry in the back of the cabin and the cockpit itself. Measuring up on the boat and re-creating it in the incomplete workshop has required endless triangulation and small adjustments in all three dimensions...I sure hope it fits.

 By covering the cockpit, Bandicoot is morphing from a utility (truck) to a wagon and I thought there may be some interest in the process involved. Covering the cockpit will add to the all-weather use of the boat I hope.The hull tapers in a gentle curve from cab to transom so the rails will match the curve of the coaming. I'm just building a roof, the sides will be open roll up canvas.

All of the roof beams are from Philippine Mahogany reclaimed from our house renovation. By making half widths it was possible to squeeze three pieces out of each old rafter. These were pattern routed with a flush trim bit on my router table.

Clamped together, the beams could be accurately rebated to accept little ties or purlins. They form the only right angles in the entire structure. In the old measure the roof is about 9ft wide and these beams have been rather labor-intensive...

Thursday, March 16, 2017

a new journey for Fleur the greyhound

The phone call said that she was young and so sick and exhausted that it wasn't safe yet to spay her, or even to give her worming tablets. Fleur was recovering from acidosis, but maybe we could take her on?

Acidosis? We had a vague idea this might have something to do with the shut down of muscles after maybe dehydration, or something, but a bit of research told us as much about how she must have been treated as it did about the condition. Please google 'acidosis in greyhounds' for the medical story, but the bottom line is that she was run so hard for so long in the heat that the build up of lactic acid was so great and her dehydration was so bad that she  had some sort of  melt down.

Apparently the trainer took her to the Vet sometime after this and told her that the dog was sick, and 'no good for racing', asking for her to be 'put down'. In fairness, I know that this isn't the normal behaviour of regular trainers, but regular trainers are not the ones responsible for the bad news that rescue centres and vets have to deal with.

We were told that she seemed depressed. People often seem surprised that dogs can be depressed, as though we humans have a monopoly. Black and other coloured dogs can have the 'black dog' too.

When she came to us she had vomited in two cars- it seems cars will be an issue for her for a while and my guess is that a car was the place where her dehydration kicked in and was exacerbated. She went quickly to the quiet corner prepared for her here by Julia and she lay absolutely motionless for some hours. On her first evening with us the breakthroughs were minor but significant. She gradually started to respond to quiet reassuring whisperings and stroking. We introduced Sooty (our adopted greyhound) to Fleur, and after some gentle (quite tender) sniffing and wagging of his tail, he decided that she needed help, and quietly lay down beside her for a while. Within a few hours they were poking about in the garden in parallel, looking for smells worth pondering.

Julia has always held that the best way to gain trust and confidence in a frightened dog is from really tasty  food given from the fingers. It seems to be working with this one too. This morning she seemed brighter, even wagging her tail in greeting us, and I know that the process of trust and recovery has begun. But it will take time.

Our previous fostered greyhound 'Tippy' is happily with a new family after more than four months with us. If you are interested in this issue, there are previous posts here on this blog under the tag 'animals'.

When she recovers she won't thank me for these unflattering photos. Three big areas shaved for intravenous needles, poor light so as not to trouble her, but you won't recognise her in a few weeks or months. If she survives, the eyes will no longer be vacant, the fur will be glossy and clean, her bones will be hiding and she will probably know how to strike a pose.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Emphasising the horizontal- Bandicoot trim

Two pieces of trim seem to have taken an inordinate amount of time and material. The sun visor has a practical purpose, but the trim strip and visor were considered mainly ( if I'm honest) because I wanted to de-power some of the verticality in the very high cabin lines. I hope that the visor gives the roof a longer feel, instead of just being 'folded' down from the very large windscreen. The tall slab sides and not particularly elegant (but great to look out through) side windows have been broken up by the dark trim line which runs as an extension of the edge of the lower roof line.

This little visor was nearly 9ft long and was constructed from five pieces of 9mm marine ply. Below; upside down, the angles are to nestle the unit against the compound angles of the three windscreen panels.

The visor having it's final dry fit.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Ice Letters. A review of the novel

Ice LettersIce Letters by Susan Errington
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Loss, longing and a feeling of being adrift in a sea of helplessness pervade this charming story set in Australia and The Antarctic during the first World War. The moral dilemmas confronting humanitarian and thoughtful people are particularly pertinent now. We don't often read about the pacifists of the era, nor of the more extreme elements pushing for a new socialist world order, but however these movements ultimately evolved, ordinary people of good will were carried along with them in a wave of hope simply because they could not accept the path chosen by their own governments.

This is a beautifully written story on several levels. The personal journeys of two people in particular are set in a challenging and very interesting context.

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

the edges of things

The most productive places are sometimes also the most interesting. When we think of a landscape we often picture the spaces and the expanses, and while these provide the tone or the texture to our image, it is to the edges that I am constantly drawn and these are often the most productive too. It is  called the 'edge effect', where energy or diversity is concentrated and systems become more complex and productive. Bill Mollison used the power of this effect elaborately and extensively in his  invention and application of Permaculture principles in 'edible landscapes'.

 Edges provide perspective. When we are on water, we look landward. When we are on land some of us seek  places from which to look out over water. Water reflects and  is reflective also in the sense that it allows us the distance to consider.

A thing can seem more delightfully real when edges are emphasised- perhaps by increasing the tonal difference between surfaces. A subject can be made more beautiful by softening edges that distract from those which are essential. In abstraction, sometimes the edges become the subject and remain beautiful without being elaborated by reference to things as they appear to be.

Cultural diversity creates energy at the edges too. It always has. The greatest cities, trade routes and ports have always generated excitement, energy and productivity because of the interaction of contrasting cultures- which may be homogenous at their centres, but porous at the edges.

The images here are digitally modified photographs.

Monday, February 27, 2017

a little cabin with some woods...

Bandicoot's cabin was in very good condition but a bit sparse for us, lacking any lining and a few other details that make things work more easily- an armrest for example. I can't help being a rather visual person either  and it seemed to me that the structure of the cabin frame and the hull made for some very busy surfaces. The intention with the new trim was to make some strong horizontals fore and aft to make the curves more sweeping and the areas simpler.

at purchase.

The skippers chair was made by and for the previous helmsman in such a way as to save space and provide support but it was a bit low for me.

at purchase..

Below, I tried a workbench stool I had at home which was height adjustable and had a swivel. 


more recent

 The cabin is still incomplete; bench cushions, blinds and more soundproofing under floors will get us closer to that.

more recent

Tripping Up The Tambo

The last time I was this far up the Tambo I was driving a small outboard 'tinny', coaching a couple of senior rowing eights at a rowing camp in 1986. Above, this trip a group of us stopping for lunch. Bandicoot at the bottom of the picture. By the time we emerged  into Lake King for the trip home we faced into a strong head wind -right on the nose- and lines of persistent waves, but it was a comfortable 8 knots in the cab.

Boating with a motor is in no way as restful as sailing when the weather is fair. Even the little Yanmar on Beachcomber is quite calming as she potters along if she needs a push. But there are advantages to going a bit faster, having a bit of protection and a few facilities onboard and some real space to relax in. Most of all it is quite liberating to go home with fewer concerns about the weather.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Venturesome Voyages of Captain Voss. A Review

The Venturesome Voyages of Captain VossThe Venturesome Voyages of Captain Voss by John Claus Voss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Captain Voss was an early and enthusiastic exponent of the use of sea anchors, particularly for small boats on very big voyages. This book contains several of these ground-breaking small boat voyages, narrated with panache and an eye not only for weather and sail trimming detail, but some acute observations of humanity in his descriptions of crew under pressure.
Written at the very start of the 20th Century, the book reveals aspects of the world that are now so utterly different- as are his very Euro-centric views about the peoples of the places he visited, but he was a generous man very much of his time.

Highly recommended for 'armchair' and other sailors, this is very readable. There are several editions about, mine was a hardcover lent to me which had an interesting introduction by Richard Hughes. Published by Rupert Hart-Davis, London in 1955. There are more recent editions.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

my mojo was hiding in the bandsaw

It is a source of amazement to me, the powerful effect that a new set of design and build challenges has had on my energy levels. With Bandicoot I have been able to forget about things below the waterline and just concentrate on making the interior a cheerful and comfortable space in which to spend some precious time. The bandsaw is humming and I spend many days meandering between  a wide range of tasks and tools, drawing and imagining and coming up with little modifications - in the full understanding that they will never be noticed by anyone else- they are just  for us and the pure joy I find in the transformation of space by recycling materials shaped to lines that I have drawn. This is what I am made for. Wood, tools and design are the most essential me.

I began in the berth by lining it out, after sanding and painting and removing redundant wiring and other bits and pieces used in the boats previous lives. And talking of previous lives, all of the timber I have used so far has been recycled from leftovers from boats and buildings, and it is a real pleasure to see timber 'scraps' from my two boat builds and from house renovations come to life in new roles.

The new lining is removable and it allows air movement over the ribs and stringers.

The workshop is now littered with about two dozen pieces of shaped and fitted timber trim pieces in the process of being varnished. The old table has gone from the cabin and so has the original skipper's chair. Three new solar powered vents have replaced the dead ones. The floor around the cabin seating has been raised in several places to bring it all to the same height while still allowing easy access to the motor and the bilge. Work has progressed on lining parts of the cabin walls and increasing the depth of the seats. These are very mundane things, but I have had a whole lot of fun, all the while bobbing in the boat on the creek in the sun.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Combined Clubs on Bancroft Bay

After forecasts which threatened gales and heavy rain, the morning arrived sporting blue skies and very gentle breezes. We gathered with a dozen or so old classic boats for a social sail and a sail past the Metung Hotel and the Metung Yacht Club. The event was sponsored by the Metung club in conjunction with the Gippsland Lakes Classic Boat Club. While the forecast weather trimmed the numbers of participants somewhat, the morning was a glorious celebration of being in the outdoors enjoying simples pleasures.

Pearl and Endeavour showed that the big muscle Couta boats can thrive in light conditions.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Beginning with Bandicoot

So another little adventure begins. I'm so ready for this kind of open-ended-hands-on-how-can-I-make-it-better sort of work.
On the hard, Bandicoot looks like a large 8.3 metres, partly because of her beam and partly because of the flare at the bow. She's in very good fettle for a boat over fifty and her last two owners in particular have attended to the hull regularly and with care. There is a Nissan diesel at the other end of the screw and I have to say that on first taking the helm it was the power she has in reverse that made me happiest. I love it when I feel confident of coming to a proper sort of stop in a tight space. I do value slowing down more than  I enjoy speeding up...

The work we have planned for the outside is largely cosmetic but the interior is rather tired and lacking finish, although the timber is all good and well painted. Instrumentation is good and the wiring loom is very well done- quite recently I think. The usual niggles like the fuel gauge that reads backwards...

The galley will want a refit below the sink. We have removed the table pictured below because we would rather have less cluttered lounging space, and room for a dog or two indoors. If we need a table we will find a light collapsible one that can be deployed in the cab or out in the cockpit. I haven't pictured the V berth because I have been working on that area all week and will post about that later.