Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Black stuff, and bed
Tuesday July 11th
It has fallen to me to do the blacking - mainly because I lack the myriad other skills which Jim is deploying elsewhere on Warrior. Not that blacking isn't a skilled job! (Well, no, it isn't really.) In our absence, Warrior's hull was shotblasted and two coats of blacking put on; my aim this week was to add a further three, making a total of five coats. We are using Rylard Coflex vinyl tar (comastic) and are taking it right up to the gunwale for ease of future patching up. I'm putting it on with cheap (£1.29) bristle brushes and chucking them away at the end of each coat - actually, despite being cheap they shed far less hair than most brushes I've used. I've always preferred brushes to rollers; it may be slower but it's less messy and it goes on thicker and better. This stuff went on very nicely (and the finish is authentically rough with plenty of runs and brushmarks!).
I did the third coat on the Monday, half of the fourth on the Tuesday and the other half on Wednesday, and the fifth on Friday - Thursday was a day off because a boat was being gritblasted nearby. The only bit not done is the fore end - owing to a large and apparently growing pile of gravel having been delivered around it, which provides a lovely effect of Warrior ploughing through the waves but impedes painting access. Rather than move the gravel, Keith is going to move Warrior at some point, and then we (or they) will get the last bit finished off.
The tin the stuff comes in is of course emblazened with myriad warnings to the effect of how nasty it is, and I was careful not to inhale too much of it - but I was still surprised to find that - at least in combination with the sun - it will burn skin where it drips on it. I first noticed this with a mysterious sore elbow on Monday evening which then developed burn marks; I suffered no ill effects on the Tuesday or Wednesday, but on Friday nearly every drip was leaving a mark and I finally sussed out the cause. Whether the difference was in the different tins, the temperature or the sunlight I don't know. But it's obviously good stuff!
Other tasks today included Jim building the base for the bed under the foredeck. This is as close to the floor as possible, to give us maximum headroom, but raised up enough to provide some airflow to the mattress and clear a water pipe. Originally, there was a very ingenious and well built roll out bed, but it had several disadvantages: it was narrow (3'9"); the head sloped downwards, and we had to move the furniture to make space to roll it out. Having a fixed bed under there means the bed can be wider - about 4' at the head end widening to the full width of the boat, and the head end slopes (slightly) upwards rather than downwards, making it much more comfortable. We thought of levelling it out but that would have lost us more headroom. As it is we have about two foot, which is cosy but adequate for getting in and out. The whole space under the foredeck is panelled in pine and beautifully finished - even though it was never intended to be seen. There is a large hatch over the centre of the bed that we can prop open for ventilation - before the wasp season starts I have to make an insect screen for it! We had a mattress made in 4.5 inch thick foam, covered in striped ticking, by the Foam and Fabric Shop in Seaford, East Sussex - I think it cost £270, and it's very comfortable and shaped to fit in both dimensions.
Finally, on Tuesday, we went out for dinner to the Hartley Arms in Wheaton Aston, which was pretty good; certainly much better than our other attempt at eating out in the area, at the Vaughan Arms, Lapley - definitely not recommended! After a nice meal and some very good beer we went for a walk along the towpath where we saw a lovely new boat and engaged the owner in conversation - he turned out be to a repairer of boat engines, specialising in old ones, and we may hear more of him here ...