Lorry Jacks and Levelling

I suppose Friday morning’s PFA meeting where I found myself volunteered to build a giant Cactus Hoopla game for the fundraising Hoe Down should have given me a clue as to how the weekend was going to pan out. ¬†Friday afternoon was gloriously sunny and I carried on stripping paint. Thinking about how to maintain the waterline I broke from the Darth Vader mask and blowtorch combo to make a water level. In amongst the collection of old cracked, leaking and slug blocked hoses in one of the many lean-to sheds, I found 12 metres of relatively flexible garden hose and 2 metres of clear hose. Imagine my delight when the clear fitted snugly over the ordinary and with a metre of it at each end I had a perfect length water level.

Water Level
Water Level

Enlisting the help of Tilly to hold one end we discovered, in between ‘accidental’ soakings, “oh sorry sweetheart, did I get you?” ūüėĄ that Flamingo is about 120mm low at the stern and listing about 10mm to starboard.

A bit more stripping paint helped me mull over the problem. Flamingo is resting on three 150mm x 150mm timbers and it seemed to me that the solution would be to jack the stern up, in order to remove the packing blocks of wood then drop the stern slightly, pivoting the whole boat on its centre support. Once the weight was off the bow I could remove the packing from there and then, pivoting on the centre again, jack the stern up until level. Once level, simply add blocks and wedges to taste… The fact that she is resting on acrow props meant that I could keep her ¬†supported throughout.

So that was the plan, needless to say it didn’t quite work like that. Saturday was spent stripping varnish off the front door… (Of the house!)

The front door after stripping and sanding
The front door after stripping and sanding

Saturday night, impromptu dinner with friends which obviously led to drinks in the cockpit. The phrase ‘bitten off more than you can chew’ wasn’t uttered at all! Perhaps they were being polite.

Sunday, painting the front door with a disappointingly poo brown exterior stain gloop. Heartbreaking really to put in all that effort, sanding and scraping, and get such a rubbish result, but we couldn’t see any way to get rid of the black mould stains, so poo brown it is.

Mouldy old Doors
Mouldy old Doors
Stripped, sanded, cleaned with white spirit… still mouldy.


Sunday afternoon stripping and varnishing (the back door of the house! I need to sort out my priorities…) and then finally half an hour to put my theory into practice…

Venrable Lorry Jacks still in gainful employ.
Venerable Lorry Jacks still in gainful employ.

The stern is about100 mm lower but there is no sign of the bow lifting. I think far from pivoting on the central support she is just sinking it gently into the ground. I may have to employ another jack as a persuader at the bow to help…. But that will be a job for next weekend, when the boys are down and just itching to get stuck in helping with Dad’s project… Or, as is more likely, just happy to stand around laughing at the old man as he grovels about in ¬†the stinging nettles and plays with bits of hose and old lorry jacks.

Flaming Flamingo!

So I bought a new toy. Tool, it’s a tool! A propane blow torch with which to strip the paint from the hull. So far so good, I just imagined I would carefully, skillfully, heat (without scorching), the paint and then with marvellous dexterity, simply slide my recently sharpened scraper between paint and pitch pine, and perfect sheets of stripped paint would coil gracefully to the ground…. Yuh right! Firstly the paint is so worn and degraded that it turns to powder under my torch, second, while I concentrate on scraping the recently heated area the torch is scorching the next bit, thirdly, the super sharp scraper, honed on the advice of the wooden boat forum, digs into the wood at the slightest provocation… Actually no provocation is needed… It just digs in. However, half an hour in, and I’m starting to get the hang of it, there really is a fine line between just hot enough and ugly black scorch mark (as you can see!)

Back aching, arms aching, and only about 15% of the hull stripped.
Back aching, arms aching, and only about 15% of the hull stripped.

The hull seems to have been painted with a multitude of colours and paint types but the base layer is red and has soaked into the grain of the wood making removal impossible. At least I can see any damage and assess which planks need replacing or patching.

A recipe for scorched planks and singed arm hair in the hands of the unwary
A recipe for scorched planks and singed arm hair in the hands of the unwary

Spent some time with Sarah and Luke removing the safety rail stanchions, a bit more pottering saw the oddly positioned winches removed, and more junk and scraps of wood hauled up from below. The previous curator of Flamingo had hoarding tendencies that endear him to me, but we need it clear down there to see what we’re doing. The rest of the weekend was taken up with apple picking, apple pressing and lawn mowing. Not forgetting a BBQ on Saturday night to celebrate Emma’s birthday, an invasion of many splendid sons… (and one daughter) an escaped rabbit and clearing up after two young kittens who have just discovered the outside, and squeaky food you can chase, catch, and bring home to eat on the kitchen floor! Oh yes and in the process of catching Peaches (rabbit) we discovered a dozen eggs the chickens have been hiding under a bush. Work will be a doddle after this…

Flamin’ go! Flaming O, or just Flamingo?

So I’ve been playing with ideas for how Flamingo’s name might appear on her transom. I know, I know, this is way off in the future, but I’m itching to get on and the weekend is so far away. Apparently, a steady income is necessary even when you are in hot pursuit of your dreams so I’m reduced to a bit of lunch time graphic design to keep the flame of enthusiasm alight. Speaking of flames… (nice link!)

Flamingo logo 1
Nice retro font befitting her era, and I like the floating O
Flamingo logo 2
Another retro font and another play on the flaming O gag
Flamingo logo 3
A more ‘gothic’ font. Is it a bit “dragon slayer’? Perhaps it doesn’t need the flames…?
Flamingo logo 4
Still like the floating O and kind of like the Flamingo….
Flamingo logo 5
“Just popping up to the boat….” “just Flamin’ go!”
Flamingo logo 6
mmmm maybe something like this

Well its a start.

Laurent Giles levers and misleading labels.

The weekend started badly, having grown used to not working Fridays it is always a shock to the system on the rare occasions when I do have to go in. My body clock is thrown, as is my colleagues. The day is peppered with….. ” what day is it?” and “but… but… RR is here so it can’t be friday”

Not content with shortening my weekend with work, fate had another treat in store in the shape of a visit to Southampton University with Toby. Though it was a treat to look around such well equipped  workshops and studios, and to talk to the staff and students who were equally enthusiastic about the course (Mechanical Engineering) it was still another day out of the weekend, another day not working on the project. However, Sunday dawned bright and dry and I set about finishing off the shelter.


Handy Billy
Handy Billy

A makeshift handy billy, a kicking strap from a dinghy in a former life, helped tension the triangulating wire as I seem to have lost the fencing pliers and after a lot of wobbly ladder climbing, bruised knuckles and traipsing back and forth to the workshop, why is it that the battery always runs out when you are at the top of the ladder on one leg and just about to get a batten screwed in perfectly? Anyway, finally, I think the shelter is about ready.

Time to carry on with ridding Flamingo of the accumulated junk that is making it hard to see her potential below decks.

The previous owner didn't believe in throwing any piece of wood away.... no matter how small.
The previous owner didn’t believe in throwing any piece of wood away…. no matter how small.

From under the fore cabin bunk I liberated another piece of of mast ironmongery which, like all the rigging is neatly labelled… I sincerely hope the rest of the labeling is clearer than this though…

OK so this is the front …
Huh? If that was the front, shouldn’t this be Port?
Another Starboard….
Well which is it!?

In the process of clearing out all the bits of ply and scraps of hardwood I enlisted Tilly’s help to see if some of the more intricately shaped pieces had a home in the locker as they looked like they’d been cut around the frames to make a floor in there. Having exhausted that activity in about five minutes, Tilly declared, “Daddy, when the boat is finished I think I will like it, I don’t like it now though, so I’m going back down to the house. Exit fickle daughter, stage left, or should that be stage Port?

Another discovery, the ‘Highfield’ Levers that tension the backstays turn out to be Laurent Giles Levers….. is this good? I don’t know but it feels good to have a something aboard from this prolific designer. http://www.laurentgilesarchive.com/the-yachts

A touch of class

Finally, two nice solid winch handles were unearthed but popping them in immediately highlighted an issue with the position of the winches. Every pump of the handle would scrape your knuckles across the guard rail wire! Thinking about it maybe the solution is just rotate the winches so they pump port and starboard not fore and aft… plenty of time to think about that.

I can see some sore knuckles resulting from the position of the winches
I can see some sore knuckles resulting from the position of the winches

Lawn mowing took up a large part of the afternoon as apparently, unfair as it may be, all my other chores still have to be done….. it seems the world doesn’t stop turning just because I’m sitting in the cockpit in the afternoon sun dreaming of muddy estuaries and the smell of the sea….

Frames, Tarps and Marx Brothers

Wrapping Flamingo up each night and unwrapping before starting work was obviously going to be a pain especially as I invested in a heavy weight tarp. So last weekend’s task was building a frame to support the tarp at a height that allows free movement on deck. This turned out to be rather high! So high in fact that the local timber yard didn’t have long enough lengths of 75×75 in stock.

Itching to get on, I bought what they had and spent hours joining lengths together. I’m hand tools only up in the ‘boat yard’ at the moment and ripping down lengths of soggy tanalised timber was hard work. Still, Sunday morning saw four frames all ready to erect.



As this was definitely more than a one man job I called in reinforcements in the form of my three sons, Toby, Joe and Luke, or, Harpo, Chico and Groucho as they might more appropriately be called. Despite being utterly incapable of concentrating for more than a few minutes without lapsing into some strange code language of FIFA 15 stats, and song lyrics, or leaping onto the deck for a selfie whilst uttering some of Jack Sparrow’s immortal lines, we did manage to get the frame up. All that was missing to qualify the day as a Marx Brothers Tribute, was some swinging plank gags and falling off ladder slapstick.


The reward was a well earned BBQ then some tarp wrestling to finally finish off my sedentary, desk job softened muscles. It still needs tweaking to make sure no water pools collect, and a few more braces for strength, but its not looking too bad.

IMG_1039     IMG_1040


I just hope it survives the winter…