So suddenly it’s spring and whole garden is a riot of blossom, and birds feverishly nest building.

the garden is blooming

The bank, vestigial remains of the millpond’s retaining dam is covered in milkmaids this year, as is the orchard and I’ve decided not to mow under the fruit trees until autumn thus releasing about two hours a week from mowing servitude to spend on boat building! In truth, I’m going to need every hour I can get as I have provisionally signed up for a sailing event next August! It’s the Old Gaffers Association 55th Anniversary and there is a regatta in Cowes on the Isle Of Wight. It is an improbable time frame but not impossible…..maybe. 🙂

A Shepherd’s Hut has arrived

The apple blossom in the top orchard is beautiful, notice the crab apple beyond the Shepherd’s Hut…. a Shepherd’s Hut!? I hear you exclaim, yes, mother has splashed out on a little wheeled retreat to retreat to or to simply sit and contemplate whatever it is mothers sit and contemplate when they’re not pruning, planting, watering and weeding. It took several hours of sweaty labour to get it from the road to its resting place as it weighs about 1.5 tons!

a trusty old bottle jack helped the levelling task

Another few hours of fossicking about underneath the chassis with an old bottle jack that, remembering the cobwebby, cedarwood garage of my childhood, I realised is older than me and still going strong, and the hut is level (ish)

Deer protection on some new fruit trees.

For some reason despite the plentiful supply of grazing, the local deer seem rather partial to young fruit tree bark. Something to do with the high sugar content I think. A bit of work with some old sheep wire and they are hopefully safe from the depredations of the rascally ruminants.


Crikey! I hear you mutter, I though this blog was about boatbuilding not a bucolic ramble through an East Sussex Orchard! Ok, so the warm spring weather and some time off over Easter meant some actual honest to goodness boat restoration got done! Here is (hopefully) the last laminated frame under construction.

the ‘last’ laminated frame underway

Having lovingly honed all my edged tools it was almost painful to plane the glue soaked wood, ‘poxy resin takes the edge off a blade very quickly!

Blunting my freshly sharpened plane on ‘poxy resin

I’ve long been a convert to the church of hardpoint saws, they last so long if you take care to avoid nails and screws and they are so sharp and so (relatively) cheap it seemed nonsensical to spend time hand sharpening a traditional saw. That was until I bought an old carpenters tool box at a car boot sale. £12 bought me a nice old box with quite a few old tools still in it. I felt almost embarrassed to be walking away with such riches for so little, but the seller seemed more than happy. Anyway, remembering that one of the saws was a fairly coarse one, and that in a recent spell of displacement activity I had sharpened it, I got it out and ripped (quite literally) through this sawn frame to trim it down to the correct thickness. I’m now an evangelical convert to the church of the traditional sawyer and next time I’m faced with a tricky task on the boat I shall procrastinate and spend some time sharpening the other two saws (one fine, one medium)

It’s a real pleasure owning a traditional tool chest, I probably spend too much time working out the best order to store the tools and it’s almost impossible to pick up once it’s full, (in fact I’ve adapted an old wheelbarrow to transport it from the house to the boat to save my back) but there’s something about it, I feel some sort of connection to all the carpenters who’ve used similar chests, or even this very one. It has also made me more fussy about what tools I put in it. I’m using the William Morris test, it either has to be beautiful, or useful, otherwise it is consigned to the ‘junk’ tool bag. I’ve become so fond of it I’ve even sanded off the more obvious paint splatters (whilst carefully preserving it’s patina of age and authenticity of course) and given it a coat of wax!

Ripping down a sawn frame with a proper saw.
Planing the sawn frame is sooo much nicer than fighting through the glue of the laminated one.

The sunshine and warm weather has meant more time up at the boat and this little job patching in a hole in the keelson was satisfactorily knocked off the to do list.

preparing to fill in a rotten bit of keel
Glued and screwed

Next on the list is getting hold of some Polysulphide Bedding Compound to bed the frames in without breaking the bank, and working out how to repair some of the oversize bolt holes. I’m thinking some sort of router jig…..roll on Summer!


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