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.

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.

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I just hope it survives the winter…

Satisfaction, frustration, and the willful entanglement of inanimate things.

Today’s task was to get the shed roof on, and weatherproof. I am pleased to announce, after a bit of a struggle, the task is complete. I could, I suppose leave this post there. all the key information has been imparted. Shed up. Roof on. Job done. However what good is this blog if I can’t vent a bit of frustration every now and then? So first I had to take off the tarp that was covering the shed, Tilly and I spent a rainy miserable bank holiday Monday (quel surprise) putting the shed up but ran out of day before the roof went on and had to wrap it in tarp secured with bungee. This is where the willful entanglement comes in. Unhooking the bungee it pinged back and slapped me in the face. As I started to pull the tarp, the wind got up and it slapped me in the face, somewhat annoyed now I yanked on it, it tore. More annoyed I started to pull the bungee cord through the eyelets…. more face slapping, and standing there with the tarp thrashing in the wind, my legs plaited with elastic and my face stinging, I thought, this isn’t boat restoration as I imagined it. No whiff of tar and varnish, no soft swish of a sharp plane blade slicing through wood, no sweet thunk of mallet on chisel.

Despite the frustrations, it was very satisfying loading boxes of rigging and coils of rope into the shed. I also popped over to Queenborough to pick up the acrow props that Jim very kindly offered to cut down to size for me, and stopped off on the way back to order the timber I need for building a shelter over Flamingo. I feel the momentum of the project is good and though winter is perhaps not the best time to be outside boat building I am hopeful that the decrease in gardening duties will mean I can sustain it.

Delivery Day!

Finally the delivery day is here and I am ridiculously excited. Excited and nervous. I know she has made it as far as Maidstone, Jason the driver text me to tell me that much. The sun is shining the ground is dry, I’m as prepared as I can be with tools, timber, my home made yacht legs, but still I’m worried I’ve missed some vital element.

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Toby is at Reading Festival, Joe is in France with a friend, so it is down to the A team of Luke, Tilly, Tracy and me, and frankly some of us are a bit bored.

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The road is disappointingly empty


But wait! What’s this?


The Squirrel Marine truck, inching its way down the hill, and riding high and dry on her trailer is a dream I have been chasing for more years than I can remember.

IMG_1998   IMG_2009

After some very skilful manoeuvrings, The Flamingo has Landed.



With the assistance of Jim Brett and Jason Lengden of Squirrel Marine, the boat was safely propped and leveled. I had overestimated the length of prop needed so Jim has very kindly taken away 4 of them to cut down to size in his workshop, saving me hours of sweaty hacksaw and drilling. Definitely a good contact to have, with 30 plus years experience owning a boatyard and the designer of the rig Flamingo was delivered on. I’m looking forward to visiting his yard on Sheppey when I go to pick up the props.

I cant say enough good things about Squirrel Marine, ( if you need an expert in getting boats into tight spaces, you can’t get much better. The trailer is backed into position then a scaffold rig built over the boat which is then winched up allowing the trailer to be towed out from under it. You then place your cradle or base under the boat and lower, (we don’t like to use the word drop, Jason tells me) her gently down onto it. Not only were Jason and Jim, calm, professional and willing to spend time getting Flamingo sitting just right in her new home but they were also the cheapest.

The day ended with Tracy having a tour of my dream…. suffice to say it’s not her dream boat yet but I’m hopeful a few more sundowners in the cockpit may convince her…


The restoration of a 1930's Gaff Cutter