Sunday, 27 May 2012

Some rest for the wicked...

Here is Basil the Lab, resting after some exhausting work as our technical adviser on this boat build.
Behind are some Douglas Fir planks and a piece of Batu wood on the bottom to make the Transom

Ralph helps out with some laminating

My old Boss (from my Austrade days) in our basement workshop, wielding the wooden mallet we use to straighten bits of wood that we're laminating.  Here laminating the cleats for the web frames.  Ralph and his wife Maria are with us from their home in Sydney, on their way to Denmark.  Here they are with us yesterday on our boat Xena.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Ruth's card

Ruth's lovely card - drawn by her -- is enclosed with the Full Scale Plans

Ruth Ann Hill is the partner of John Brooks and with him the co author of the excellent "How to Build Glued-Lapstrake Wooden Boats".  In their book, they say "a boatbuilding book isn't really living a full existence until she has sawdust in the binding, epoxy putty on the cover, coffee stains on the pages...."
Well, I've got as far as the coffee stains on the Ruth's postcard!
And also: finished the building Jig today, and working on the cleats for the web frames and the moulds.  Getting on with it....
My uneven keel.  The leftover from a local racing boat, Talking Head
now belongs to me, for the price of lead scrap. The Boatyard will melt it into a keel
for my little Somes Sound

Basil has been a constant source of technical advice
Note the legs: not good.  Means he has hip displasia...

My mate Rocky with my new Makita table saw in the garden today

Also in the garden today: our crop of spring orchids in our Frangipani

The inside workshop: Band saw and laminating webframe cleats

Friday, 18 May 2012

Building the Jig

A couple of days ago, from the DB-HK Ferry. Looking at the 108-storey International Commercial Centre,
with the world's highest hotel, the Ritz-Carlton on the top 20 floors.
Nothing to do with boat really, except I was off to Kowloon to look for marine fasteners...

Mates Ah Cheung and Ah San, help me lay out the base for the jig on which 
I will build the backbone of the boat

This is what the building Jig will look like.
From John Brooks' building photos, here.

Supposed to be finishing off the Jig today, but pouring with rain
and expected to keep raining for 8 days....
But the rain and heat have been great for the orchids.
Here five types growing in our Frangipani

Various Plans dot the household...

Monday, 14 May 2012

Building the boat all over the house

"How to build a glued lapstrake boat", by John Brooks. And dining room
I thought that I'd be building this boat in one place -- outside under the pergola, covered for the time of the boat-build.  And that's still the plan. Meantime, making various bits and pieces is happening all over the house....

Carpenter's tool box with statue and calligraphy

Mast Web Frame and picnic table.  The bamboo scaffolding is part of the
village septennial refurbishment

Web frames on picnic table with bamboo scaffolding

Full Scale Plans and couch

Building the Forefoot Filler and Web Frames

Arlene does tracing for the Forefoot Filler piece.  Note Basil the Labrador offering technical advice....

Ready to cut the Web Frames

Moonblue 2 (Warwick 64) bunkering diesel, outside the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club last Friday 11 May, where I was
looking for lead for the keel, and found it from discarded bulb of Talking Head.
Imagine that at HK's premier Yacht Club you have to bunker fuel like this.
The big barges in background are part of the work on the sub-harbour tunnel that the government is building.
We'll be on MB2 at the Koh Samui Regatta end of this month.

Arlene prepares the Full Scale Plans for transferring to plywood for the Web Frames.
Note Marcus the Weimaraner helping out with down-to-earth technical advice...

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Hubble, bubble, toil and ... keel

Boiling up the lead keel of Eleanor (nothing to do with my boat, just a nice piccie)
I dropped by the Club yesterday and met up with Simon the Boatyard manager and tell him I'm looking for how to get a lead keel made here in Hong Kong.  He tells me that Talking Head has just taken its bulb off and is going to be sold for scrap.  I can take it if I want, which I do, and now am owner of a bit of lead that's been gnawed at, so it's a touch scrappy, but still plenty of lead there to make the lead keel for a little Somes Sound 12 1/2.
So now I've got an uneven keel.
I got Arlene involved in the tracing of lines for the web frames, fun, she says, and it was.  I've now finished them and wait for the wood (Batu) to make the transom.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Flashback (I): making the lofting board

Tomer Halfi (Tom), who stayed at our place, via Couchsurfer.  Starting on the lofting board.
Thought I'd catch up with some people over the last few months that have helped on the boat -- "flashbacks".
Here's Tom, helping paint the "lofting board", for the laminating of the inner and outer stems (the bow).
The spray can didn't work too well, so we got to the paint tin...
Notice Marcus helping out

Monday, 7 May 2012

Wood, wood, wonderful wood...

The wood I really need for this little Somes Sound 12 1/2 is Mahogany, as in the tree above.
But you just can't get it in Hong Kong.
When I visited the Dorfield yard last week, I kind of hoped they might have some, but no luck. All they have is pine, some plywood (not Marine grade) and Douglas Fir.
Florence Tang is the MD of Dorfield -- I'm guessing the daughter of the founder -- and she told me that she could get me some wood that is good for marine use and is called, in Chinese 杪 木.  That's pronounced "Miǎo Mu".  Florence didn't know the English for it. I looked it up and there's no compound with "wood", but the meaning of "miao" is a "twig" or the "end of a branch".  (btw: wife Jing didn't know the character, so I'm allowed not to know it).  I asked Rocky, our builder, and he said he thought it was another way to write 梢 (shāo), and he's quite right, for that also means "tip of a branch".  
He reckoned that it was "Bangkirai" in English.
Again, he was right, for when I searched Google for 木, I find that it's Latin name is "Shorea" and that one of its common names is Bangkirai and also Lauan and Philippine Mahogany.
When I told Florence this, she answered as follows:
About your request "Lauan" we say that is "柳安木". This kind of wood nature are soft. So we are not advice use this.
We are advice the wood is "Batu". Which is suitable for building ship. We supply "Batu" wood for "Star Cruises" for repairing work right now. You can consider on it. So I can provide the price for 1" X 12" X 14feet of Batu (
 ) or Lauan for you.
But I would like to know that do you need to plane?
Hmmm, the mystery deepens a touch.  
I answer that "yes", I'd like to have price of Batu (whatever that is!) and that I do need to plane (a bit)

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Still life with epoxy...

...  and brushes.
This is what popped out of the plastic take-away container we had the epoxy in, with the brushes suspended in mid-air, stiff...

Ramin... not a Japanese noodle...

Japanese sesame ramen.  Yum... recipe here.
... that's Ramen with an "e", at least I think so, and too lazy to google it.... [well, you can see I now have, and got that lovely piccie above, with recipe to boot....]
I'm talking about Ramin with an "i", which is a tropical hardwood, and which I'm using in place of Mahogany, which is totally unavailable in this part of the world.
I made the mistake of doing some research on Ramin and found this reference on, which said that it's subject to rot.
Oh dear.  
I was sitting at the Yacht Club this arvo, while Jing was out on the water again in the Spring Series, on Dexter (an A40) and feeling a bit glum about this.  After all, I didn't have much choice, wood being like hens' teeth here in Hong Kong.
Then I found another reference in the Chesapeake Light Craft which said:
  "Don't worry much about rot; thoroughly epoxy-coated boats are largely exempt from that terror."
Oh goody!  Cause that's exactly what I thought I'd do: epoxy the mother to an inch of its life.....

Laminating the inner Stem

Here's my neighbour Steve, a pilot, sailor and woodworker.  He helped me with the first laminating we did: Ramin wood (木), 3/16" x 2" X 7'.
Steve at our adjustable laminating jig, 3 May '12
Went pretty well and was good fun...

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Wood hunting in Hong Kong

Shopping in Hong Kong, even for the wonderful Wanko?  No probs.  Want wood? Fuggedabout it....
If you want to buy a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes -- you know, the ones with the red soles -- or a Prada bag, or a Hermes scarf here in Hong Kong, no probs...
You wanna buy some wood.... fuggeddaboudit!
I've been looking for woods to make this little Somes Sound 12 1/2 for a couple of month now.  I've had  various folks on the case, including Rocky, the guy that did our renovations at Casa Siena v.1 and v.2 and who's a woodworking bloke by trade.  He reckoned he could get me what I needed.
He was here a coupla weeks ago, and I said I needed mahogany.  He rings his mate, a wood dealer. I've told Rocky what the Chinese is for "mahogany", just in case there's confusion and he knows it: 木 or Tao Hua Xin Mu in Mandarin, (tou fa sam mou, in Cantonese), literally "wood from the heart of the peach flower" (I wonder if that's what it really is, a peach tree?...), but when he talks to his mate, in Cantonese, he refers to it as "mahogany" ie the English.
Anyhoo: turns out there's none in Hong Kong.  And none in Guangdong.  None in our region.
Today I headed off to the  Dorfield umber yard in Yuen Long that I found on the internet.  Their online piccies excited me... how's that, excited by wood....
Dorfield Ltd had a lovely young lady, Florence Tang, very helpful.  But not much in the way of wood I need.  Some Canadian "Douglas Fir", though with the characters we exchanged (杉 = Fir vs 松 = Pine) I'm not at all sure it it was really Fir or just that they called Canadian Pine "Fir".  And in any case it's too thick.
On the way back, I stopped by the place I previously bought some Ramin (木), which is a tropical hardwood, said to have fine properties.  Who knows if it's ok for marine use?  Not I.  And not John of Brooks marine.  All I can say is that I have no other choices.
And that I've laminated some, with help of mate, neighbour, sailor and woodworker, Steve, and it's come out just dandy.
Hardware items:
On the way home I also stopped by a place for bronze screws.  To none of my surprise, they actually don't do bronze screws, only brass, and that, folks, ain't good enough.  BUT, he does have marine grade (A4 316) stainless steel screws, or can get them and is going to give me a quote on them.  These are said to be better than bronze ones, as long as the quality is OK, since they don't break as easily under hard screwing... 
I had with me the list needed (from John's list) and I asked him "can you take a photocopy of these pages?".  "Sure" he says and whips out his phone, a Samsung gadget, flips on his "Scan" App and quickly scans the two pages..
I'm back home now, waiting for Jing to return from her day of tennis and yacht racing: she's in the Spring Series on Dexter, with Stevo and Zoe..

Friday, 4 May 2012

Intro post

John Brooks, the designer and builder of the Somes Sound 12 1/2, in Maine
A month or so back, I decided I'd like to try to build a wooden boat in my backyard here in Hong Kong.
I was building a model 17th Century Longboat, and thought: "it's probably easier to build a full sized one...".  Here I was fiddling round with tiny turning- blocks the size of grains of sand and halyards like spider's web. And me with fingers like sausages (the UK sort, pork, short-ish and fat).

The first-up idea of literally building a 17th Century longboat was discarded when I found that the only plans, at the National Maritime Museum in the UK, were no longer available online.

So, some research later I came across the Couta Boat from Melbourne: these are fine sailing fishing boats of the late 19th century, gaff-rigged and fast, now raced in an active one-design class.  But again, despite repeated emails to the Couta Boat Association, I couldn't get any plans.

That led me, on the byways and highways of the intertube, to the plans for a Somes Sound 12 1/2 designed by John Brooks, Brooks Boats Design, Brookline Maine.  It helped that in my research I'd ordered a dozen or so books from Amazon on building wooden boats and found John and Ruth's by far the best: their excellent "How to build a glued lapstrake wooden boat”.

So here I am now, in the process -- or just started really.

I'm going to keep a record here, photos and thoughts.  And a record of costs, if I remember.
UPDATE: Forgot to post a piccie of what she's supposed to look like when finished....

A pretty little picnic boat
From Wooden Boat, Nov-Dec 2010

Cheers for now.
Peter in Hong Kong