Friday, 26 February 2010

Breaking the mould

Recently we have been dropping down to the yard en masse to check on the progress of Calypso. I'm not sure whether our children are especially wild or whether it's normal for boys but they seem to explode out of the car and disperse like a gas into all corners of the yard, causing all sorts of trouble. The twins are only four, so I don't expect them to really grasp what is going in terms of "building our own boat" but I am hopeful that the bigger boys will learn a lot from the process. The concept of the inside-out boat has been quite hard to grasp, one day we spent a few minutes discussing this and although Inigo, our seven year old, was concentrating really hard, it clearly wasn't getting through. Suddenly I came up with a great way of explaining it. "Ini, you remember last year you made those chocolate Easter eggs using a plastic mould"? - Inigo's face lights up, and that's it, the boat has gone, his brain is entirely full of chocolate. "How many days is it til Easter Mummy"? Suddenly I find myself calculating how many days til Easter, one of the twins falls over, and the moment is lost! Maybe next week I'll think of a better example, not involving chocolate.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Ugly duckling

For most of the year the Contessa 32 mould sits outside in the car park at the Lymington Yacht Haven with "CO32" scrawled across it in spray paint. Of course, I know it's inside out, and the outside doesn't matter, but I have to admit it's not been really obvious to me how those beautiful boats come out of such a rough looking thing. All became clear last week when the mould was brought into the yard and cracked open. Once polished up, the inside of the mould is like a perfect replica of the outside of a Contessa 32. First, two layers of gel coat are laid down on the top sides, and then layer after layer of fibreglass, soaked in resin. It may be the least green part of the boat building process, but it is at least reassuring to see the strength built in to this hull when I think about the sea miles this boat will carry my family.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Rough hands, happy heart.

The transition from living afloat to living on land is often a hard one.
I found it relatively easy as motherhood consumed and satisfied me to a large degree but Kit, unsurprisingly, found the contrast between being skipper of a whale research/wildlife filming boat and teacher in a large secondary school rather harder. One of things that seemed to upset him most was the disappearance of the callouses on his hands. In recent weeks he has been cycling down to the boat yard on Saturday mornings to help on Calypso and I've noticed a few changes taking place in my husband. One is a very slight roughening of the hands, (though there's a long way to go before reaching Jeremy's award winning league). The other is a contented smile on his face!

Friday, 5 February 2010

Teak Performance?

I've been kicking around the Rogers' boat yard for over 10 years, so I'm not completely new to what it takes to build a boat, but I guess watching your own boat being built is a bit like having your own baby, suddenly the subject becomes a whole lot more interesting - that's probably where the comparison ends! Jeremy is now experimenting with a new type of teak replacement called Kebony. There is no doubt that teak is an amazing wood, but as demand outstrips sustainable supply it's important that a really good alternative is found. There are plenty of examples of resin filled softwoods on the market, but these proved problematic when the toxic resin started leaching out. Kebony, a Norwegian-based company, claims to have found a solution to this; waste Kebony can be disposed of as untreated wood. It comes ready planked which makes it more appealing than a tree trunk from the builders' point of view, but it will be interesting to see what Jeremy thinks of it as a craftsman.