Thursday, 29 July 2010

Contessa goes Harken mad!

When I was researching winches, there was a clue that Harken might have a good environmental ethos. The company globally are sponsors of Plastiki - a great project which involves sailing a boat made out of 12,000 recycled plastic bottles across the Pacific ocean to highlight the problem of plastic in the world's oceans. The same drive as the powerful film "Message in the Waves". When I started talking to Lymington based Harken UK about their environmental policy they had an unusual answer which got me thinking. Managing Director, Andy Ashvie said "we don't really believe in policies here". There's something to be said for not having too many policies, it kind of kills the spirit and the energy of a place and when I probed further it turns out that Harken have quite an advanced approach to environmental management - The UK facility reduced it's energy consumption by 25% last year. Globally, teleconferencing is encouraged, there is an advanced system of waste recycling and the new factories in Italy and the US are state-of-the-art, packed with eco features. In the course of building Calypso we are discovering quite a few progressive companies like this, who don't make a big song and dance about their eco credentials - the truth is that being green is often about being efficient - something any company who wants to stay in business does naturally. The great thing for us, is that out of this drive for efficiency, Harken have come up with a revolutionary new winch system making them substantially lighter, really easy to strip down and clean/fix - and they look really cool! So, after many years, Contessa goes Harken -I think it will be the beginning of a great partnership.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Deck down

Today, the two halves of the mould were reunited again. That is, the deck got bonded to the hull. Quite a moment. Not many 32s have laid decks, and of course this is the first to have a Kebony laid deck, and it looks beautiful. It was quite surreal to see the deck suspended a foot above the hull with Jeremy and John Osey busy down below fixing things. I was so glad it wasn't my job to make sure the two halves fitted - because once you've committed there really is no going back. How amazing to be witnessing the evolution of the boat like this. There is still a lot to be done before the Southampton Boat Show, 10th September, but Jeremy seems relatively calm so either he's a good actor, or it's all under control!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Heads, loo, bog, toilet, crapper.

Chances are, if you spend a lengthy period on a boat there will come a time when you have to get intimate with the heads. Our old boat, Silurian, had these amazing bronze contraptions (I think they were old Wilcox Crittenden) which it ended up being my job to service. I can honestly say that by the end I had developed a bit of an affection for them; they seemed almost tolerant of my slightly ham fisted efforts to repair them and would work even when I twisted the gaskets and put things back in the wrong order. So, it was with some trepidation that we decided to go for electric heads on Calypso - because of the tiny amount of water used - therefore taking up less space in the black water tank. I had this sort of sense of dread whenever my mind wandered to that area of the boat, which really wasn't a good start. Then I spoke to the people that know about bogs at Lee Sanitation and they persuaded me that a good quality hand pump toilet with a good dry flush option would be fine. It was like a cloud lifting. I'm now looking forward to the arrival of a new friend from Germany - hopefully this one will be as tolerant.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

The nose knows

The latest job on the list in the building of Calypso is the laying of the cabin sole which Jeremy has been working on and the laying of the deck by one of the team, David Wreyford. Both are very skilled jobs and it's very rare nowadays for a deck to be laid like this. The guys are using two new products in this job, the teak replacement, Kebony and a new, solvent-free sealant called Saba which also doesn't "go off" in the tube, dramatically cutting down on waste. I was curious to know how David was finding using the Kebony; "fine", he said, "much like teak - but it's got a funny smell"! I have to say, I really like it. Now, when you open the door to the yard a strong smell of mollases fills the air (it comes from the sugar industry bi-product used in the process of making Kebony). I think it will settle down once it's not being sanded and it's varnished with the linseed based Le Tonkinois varnish. To the untrained nose, it all makes a welcome change from the normal boat yard smells.