No problem sailing teka electricity bill

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Guess what? Another one of our stanchions is gone. It is beyond a joke now. It has entered a strange, surreal place beyond humour, where every time anyone speaks to me, I half expect them to say that one of our stanchions needs replacing. Luckily, Slava (one of the two chaps from Rolt’s) doesn’t seem too fussed about it. He had a look from the outside, then a look from the inside, and sort of shrug-nodded. Yes, he can fix it, no problem. There is something quite reassuring about his confidence that he can fix it, no problem. I don’t know if it is a Russian thing… it might be. I work with a Russian woman, and this seems to be her outlook on most things, too. He and Isaac (the other chap from Rolt’s) have been working hard today. After a much needed rest for the bank holiday – which, in all honesty, Keith and I took advantage of too – they were back steaming and bending planks and putting them in to position. The attaching of one caused a little difficulty this morning, though. In an ideal world, they needed to access the joining point of a new plank from the inside. First, we emptied a cupboard, but soon realised that we needed to be about a foot further aft. Directly behind the switchboard that controls all the electrics. Armed with a selection of screwdrivers, we removed the steps which lead from the doghouse to the cockpit. Then the hinges from two doors, and the doors themselves. Then the switchboard. Then the panel behind the switchboard, to reveal… a big copper tank. Or at least part of one. A 500 gallon copper tank, which holds our fuel. There was no way to access the plank from the inside. So then we put back the panel, the switchboard, the two doors, and the steps. That’s half an hour of my life which I am never getting back again! Luckily, the shipwrights worked out another way, which is only slightly less good, so it wasn’t the end of the world.

The professionals aren’t the only ones who have been working hard today. The main task of the day has been the removal of the deck coating. It is quite a tedious and time consuming job, sitting with a heat gun and a scraper, but very satisfying, too. Our intentions to spend the whole day doing it were interrupted by power problems, though. We only have two ‘normal’ power points on Teka, and they simply cannot cope with having so many power tools and other equipment running at once. Therefore, we allowed the shipwrights their power, and got on with some manual work. Ben, Kyle, and Joe are helping us today. It turns out that Ben is a demon when it comes to sanding by hand! He and Kyle took it upon themselves to sand some of the handrails along the top of the doghouse and saloon, and it was done in moments. As much as I love disc sanders (and I really do), some things are just too fiddly. This most definitely includes hand rails. However, one was done in what felt like seconds, and I was on hand with a brush and the Epifanes rapid clear. Removing the deck coating: Good on the left, bad on the right

My other no-power job was to apply Stockholm tar to things. Initially, I concentrated on the sternpost. I removed the rest of the damaged paint from the top, as well as a section facing forward, as this was also damaged, and easy (ish) to access. Then I brushed on the Stockholm. The wood was so thirsty that I got four doses on in the space of an hour or so. Between doses on the sternpost, I coated as much as possible of the bilge and frames. There is a row of planks along the middle of the floor, from bow to midships, which can be removed to access the bilge (aft of that it can be accessed by going in to the engine ‘room’). I painted the tar on everything that I could reach, which turned out to be most of the keel, part of the main mast, and fairly substantial areas of the frames and planking. This also allowed for a good check of the bilge and associated wood – both appear sound and dry, which is good. Stockholm tarry brush

After the power was returned to us, I had a quick sand of the companionway hatch, although it will need to be finished either by hand, or with a smaller electric sander, as there is a few bits which can’t be reached by a big spinning disc. And Keith and Kyle got on with taking the deck coat off. They are making amazing progress. It is a nasty, plastic based coat, which prevents the deck from breathing. As it comes off, it is revealing a beautiful deck below, which, in it’s natural form, is much lighter in colour than with the coating on. This will be good. A paler deck reflects more of the heat in the summer, helping to prevent the wood from drying out too much. Surely we want dry wood? Not entirely. The wood of a wooden boat, like Teka, needs a fine balance of moisture. Too much, especially fresh water, and the wood will rot. But not enough, and the wood will dry, shrink, and crack. This has been the downside of the wonderful weather we have enjoyed over the last few days. The beautifully fared sides of the hull suddenly appeared full of angles. So, on Sunday evening, after work, I attached the hose and hosed down the hull (and myself). I had to repeat this on Monday morning, and Keith did it again on Monday afternoon. Luckily, the temperature has dropped a little, so we might not need to do it again. Keith checked with Slava whether we should be panicking about it, and he shrug-nodded and said: ‘no problem’.