April’s cool.

Pathfinder build project blog, April 2022.

It’s early morning and early April 2022, this morning came as a cold surprise when i woke up to a hard frost coupled with thick mist in the valley and a cold northerly wind ; it’s far too cold to get anything done on the actual build, not that i can get much done because i don’t have the timber for the next stage of the bottom work. Today i thought i would go for a walk through the local woods that got a good beating during the storms that came through about a month ago – i had this great idea of maybe finding a piece of deadfall Oak to retrieve and carve a tiller from…..no luck, there’s plenty of big Beech down but i haven’t found a nice fallen Oak yet.

The valley is heavy with trees here especially in the gorge section of the Tamar and it’s normal to get big trees coming down in the storms and especially on the valley side which is steep-to and doesn’t have a thick soil layer. I must say that i like the landscape here – the valley was once important for the mining of Tin, Silver and then Arsenic – the steep sides of the river valley are full of old mine buildings, mineshafts and the mostly blocked off entrances to the Arsenic tunnels. Now, it’s many years since the mines closed down and the valley slowly filled with poorly rooted trees…..lots of Beech, some Oak and Hazel and the odd Sweet Chestnut. A fair proportion of trees fall every year and one of my side hobby’s is retrieving deadfall for our woodburner hence today’s walk, I had a strange walk this morning too because it was a clear blue sky but cold and i was being continually showered with ice particles coming off the trees in the light northerly wind.

Last week i think i completely finished the heavy sanding work of the entire hull and that included, right at the end, glassing and filling the transom and then going over the plank laps with a bead of filler and cutting that back with a specially made sanding block. After that and for the first time i not only dry-vac’d the whole boat but i also got a bowl of warm water and some detergent and wiped the whole hull clean as well……as far as i can see it’s ready to mark in a waterline and get some primer on but i can only do that once iv’e made and fitted the twin skegs. What happened with that is that my project organisation broke down and i completely forgot to measure up for the skegs and order the timber – that and the timber merchant being busy with other work means that i may not get the wood for a few days more so i’m kind-of scratching around for jobs that i can actually do, then as well it’s due to get a bit colder yet and wet as well for a few days.

Working out where the skegs will go.

On the bench.

First jobs ‘on the bench’ was a thorough clean and tidy of the workshop, throwing out weeks of rubbish created during the long epoxy jobs and then cleaning and sharpening my planes and chisels in preparation for the next round of jobs. Iv’e said before that my little workshop is a very odd structure with several different levels of floor, one wall is thick granite and was once one wall of the engine house that drove the mine that was on this site…..the other walls are concrete block and none of them are straight or level ; the whole thing gets cold and damp in the winter which affects my tools but iv’e had the workshop mostly open for the whole of March and aired it out – now i just need to clean and sharpen everything.

Job 2 is to go out there with a mug of coffee, sit and re-acquaint myself with the plans and make a list of materials i need to carry on with the build ; on the other side of the shed i have the wood i need to build the decks, gunwhales and cuddy but i know i don’t have the timber for the skegs….i also need more epoxy hardener and primer to start the paint job with.

On the bench….2

For the first time on the project iv’e had to create 3 lists of jobs ; the first list being of jobs that i have to do next but which i don’t have the materials for – that also creates this month’s budget and shopping list, list 2 is jobs that i can’t do but for which i do have the materials – decks , gunnels , cuddy etc and list 3 is where jobs and materials match up . List 3 only has one main job that i could be doing right now and that’s building the rudder – iv’e already made the rudder blade but my first attempt at the rudder cheeks assembly was shockingly bad even by my standards so i put it aside and it’s not even good for a pattern. In my materials ordering i think about getting ahead a bit and ordering the staves to make the hollow wooden masts from but to be honest there’s no point in having those yet because i’ll need the build frame out from under the boat to make a spar bench from and i can’t do that until i finish the bottom and turn the hull upright again.

On the boat……1

What i can do is have a first look at marking a waterline – i actually had no idea how to do this until i remembered that i had a long batten that i made and used to help me fair the plank edges and i figured that if i marked the position of the waterline at bow and stern and then worked out where it needed to be roughly in the middle then i could attach the batten for and aft and let it find the curve.

Waterline batten and mark.
Waterline taped.

For a small practical job i also glued the stem band but that’s about it for this week. Later on i’ll have to shift all of the timber in the workshop so that i can access what i need for the rudder assembly…..for now i need to be inside on the computer and ordering materials.

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