Nothing worthwhile comes without a struggle, and we are happy to be able to report that the web lockers are finally completed. They have turned out to be the most physically demanding aspect of the build so far. The web lockers need a lot of care. They are potentially subject to wave and collision impacts and will support weighty gear. This means the internal surfaces will be subject to abrasion and a lot of general wear and tear. Deb has done an incredible job over two weeks, laying up the two layers of fiberglass called for in the specifications in these tight and confined spaces. As an extension of the bridgedeck, the external hull -joint is treated in the same way as the lower bridgedeck join: a large radius epoxy fillet reinforced with four layers of fiberglass tape. The remainder of the external curved laminate gets a single layer of glass, then Qcell and fairing.
Meanwhile, the internal fit-out has progressed. The navigation bench has been fabricated and fitted in place. Later a large pull out drawer will be added for storage of our collection of paper charts. We were fortunate to luck onto a complete set of secondhand charts for the Australian East Coast, PNG, Fiji and New Caledonia. We have no intention of crossing oceans at this stage, but you never know… in any case, the east coast charts are backup in case our electronic navigation fails.
The galley area around the cooktop and oven has also been completed. The shelving has been framed and fixed, plus the bench top is fabricated, awaiting laminexing before being glued in place.
The bamboo sheeting for the cupboard doors has arrived, and we are in the process of selecting hinges, catches, and handles.
The saloon settee is taking shape. Initially, it was a frustratingly slow build. The plans give general dimensions, but no structural details. This fabrication needs to be built strong enough to support the weight of (potentially) up to ten human bottoms while at the same time, leaving the space below clear enough for storage and access to batteries, inverters, water tanks and other important bits of hardware. Plus, for the courtesy of future owners, it is good practice to facilitate removal of the water tanks if necessary, so it needs to have the ability to be partially disassembled as well. Honestly, nothing is simple with boats! Designing for all of these competing factors, while using the minimum of materials has required discipline and time, but there is also a sense of achievement as each obstacle is thought through and overcome.
On Tuesday our friend John popped in and asked if we had done anything about a tender. He had been offered a small sailing dinghy, which he had no use for, but thought we may be interested. It was local and free, so we decided it wouldn’t hurt to have a look-see on the way home. We were pleasantly surprised to find it was a Manly Junior. Pete and MJ’s go back a long way. He and his brothers all learned to sail on a MJ that was in the family for years. That little thing lived a charmed existence and her stories deserve a blog post of her own. As a boy, he spent many happy hours rowing her around the magical red granite inlets of the Freycinet Peninsular, where his family holidayed for many years. It was in her that he learned to handle a small boat, gaining an understanding of drift, tide, and wave. MJ’s actually make excellent tenders. Light, buoyant and with their flared topsides, surprisingly dry in a chop. They row well and are very seaworthy. Pete has an aversion to the ubiquitous rigid inflatables, commonly used as tenders. Almost impossible to row in a blow, they are virtually usless if the outboard fails. Not good if you have to get back to the mothership urgently. So it was love at first sight and “Adam Ant” had to come home with us. She is tucked in under the bridge deck, waiting for her mothership to be completed. As an ex-racing dingy, she needs some minor modifications: rowlocks, oars and a stern thwart so Deb has somewhere to sit.
Anyway, all work and no play makes us (well Pete mostly) somewhat obsessive boatbuilders to be avoided by polite society, so we recently welcomed the opportunity to spend a sultry Sunday afternoon with fellow expats from Alice Springs, Simon, Eileen and Mayokun on the foothills of Mount Roland, about forty minutes inland from Port Sorell. Here Simon and Eileen are developing Manna Hill Studios: three self-contained chalets on fifty acres of rolling green hills, with breathtaking views of the mountain and surrounds. It was a stunning afternoon, and we enjoyed watching small planes take off and land from a private airstrip in the valley far below us. The ajoining propery is owned by the iNternode founder who sometimes flies over from Adelaide in his private Pilatus PC12: the RFDS plane. Once a year the rocky escarpment of Mt Roland is used as a sort of giant projector screen for a laser light show. Manna Hill will surely have the best seats in the house next year. We have known Simon and Eileen for over ten years, and it is ironic that both couples find themselves in the same area, building their separate dreams, far away from the red hills of central Australia.