If a man is to be obsessed by something I suppose a boat is as good as anything. Perhaps a bit better than most.
- E.B. White
Fall colours at Britannia. Short days. Early, brilliant sunsets.
Welcome to the Britannia Heritage Shipyard Society Blog
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1 December 2013
Two plus years of work have at last culminated in 'the big reveal' as Larry and Kerry get the last bit of anti-fouling paint applied. The last critical bit of equipment has been re-installed. Radar, radios and galley gear will be done while she floats. In fact, the 6-cyl, 120 HP Ford Lehman diesel engine has not been fired since she last floated so there's plenty of work left to do before we take her out for a real cruise
.I doubt she has ever looked so lovely. It's almost a shame to let her get wet. But, that's what boats are for! So, back to her native element.
Of course, as in Coleridge's famous poem, 'all the boards did shrink,' and so she took on water at a daunting rate. The bilge pump kept ahead of the ingress so no major worry. None the less, we did have the big, gasoline powered dock pump standing by, primed and ready to go. Kerry drew anchor watch for the first night, Bob for the second.
It was a substantial move, the biggest we've tried in a decade, maybe ever. It went without a hitch. No one yelled, no one broke into a sweat or even mussed their hair. Two sets of Merrilee II's former owners showed up for the splash and both said they were delighted, thrilled even, with the work done on her. Indeed, she looked magnificent.
Tom Plain of Alltow displayed his usual skill and made look easy. That guy can spot his 40 tonne rig and its 40 foot trailrer within a quarter inch of his intent, first time, every time. It is a treat to watch him work.
So, now the fun is done and it's back to the grind. A shipwright's work is never finished. The weeks and months ahead hold all sorts of delights. We hauled Iona - cross hauled her with Merrilee II's launch - and she now sits, redolent of the river, in Richmond boat builders awaiting scraping, painting, re-caulking, remedies to transmission (which has been inoperative since her last haul-out) and some top sides work. She'll probably need her deck recaulked as well. We're astounded at the amount of marine growth and the degradation to her paint since her last haul-out about 4 years ago. More evidence that a vessel ought to be hauled and her bottom scraped every two years. She's got way too many soft spots so we can expect her to be in the Boatworks for a year at least. More like two. A complete work list will be drawn up soon. I'll post it on Iona's page when I get it.
Another project starting, one dear to my heart, is the formative "Britannia Skiff Division." The Society has a nice collection of skiffs. The large end of the skiff spectrum is held by the Fraser River fishing skiffs, the small end by an 8' sabot that has been on the bottom of one of the ponds for a few years. (That one may just become a planter.) In between are a half dozen or so pieces in the 9' to 12' range. The skiff fleet incudes the delightful little Stumpy, the Daisy and several others. The plan is to use these craft as skill builders for wannabe boat builders and then to [gasp!] sail them around the harbour.
Here Mike and Nathan are at work on the Daisy, stripping her old varnish and prepping her for new.
29 November 2013
Merrilee II Launch date set for Sunday, 1 December 2013. We expect the truck to arrive at 10:30 am. By then we must have cleared the access and removal route, moved Iona to the outside of the floats and then to the Number 2 Road boat ramp. made final inspection of Merrilee II and placed aboard dock lines, life jackets and extra pumping capability as her planking will need a couple of weeks to take up following two years of dry storage. Considerable interior work remains on Merrilee and she is not yet ready for sailing. But, if we are diligent and fortune smiles on us she will be navigating on the water under her own power by spring.
Britannia visitor and sketch artist, Jorge Royan, sent us a copy of a sketch he made this summer. His drawing depicts the old planer located in the Shipyard Building. The details of the line shaft system and flat belt drive details are clearly visible. Gracias, Jorge.
The work on her is now of the finishing and (re-)installation type.
Here we see the radar antenna staged for re-mounting.
In addition to new paint, new batteries, new through-hull fittings, new zincs the Merrilee II also gets new wiring. One of the many chanllenges with restoring old vessels is the wiring. Standards for vessel wiring have advanced unbelievably in the past 50 years. The old plants simply don't measure up. Previous owners have attacked the wiring with different skill levels, different ideas and different materials so that by the time we get them the best that can usually be done is to tear out the old plant and install new wire and fittings. This is not inexpensive. The new lighting fixtures for Merrilee's interior are going to run a little over $600!
The crew takes a moment to mug for a photographer in the Namu.
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Passing it on: Ferdie has been Britannia's Master Wood Turner for many years. He produces a great number of beautiful and elegant items on his wood lathe: jewel boxes, pens, fids and other items both useful and attractive. Becky joined us several months back and was instantly drawn to turning. By the time she had been with us a month she was spending most of her time at a lathe turning tool handles, bowels, bungs and various other items needed for our vessels.
Here Ferdie is showis Becky some tricks of the trade.
Merrilee II: Her progress towards relaunching continues. The work on her hull was finished when Jim completed caulking the garboard plank replacement.Her glass is all in (the big wind screens were a nasty bit of work,) her electrics are being brought up to scratch. One of the issues wityh heritage vessels is trying to remain faithful to the original construction while maintaing an adequate level of vessel safety. The standards for vessel wiring has changed greatly since Merrilee II was built in 1950. From the looks of the original wiring, there were no standards, or if they were, they were not applied very vigorously.
We did not worry over much we have several wood carvers in our group and David was willing to take on the challenge. Turns out the new name boards are much nicer than the orriginals.
Here is David getting ready to mount his newly finished name board and grinning with well deserved pride of a task well done. Thank you, David