Sunday, 16 October 2011

Ugly Duckling

The best thing about dry dock (actually the second best thing, the best thing is feeling like we're not going to sink any time soon) was seeing the trandsformation of Serenity from tatty, faded black bitumen, through rusty bare metal, to beautiful freshly painted splendour. For the first time since we bought her i'm proud of the outside of our home.


I've just been re-reading the early posts from the blog of Wendy Ann 2 (lorna told me to take it easy today as i still haven't had a day off since late August when we went into Rochester and had a coffee (crazy times)mid drydock) and wow. Just wow. We were at dry dock for 2 months, and apart from the aforementioned coffee we worked like dogs the whole time and it was tough and stressful. But Seb and Becky did far far worse boat work, grinding, needle gunning, guddling around in filth, for YEARS before they could even live on the boat! It was over a year before they even got any paint on her!

We have been very fortunate to be able to live on Serenity from day one and pace ourselves with the renovation work, and although that does present it's own problems (dealing with and stripping out or working around the previous rubbish conversion before being able to do our own work, not being able to make too much mess and dust as we are living in the boat and, more pertinently, have lodgers who are PAYING to live on the boat) it has taken a lot of pressure off the timescale for completing the work, and when we've occasionally run out of money we have been able to just stop for a while.

So, especially after our own dry dock experience, i have huge respect for Becky and Seb, who we've never met (but hopefully will one day) but have followed for the last few years in their insane, punishing, inspiring journey towards having a beautiful home and saving a piece of maritime history.

Much respect.

when i'm buildin' windows

This is something we did last year, but never blogged about, and as we're now back into the boat blog with a vengeance now seems like a good time for a catch up.

Our old skylights were simple wooden frames that sat onto the H beams that both hold the roof up and form the edges of the skylight apertures. They were getting old and tatty, and leaked, particularly after a dry spell, when the wood would shrink and water would then pour through the joints of the frames. They were also single glazed and dripped with condensation in the winter.

With all of our insulating everywhere else on the boat, it seemed silly to then have 12 huge single glazed skylights with heat pouring out into the night, so we decided to work out a way of putting in double glazing. A quick look at traditional double glazed skylight companies like Velux confirmed that not only would each skylight cost 10 times our entire budget, but that unless we built a slate roof onto the boat they wouldn't really know how to fit them.

So, as with everything boaty, or maybe just everything Lorna and Steve-y, we decided to design and build it all ourselves, saving vast amounts of money and getting just what we wanted rather than the closest off the peg skylight that sort of fitted the hole.

We started sketching out ideas,

and once we had a design finalised we went to a local metal fabrication company and got them to build us a 'kit' comprising the frame for the actual glass (i wanted them to weld this as they could make sure it was perfectly square and true in their workshop) and then a series of pieces of metal cut to size that we could weld in to make the lip that our window frame 'lid' would sit over, a bit like a biscuit tin lid fits over the top of the tin.

We got the frames and the pieces for the lips

then it was out with the welding machine

and lorna got to work welding it all in, while i cut pieces to size, positioned and clamped them.

then it was time to get the double glazed panels, which we'd ordered separately from a local glazier, into the frames

before putting the new windows on!

These were already much better than what we had previously, but we decided that to do it justice we really neeed to increase the pitch of the windows a little, so we went back to the metal fabricators and ordered some more pre cut pieces

and welded them onto the frame, increasing the pitch for the window so that rain would run off more easily. You can just see it in the picture below.