12 February, '07

With the engine beds, the fuel tanks and most of the systems in place it was time to put the little Bukh diesel in, and yesterday that’s just what we did. Picked it up between us, put it up into the cockpit through the space where the transom will be, and from there up and over the bridgedeck framing and onto the engine beds. There he is, at home at last.

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Now Charlie has a visual guide as to spaces in that area. We are going to modify the locker under the bridgedeck to take a custom packed RFD 4 Man offshore liferaft so although its possible to measure the engine and draw plans for it , having the diesel in there means that the engine box and companionway steps can be built and access to the engines service and adjustment points can be checked as the structures are put into place. Even the swing of the hand start crank can be checked for clearance, we want no skinned knuckles here.

You will note that there is a large filter on the fuel line. While the Bukh is only 7.5 hp and sips very gently at the fuel tank, a water trap and fuel filter to augment the one built into the engine is a very worthwhile safety measure, especially when filling at some of the more remote places which may not be used. This transparent filter enables the skipper to tell if there is water, bugs, algae or dirt in the fuel, and with luck he can get to it before the engine’s injector pump or injectors are damaged.

The control panel and the combined throttle and gearshift are next to be fitted, and with that and the exhaust in place the engine could be test run, another milestone.

Elsewhere there has been more building going on, there is a lockup locker for the inflatable tenders outboard is being built inside the portside aft cockpit seat, there is a hold under the after end of the cockpit, its quite a big one, room enough for a heap of gear if required. Charlie has just bought a plastic baitwell hatch about 350mm sq opening so he can access that space, it will go in the cockpit floor well aft. He also has a hatch to access the side seat locker on the starboard side so the exhaust loop and transom fittings can be reached. It’s a roomy little boat but this stage of the fitout seems to see spaces filling up rapidly.

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The cockpit seating framework is close to ready to cover with plywood and it wont be long before the transom is ready for fitting. Having the cockpit all complete will means that taping with glass tape, sanding and painting can be done soon. I am looking forward to sitting in there and dreaming, you know your hooked when ( like I have done in the past) you put the tiller in temporarily so you can hold it while daydreaming. Aaah!

Charlie’s been painting, water based paint over a primer compatible with the epoxy primer in all those areas where he wont be able to get at the interior easily. He is using a pale cream, it gives good coverage and its very easy to see if the brush has spread it too thin because the gold coloured wood shows through. I have no idea what colour he is planning to use in the cabin, it will be a pity though if he hides all that lovely golden wood.

There are bookshelves beginning to appear, room enough for perhaps 200 paperbacks, one a day for the planned duration of the voyage! Most cruisers join the informal book swap circuit and every anchorage sees dinghies shuttling from one boat to another with bags of second hand books, the crews looking for enough literature for the next long ocean voyage.

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One of the not so easy jobs lately has been the cutting to length of the keelbolts. They are of a high grade cast Silicone Bronze rod, really tough stuff and it does not machine or cut easily so hand cutting the threaded ends has been a mission. Sure one end was already done by the supplier which helped, but after cutting the bolts accurately to length it took ages to put the threading on the other.

The structural keelbolts are all in now, we had to jack the boat up another 200mm or so to get underneath to counterbore the holes but that was no problem. With those long bolts in place there is no chance of anything coming loose there!

Note that drilling the long keel bolt holes was not really a big deal, a plumbob as a guide, one of those standard engineering twist bits welded to a piece of steel bar ( a fraction smaller than the drillbit so friction was not an issue) and some patience. Charlie has the holes all within tolerance and that’s about a 6mm maximum error at the other end of an 800mm hole. Good work that man!

Next? The engines exhaust and controls, then back to fitting out the main cabin to a point where the cabin sides can go on. Then hatches, mast step, (must get on and draw it) and it wont belong before the chainplates are being fitted! At that stage we will almost be able to smell the salt water.

Oh yes, I was given a cast iron bathtub the other day, that’s going to be our crucible for melting the ¾ ton of lead! Big job that one!