Sunday, 19 October 2014

She Floats!!!!!

Admittedly, this post comes some time after Genesis has been lowered into the water but, I think in light of the fact that we have been too busy enjoying the fact that she is now where she belongs, we can be excused a bit of tardiness. I have backdated the post so it appears that we have not been quite so tardy. There are still quite a few other posts that need to be retrospectively added. In addition, there are still quite a few jobs on Genesis that need doing.

The Move

I would like to say that moving Genesis was remarkably straight forward but as with most things, this is not what happened. Time had quite clearly dimmed our view of what a pain in the proverbial it was to get Genesis 'moored' between our stables and the greenhouse because we were clearly under the illusion it would not be difficult to extricate her from this position. Ha! How naive were we? We only needed to re-read the blog entry to realise how silly we were being. Failing that, we experienced it first hand... again.

First, John had to turn her round in the field. Getting down into the field was easy enough. Getting out was another story. Our two pigs decided this was a great opportunity to be nosy and kept trying to stand in the gate way. Then of course, the gravel leading up from the field kept on slipping under the wheels. It eventually took 3 runs with increasing momentum (and diff-lock) to make the slope from the field to the stable area. Unfortunately this meant that John got closer to the stables than he wanted to. As Genesis has a quite wide child bearing hips, this complicated matters as the stanchions and guard rail were now trying to remove the guttering from our stable block. Eventually, with Al's patient assistance, John managed to get Genesis past the stables and onto the drive.... despite having to remove a section of our neighbour's guttering. Fortunately, the actual drive to the Marina went without any fuss or drama. 

Lowering Genesis into the Water

She floats!

Our First Night on Genesis

We enjoyed a lovely dinner out at Pier 64, plus a bit of wine, then adjourned back to the boat for an early night.

In deference to the Captain and his good lady, we ended up in the Aft Berth or as Sue thought I was calling it, the 'afterbirth'. Haha. I'm afraid from now on, I shall always think of it as the 'afterbirth'. As far as comfort goes, it could be better but then I suppose it could be worse too. I think the 2 complaints I have is that it is impossible to get out to go to the loo without disturbing John and that I have bumped my head half a million times. Other than that, it is more spacious than I thought it would be. 

Monday, 7 July 2014

Replacing the Windows

The windows on the boat are fairly crazed and don't look very good any more. They really do let the boat down. There is also the issue that we seem to have 2 different colours of window on the boat. The side windows were bronze and the port and hatch were light grey. Clearly a mismatch!

After doing some research, I gave Hadlow Marine a call and spoke to Jean-Pierre. He suggested I could send him templates of the windows or send the windows to him. I thought accuracy it would be better if I had the windows couriered to him. Well, that was fun.... they looked even worse than my attempts at present wrapping! They did get there though and poor Jean-Pierre probably had quite a job to unwrap them.

Fitting the windows was a nightmare all of its. Thank goodness, we didn't have any silly plans to try and cut and drill them ourselves. If even one of the holes had been misaligned, it would have been disastrous. As it was, we had to contend with the windows needing different length inter-screws in various positions as the fibreglass is thicker in some areas than others. Frustrating at best as it meant, cutting some of the inter-screws to the required length.

We also made a rather frustrating (at the time) discovery. Whatever you do, do NOT try and install the windows on a really hot day. The acrylic actually expands and suddenly, nothing fits! All the screws that fitted into the holes the evening before, suddenly didn't align. As you can imagine, there was a certain amount of panic that accompanied this discovery! We ended up having to wait until the weather had cooled down sufficiently for us to fit the windows as they were bowing out so badly. Once the temperature cooled down, we were able to align all the inter screws and tighten them as recommended (not more than 30%, basically just enough for the Scapa tape to bed in).

A Few Weeks Later

We are still struggling with the inter-screws because of the various different lengths needed due to the fibreglass being different thicknesses in different areas. So, we do have a few leaks, which we have tried to resolve. We have come to the conclusion that inter-screws are absolutely hopeless. Better to use a nut and then cut off the excess bits of screw. I also think the scapa tape could have thicker and it would have been better to run a bead of silicone just inside the window. Oh well.... these things are sent to try us.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Finishing the Anti-Fouling

The old anti-fouling layers took such a long time to remove but once we both saw the new grey anti-fouling painted on, it all seemed worth it. Genesis looks so much better with the grey as opposed to the horrible tomato orangey red! In the end, we settled on the Hempel Tiger Extra Anti-Foul in grey.

I know this is not much of a blog post but, I think we have earned some bragging rights now that the hull is complete!

I think you will agree it looks much better than it previously did!

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Making a New Sprayhood

The boat budget has probably been revised half a dozen different times, so, a new sprayhood was more of a nice to have than a necessity, even though the old one was a horrible faded red. The problem was that looking at our newly painted hull, made the sprayhood look even worse than it had originally done. It annoyed me every time I looked at it, so I decided, after pricing around a bit, that whilst we could not afford to buy a new sprayhood, we could make one.

Whilst I have quite a heavy duty domestic sewing machine (Elna 520 Experience), the trouble is that it was not going to cope with more than 4 layers of acrylic canvas, no matter how big the needle I used, so I ended up picking up a Westminster 671 semi industrial sewing machine. On the whole, it is an ok machine. Not sure I would recommend it though. I think, rather spend more money and get something better. Ideally, you want something with a much longer arm and better foot clearance. When you are sewing large bulky bits of fabric, it is quite difficult to feed it through a small arm gap, even once it has been rolled up. Equally, you need to be able to lift the foot further up, when sewing multiple layers of fabric.

Once we had decided, I was definitely going to go ahead and make a new sprayhood, it was time to template the old one, which meant cutting it up. There was no going back after that! So I hesitantly cut up the old sprayhood and traced the fabric pieces onto brown paper. I then ordered colour swatches of PU coated Acrylic canvas from C&J Marine. I ended up choosing 'Admiral Dark'. The fabric was delivered promptly and was well packaged.

Once the colour was selected, I ordered: 3 metres of the canvas, 1 metre of the clear window material and 1 metre of their Navy PVC (matt finish). C&J Marine were quick with their delivery and well priced. I left the ordering of the Lift-The-Dot® fittings until I had finished the sprayhood.

The next step was to cut out the canvas panels. I ended up doing this on the lounge floor, as it needed maximum space to ensure the panels were sitting flat and that I had maximised the canvas, leaving as little wastage as possible. Even with 3 metres of fabric, it was going to be a tight fit.

Once the canvas had been cut out, it was down to the serious business of sewing up the panels. I broke a few needles as expected, I had to change back and forth between my machines, although I have to say, I ended up using my Elna far more than I did the Westminster. I ended up mostly using a size 18 Jeans needle on the canvas and a Size 16 leather needle on the PVC grab section and on the windows. I also had to use the walking foot, to ensure the layers of canvas, pvc and plastic were fed through at the same rate. There were some sections, which were just so awkward to sew due to the fabric having to be held up to stop the weight dragging on the feed dog and....and of course, by the end of it, my shoulders were absolutely killing me. The other issue was that the plastic windows kept on sticking to the machine, so I ended up sticking masking tape all over the bed of the machine to move the panels along a bit easier. 

There are still a few Lift-The-Dot® fittings that need to be positioned to properly tension the hood but other than that, it seems to have worked out better than expected.

The point is, I did it and it looks good. Would I do it again? NO!! Absolutely not. The £800 (base price) one would pay is definitely worth it. The only way I would attempt this again, is if I had a serious industrial machine.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Stripping Off the Anti-Fouling

Genesis basically has a build up of 30 years of anti-fouling and judging from what I have, seen a lot of it was never stripped off. In the process of stripping back the layers, I have come across various shades of red, blue, grey and white. Some of it hard and brittle and other layers soft.

Initially, I started the process using 'Owatrol Marine Strip', which was not very effective. In fact, it had these large crystals in it which just didn't seem to dissolve in the solution. I assume it was undissolved caustic soda. Anyway, it didn't perform very well.

For the next round of anti-fouling remover, I tried 'Strippit'. Ironically, this was actually cheaper than the Owatrol. There were no undissolved crystals in it and it seemed to manage to remove 3 to 4 coats of anti-fouling paint at a time. Nowhere near what they claim it will do but a dam sight better than the Owatrol Marine Strip.

I ended up using 2 x 5 litre tubs of the 'Strippit' in addition to the Owatrol. Not an awful lot of fun, especially trying to do the section that butts up to the keel. All in all, I must have removed at least 10 to 15 layers. I have not quite got back to the gel coat but as Genesis is a gin and tonic cruiser as opposed to a racing boat, it will have to do.

One thing I will say, is be very careful not to get any stripper on your skin. I managed to get a small amount on the inside of my knee and it burned like stinging nettles and I have a lovely looking red patch left as a result.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Weather windows

After 30 years the gelcoat on Genesis was looking rather tired. We also wanted to change the colour of the boat to a blue hull with white/off white deck. 

The hull needed to be sanded and primed before painting to ensure good adhesion of the paint. We chose 2-pack paints so that we don't have to do this again any time soon!

You don't realise how at the mercy of Mother Nature you are until you try and paint a boat in the UK. Sanding was straightforward and fairly quick using 180 grit paper on my new orbital sander and the primer followed relatively easily. The manufacturer's instructions said to wait until fully cured before applying the top coat (7 days). It was at this point we started wishing we had a barn big enough to accommodate the boat. The Great British summer was upon us with non-stop rain and no end in sight. It took two weeks before we got another suitable weather window to have a go at the top coat. 

Genesis primed & ready

As is the usual situation with discussions about colour with Chantel, she was right and I was wrong! The colour was too "electric" apparently and looked a bit "boy-racer-blue" (whatever that is). Aaaarggghhh! as this meant ordering new paint and waiting for yet another weather window.


As I write this, we have finished the hull above the waterline in the right shade of blue and are quite pleased with the result. Now if it would just stop bloody raining, maybe I could get something else done?

The right stuff

GPS receiver for VHF radio

The VHF radio in the boat is a DSC radio which for the uninitiated means "digital selective calling". In layman's terms you can call up another DSC radio if in range by keying in their MMSI number (a bit like a mobile phone number for radios). One of the features of DSC radios is the ability to transmit position if connected to an appropriate GPS receiver.

I  like the idea of having an independent GPS on board in case something happens to the chart plotter. As the VHF in mounted at the chart table, it's handy having the position indicated all the time.

The radio, an Icom IC-M411, needs a NMEA 0183 feed from an external GPS receiver to function according to the manual. I found one of these on Amazon; it's an external GPS receiver that delivers the appropriate electronic string that the radio understands.

It needs a 12V feed to power it and after a bit of research to understand the wiring, it hooked up OK and bingo - position data on the VHF. 

The Icom manual gave the wiring connections as "NMEA+ & NMEA-" The GPS receiver was labelled as RS232 wiring with 6 naked wires half of which aren't required. Apparently the NMEA signal voltage levels are similar but not identical to those used is RS232 networks. The main difference being that the NMEA standard uses a fluctuating voltage from positive to negative to differentiate between signals whereas RS232 uses a positive voltage and 0V to differentiate.

The transmit (Tx) wire from the GPS gets connected to the NMEA+ and the signal ground (or shield) to the NMEA-

I routed the wire through the pushpit rail by drilling a hole at the top and bottom and using rubber grommets to protect the cable.

Off topic

A little off topic I know, but we walked past this abandoned car when down in Southampton for our VHF operators course.

I wonder if the traffic warden ever figured it out? Go on, stick another one on it!

Hot water

One of the items on the wish list is hot pressurised water. Ideally I want the water heated by the engine whilst away from the marina and then connected to the mains when back at base.

I haven't come across any upgrades using our particular model of engine (Volvo MD5C) and information on the water flow circuitry is sketchy at best (and I have the workshop manual!). 

The thermostat housing is fed by raw water from the pump and then the water appears to take two paths, one feeds the engine block and the other the exhaust manifold. There is a separate feed to the exhaust muffler. Posts I've come across reckon that "smaller" marine diesels don't provide enough heating to warm the water adequately and a number of posts I've found talk about a bypass feeding the exhaust which diverts valuable hot water away from the heating duty.

It was not clear from an external inspection of the thermostat housing whether there was a bypass in place, so I pulled it off to have a look.

In the photo you can see a small hole in the center of the thermostat housing which allows some cold water to flow directly to the exhaust manifold. When the engine is warm and the thermostat open, the path of least resistance for the cooling water is through the engine block and into the port feeding the exhaust. 

It was a good idea to pull off the thermostat housing as I found an old impeller blade jammed in there. I guess it had broken off and one of the previous owners hadn't gone looking for it.

Whether there will be enough heat to warm the water remains to be seen. I'll update this post once fully installed.

Update 1 - I've decided to buy a temperature gauge and sender so that I can monitor the engine temperature rather than relying on the standard set up which is an alarm when the engine is overheating!

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Sticking in the Headlining

I think this is the job that I have dreaded the most because basically, if we mess it up, we have to start again with the insulation and the headlining. I think I would rather place my head in a toilet and flush.

It is more or less the same procedure as sticking in the carpet except that the headlining has more of a propensity to fold back on itself. Not fun trying to pry it apart. The other issue of course is that the substrate you are going onto has to be smooth or else all the lumps and bumps will show through the headlining. 

We mostly managed to get the headlining stuck down to our satisfaction, except for one section, where you can see the shape of 5 bolts, which go through to the deck. To remedy this, we have pulled the headlining in that small section back off. Unfortunately, it has taken the insulation in that section off with it. Fortunately, it is only a small section and we can replace the insulation. To remedy the bolts creating hideous bumps, which can be seen through the headlining, we will need to try and pad it out. I'm not quite certain howt we are going to pad it out but I am sure we will figure it out.

As a small additional note regarding the self adhesive insulation: the adhesive properties are not nearly as good as I would have expected them to be. We have had to go back over quite a few sections and stick them down with contact adhesive.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Carpets & Glue Fumes

The carpeting was an interesting challenge, both in terms of cutting it out and sticking it in. The cutting out proved to be quite difficult as the carpet is quite thick and extremely strong in terms of its construction. I had purchased a cutter specifically for carpets but it simply would not push through the carpeting. I imagine it would work well with cheap thin carpet but it didn't even dent the seagrass. Eventually, John and I resorted to a stanley knife with and the back of an old sketch pad as a cutting mat. This at least managed to cut through the carpet, with multiple blade changes.

Sticking the carpet in was another matter entirely. We used contact adhesive to do this and my goodness, the fumes were absolutely awful. We both wore masks but it was still rather pungent. I honestly do not know how anyone could choose to be a glue sniffer. Clearly, I am not cut out for it. Anyway, the biggest issue was in making certain that when we put the carpet in place, that it was perfect as there was no removing it once it had made contact. This proved to be a rather interesting challenge, especially with the larger panels and working in a restricted amount of space. Firstly, we had to make certain the carpet did not stick to itself and we had to make certain it was stuck exactly where we wanted it to be stuck..... as a result, I am absolutely dreading sticking in the headlining, as we will be using the same glue!! There will be no room for error.

Looking at the seagrass carpeting, I am really pleased we chose it. It will add extra insulation, it is hard wearing and it looks really good!

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Painting the Internal Woodwork

I am sure there are many people reading this that think it is absolute sacrilege that we have done away with the orange wood and instead painted it white, no less! Well to all you doubting ninnies, it looks far more modern and clean. Besides, we have not painted all the wood, we sanded down the nicer bits of wood and gave them a few coats of a satin finish varnish, which looks soooooooo much better than the ultra glossy finish that the wood previously had.

As you can see from the photo below, the nice wooden bits were masked off and the bits in between were painted with Polyvine White Wax Finish Varnish in a Satin Finish.

Once this had been painted with several coats, the masking tape was removed and the remaining bits were given a few coats with the Polyvine Clear Wax Finish Satin Varnish.

The accents of dark wood against the white wood give it a very contemporary yet classic feel. I think it is rather fitting that the styling is somewhat French shabby chic, seeing as the boat is a Beneteau and originally built in France.

Removing Varnish from Interior Woodwork

It doesn't really matter whether you remove varnish with a chemical stripper or by sanding it off, either way it is an absolute pig of a job. At one point I am pretty certain John and I were both weighing up whether we could indeed live with the orange wood that seems to plague boats of this size. In the end we both decided, stripping the varnish would be easier than having to tolerate an 80's nightmare... although to be fair, it is not only boats from the 80's that seem to perpetuate this same kitsch style. It is as though boat decor is stuck in a decade from which, no one has escaped. *Shudder*

We used a combination of sanding and applying a chemical stripper. The chemical stripper we used is called Langlow Paint Remover. I have to say, it works jolly well. 

Make certain you wear thick rubber gloves, a mask and safety glasses. Initially I tried using thin Nitrile gloves but I could actually feel my skin starting to tingle and burn through the gloves. Not a great sensation!

As you can see from the next photo, the stripper has been painted onto the surface and the varnish is literally starting to bubble up:

Don't be deceived by the second photo, it is not as easy as it looks scraping it off. I think each bit of wood probably took about 4 or 5 layers of the chemical stripper and continuous scraping.

Some of the bits of wood were easier to sand... relatively speaking of course.... due to factors like the shape of the wood or because they were not too heavily varnished. As far as sanding goes, well what more can I say but make certain you have loads of different paper grades, a sanding mouse and patience.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Leak From Below......

In the original survey, water was found in the bilges in the salon. The surveyor used that old reliable salt water tester (taste) to confirm that the water must have come through something on the topside of the boat.

A few culprits immediately sprung to mind and we thought we'd nailed it when we identified leaking seals on the cabin portlights. I sealed these up with adhesive tape to tackle at a later stage and drained and dried the bilges.

Imagine my surprise after an unusually dry spell when I discovered the bilge on the port side of the keel box was wet again. It never seemed to dry out fully and I was baffled as to the source of the water.

I needed to replace the carbon steel washers on the keel bolts with stainless versions. This was an item raised in the initial survey and I took this opportunity to explore that strange looking joint at the bottom of the keel box. Poking around with a screwdriver and I managed to poke it through into what I thought was the inner part of the keel box (where the keel pivots). Water started trickling out the moment the screwdriver went through.

I let it drain, emptied the bilge and watched it fill up again! Bear in mind that the boat is sitting high and dry on a trailer about 15 miles from the coast! Eventually, after a day the water stopped draining but my curiosity was not satisfied. After all, where on earth was the water coming from? 

The hole needed to be repaired, so I used a Dremel to cut back the uneven edge and this exposed more of a hole. Water was visible pooling in a crevice. I sucked approximately 20 litres of water out of the hole using this (originally designed for oil changes but damn useful where you need to suck anything out of a tight space):

Here is a photo after I cut back the uneven edge with the Dremel.

What's clear from this is that the bottom of the boat and the lower part of the keel box is double skinned. Water had leaked into this space over a period of years filling it up. When we repeatedly drained the bilge on that side, the water within the double skinned section found itself at a higher level than the bilge, and water drained into the bilge. 

I suspect the perforation was made when the keel bolt nuts were secured. The clearance is a little tight on the port side, and there was evidence of GRP being cut away to accommodate the washer & nut. You can see this in one or two od the photos above. I think that whoever did this, realised they'd penetrated the GRP and there was evidence of some sort of sealing compound being used.

I re-glassed the area with a laminate of chopped strand mat and woven glass mat. It was a little fiddly to get behind the innermost keel bolts. 

Now all I need to do is put the nuts and new washers back without undoing my hard work!

Engine Maintenance

One of the key jobs on the list was to get a comfortable feeling about the engine. It came through the survey OK and generally looked fairly clean and looked after (for a 30 year old engine).

I thought I would start with a fairly basic service, changing the fluids and filters and the impeller on the seawater pump. At first, maintenance looked like it was going to be pretty hard to do given the limited space. I thought I'd start with the seawater pump as this looked like a fairly easy job according to the manual. Closer inspection shows this:

Yes that is worrying looking corrosion on the surface underneath the pump. Clearly the pump had been leaking for a while and the salt water was doing its thing with the steel. I got a bit of a shock at first because the corrosion looked fairly deep rather than just surface corrosion. 

I thought at this stage that the engine might need to come out of the boat to allow me proper access to this part of the engine. However, once the upper part of the stair case was removed (4 screws)  and the shelf in the rear cabin, there was plenty room to get at it.

I gave it a grit blast in-situ and then primed and resprayed the area. Fortunately the engine is a right old lump of metal and clearly has a generous corrosion allowance built in!

I had to remove the pump completely to deal with the corrosion and this gave me a better chance to inspect the pump. In removing it, one of the screws on the impeller cover sheared off and then I also discovered that one of the retaining "lugs" that holds the pump against the block had succumbed to the salt water and broken in half.

It was a fairly easy repair using a bit of heavy gauge flat bar shaped to have a passing resemblance to the real thing.

I bought a replacement seal kit for the pump and the other service items from Keypart who were very speedy with their response. 

Changing the filters and oil was straightforward and after bleeding the diesel through to the injector, the engine fired up and chugged away happily.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Installing the Insulation: Boat Yoga

Installing the insulation has been pretty hard going. It is not nearly as flexible as I would like it to be considering some of the awkward spaces that one ends up working in. On the plus side, it is a rather good form of exercise. I have called my insulation installing exercises: Boat Yoga! We ended up deciding to insulate the sections where the carpeting will be lining the hull, so I had to buy another 12 metres of insulation.... grrrrrrrrrrrrr...

I have found that the simplest way to proceed with the insulation, is by cutting sections from the roll and then cutting these sections into sizes, tailored for the bits of hull I want to cover. It is a bit like doing a puzzle and having to create the pieces as you go along.

You need to be certain that once you have removed the paper backing from the adhesive side, that you press down extremely firmly to the surface you are wanting to adhere the insulation to. Also, try make certain you don't end up sticking the insulation to yourself!

Another important note to to add about the application of the insulation sheets is that they do not like going onto cold surfaces, nor do they adhere very well on a cold day. This needs to be a warmer weather job (well, at least above 16 deg C) or you need to heat the space you are working in.

The worst 2 sections of the boat, were the heads and the transom surface in the rear cabin. The surfaces are awkward to work with and space is tight. At one point, I had my head stuck between the ledge in the rear cabin and the transom and was slightly worried I was going to have to enlist John's help to escape. I won't even begin to discuss the positions I managed to get myself into in the heads.... suffice to say, it was not fun or flattering.

Having installed most of the insulation, the boat certainly does feel more temperate with the insulation installed. It can also only help when the headlining is installed as it smooths out bumps and bits on the interior of the hull, which would definitely show through the headlining.

The insulation was purchased from Hawke House Ltd. 

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Stripping Out

Its amazing how much stuff can be crammed into a little 26ft yacht. I discovered this when clearing out the boat so that we could make some progress on messier jobs like the headlining. The shear amount of sails, parts, accessories, pots pans and other paraphernalia that was stored on the boat was enough to fill a small house!

Here is a picture of the boat completely stripped of anything that could be removed.

Removing the old sagging headlining proved to be one of those really messy jobs. The foam backing has disintegrated over the years and removing the old lining sent dust everywhere. It didn't matter wearing safety glasses - it still managed to get into my eyes.

Removing the remaining bits of foam and glue that adhered to the hull was equally unpleasant. I found the best tool for the job to be one of these:

They are helpfully called "surface preparation wheels" and came from Screwfix. Available in both a drill fitting or one that goes on an angle grinder. Either makes short work of removing anything on the surface. If you try hard enough, they are quite good at roughing up surfaces too!

Friday, 4 April 2014

Who's the Daddy?

On the face of it, it might seem as though this post has nothing to do with boats but that couldn't be further from the truth! So, whilst it might appear as though I have used this blog to shamelessly post up gratuitous photos of cute little chicks, it's only partly true.

The point is, that these little cutie-pies have a purpose in life, other than looking cute and making a noise. They are there to serve as BBQ chicken when they get a bit bigger! They will be lovingly raised with plenty good food and fresh water. They will be allowed to roam extensively and then one day, they will be skillfully marinaded in some sort of yummy concoction and BBQd on our little mini Weber gas BBQ, which will be mounted on the push pit. I'm sure they will be rather tasty, when they are a bit older!

As you can see from the photo, the chicks are a right motley crew. The reason for this is that they are all cross breeds and depending on who the Daddy was, depends on the cross. I'll explain: We have 2 cockerels at present. Our Blue Brahma is called Boris and he is the cockerel we are keeping. The other cockerel is a Light Sussex and he is going to be eaten, hence why he has not been named. Anyway, both of them have been pretty prolific with the girls, so we have approximately 60% of the chicks fathered by Boris and the rest by the Light Sussex. The girls are a mix of various breeds.

Boris the Blue Brahma

Light Sussex soon to be Dinner
As much as I like the Light Sussex cockerel, one of them has to go! Yum Yummm....

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Bad Customer Service from Mohair Bear Making Supplies

I am close to running out of the nylon coated thread I require for sewing the headlining. I ordered another 6 reels from Mohair Bear Making Supplies on the 31st of March and I paid for a Royal Mail First Class Delivery. You would think that they would dispatch it within a day or so, considering they are offering a faster delivery service option? You would also think they would realise that if a customer is paying for a faster delivery option, that they in fact require their order faster? Well, if that is what you think, as indeed, I did, then you think wrong!!!

I checked on my order today, the 3rd of April, to discover it had not been dispatched yet? I sent them a message inquiring as to when they were planning to dispatch the order and questioning the reasoning behind them having an expedited delivery service, when in fact they have no intention of satisfying that expectation by dispatching the goods in a reasonable time? 

This is the answer I received:

1. We DO NOT do expedited deliveries!
2. We have 30 days by law to despatch an order
3. 31st was Monday, it's now Thursday
4. I don't like your attitude!
5. You won't be buying from us again you have been blocked!
 thank you
 Darren & Lanie
It seems that they have forgotten that they actually offer 3 different speeds of delivery!!!
My response was the following: 
Dear Darren & Lainie,
I don't much like your attitude either. If you are going to offer a Royal Mail 1st Class delivery, then I would say your customers have a reasonable expectation in terms of the delivery taking less than a week and most certainly less than a month.

You are quite right in that I will not be buying from you again as I would not choose to deal with a company as arrogant as yours. I will be leaving an online review detailing this exchange.



OH MY GOODNESS!!! I have just done a search to see how other people review this company and really, the ebay feedback says it all: Ebay Feedback

Mohair Bear Making Supplies actually called one of their customers and I quote: "Absolute retard". I don't think a company that behaves in this manner deserves to be in business.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Navigation station

The old navigation station needed some updating to incorporate extra instruments, USB charging points etc.

I got quite frustrated during the strip-out because there was no easy way to disconnect the multi-switch/fuse panel or engine control panel from their respective wiring harnesses. Each individual wire need to be unscrewed or pulled off a connector spade.

I wanted something that tidied wires away and grouped them into connectors for easy uncoupling. Searching the internet I found a multitude of connectors for as much as you want to spend! I opted to try something like an automotive connector for the navigation station as it will always by dry.

The connectors are available quite cheaply and are fairly simple to use. I was a bit concerned about how fiddly they might be, but in the end, it was pretty straightforward: crimp the wire into the pin/socket and push the pin/socket into the connector block (where it locks into place). Hopefully these will last and be relatively maintenance free.

I need to look at a different kind of connector for the mast wires, but that's another post (when I find the appropriate waterproof connector)


An unusually warm weekend for March and some friends over for the night meant a welcome break from some of the filthy jobs on the boat (getting rid of decaying foam/headlining!). We took the opportunity to visit Cardiff Bay and scope out the marinas, one of which will become Genesis' initial home once the re-fit is complete.

For the uninitiated, Cardiff Bay is a man-made bay formed by a 1km+ barrage separating it from the Bristol Channel. Prior to the construction of the barrage in the 1990's, Cardiff had a marshy/swampy seafront through which 2 rivers flowed, and was accessible only at high tide. The barrage created a permanent large (circa 600 acre lake) with 24 hour access to the Bristol Channel through a number of locks.  This greatly improved the appeal of Cardiff and led to a regeneration of the run-down dock area.

Our reason for choosing Cardiff as the initial mooring place for Genesis was the proximity to home and the (relatively safe) lake where we could get to grips with the boat and hone our sailing skills before venturing out into the Bristol Channel.

Why is this necessary? Well, for those who are unfamiliar with the Bristol Channel, it is tidal, seriously tidal. That is perhaps a mild understatement as the tidal range is around 14 metres (45 feet for the non-metrically inclined) at springs. This of course will produce some interesting tidal flows which might make Genesis qualify for a new water speed record for a sail boat, or leave us stranded miles from port!

We want to be completely familiar with the boat before venturing out into this, and have someone at hand with more experience than us (Big Al to the rescue again!).

Here are some pics of the lock system:

Outer lock gates opening to allow yacht in

A yacht in the lock. This was an hour or two before low tide - look at the waterline on the sides of the lock!

The lock being flooded to raise the water level to that of Cardiff Bay. Note the internal concrete "breakwater" to reduce turbulence in the lock during flooding.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Recovering Mattresses

Part of the refurbishment of the boat is to recover the foam mattresses. They are currently covered in vinyl, which I don't think is appropriate for the mattresses. It clearly works for the seat cushion pads as it is cleanable and they are likely to need something which can be wiped down but it would be somewhat uncomfortable as a sleeping surface.... especially if we actually have a summer!

I decided to recover the mattresses in a navy and off white striped ticking. It is hard wearing and 100% cotton. Whilst it won't be easy to remove from the foam mattresses, they are at least washable and there is always the option to explore whether it is possible to have the mattresses dry cleaned with the covers on.

Initially, I though about unpicking the original covers and using those as a pattern but looking at them, I don't think they were all that well made to start with. So I, started from scratch and used the foam mattress to re-create a pattern. I am pleased I decided on this route  because the finished product looks rather good even if I do say so myself! I only have 3 more to do.... groan....

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Sewing the Vinyl Headlining

Vinyl is not the easiest material in the world to sew, as I discovered. The initial scrap I test sewed was fine as a single layer but as soon as I tried to sew 2 layers of the vinyl, my machine ran into trouble. The foot seemed to be sticking and the stitches became really uneven. I changed the stitch size to the maximum size and loosened the tension. Neither approach did any good. I then switched to the heaviest duty needle I could find. Unfortunately, that didn't help much either.

The fact that it sewed one layer of vinyl perfectly and not 2, suggested to me that the bottom layer of fabric was not moving at the same pace as the top layer, so, I ordered a Teflon foot for my machine along with a walking foot. In addition, I ordered some leather needles, as the vinyl I am sewing is quite similar to leather in terms of weight and texture.

Walking Dog Foot & White Teflon Foot

The purpose of the Teflon foot is to allow the fabric to slide along the foot without sticking. I tested it out when it arrived and whilst it did work on scraps, I worried about how it would cope with large panels of the vinyl as they are going to create far more drag and resistance to the machine.

The walking foot is a really interesting attachment for a sewing machine. Basically, the foot has its own feed dog, which moves the top layer of fabric you are sewing along at the same pace that the bottom layer of fabric moves at. When you connect the foot to the machine, you position the walking foot lever over the screw to tighten the needle. This allows the feed dog of the foot to move at the same pace as the feed dog on the sewing machine. 

I tested the foot on a scrap and felt that the walking foot in combination with the leather needle is definitely the best way to sew the vinyl headlining. I found the largest Leather needle (size 100) to be the most appropriate for the weight of vinyl being sewed. 

Test strip

The Real Sewing Begins

Once I had tested that I was not going to completely mess up the headlining, I started sewing the smaller more fiddly bits. I rationalised that at least if I make a mess of one of them, that I have enough headlining left over to cut a new piece if needed. 

I started with one of the curved pattern pieces. The thing you have to remember with vinyl is that it is that much harder to maintain a smooth curve because of the weight of the fabric and as it doesn't  lend itself to being eased into curves like a thinner woven fabric would. The best way to deal with curves is by cutting out small notches, which allow the vinyl to have a bit more flexibility when working round awkward concave or convex shapes.

Sewing curves on vinyl
Whilst, I have not yet finished sewing the headlining, I have made good progress. I have finished all the fiddly strips and I have finished sewing one of the large panels. I doubt it will take me more than a few hours to finish the last few large panels.


The thread I used for the sewing of the vinyl headlining, is a thread called Nylbond. It is a close bonded nylon yarn, which makes it particularly strong. Also, being nylon it is better suited to dealing with damp, UV & mould.