Tuesday, 30 September 2014


After some sensible advice from Steve, I am recommending to Simon that, for the stern area, we go for a 4x4 grid which provides support for all sides and ends of the plywood sheets. If there is movement / bounce / sag it risks damaging the waterproof roofing felt which will go on top of it all. For the sake of some extra 4x4 timber, we can avoid this.
    So first we coat the deck in bitumen. Then we build the grid (4x4 in red), making sure that the plywood panels will fit fore/aft snugly against the salon wall and then half-way across the first lateral joist and laterally half way across the middle fore/aft joist and so on. Lap joints where joists cross and half-laps when we need to extend a length. Both glued and screwed. Are you following this? 

We will get all the lengths and the joints cut beforehand and have the deck and step marked out. The plywood panels and the insulation panels will also be cut to shape before the actual building starts, including all the odd-shaped bits.
    With everything prepared and ready, we can choose a dry day which hopefully will fit in with the roofers so that the whole job can be finished and the stern deck watertight before any rain arrives. It would be nice to lay the grid onto the bitumen while it is still tacky, but that might be very messy! When the insulation panels go in, we have a can of insulating foam on hand to seal any small gaps.

   Next come the whole and nearly whole boards of plywood, which will be screwed down on all edges either to the 4x4, or to the gunwale step (dark grey). And we finish with the small bits at the stern and at the sides. Gutter sealant or something similar will be applied between the boards and also between the boards and the gunwale and the salon.

The finished, well half finished product will look something like this (Photoshop can only do so much!) .....

Send for the roofers.
 Then comes the bow area, following the same sort of procedure. Once the bow and stern are decked and watertight, any rain will run off down the ‘sidewalks’ and out of the drain holes. (I am sure there are proper nautical terms for both of those). Finally we do the sidewalks and  “t’ job’s a good un” as they say.
   That’s the plan anyway.  Any helpful suggestions would be welcome.

Saturday, 27 September 2014


Holidays over, it is time to get serious about the deck. I did some experiments (on the garage floor) with plywood and 4x4 timbers. To avoid excess movement/bounce/sag, the plywood covering has to be of reasonable thickness and well supported. Less of one means more of the other and somewhere in the equation will be the minimum cost point!  But let’s be practical.
    Our first plan was to use short lengths of scaffolding plank jammed between the deckhouse and the first part of the gunwale at intervals of 4ft (Photo). That is supposed to represent bitumen between the planks, not water! The insulation would fit between the planks and the whole lot covered with plywood from deckhouse to the main part of the gunwale. The plywood would be supported by and fixed to the planks and to the gunwale.  

     However, my experiments showed that on the deckhouse side, supported every 4ft, there would be definite sag unless the plywood was quite substantial (expensive). This would crush the insulation boards beneath and allow bounce. The other problem with the plank idea was that they would have to be doubled up to provide the 4 inch height needed to match the gunwale step. It would also degrade the insulation every 4ft for 9 inches, albeit slightly. (Photo)

    The second thought was to run a 4x4 along the side of the deckhouse and use that to support the plywood throughout its run along the sides (Photo). The unsupported distance would be across the width and be only about 20 inches. There would be little or no sag and no break in the insulation.

    The other practical point concerns the problem of rain interrupting the process. The ship (deck) is slightly banana-shaped so that water gathers amidships and drains through the holes you can see in the photos. If we have the side decks raised with timber and insulation and it rains, there will be large puddles at the bow and stern, which will have to be drained somehow before we can begin in those areas. So we will do them first. The stern is fairly straightforward and a simple grid of 4x4 will be fashioned to support the plywood. The bow is more complicated due to the companionway and the hawspipes (nostrils). Necessity is the mother of invention! (Photo)

    The numbers indicate how many 2.1m x 1.2m insulation panels are going to be needed (roughly!). There will be off-cuts aplenty to fill in the awkward bits.

Monday, 22 September 2014


Simon is taking a well-earned break in Greece – or was it Turkey? Anyway, he will be back at the end of this week and we can give some serious thought to getting on with things. If Simon can take a break from work for a week, I can certainly get down there to help, but I must find a way to avoid the M25 ‼  Our Indian summer is all very well, but it cannot last much longer. Those stoves must be installed (professionally, it is not a DIY job) and the deck insulated. The new multi-fuel stove is of course going in the living room to replace the much-repaired wreck that was there, and the Italian looking cooker has now been allocated its place in the kitchen – not for cooking, just heating.

Below deck the Godin stove will sit on a bespoke coal bunker .......

...... tucked into a corner at the bottom of the spiral stairs (Photo). The corner will look much better in due course! But then that applies to the whole of the below deck area.   

The living room stove and the Godin will eventually be connected up to radiators, as they both have back-boilers. The kitchen cooker may well also have a water heating capability.

I meant to mention after our last trip down there, a piece of history which is going to be recycled. In the centre of the deckhouse, over the main stairway, was a 'skylight’ with four glazed ports. It has now been replaced by a modern double-glazed unit with integral venetian blind, but the ports will be built into some of the internal doors. Meanwhile, the old unit lies on the roof next to its replacement, waiting dismantling.


Monday, 15 September 2014

LIGHTSHIP CORMORANT / LADY DIXON - Chapter 56 15 September 2014

I started this blog one year ago this week – can it really be that long?  What a journey it has been! Simon has put and is still putting an awful lot of work into the deckhouse living space, but soon it will be time to turn his attention below deck.  In the living room (or should that be the salon?), he will be finishing off with some special wallpaper. That shouldn’t be too difficult as that is what he does for a living – hanging special wallpaper!  Then there are the three stoves that must be installed and hopefully they will be in and working in a week or two.

It is time to get serious about that exposed deck. The teak planks having long rotted away, there is no insulation between the outside and below deck, which not only makes it very cold down there in the winter, but also creates a great deal of condensation. When we had our first thoughts about this last October, we imagined a series of ‘joists’ made out of scaffolding type boards to provide a frame work. I even included some mock-up photos of this in my post at that time. Getting down to detail now we find that scaffolding planks are too thin – the step is 4 inches, not 1.5 inches – so we are now thinking of 4x4 fence post timber and the build-up will be in five stages and I apologise for my lack of skill in photo–faking:-

Stage 1.  Simon acquired some time ago a number of big tins of bitumen and this will be melted and poured all over the deck (area by area) and the timber framing pieces wedged into position between the deckhouse and the 4 inch step. Hopefully the joists can also be secured to that step by angled screws. I know it looks like water in the photo, but it is supposed to be runny bitumen!

Stage 2.  The insulating panels will be placed in between the frame joists.

Stage 3.  Plywood boards will be screwed down to the joists to cover the insulating panels and the whole of the 4 inch step up to the large baulk of timber which runs right round the ship. All this so far we can tackle ourselves.

Stage 4.  Call in the local flat roofers and lay a carpet of roofing felt over everything, with a small rise up the side of the deckhouse and again up the edging baulk. This will make the whole thing watertight – apart from drainage holes which are already present in the 4 inch step at the lowest part of the deck.

Stage 5.  Simon has found some thick rubberised tiles which interlock and have channels cut into their underside. These will protect the roofing felt from wear and damage, while allowing any water to run underneath them and out of the drainage holes.

That’s the theory anyway!