Indoor progress

We’ve been pretty good over the last few weekends about getting small but important tasks done inside the boat (since the weather is yet again WET. I’d love to see a count of exactly how many dry Saturdays there were in 2008!).

Last weekend we put up some ghetto double glazing on the Captain’s Cabin windows, as well as the little skylight in the bedroom. You know the stuff – double-sided sticky tape around the rims, cut plastic sheeting to fit, then you get out the hair dryer to shrink it. At £4 it was worth a try anyway, and it does seem to have made a bit of a difference in the draftiness and general cold seepage, and it’s really difficult to tell it’s there unless you’re looking for it.

Bosco by plasticked window Plastic covered bedroom skylight

Also in the Captain’s Cabin, we’ve:

  • Added a fleece blanket to the curtain to stop our hot air seeping up into the wheelhouse

  • Transformed the end-of-the-bed cabinets into a functioning wardrobe despite its weird, triangular space

  • Dismantled the desk at the end of the bed in preparation for one of the plinth heaters (which have arrived! hooray!)

  • Measured said space for plinth building at the foot of the bed and also in the kitchenette

And in the rest of the boat:

  • Strung out our fairy lights and had our lighting up party

  • Stopped the calorifier cabinet from leaking at low tide and high rainfall, and bled the calorifer

  • Re-measured our skylight distance in light of our friend Sue’s CAD drawings of our hotel room renovations (very exciting! We’ll post those when they’re finished.)

  • Measured James’s temporary wardrobe against the bed base in preparation for a very-temporary bedroom so we can start renting out the Captain’s Cabin

  • Set up a new internet-games-tv station in the saloon:
    G5 saloon setup

  • Decorated for Christmas, complete with a newly-crafted Bosco tree topper:
    Christmas tree 2008

  • And, finally, last night we relied on the kindness of our neighbours in something akin to an Amish barn raising. Truly we are surrounded by the best people ever.

Comment - posted 15 December 2008, 15:49 in

Open skies

We’ve got a combination fridge/freezer in the Captain’s Cabin kitchenette. It’s our only freezer, but the form factor is awkward as the top of it is too high to use as a worktop, so when the neighbours were complaining about wanting a bigger fridge for the five of them, we jumped on the chance for a trade. We’re getting their little under-counter fridge for the the kitchenette, and they’re getting our fridge-freezer. Everyone wins!

We bought a big upright freezer for the galley, and we’re only just now getting used to having ice on the same side of the boat as the bar. Oh, the luxury! Then we went to move the fridge-freezer over to theirs on Sunday, and realised that we’ve added a lot more crap to the entryway walls since it was last brought in (a gift from our other neighbours a year ago!) and there was now no physical way it would fit up the stairs and out either the door or the half-height hatch without somehow turning into Gumby. So we wiped the sweat from our brows and went about lifting it out through the skylight…

And it was easy. Really, really easy. Honestly, that’s the way we’re moving everything in from here on out – we’d never attempted it before because we thought the frame was way more complicated to remove from that.

So on Sunday we were left with a fridge-sized hole in the kitchenette:

fridge gone!

(We did clean up eventually) The fridge will go on the left, the washer will come over to the other side with us once our bedroom is built over there, to be replaced with shelving, and a nice worktop will go over both. Add some small appliances and it’s an instant kitchenette!

While we had the skylight off, we realised we should plug the gaps with rockwool, seal up the drafts, and reattach boards that were coming off in preparation for winter…

Skylight off Skylight insulation Skylight draft proofing James skylight draft proofing

And in beginning to clear the hotel part of the boat in preparation for building the bedrooms and lounge, we moved the spare bed mattress to the best place we know for keeping mattresses safe, clean and out of the way…

Double mattresses!

It’s a pretty sweet throne-bed now, with triple the bounce!

Comment [1] - posted 25 September 2008, 17:02 in

Wooden it be nice

These photos are getting properly old now, but they actually show some beautification of Hendrik in amongst all our destruction and mayhem. It also shows how nice things can be when we get in professionals and dedicated artists as opposed to our poor, clumsy hands…

Our front door frame was made of pine (great idea for an external frame!) and was already spongey when we bought it, but declined rapidly over the past year. Eventually chunks were just falling off and we couldn’t even keep it closed, let alone lock it. It took months to find any carpenter who would rebuild it, but we eventually fell on our feet with an amazing chippy, Clive, who did a lot of beautiful interior work on one of our neighbours’ boats.


Rotton front door Rotton front door hinge Rotton front door


New door frame New door frame closed New door frame New door frame

And the other major wooden improvement on Hendrik was the very back wall of the Captain’s Cabin bedroom. It was originally two bedrooms, then the previous owners ripped out (sob!) the dividing wall and split wardrobe, and put in two bunkbeds along the back wall, laying some awful, cheap plywood against it.

We ripped out the bunk beds months ago to fit in our double bed, but finally got around to hiring our artist neighbour, Rachel, to replicate the alternating dark and light boards on the living room ceiling onto that back wall.


Captain's Cabin with no bunk beds! The starboard window in the captain's cabin bedroom plus the original floorboards and hull peeking out


Back bedroom wall Back bedroom wall

We’ve got two coats of french polish so far, but it’s going to take quite a few more to match the glossy shee of all the rest of the woodwork back there…

And as a bonus, she also finished building some shelves for us at the head of the bed. It almost feels like a proper bedroom back there now!

New bedroom shelf

Comment - posted 29 August 2008, 14:29 in

Scrapes and scratches

I spent most of Saturday on the toilet.

No, don’t worry, there was no gastrointestinal distress – I was sat on the toilet in the captain’s cabin with a chisel, scraping away the horrible beige textured wallpaper that the previous owners seemed to love. The same paper covers the toilet, shower, and kitchenette area in the captain’s cabin. It makes sense in the shower since it repels water pretty well, but elsewhere it’s just nasty and constantly grimey, so off it’s coming!

Captain's Cabin toilet wall before and after

Unfortunately scraping off the vinyl (backed by a thin layer of styrofoam, charming) was really hard, slow work due to the glue, and it didn’t reveal anything particularly beautiful underneath that wall. And with the waterproof vinyl plus the thickness, I seriously doubt any wallpaper stripping equipment would’ve helped at all…

Captain's Cabin toilet wall stripped bare Captain's Cabin toilet wall from inside

We also went and got LPG refills on Saturday morning, meaning that 2 19kg cannisters (£30 each) lasted us 8 months, which isn’t too bad considering that’s ALL our cooking (and we like to run that massive industrial oven an awful lot) power during that time. The delivery schedule from our preferred shop (Johnny’s DIY on Deptford High Street) was a bit thrown off for the bank holiday, but we convinced our lovely neighbour to take us down instead. And James found a few more bits of the deck that needed grinding, and then we topped off the day with an impromptu barbecue with our neighbours. Not too shabby!

Comment - posted 26 August 2008, 11:38 in

Ceiling the deal

Last Sunday we got to attack someone else’s boat with a crowbar for a change! Our friend Phil bought a lovely boat (which we’d actually seen before Hendrik when we were boat shopping) 18 months ago, but due to a series of horrors with various boatyards, is just now getting her stripped out to build his dream accommodation inside.

The captain’s cabin wasn’t nearly as lovingly preseverd over the years as Hendrik’s, though, so he invited us to come over and take any wood and fixtures we might like before the real demolition crews came aboard. So we booked a Streetcar van and drove out to the current yard with crowbars and masks and several hours later, drove away with the better part of his captain’s cabin’s ceiling.

Liberated ceiling panelsJust look at that grain...

In his boat, these panels were covering the wider beams (which are alternating light and dark woods in Hendrik), so it was just a matter of prying up the narrow edging boards and then carefully popping the thin sheets off. Luckily, the colour of these match Hendrik’s wall panels exactly, so we can use this to cover up the few places where the previous owners ripped out a cabinet and just used cheap plywood to fill the gaps. And since this is so thin, it means we should be able to just tack it on top of the existing plywood and not have to worry about rebuilding anything…

We’ve had a few more wooden improvements over the last week, but more on those later…

Comment - posted 18 August 2008, 13:53 in

Back in action

It must be the hint of Spring in the air, because we got more accomplished this weekend than we have in the last 6 months combined.

Saturday began early with a bit of art terrorism for James and some giant fender maintenance for Melissa, and then followed a massive quarterly shop at Costco to stock up for the charity dinners. We also made a whirlwind shop through B&Q (for some mains electrical bits to enhance the captain’s cabin) and Ikea (for some baskets for the captain’s cabin bedroom’s new shelf and a stepstool). We were no sooner back home for an hour before we were called in to help push-start a neighbour’s car (success!) and we finished up the various household duties (recycling, rubbish, cleaning, the loads of laundry – the usual) before collapsing into bed.

Sunday began with another early start, where we collectively accomplished the following:

  • tied up the errant live electrical cables in the hold so we could then pry up the rest of the floor to patch the (yet again) leaking water tank
    Exposed the water tank and patched it
  • cleaned out the filter on our water pump (better the debris be in there than in our glasses!)
  • stained and assembled our new stepladder, intended for access to the wheelhouse from the captain’s cabin entranceway
    stained a stepstoolBuilt a stepstool
  • cleaned out the captain’s cabin fridge, because it was beginning to reek
  • tidied the half-height storage area under the wheelhouse, and moved the patio furniture to the calorifier cabinet instead
    Tidied the half height storage area
  • assembled the boxes for the captain’s cabin bedroom and transferred our smalls inside, and removed the rolling drawers to the other side
    Boxes in the captain's cabin bedroom
  • removed the ugly motion sensor in the captain’s cabin saloon
    Removed ugly motion sensor
  • attempted to create a new coax extension to place the TV aerial in the wheelhouse (unfinished)
  • cooked an excellent meal and Melissa also sewed up a new shirt

We’ve really only got the galley steps as the last big task still on our list so hopefully we’ll have a pretty relaxing few weekends ahead of us!

Comment - posted 10 March 2008, 11:34 in

Insulation Consternation

My earlier mention of the different types of insulation on offer sparked a rather enlightening email debate between a few friends. It started with my friend Brian offering to help me get my head around exactly how vapour barriers work and the various ways you can place it in the Grand Sandwich of hull, walls, and insulation. Brian’s got an Architecural Engineering degree (albeit not directly in the study of boat insulation, he was very quick to add!) so he was able to give me some fuzzy principles explained in nice drawings that my brain could understand.

His comments went something like this:

I’m skeptical of the insulating paint, honestly; it may certainly help reduce some losses associated with radiative heat transfer, but so will white paint. (Black body radiation and all.) Your biggest concerns – like the rest of us living in structures surrounded by fluids – are conductive and convective heat losses. A more conventional foam-type insulation, like the Celotex or Thinsulate, seems like
what you want – especially as that metal hull is a thermal superhighway between the indoors and out.

I then countered that we’re mostly concerned about water vapour from cooking, breathing, heating, etc condensing onto the cold hull and causing mould on the insulation – not a small concern judging from the amount of blacked rockwool we’ve pulled out of the hotel room walls thus far (and those aren’t even the exterior walls yet!).

He was then able to draw me some diagrams to help me visualise how the vapour barrier would actually work.

A vapor barrier essentially restricts water vapor from
moving beyond it and condensing in a colder place. Here’s a simplified diagram, I think:

Case 1:

Moisture moves from left to right. It can get into the drywall, but can also escape, because the drywall’s the same temperature as the interior air and unrestricted from letting moisture back out. (If the room’s greenhouse-humid, well, that’s another problem.) The vapor barrier only lets water vapor move from right to left, so any that’s in the insulation can escape, but can’t build up. Assuming there isn’t any working its way in from the exterior, your wall’s interior stays dry – especially as the temperature gradient rises through the insulation, so the vapor barrier surface will be less cold, and less prone to condensation, than the bare hull. (Or vapor barrier directly on hull.)

Case 2:

Moisture still moves from left to right. Now it can get into the insulation from both sides, and vapor is bound to condense on the cold side. Given the structure of insulation, it’s nigh impossible to get that moisture back out – after all, it has to evaporate and slowly diffuse out without more condensing. Thus, you’re
looking at microbial growth problems.

I’ve taken this and drawn a more colourful diagram of how our exterior insulation would be set up:

Diagram of our insulation setup

I was feeling pretty clever, so I passed this over to our friend Steve, whose Luxemotor we just visited last weekend. He then raised a whole new round of questions about insulation I’d never even thought about, and frankly, I had no clue how to answer.

At this point I brought out the big guns – I emailed my brother, Steve, who also has an engineering degree, has just completed single-handedly building a massive extension onto his house, and works for the US Navy as a civilian engineer. So he had a bit more recent, practical knowledge and was able to sanity test what Brian had said and fill in a few of boat-owner-Steve’s questions.

The vapor barrier is generally simply a sheet of ordinary plastic, and doubles both as a vapor barrier and a draft barrier. Condensation happens when warm air cools below the dew point, and condensation forms. Rule of thumb is to put the vapor barrier on the warm side. I say “rule of thumb” because the hot and cold side change between summer and winter most places, and half the year, the vapor barrier will be on the wrong side. This is generally OK. What you do not ever ever want to do is put vapor barriers on BOTH sides- one side must be left to breathe. Otherwise any amount of water seeping in will just sit and fester, and water always seems to find a way in.

Ok this all makes sense to me. Boat-owner Steve then took what brother-Steve said and actually improved a bit on it, I think. He pointed out that the celotex actually has its own vapour barrier in the foil facing, and to simplify building you could affix the celotex to the back of your interior wall panels, but do it offset a bit to get a tongue and groove effect, preventing any draughts where the wall panels join.

Brother-Steve was able to give a bit of insight into what the big boys do with their boats, though much more research will have to be done on our part to determine whether we can afford it without a Defense Contract at our disposal…

US Navy ships simply apply the insulation straight to the bulkhead like in the link below. Usually 1” or 2” glass bat, faced with some sort of fireproof cloth. After it’s painted, it’s pretty vapor impermeable on both sides, but navy doesn’t seem to have much of a problem with it… Honestly, I’d just do it the navy way. Tried and true, right?

So we’re still not settled on exactly which type of insulation we’ll be using (though the insulating paint is definitely out and I think we’re less keen on the sprayfoam now), at least we know which order we’ll have to do it in. We’ve got some bare hull in the floor of the Captain’s Cabin bedroom to test any of our ideas on, which will hopefully mean we get some of our mistakes out of the way before blowing the time and money on the grand hotel room hold.

Anyone have any experience with a certain type of marine insulation they’d like to share? This is very much the time for commenting (not after it’s bought and affixed and you tell us what a bad idea it was!

Comment - posted 8 February 2008, 14:18 in

Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater

Saturday was quite the busy day – after a very late night seeing Eddie Izzard at a secret work-in-progress show, we got up early and painted the wheelhouse ceiling to protect against further mould and mildew. Keeping one window open a crack wasn’t quite enough to stave of condensation, though, and I had to brush some new growth off the ceiling beams before starting, but opening two windows seems to be doing the trick. I first coated the wooden beams and the portions of the wheel where the varnish had worn away over time with a new coat of outdoor clear varnish and then painted the B-I-N onto the white ceiling portions. I must remember to stir paint instead of just shaking it next time in order to avoid the first coat being thin and the last being the consistency of peanut butter.

We finished that in time to get to the West End for some birthday drinks, then finally went rather far upstream on the Thames to visit friends of ours who purchased their Luxemotor a few months ago. Theirs is of similar age (1931) and size (30m x 4.5m) to ours so it was really nice to see all the similarities and differences in layout. The captain’s cabin on theirs had the most similarities, right down to having the same design of door handle as Hendrik! It was also nice to share tips and techniques that only other boat owners would care about and to get out to see how a different mooring operates.

We picked up a grand tip in the use of Celotex insulation, but now we’re starting to have TOO many insulation choices for remodelling the hotel room space and we’re not quite sure which is best. Alongside the Celotex, there’s also Thinsulate (easy and mess-free to install, but doesn’t form a moisture barrier apparently), spray foam (which creates a chemical bond to the hull, stopping moisture, but is very messy and requires professional installation and all the conduits laid out in advance), and then there’s this Thermalite insulating paint which I just found out about which almost seems too good to be true (two coats of paint and it’s insulated with a moisture barrier). What we’d love to do is get samples of all four and try them out for ourselves, but I’m guessing it’s going to be difficult and expensive so we’ll have to rely on others’ recommendations, like most of our other boat supplies thus far.

Comment [1] - posted 5 February 2008, 16:42 in

Mouldy Oldy

We’ve learned and important (and thankfully, not too expensive) lesson – if you’ve got a wheelhouse above a heated living area with lots of plants aspirating resulting in lots of condensation on the 360 degree single-glazed windows, then you should probably open a window a crack to let the moisture out.

If you don’t, things get mouldy unbelievably quickly.

Ceiling mold in the wheelhouse Midway through cleaning the wheelhouse ceiling mold

We just discovered the mouldy ceiling and beams at the weekend since we hadn’t been up there for a week or so, and after a consultation with my trusty DIY shop man, we spent last evening mould-busting. Luckily, since we caught it early, it was all just sitting on the surface of the wood and paint, so the woodwork could just be gently brushed, and the ceiling just needed a bit of sugar soap and elbow grease. In the second photo above you can see the mouldy streaks after our first pass with the soap and paper towel – a second swipe took it all off.

We’ve got to follow up on Saturday with a bit of revarnishing (as it was only the wood where the gloss had worn away that grew mouldy) and coating the ceiling in B-I-N to hopefully prevent anything further.

This will hopefully knock two tasks off our newest To Do list which is growing steadily longer despite our attempts to keep on top of everything… There simply aren’t enough weekend hours to get everything done, so I’m really looking forward to the summer daylight where we can actually get stuff done in the evenings after work again.

Comment - posted 30 January 2008, 14:14 in

We haven't been relaxing

Or “What we’ve been up to since we last posted but not including anything diesel stove related because James is preparing to write a novel on that”. Anyway, sorry to be terribly quiet but we’ve been out doing things and have been awful about actually documenting them.

First up was our Christmas activities. Our mooring has an advent tradition where each boat takes a different night in December to have a party and officially turn on their outdoor lights. So for nearly every night, we had a party to go to with hardly a stumble home! For ours we served Pimm’s Winterand homemade christmas cookies and everyone helped to make popcorn garlands and snowflakes cut from the thousands of white circular coffee filters leftover from the hotel.

Christmas on Hendrik Christmas lights on Hendrik

Then after a delightful Christmas Day itself spent gorging ourselves on duck and playing our new Wii, we buckled down and resolved to clear the deck before New Year’s. So we rented a van and carted away the 5 diesel barrels and 7 LPG bottles off to the council’s recycling site.

Deck minus 5 diesel barrels and 7 LPG bottles!

Then we realised we had an empty van so we used the opportunity to go round B&Q to get a new radiator for the saloon (as the 30 year old current one exploded into geysers once hooked up to our bitchin’ new boiler), various bits from Ikea, and beer replenishing at Costco.

The Ikea purchases included a beautiful tin bathroom cabinet that must’ve been designed precisely for boats (strong magnetic catches and tall lips on every shelf!):

new bathroom cabinet

...a big shaggy black wool rug (which Bosco loves to lie on to become The Incredible Invisible Cat!) and a small bucket armchair more in keeping with the scale of the captain’s cabin:

New rug and chair in captain's cabin

Whilst visiting with our neighbour, we obtained a big plank of thick pine which was exactly the kind we were looking for to replace the galley steps, some of which had rotted away, making things very treacherous. So James went ahead and chiselled and unbolted the old stairs to reveal the metal framework underneath, and we cut the board to the right widths.

Stripped galley stairs from above Stripped galley stairs closeup New boards for the galley steps

That’s as far as we got, though, but even just having the bare metal has made it much easier to use the stairs that having a few missing ones as before. The other project in mid-completion is a passageway between the captain’s cabin and the wheelhouse. We were able to punch through the bottom of a cabinet, but we’ll need some steps welded on before we can actually use it. It’ll be so nice to be able to use the wheelhouse without having to put on a coat or shoes and go out into the cold or rain!

Comment [3] - posted 3 January 2008, 17:35 in

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