Wednesday 17 December 2014


This Wednesday was very quiet with few pedestrians venturing away from the shops. We were all surprised at the temperature and had to discard jackets to begin work. (10 c)

This was the view  forward and aft this morning as work began.

On Monday the long awaited 30 foot slabs arrived from Adrian's
saw mill. Dave the shipwright was pleased to have seen these trees still as standing trees a few weeks ago at Bodnant Gardens before they were finally cut.
Wood doesn't get much more local !
UNFORTUNATELY as I was passing by, the wagon arrived and the two Daves burst into cruel laughter stating my timing was as perfect as ever and would I like to help ?
I changed into my scruff and it took five of us to unload and stack the timber.
We should now hopefully have enough larch to finish the planking and I will hopefully get an early appointment with the knee specialist !

Dave began work on a short rear deck beam .Having created a pattern ,he drew it onto an oak slab and cut it out on the band saw.

Once it was completed, it was set aside until the awaited rudder tube arrives- as this needs to be in place before final fitting.

Meanwhile apprentice Dave battled on with a difficult forward deck beam which has to be fitted in a complicated section. (that's what he told me!)

As the day drew to a close ,we began to tidy up and prepare for the Christmas holiday.
The project will close tomorrow for a two week break .
May we take this opportunity to wish any bloggers


And should you be passing  Helen II to walk off the festive calories ,lighten your step with a donation in the buoy!

Wednesday Phil

Wednesday 10 December 2014

Dave, the shipwright ,finished the rough shaping of this oak pad with the adze and continued using an electric rotary plane and finally a hand plane. To my untrained eye it's a perfect fit,but Dave will lower it down again to take out any minor lumps and bumps.

Then we will need to have some keel bolts made ( approx.1 m long ) to bolt from the inside ballast keel to the external one.We are still not sure how to drill these holes through the keels but we have expert advice and help from Buckley's Crane Hire of Conwy.
Dave is at present creating the final forward deck beam from a beautiful slab of Welsh oak supplied by Adrian. Once planed ,we both keep stroking the beam as the wood is gorgeous (our case comes up next week !)

Today was the day of the " weather bomb" when winds were forecast to exceeded 70 mph but luckily we were protected from the worst of the  wind by the castle walls. We even saw a few rays of sunshine.
The sun always shines on the  righteous ! Guess who ?

Shipwright Dave began to plan out the welldeck (I think) This is the area from which you steer the ship standing up or in a sitting position.As we have no plans ,Dave is using a method of construction called " wingin' it "

Having fitted the port (left) side of the welldeck, He is now preparing the starboard (right) side.

Today was the coldest day of the year or it felt like it.

I was overworked with hot tea provisions for shipwright Dave

Apprentice Dave prefers his own drinks which he brings each day.

The silver flask contains  his special coffee .
It always brings a smile to his face !
The purple bottle contain spring water which makes him smile even more .
We don't know what the third bottle is for but you can't wipe the smile off his face all day !

We had a visit today from The Blind Veterans Association which caters for armed  service personnel.They have a base in Craig y don and are very interested in our project - which may later prove of value to their service members , as many have a naval background.
We had a interesting chat.
William Turner from the Northern Archaeological Diving Unit came with them .He has sailed round the world .An interesting life ! He has kindly offered to donate to the trust an eight man life raft ,50 m of chain and an amount of ropes. Many thanks from us all......

Wednesday 3 December 2014

But first the view from the office window at 8-45

 A cold morning but what a view !

Dave, the shipwright, has started to make a solid oak pad to clamp the external ballast keel to the original keel. This additional ballast will help the boat stay more upright when sailing so that it doesn't lean over as much.

The solid iron keel is to the right of Dave on the floor.
He first made a pattern of the underside of the bright orange keel on the boat and added the shape of the top of the outside keel.(are you following this ?)
This was drawn onto the oak slab and he set to work with the adze to create the correct shape for a good fit.I find it surprising how detailed and delicate adze work can be.


This little gizmo is great for straight lines.It consists of a piece of string on a winder. As it pays string out, blue dust enclosed in the winder,  sticks to the line .The line is pulled tight at the other end of the plank and by lifting the cord up and dropping it -like pinging a musical string, the dust falls from the string leaving a straight line.
It certainly makes things a lot easier.

At one stage today I was tasked with red leading several deck beams, which I did with enthusiasm !
I proudly announced the completion of the job only to hear the cruel sniggerings of the "Daves".
 I wonder if you can spot what they did ?
 Little     *******s

And finally... as I walked away this evening, this is how Helen II looked .
                                                                        beautiful !

Tuesday 2 December 2014


The deck beams, which will hold up the deck planks continue to be created. As I understand it ,although most are made from oak some are made of larch to reduce weight.

This is where we were up to on 14 th of November. Most of the forward beams are in place.
Next Wednesday, when Wednesday Phil is available, we are expecting a big delivery of 30 foot slabs of larch and more oak sections from Adrian.
 Because of the weight of these slabs, we are all needed to carry them.
Oh goodie !!!!!!!!
When a larch tree is sawn into slabs (planks ) we can only use the centre planks from the trunk for planking  the boat  .The rest are sold to other people.
When I asked people at our latest open days during the" Conwy Feast" , to guess the reason why...  only two people guessed the real reason for this.
 The reason being that we cannot have knots in these planks because if the knots should pop out in the water, we have a problem !
That was a fact I had never cosidered.

Saturday 29 November 2014

 (the mast sits on this in the bottom of the boat.)

Shipwright Dave decided to let apprentice Dave experience working with an adze.After suitable instruction he began shaping the mast step.
On this particular Wednesday, at least 3 retired shipwrights saw Dave working and came to reminisce about their time in ship building in Liverpool, Devon and Tyneside.
All described it as the main tool of their trade.
Upon completion of the task ,Dave successfully counted to 10 while observing his toes.

Meanwhile shipwright Dave cut and welded these brackets to add extra support in the stern (left) and the bow right). They will be galvanized before final fitting.

THE BREAST HOOK IS ADDED and the saw broke !

Dave ,the apprentice,made and fitted the breast hook at the bow (front ). This gives extra strength to the bow. We waited several weeks while Adrian the mill owner found a suitable fork in an oak tree and cut it into a usable slab .

 Dave the shipwright began work on making the first beam shelf.This shelf forms the base for the deck beams to sit on .Having made a pattern in ply, he transferred the data to an oak slab and cut out the curve of the sheer clamp. The photos show the first fitting.Dave then tweeked the beam where necessary.Notice that he has not yet cut the inside of the beam and the bark is clearly visible.
The photo on the left shows the first beam shelf bolted in place and the  deck beam pattern seated on it.
A deck beam to hold up the deck planks is placed and fitted on the beam shelf
The second deck beam is now set in position 
On Wednesday 12th of November , disaster struck as our electric circular hand saw finally broke down with that terrible smell of burning plastic! As we stood by the fence facing the quay,a  "Friend of Helen II "  , Pat N from near Conwy marina came to look at progress.She heard our debating as to the type of replacement saw we could afford.
Although an expensive replacement was desirable, we felt we would have to settle for a cheaper version even though the cutting tasks were demanding.
Pat N then walked away as discussions continued. About 10 minutes later she returned and passed an envelope through the fence to shipwright Dave and then she left........
When Dave opened the envelope a note simply said  "a donation towards your new saw."
We were all taken aback with the generous amount given. We all just want to say a big thank you to Pat and let her know that we were then able to buy an excellent new circular saw which is superb !!!!!
You made our day.......

Thursday 27 November 2014

Having reached the fifth plank,Dave the shipwright decided to stop the planking as we now needed to begin planking from the keel (bottom) up.By doing this the last and final plank would be fitted in a easy to get at position.This final one is called the stop plank.
In order to begin working from the keel up ,it was considered desirable to have larch slabs of approximately 26 foot. This means that there will not be a join in this important position. At present we were making planks from 20 foot slabs of wood.Each full plank run from stem (front) to stern (back) could be made of 3 sections .The reason being that all the plank joins could not occur on the same frame (rib) as this would create a very weak area in the boat's structure. Each join was positioned three frames away from the join  above. Any join was then strengthened by a block placed behind the join and secured with 6 stainless steel bolts.

In order to cut these extra long slabs of larch, Adrian ,at Elwy Wood Welsh Timber saw mill, had to extend his saw rail by 10 feet. The purchase and construction of this bit of kit , and the necessary extension to his milling shed has taken some time. Sheds don't grow on trees.........  
  although Adria's did !
 His shed remains a work of art.
While we waited for first delivery of the longer length slabs, work began on the inside of the boat.

The first internal plank is called the sheer clamp and this lies parallel to the sheer plank (topmost plank ) on the outside.This provides added strength and a fixing point for work to begin on the decks.The picture on the left shows the first part of this sheer clamp being "G clamped" into position.Once the Daves (shipwright and apprentice ) were happy with the line and height of it , it was secured and the next portion added.
The art of head rocking to port and starboard ,squinting and muttering while looking at a plank's position was duly passed from master to apprentice.( In other mammals this looks like a mating ritual )

The photo on the right shows both sheer clamps in place.

We were all excited at this point and celebrated  with a Wednesday Phil special...... Tea with fresh milk.

Tuesday 25 November 2014

First a baton (bendy piece of wood ) is fixed to the hull to show where the bottom of the new plank is to fit.It is then adjusted to make a fair line( smooth curve )
Dave achieves this by tilting his head left (port) then right (starboard) with suitable chanting !

A strip of ply is fitted into the plank space and tacked with nails (it doesn't need to be a good fit but it should not touch either side.)

Dave then slides a block along the top plank and marks the lower edge of his block onto the ply.
He then does the same along the baton below, marking it on to the ply.
This shows the space from these drawn lines to the edge of the new plank.

Dave takes the ply strip and tacks it to the chosen tree plank.
Then he slides  the block along the lines he drew on the ply before and carefully draws along the opposite side of the block.
This gives an exact copy of the space the plank will fit in !

Dave, the apprentice , cuts along the drawn lines to create the rough plank. (it keeps him busy and he always emerges smiling.)

This is then put through the planer and a small angle added to the top and bottom of the plank to allow for caulking later.

This is then clamped tight against the frames (ribs) and also the plank above .Pilot holes are drilled in the plank to the frames and nails hammered home for a tight fit.
( This gives Dave even more to do !)

The clamps are removed and the job complete.......

I now use this technique for making templates around the house.My wife is amazed and now I have more work to do !!!!!!!!