Wednesday 7 December 2016


The team of students who visited last week were really keen and had a good commitment 

Today's group showed similar values but
they took to the task of puttying instantly and thus Wednesday Phil was aghast at the speed of their expertise ! No naughty corner for these lads.
Joshua,Cory,Alex and tutor Fraser worked with little supervision and were heard advising each other on technique.
If you click on the picture you can see how Cory works the putty leaving a raised profile.

Apprentice Dave created a template in ply for the flooring in the bow section of the boat. This is then transferred to a plank of larch to be fitted tomorrow.
Shipwright Dave created a steam box in ply, to be powered by a wallpaper steamer.
The rule of thumb is to steam wood for an hour per inch thickness of planking.
He decided to see how it would work on a test plank for the stern approximately half an inch thick.Thus once up to steam, the plank was inserted in the steamer for half an hour.

Then, with clamps and many hands,the plank was fitted while still hot.
We were all pleased to see how successful this plank fitting proved. I was surprised how supple wood becomes after such a short time.
I tend to over cook mine by hours !
This is the first steaming we have had to do on the boat.

Monday 5 December 2016

Kyle,Ethan,Gary,Sally ,Rory and tutor Frazer arrived today for three days of hard work.

 After rigging the safety net, tutor Fraser dived in to test it's effectiveness. and re enact a scene from Romeo and Juliet with stand in Dave trying to look coy.

After solving the problem of creating a raised mound of putty between the planks, Wednesday Phil showed the students the technique and they began learning by experience.

Kyle  worked independently

while Ethan and Gary teamed up, after having made Wednesday Phil comfortable in his arm chair.The concentration was a joy to behold !

Rory began making deck hoops to fit around the mast  to make the mast  water tight at deck level while Sally continued caulking .

Shipwright Dave began fixing the toe rail along the starboard (right ) edge of the deck. This is designed to stop people slipping off the deck during drunken sea shanties.
(Well that's what I think.)


Wednesday 23 November 2016

THE BOWSPRIT IS TRIED and the rain subsides.

 The bowsprit was positioned today after two days of torrential rain.Apprentice Dave swiftly attached a rope  and hauled out his high viz" smalls" to dry out.

These doubled as a warning for passing traffic as the pole reached nine feet into the quay roadway.


After marking its possible position, it was retracted for safety as the "smalls" had dried.

 Apprentice Dave continued creating the forward hatch frame.

Wednesday Phil painted the underside of the deck beams and then handed over to Pat for the afternoon .

 Then the troubles began!!!
Phil was charged with filling the plank gap with a mixture of red lead and putty .This covers the caulking cotton to creat a water tight seal.

Shipwright Dave wanted the mix to create a raised mound between the planks -to be sanded smooth later,but Wednesday Phil could only create a smooth finish  .He then experimented with different drier and runnier mixes.
As Phil could not get the desired result, he was sent to the naughty corner vowing to do better next week !!!

Wednesday 16 November 2016


Due to the storage of  bilge keel boats next to the compound on Thursday /Friday, today was the last opportunity to lift the engine into the boat for the next six months.
A hiab was to be used from the bridge contractors to assist, but it was seen disappearing over the cob  at 9 am today. Even the driver was surprised!
Harbour Master Matt  swung (strolled) into action.
Thanks to the generosity of BUCKLEYS CRANE HIRE they provided a lift vehicle  at short notice to assist.

.In order to get the engine out of the shed ,Llandrillo College students practised bailing out  a water filled obstruction first. This is excellent  preparation for the Helen II launch.

Once a block and tackle was rigged, the engine was lifted out and taken around the compound to the port side of Helen II.
(click on a picture to enlarge)

Baz ,from the harbour office, organized the lift  with the  Buckley's driver at the controls.
The engine was placed on the deck and then lowered through the foot well via a chain winch.

The two Daves then pushed the engine along an angled plank as Baz continued to control the move.
Finally the engine was unhooked and all celebrated with a cuppa !!!
Well that's what they told me !

 A special thanks to BUCKLEYS CRANES for making it possible and Baz for his knowledge.

And then shipwright Dave lined up the angle for the prop shaft to enter the hull
with string and his eye..and drilled a pilot hole.

Looks technical doesn't it ?

 Apprentice Dave finished sealing the posts at the bow.

Volunteer Pat came to do some internal painting and Wednesday Phil supplied moral support and tea.

Wednesday 9 November 2016


 This is today's group of students who worked on Helen II.

This week Ethan, Rory, Kade Kyle,Alex,  Joshua, Callum,Lee,Gary,Corey,Scott, Sally and their tutor Fraser will all work on the boat.

With their breathing masks on, they just needed white body armour and we would have a scene from Star Wars!

We were all pleased to see the energetic work they put in and with the astute direction and  leading by example of  Fraser,  all stayed  focused and on task all day. WELL DONE !!!
(They only got their mobile phone fixes during breaks )

Kade prepared Epoxy Resin with filler to use on final finishing of screw and bolt depressions on the hull.

Under shipwright Dave's direction, others worked on fairing in the hull and deck.

Wednesday Phil directed  caulking practice from his armchair .
They will certainly cut down his workload for the future !!

Apprentice Dave  continued making frames around the "timber heads" (two chunks of wood sticking up at the bow end )
Once framed, the inside edge will be caulked and sealed with mastic to stop water leaking into the hull.
Well that's what he told me !

My final view today showing the anchor chain guide template  which will control  the chain and rope at the bow.
Its name escapes me.

Friday 28 October 2016

THE DECK GLASSING IS COMPLETED with six inches spare.

With all three of us working together the fibre glassing moved on apace and shipwright Dave's calculations of the amount needed was spot on with six inches to spare.
Wednesday Phil was relieved and impressed at this.
Shipwright Dave was relieved and secretly stunned.
Apprentice Dave was stunned and secretly relieved  himself.

When he returned he seemed to take a turn for the worst 'giggling and muttering to Helen II.( click on the picture for the full grim look.)

 Mike  Fox, our marine surveyor, came today to see the build to date and to advise us on requirements to achieve our required certification in the future.
He proved extremely helpful and supportive of the build thus far. 

As we are due students from Llandrillo College soon and we are unclear what they are meant to be learning on their visit ,

Wednesday Phil began to prepare some planking sections so the students will be able to practice caulking before being let loose on Helen II .
Hopefully the college will let us know the work schedules
prior to the week of work !!! 

These were the final views on Wednesday evening.

Sunday 23 October 2016

Sorry to those who came on Sunday hoping to visit us, but we were short of volunteers.
Saturday was a busy day with many visitors to Conwy and Helen II.
Conwy Feast was blessed with excellent weather which helps.

"Murray the Knot" held court to attract visitors into the compound and Wednesday Phil gave demonstrations of caulking before taking visitors up top to see progress. All were surprised at not only progress but the amount of space within Helen II.
They were further amazed at the skill with which Murray extracted willing donations before exit.

Ship wright Dave came to help open up and close on Saturday.
Previously he completed the 'glassing of the bow.
Thanks to all visitors who came to see Helen II and many thanks to all who donated .
My thanks to all those who give of their time to see the projects continuation !
And finally thanks to Conwy Mussels for my tea.