Wednesday 28 June 2017


Shipwright Dave is taking some time to go sailing and climbing for a few weeks so Helen II will be on hold. 
Recently, Dave cut and welded the front piece of metal called  "the gammon iron".This is heavily bolted to the bow and will hold the bowsprit.This is the round piece of wood just to the right of it in the right hand picture.The bowsprit is slid out about 12 feet and will hold the forward sails.


This shows the bowsprit hoisted out in a picture of Helen II taken thirty years ago when she was working. 

Thanks to the effort  of Barry our fabricator from Penmaenmawr ,Dave has set the chain plates in position ready for fixing after drilling.
These will hold up  rigging to steady the mast.
Wednesday Phil has been varnishing the cabin using this stuff. I have to say it is really easy to

apply" any fool can do it" as Dave keeps telling me !

Once D1 is brushed on and has dried , D2 is then used to give the lovely finish.

So as we close for a break,
Wednesday Phil has left his trusty guard dog  FANG to keep watch and hopefully continue to encourage donations in our absence.
There is nothing like emotional blackmail to swell the coffers !!!!
Happy hols Dave.

Saturday 10 June 2017


 Our new crew member  busied himself filling voids (spaces between frames and planks) with red lead putty.

Wednesday Phil rubbed down the cabin in the morning and as Shipwright Dave fitted the final keel bolt ,we then had a BIG CLEAN and replaced  the floors .

The following photos  show the finished views as displayed for the public on the notice boards.

 There were then  many shouts of " I've just cleaned that !"
 We now have a door mat for use before entry !

Sunday 4 June 2017


Over the past two weeks we have been working on preparing the topside for weather sealing with the first of many coats of varnish.

It proved inexplicably exciting to see Dave start the first coat.
( I don't get out very much )
 We were soon both painting  with  pleasure .The effect is superb.
 The weather proved excellent -dry and calm and the passers by commented on the transformation immediately.

 Once completed ,Dave set about the keel band as discussed last blog.
The metal tabs I pre-drilled  were temporarily  bolted to the wooden keel and spot welded to the metal band.
The band was then lowered away from the keel and Dave then fully welded the tabs in position.
The band was then re sited to check for refitting.

As it fitted perfectly, it will now be sent away for galvanizing,( this will protect it from corrosion )

We are sorry we were unable to open Helen II for Pirates Weekend .
It was very enjoyable.... especially when Wednesday Phil discovered the pirate ship VILMA at secret anchor on the river.
The motley crew were busy below drinking lots of grog  and practicing "OOOH ARRRGHING " prior to attacking Conwy quay.
(Unless it was something they ate !)

Another beautiful wooden vessel .

Saturday 20 May 2017


While Wednesday was away checking out spanish trawler designs ,Dave continued "home alone" on sealing the decks by gluing and screwing "thingies" along the cabin/ deck sides.
We couldn't decide the name for these seals so we settled for thingies.
Notice the precision at every stage. 
(click on the picture to see the detail)

Avid followers would also have noticed the completed grab rails.

The 47 foot  tree trunk which is destined to become our mast arrived.
It is 12 inches thick and needs to be shaved down to approx. 8 inches.
The nice delivery driver said "that's a big job ! Why didn't the lady who ordered it, have that done in the factory ?"
Dave said,"OOPS !  (he remembered we may have younger readers).

Meanwhile Wednesday Phil drilled lots of 4 inch tabs which will be welded to the metal  keel band  to hold it in place.

 Then back to sanding and priming of the starboard side.for the rest of the day.
Dave said it is better to do it now than later..... as a snorkel won't suit you !
See. He does care!
It's a pity that all this work will be hidden once launched.Still if it was clearly visible we would have a problem !

On the 28th--29th May it will be PIRATES WEEKEND on the quay.I hope we may be able to have an open day when devotees and visitors will be able to view our doings . I will let you know after the next trustees meeting.

Wednesday 3 May 2017

Today Shipwright Dave worked on the cabin top grab rails.Each one is made from a length of teak.
The supports are measured and placed over the cabin beams . They can then be bolted through the beams to give extra strength.
(click on the picture to view the detail )

He also finished off the corners of the cabin from blocks of teak (left) glued and screwed into place before being sanded down .(right)
 It looks beautiful !

Wednesday Phil , ignoring the agony of tennis elbow and no sugar for the tea, continued sanding down the hull below the water line to remove excess red lead putty.This created a smooth hull fit to glide through the water.
This was painted with aluminium primer thinned as a first coat.
"Next time," said Dave ,"you can give it another good layer of undercoat !"
"Oh goodie !"said Wednesday Phil as he chewed on another paracetamol........

Phil then emptied the donations buoy .
Shipwright Dave and Phil are always surprised at the generosity of the visitors to our compound.
Thanks to all who donate to Helen II.

 And finally..... the oak beams to create the rudder were delivered by Adrian from his Elwy Wood saw mill.He is a great supporter of the project .

Sunday 30 April 2017

An update of progress...........

In the last month quite a bit has happened.
The lads had a week off and Apprentice Dave left the project to take up a job up the Conwy valley  leaving shipwright Dave home alone ! 
Dave has patterned the keel band which is a strip of metal bolted on to the underside of the  keel.This will protect the wooden keel from damage if it should ever sit on nasty rocks or uneven ground.Once welded and " first fitted " it will be sent away for galvanizing before being  permanently fixed on.
Dave then fitted the stem head  .This is a large chunk of wood bolted to the bow in which the anchor chain sits when anchored up .
To the front of this is bolted a metal plate for protection and strength.

A local engineer is making the chain plates for the side of the hull. These are metal strips that will hold up the rigging.
As Wednesday Phil is still on light duties, lifting heavy objects is not allowed, which  makes Dave short handed at times.
 So Phil continues sanding down the hull to smooth out the caulking putty and then painting the planking with aluminium primer.

 Within the hull, the floors (planks) were removed  so that Dave could fit a final keel bolt and so Phil gave the bilges (the space below the floors) another coat of red oxide for extra protection.
Notice the artistic finish below !


Dave is now finishing the entry hatch and cabin rubbing band.
The jobs presently  are more detailed and time consuming, especially when Dave is working alone.

Thursday 9 March 2017


As Wednesday Phil has been on an all expenses denied observation of boat building  in Tenerife, the Daves have continued caulking and filling over this with red lead putty mix.. The hull is now waterproof except for the prop shaft (which drives the propeller) hole  through the hull.

The metal frame to hold the rudder has returned after being galvanised.
And a local metal worker from Penmaenmawr has been to make patterns for the fittings to support the rigging.

 Today Shipwright Dave finalised the keel boats which hold the heavy ballast casting (big lump of cast iron) to the keel .This stops it moving inside the hull during rough weather .

Wednesday Phil   and Dave managed to move the engine to the side of the hull to allow the floor to be lifted to finish the bolts.

Then Murray ,one of the trustees, arrived to continue carving the name plates for the boat. 
One of his hobbies is carving detailed and intricate designs.

This attracted many observers who were keen to see the methods employed.

Wednesday Phil was fascinated to see the many processes employed to sharpen his tools to a razor sharp condition.

Murray sadly declined my invitation to carve a sign for

Still - I'm optimistic !

Thursday 2 February 2017

Work continues apace to make the boat water tight.
Both Daves have taken over caulking the planks since Wednesday Phil tore muscles limbo dancing under the hull with his caulking hammer.
Apprentice Dave fairs in the stern post to the planks to create a streamline hull. 

 Shipwright Dave has drilled a hole into the rudder tube and added a small tube to allow grease to be pumped into the rudder tube to keep it movable. (click on the picture to see in detail )

Dave then prepares to seal down the cover to make the area water tight. 

 To my fascination Shipwright Dave appeared with a long clear tube which he began to fill with water.
When I asked him what he was going to do with that ,I was relieved to hear he was going to use it to find a level around the boat.
 Here's how it works.....
If you mark a point on the hull ,you can find a level anywhere on the other side of the hull.
If you pass the tube under the keel and hold the tube up on the other side ,you can raise and lower it until the water level in the tube is lying alongside the  mark you made..
Once the water settles, the opposite end of the tube will show the point on the hull that is level with it.
That is because water always levels out in a tube.
 (hope this can be understood ! )
 So I learned another clever method ! 

The result is a level line around the boat. 

Wednesday 11 January 2017


Over the past few weeks since the last blog, Apprentice Dave has finished the forward hatch and is now perfecting his christmas present for his daughter  "Jack In A Box"

Then he completed the flooring in the forward bunk section and moved on to make slats in the wet store.

This will allow air to circulate around clothing to reduce any condensation and speed up drying.

Wednesday Phil continued painting the decks and glossing internal woodwork.
 He is now on light  duties as muscle tears and tendon inflammation, due to repetative strain, is reminding him that he's no longer a young whipersnapper and he has to ham it up to win a compensation claim !

Shipwright Dave continued  making and fitting toe rails on to the deck to prevent crew sliding off the boat in slippy times.
Once first  fitted  (making sure all fits correctly) they are bent into place using brute force ( called Dave) and sealed with mastic sealant.

As the toe rail has to be made of five sections ,each plank has to be joined to the previous one by  a scarf joint.
Dave does this by  cutting both ends into a wedge  which marry up exactly as in the picture.( click on the picture to see the detail )
These are then clamped together with a mastic  core and bolted together for a rigid joint. It's a joy to see the precision !

In order to make the stern section, thin planks of wood had to be steamed, bent and glued together around a template which is an exact copy of the required shape.
Dave made the template from plywood and five layers of wood were bent and glued together to form the lamination.
This fitted perfectly to the stern and was scarfed in.
Shipwright Dave looked on with satisfaction ( as an artist might view a picture ).
We all knew he was some kind of artist !
Today's final photos of the completed toe rail.

Apprentice Dave begins work on the cabin hatch................
to be continued !