The plan…. the teak has been removed from the deck, alongside all the deck fittings. This has revealed some “somewhat Lacey” deck beams that want replacing and some rather ropey teak. The course of action is to add in the new deck beams but with more of a camber to the deck – this is how it would have been originally and allows the water to more readily run off the deck, hopefully avoiding it all rolling towards the windows and making that soggy. Then we are having a new marine ply sub deck, on top of that will be much thinner planks of iroko/teak (probably about an inch) which will be glued down the the subdeck.
This avoids a lot of the previous problems of every seam and every bolt and every patchworked area of deck – and there was a bolt about every foot of length and six inches across the beam – being a potential point for water to come in. There won’t be all the soggy cotton caulking wicking any water along the seams. And it will look just as good, if not better. I’m not a purist when it comes to this project… let’s make use of modern glues and methods and come up with the most practical, achievable solution that will mean we can actually use the boat. Simples, and if this doesn’t work I’ll just cover the whole bloody thing in tek-dek, okay?
So why the updates all of a sudden? Well, at least that’s what my Dad has been asking… possibly my only follower here, certainly the one who is paying the most attention! Well the update is because some work is actually happening on Beta! Your jaw might hit the deck at this news, and that would be more than appropriate as it’s the deck that is being fixed.
The deck? Haven’t we been there before? Yup, yup we have. We spent a good summer or so raking out the seams, routering them, caulking them, priming and squeezing sikaflex (remember that ghastly stuff?) but…. All to no avail. It still bloody leaks. This has been fixed on the main deck with an additional cover but on the bow deck, it is still pretty drippy to the extent that it is stopping her being usable and damaging the inside.
There are many reasons why she still leaks. Let me list them…
1) it was an amateur effort in caulking and silaflexing. And while it really was best efforts, there are hundreds of metres of seams, sikaflex is not a forgiving material and one missealed join and lead to a problematic drip, likely a way away from the point of entry, just to confuse things further. I don’t think we could have done a better effort but the proof unfortunately is in the pudding and it leaks.
2) the condition of the teak. The wood is nearly 100 years old. While we’ve patched in a good amount, there are still pieces where it’s just too dry and cracked to be solid. We could try and cut out more sections and patch in more new wood, but….
3) that bow deck is a real mishmash patchwork or deck bolts, hatches, furniture and random pieces. All this means more joints and more chances to leak.
4) what it was built for then, and what we want to use it for now. As a working fireboat the emphasis was on a solid deck, all 3 inches of it. It didn’t matter if there was the occasional drip down into the boat. But when you might be sleeping on it and don’t want the floating garage look on the interior, it very much does. Different priorities.
Time to get the professionals in. We (and by we, I mean Tam) floated her down the river to the Woodbridge Boat Yard. If you haven’t had a look in their workshop which is open to the quay, you really need to. It’s a treat. They have taken a look and we have come to the conclusion that to try and rake the seams and re-caulk in its current state would be throwing good money after bad. All that work could be done and there would be no guarantees that water wouldn’t be getting in elsewhere and we’d be no further on. Not idea.
For the last 18 months very little boat-related unfortunately. Turns out three kids under 5 and navigating a retail business out of the pandemic doesn’t leave much time for boat stuff. We’ve visited a lot and have definitely got a soft spot for Woodbridge and the area. Particularly the fish and chips and pubs – there are no other fish and chips like Suffolk fish and chips.
I have to dig out the pictures of Beta being towed round Felixstowe- I have them somewhere and they are pretty impressive. Soon she arrived in Woodbridge and, after dropping off the engine upstream (more on that later..), was in her berth on Woodbridge quay.
Who knew how much work three small children under 5 was? Turns out a lot. between the kids and the business, I barely have time to go to the loo let alone refurbish a boat. But things have been bumbling along nonetheless. Also further complicated by covid and lockdowns – hey, wasnt everything?!?
In October 2020 – between lockdowns!!! – we put Beta back in the water and took her to her new mooring in Woodbridge. This was our number one choice for a mooring – train station, easy road access, possible to tow the boat there from Ipswich and – importantly – affordable (the marinas don’t stack up with price per foot for larger boats). We were SO LUCKY to finally get a mooring there and are ridiculously grateful to Sam and Emma for taking us on. Things do sometimes turn on a pin and having sorting this, the whole project went from stressful white elephant to looking like it was much nearer completion.
Just the question of getting there… Foxtons were more than happy to sling us in the water and – I’m sure – to see the back of us! They were great but we aren’t a yacht and they needed the space back. Just the question of getting there and, on the river Orwell, turns out Tam is your man for shifting boats.
And the launch. I think I must have been about 6 or 7 months pregnant here. Probably not a recommended situation for stress levels. For a ship the size it is, Beta moved and launched pretty smoothly. Props to the Fox’s team here. Fortunately all my nightmares of there being a big glug and Beta swiftly sinking to the bottom weren’t realised and once in, she stayed afloat.
A quick pic of the crew (all 4.5 of us!) in front of the newly painted Beta III. The latest round of blacking looks a treat and the hull might not look this smart again. Next job, welding the anodes on – the painting was the icing on the cake and these are like, um, the very expensive iced gems?