all white?

dawncraft chronicles

all white?

First the news, and for the first time in Ten years or more we are dry. Suspiciously dry inside given the spate of recent thunderstorms one of which is happening as I write. Ok I have kept the water channels in the windows clear of moss and even drilled the drain holes out a little and the odd squirt of eco washing up liquid helps but there are not the usual drips from the vents or roof lining something that I have spent far too much time and expensive mastic on to no avail. So, what did I do so very different?

pva and leaks

It started with the need to tidy Dawntreader (DT) up a little with a coat of paint (more later). I noticed for ages that the hand rails were worn where they bolt through the deck and used every different type of sealer you could think of but this time I didn’t have any but what I did have to hand was 1 litre of water proof PVA glue, which by adding water you can change from a thick gloop to a runny mixture – thinning it out. Basically, I went to the handrails where they bolt through the deck and made a coffer dam out of plasticine – actually it was blue tack but who cares. I then poured the mixture at 50:50 into the dam and watched loads of bubbles form. I left it like this for several hours – note though it was an incredibly hot day with temperatures up in the 30s and no good for painting, finally finishing off with a full thickness coat which I applied with a paint brush. It set clear and rock hard. Spurred on by the cheapness of the whole idea I did all the deck fittings, the vents, the Sampson post in the foredeck even the sides of the navigation lights and all for less than 6 quid. Ok technically it’s not my or even a new idea, there is a liquid called Captains Tolley’s creeping crack cure which roughly did the same thing. The glue has dripped through every small screw hole and imperfection and set sealing it up as well as sealing up the wood of the handrails making them less prone to rotting in the first place. Result!

paint job

Simon Woollen's boat Dawn Treader - paint jobNext the paint job of which I have done a few over the years none of which seem to last mainly because I have a glass fibre problem called crazing. The gel coat has cracked like shattered glass over most of the deck. I still intend to cover them with treading but saving money for my trip on the Canal du midi in September I needed a cheap fix. My guide to maintaining your boat suggests that I open each crack with a Dremel type tool and smooth in with gel coat filler. All 25 foot of boat. Essentially I see two problems with this, one time and two I really don’t have the patience for that kind of malarkey so I set about sanding back with a detail sander , please go very carefully or you will wear off the gel coat and make it worse. I am still very loathed to use paint strippers on my decks and even less warm air guns; glass fibre isn’t as immune to chemicals as we think.

I think there are more types of paint you could use on a boat than any other object, twin packs, enamels, water-based gloss etc, in fact most chandlers seem to have a paint for everything and every part of the boat. However, I noticed something that I did years ago. I painted the metal gas locker with a well-known smooth white metal paint and being me got it on the glass fibre on the inside – it has never peeled blistered or flacked off. Hmm! and this stuff is dirt cheap and readily available and if you believe the advert will stick quite happily to a rusty railing so tentatively, I sanded back the foredeck and used a tin of smooth white Hammarite. In fairness to this paint job the deck couldn’t have got any dryer in 36 degree heat and I think some of my previous attempts may have had water residue still in the cracks but it stuck – better still having decided to sand back the first coat something in it had filled all the cracks and for the first time in years DT stopped looking like it has a nasty skin Far so good – it has survived extreme temperatures , now howling gales and rain and hasn’t peeled or moved. In fairness it hasn’t had a frost which would blow any moisture trapped in the glazing, but it was dry to start with which is another lesson!

home comforts

Simon Woollen Dawn Treader's cabinMeanwhile work continues in the cabin with the addition of a privacy screen, basically a piece of plywood that has been built on to a frame and set at the side of the seat. It’s not really for privacy, it’s just great to pile cushions up against and lean into whilst reading or listening to the radio. The whole job cost less than £20 and I have noticed that nearly everybody opts for that seat and does same thing, it’s a bit like a pub settle seat you feel cosy and secure.

Fly screens were added this season made from a white rigid nylon environ mesh available from any garden centre at pence per metre- what a difference these make ,you can leave the windows open all night with the light on and not get eaten alive by midges – that’s if and only if you make sure you made something similar for the cabin door.


Simon Woollen spider spray damageLastly and because of the weather it is spider season. Now I don’t mind them, there are two as I write bouncy about on their silk bungy ropes just above my head. What I don’t like is webs in my face every five minutes -or having them in my bunk with me and that weird feeling at night that you are not alone! I have in the past used a spray that leaves a residue especially in the canopy where they seem to favour – Look what happened to the windows when some got sprayed on them, they aged went brittle and cracked. Some things we might have to learn to live with.