News: Sailing Rum Punch
Sailing Rum Punch comprises of Ellie and Ben. They form a dynamic duo with a unified vision. Their goal is to transform a 1972 ‘Contest 38’ sailing boat into their idyllic abode. Equipped with their impressive vessel, they embark on an exciting journey to navigate the vast expanses of the oceans.
Ben’s upbringing involved sailing alongside his family. This experience played a crucial role in fuelling his lifelong aspiration to possess his very own boat. His affinity for hands-on work and enthusiasm for undertaking small DIY ventures seamlessly converged, providing him with the ideal chance to combine his passions.
Ellie, on the other hand, has limited sailing experience. However, she compensates with her strong creative drive and adventurous personality. Despite her lack of expertise within the marine industry, she is determined to contribute and fully embrace the opportunity to work with Ben.
As freelancers, we enjoy the benefit of having flexible schedules, which allows us to work from various locations. Despite this versatility, we are committed to ensuring that our boat-building process stays on course.
We first crossed paths while working backstage on a theatre production. There, we found ourselves united in tackling challenges and resolving technical issues. Our diverse roles not only kept us busy but also took us on extensive international journeys. These experiences allowed us to embrace the minimalist lifestyle that we have grown to love. Despite our adventurous spirit, we could not help but long for a place to call home. A hub where we could unwind and fully explore during our precious time off.
In search of a project that would complement our fast-paced lifestyles, we recognised the need for something to occupy our downtime amidst our busy schedules. It was during this time that we made the decision to invest in a boat as our living space. Rather than opting for a traditional house. This choice opened an exciting opportunity for us to construct our dream home from the ground up.
Driven by a passion for design and a sharp eye for detail, our ideas are always evolving. Taking on the task ourselves not only deepens our understanding of the boat but also allows us to explore our creativity to the fullest.
What project have you been working on?
Currently, we are in the midst of refitting our beloved 1972 Contest 38 sailboat. Stripping her down to the bare bones was just the beginning. Our firsthand approach involves meticulously cleaning and tidying, removing the years of grime. The goal is to modernise all outdated systems, including electrics, plumbing, and furnishings.
Owning this vessel for just over a year, we faced the challenge of juggling an international job that frequently took us away. However, we have now set aside this summer entirely to dedicate ourselves to the restoration process. With an unobstructed vision in mind, we ideally would like to wrap up most of the work by October. Allowing us to move onto the boat and complete the final touches throughout the winter months. However, being freelancers, unexpected work opportunities can arise at any moment. Sometimes, the offers are too good to turn down. As luck would have it, both of us have recently been presented with such opportunities. This has caused a slight delay in our original plans. Nevertheless, we are wholeheartedly committed to preparing the boat for sail at the earliest possible moment. Over the next few months, we will skilfully balance our work commitments with dedicating time and effort to renovating the boat. Despite the occasional work-related interruptions, we remain focused on making steady progress towards our goal.
What materials and tools did you use to create your project and why did you choose them?
Due to the substantial amount of work ahead, we have carefully selected a diverse range of products and tools. Among these, we have acquired a significant quantity of sandpaper and sanding disks to cater to the demanding tasks. Although we lack prior experience with epoxy, we invested ample time in thorough research by reading numerous reviews and watching informative YouTube videos. Through this process, it became evident that “West is best” when it comes to epoxy products.
We keep a steady supply of WEST SYSTEM 105 Epoxy Resin® and 205 Fast Hardener®/206 Slow Hardener®, complete with pump sets, which streamlines the measuring process. Additionally, we have relied on WEST SYSTEM 406 Colloidal Silica for filling holes and creating smooth fillets on sharp corners and edges. Now, we are gearing up to try out the WEST SYSTEM 407 Low Density Filler as our new fairing compound.
Ben already had a considerable tool kit for his work. However, to meet the specific needs of the project, we have supplemented it with specialised fibre glassing and large power tools, including a chop saw, router, and plunge saw. The only hurdle now is finding adequate storage space on the boat to accommodate this expanding collection.
Were there any unexpected challenges or setbacks during the making process? If so, how did you overcome them?
Every day presents us with fresh challenges, ranging from unexpected damage to tools not performing as expected. Although these situations can be frustrating, we have set our own deadlines, so there is no external time pressure forcing us to make rushed decisions.
Recently, we have been concentrating on several tasks, including the removal of the interior, hole filling, grime removal, and floor replacement. Although it was a difficult decision to part with the beautiful, original floor, it became necessary due to its deterioration over time, impacted by the salty atmosphere.
We encountered our first challenge while attempting to fibreglass the floor supports to the hull for the very first time. Since we had no prior experience with fibreglass, it proved to be a real baptism of fire. Initially, we made the mistake of using long strips of wetted-out glass, which ended up being a waste as it did not work out as expected. However, instead of getting discouraged, we took a deep breath, acknowledged the setback, and decided to start anew, this time using shorter strips.
Learning from our initial misstep, we adopted a conveyor belt system, which significantly improved the process. I took charge of wetting out the glass with resin, while Ben efficiently rolled it on, and this time it worked like a charm!
We understand that more challenges may come our way as we progress, but we are well-prepared for them. We are determined not to let setbacks phase us and are committed to learning from each experience, to make continuous improvements in our fibre glassing. With this positive and adaptive mindset, we are confident in successfully overcoming any future hurdles that may arise.
Do you have any other exciting upcoming projects you are planning to work on in the future?
This project will keep us busy for an extended period, and we understand that there is a significant journey ahead of us. We are well aware that even after its completion, contemporary issues may arise, making it an ongoing and continuous effort. Nevertheless, every day presents an opportunity for us to learn something new, and we are dedicated to honing our skills as time progresses. With continuous improvement, we anticipate that new doors will open, leading us to exciting opportunities for future projects.
What advice would you give to anyone else looking to build/restore a boat?
Taking on a project of this magnitude requires significant effort and determination. It’s essential to recognise that facing setbacks and challenges is inevitable, and no one can be fully prepared for such a task. Our most significant piece of advice is to wholeheartedly commit to the endeavour and stay steadfast even when things do not go according to plan, as they inevitably will not. Like any project, there will be difficulties, but taking a moment to reflect on the achievements, even in the initial weeks, can serve as a powerful motivation to keep pushing forward and persevere.
Additionally, do not hesitate to seek help and support. There is a fantastic community of experienced individuals out there who have been in your shoes before. It is completely normal to feel intimidated and nervous when venturing into unfamiliar territory, just like we are now. However, remember that knowledge comes with time and effort, and everyone must start somewhere. Embrace the learning process, and with the support of others, you will gain the skills and confidence needed to succeed.
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