A Challenging Project

May 31, 2020

We were in no hurry to get Tardis north from Florida, both for the safety of ace haulers Chadd and Tracey and because they were concerned that if they traveled to the New York area, they would face 14 days of quarantine going back.

We had planned to spend the summer in Maine, but that is out due to a 14-day quarantine on out-of-state visitors and the fact that since the virus is arriving late there, the shutdown is fairly strict.  So my reservation has all been rolled over to next year.  Maine tourism will be decimated, but I am careful to mention to my Maine contacts how serious the virus has been around here and that avoiding it may be worth the price.

So I went ahead with a project that had been planned since our first trip to Florida — brass caps on the rubrails.  Docks in non-tidal areas are pretty much just pilings and a short finger reaching out to the boat.  There is no way to avoid rubbing against them, and as a notoriously poor close-quarters boat handler, I do so frequently.  Even in fancy marinas there isn’t much dock protection.  I went into one for gas and saw the fuel attendant wince as we pulled into the dock. “There’s that screw sticking out that I’ve been meaning to fix all week.  Right at your rubrail,” he remarked as we examined the gash.

So I was thinking about 3/4-inch brass half-oval, but Ray suggested that 1-inch would fit perfectly.  And it does, but it is 1/4-inch thick.  So getting it screwed onto the boat to take the horizontal curve at the stem and vertical curve going aft was just about as much bending as the brass and my body would take.  I had planned to use 12-foot sections to minimize joints, but the shipping cost was so high that I went with 6-foot.  Without Ray to act as ground crew and holder, flippy 12-footers would have been impossible to get on and the joints barely show.

The rails were first painted with Interlux Kingston Gray, one shot darker than the Seattle Gray on the hull.  It looked spectacular and is a precursor of the day when Tardis will move south permanently and all the varnish trim will become paint.  The rails  are bedded in butyl tape to avoid the mess of polyurethane, but butyl isn’t easy either.  It looks great when you trim off the squeeze-out with a razor knife, but then it settles in and you get to trim it again.  Then the weather gets warm and humid, and you get to do it again.  So next fall when the boat goes on the trailer, I am going to give all 72 screws a half-turn, trim once more and any more squeeze-out will become permanent.

But the rubrails look great and will be even better when they develop a brass patina.  And any plastic boat that wakes the Tardis, better watch out if they hear me mutter, “Ramming Speed!”

Kingston Gray under the brass

TWo-way bend on the stem.

These rails are hefty!

Aft was straight and easy

Sorry about that! A little narrow in here!


One comment on “A Challenging Project

  1. Ton Schoenmakers
    June 10, 2020 at 6:17 pm #

    Funny that you mention your rub-rail reinforcement. Sytse and I talked about that too,and he picked the traditional Dutch solution, a 3-in manila rope. In the Netherlands it is called “kabelaring” and it can be fitted with a “kopleguaan”, an extra thick bow protector, but I have not been able to find proper translations into English. Google these terms, and you’ll get the idea.
    I did find a July 1910 article on page 10 of The Motor Boat magazine (vol. VII) where this is employed on a 32′ boat for the Panama Canal Commission.
    It will be interesting to compare Tardis and Arnhem in the future! Foredeck is on, but not glassed yet.After a 2-month quarantine for me, we will next work on main cabin roof beams.


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