01/01/2017 - A New Year afloat?

Passed a milestone last year in that it was my 50th birthday at the start of December. Wasn't really expecting much. I'd told my wife that under no circumstances did I want a surprise birthday party (luckily she knows me well enough that this wasn't a bluff and I really didn't want a party!), with celebrations limited to a weekend with the relatives and a night out on the beers with the lads. However, got more than I bargained for when we travelled down to the in-laws in Pembrokeshire at the end of November. First inkling was that my parents' car was already on the drive when we arrived. Second hint was that, after a cup of tea, everybody started hovering around me, at which point the wife handed me a set of "clues" to my birthday present. Having deduced it was hidden somewhere down the yard, I had to traipse off down there with a torch with the others trailing behind me. Bearing in mind that the only thing I'd asked for was an HTO LRF travel rod, I could be forgiven for scratching around in the dark for something about two feet long and missing the obvious! After a few minutes I was gently directed to a tarpaulin-draped object in the barn. I was absolutely gob-smacked when this turned out to be a 14 ft Dejon Coastliner with a 25 hp outboard! Turns out the wife had taken my idle musings about having a little boat to potter around the corners of Milford Haven and go for the odd mackerel trip off Saundersfoot seriously, so one had been sourced on Ebay, bought and then collected by the father-in-law from Llanelli earlier in the Summer.  

Was able to get a proper look at it in the sun the following morning. Father-in-law had already tank-tested the outboard and, whilst the boat was perfectly usable in its current condition, there were a few obvious cosmetic issues - like a very bad paint job on the bottom of the hull, some fogging of the perspex windows and some rotten woodwork where the cuddy had been boxed in with non-marine plywood. Father-in-law had also already removed the non-original and grossly over-engineered pulpit off the bow. More of a concern was that the four flotation compartments that had been filled with foam had been emptied and converted to storage lockers (personally I would favour safety over storage!). However, as a project and ultimately a day boat to potter about in, it looked really promising, so it was wheeled back into the barn for the time being. 

The first opportunity to do a bit of work on the boat came when we were down again at Christmas. Luckily I was able to escape down the yard for a couple of hours on the day after Boxing day and started off by taking out the rotten wood that had been used to box in the cuddy, just a question of removing a lot of screws!

Decided that it probably looked better without the boxing in, particularly after seeing another one on Youtube, which had been left open, just leaving me with a bit of sanding, some fibreglass repairs and a touch of re-painting to cover up where the wood had been attached.  

Next job was to have a look at the windows. On the side windows the seals and insert strip had started to perish, whilst on the front the insert strip was missing and so mastic had been used to keep the window in place. The cabin had also been painted at some point with the windows in, so the seals had quite a bit of paint on them.

Was a simple enough to pop the windows out, scrape off any mastic with a knife and give the cabin a clean. The perspex window panels weren't as bad as first thought and, according to the father-in-law, would come up nicely with some T-Cut and metal polish. Called it a day after that, or rather dinner bell rang and I was forced to go back up the house!

We were going home the following day, but I couldn't resist another hour on the boat.

A number of the pop rivets holding the bump strip on were missing and the rest were badly corroded. A mallet and a chisel made short work of the remaining rivets. Eased the bump strip off and cleaned off the crud and algae that had accumulated underneath it. This revealed a couple of places where the boat must have taken a knock, damaging the "lip" that the bump strip was fixed to. However, nothing that a bit of fibreglass couldn't fix. Unfortunately, that was all I could manage before we had to head off back up to the East Midlands, but I'm already planning what needs to be done next time we're down in February. I've started looking at remote throttle & gear control and steering for the outboard and have been scouring the internet for boat jumble sales! I really hope everybody knows what they've done........ 

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