Resourceful Britain; Covid-19 in a boat yard.

The UK is nearly 5 weeks into lock-down and and the struggle for sanity is real. Many of us will have completed Netflix, parents will have turned to forcing their children act out scenes from the Goodfellas from behind cardboard cutouts; but for those of us without children to torment we must find our own entertainment in craft, DIY and art.

Yes boat renovation is off the cards for many, due to the legality and moral standing of visiting a boat that’s not a necessity, but that doesn’t mean your creative release needs to be on furlough. This week I heard a rumour about the police giving out over 500 fines to people visiting B&Q , the police wait outside for people to go into the store to buy non essential items and would slap a fine into the hands of Mr and Mrs Doyle who were now holding nothing but a 10ft garden gnome. For the benefit of staying neutral I won’t tell you who’s side I’m on but let’s just say I’m a big fan of lawn ornaments.

Covid19 Forced resourcefulness.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I say lucky because there are people out there that are held up in high rise buildings, no garden, living in fear; not able to make the rent, my heart goes out to them in this pandemic. They are the people truly suffering through mental health and lack of finances. Make no mistake I’m poor, I have no savings of such, no job. But what I do have is resourcefulness.

I’m currently locked-down in a project boat in a boat yard, with my new partner who happens to be a furloughed touring fabricator and ‘technical artist’. Working for a touring stage show as head of puppets her job is to fix things, on the fly and out of what ever materials they have laying around. We are both highly resourceful people and subsequently we make a good team.

This month we have found ourselves, looting boat wrecks for hardwood, unpicking tents for fittings and netting. Even the brass cup-handles for our galley doors were found along the river bank, attached to cabinets and doors that had floated up the river. Below is a collection of our resourceful lock-down projects so far hopefully we can inspire others to find joy in DIY/ Art where ever they are.

A Hinged Spice Rack.

A DIY Spice Rack.
A DIY Spice Rack.

For years I’ve had my spices chucked into a plastic box, and using them has been a major pain in the ass. Every time I wanted to make a meal I had to root through the box. We are both big fans of cooking fresh meals so it was time to sort out the spices! For this project, we used some off-cuts of pine and plywood that I had lying under my boat. The bungee cord was taken from a Peter Storm jacket. We measured a length to hold the spices in at sea and Maria proceeded to sew up the ends creating two loops in the cord. Maria then used her illustrative skills to the label the top of the spices so we could utilise the entire space.

Old Brass Hinges rescued from a Floating Door.
Old Brass Hinges rescued from a Floating Door.

The brass hinges were taken from a door that we discovered along the riverbank on our daily walk. We sanded them back and lacquered them for longevity. The hinges are badass. You could hold King Kong back behind them.

Up-cycled Cup Handles.

A Brass Cup-handle up-cycled from an Old Drawer.
A Brass Cup-handle up-cycled from an Old Drawer.

We also found 2 brass cup handles attached to drawers along the riverbank, they were slightly different but this adds to the charm of the boat. A quick sand, buff and polish restored them to there former glory.

Custom Flynets From Old Jackets.

Custom Fly Net made from an Old Jacket.
Custom Fly Net made from an Old Jacket.

Flies have been a major problem where we are located, so much so that they have now made the papers as well as a local petition. They spread disease, so having them as roommates is a big no. The heatwave that hit Britain this month meant that we needed a solution to keep our windows wide open. We couldn’t go out and buy fly netting so we decided to take the mesh from my old Peter Storm jacket, the gift that keeps on giving. Maria sewed the mesh onto a fabric frame. We then cut up old aluminium angled iron and riveted it together to cover the shape of the window. The material was glued into the frame and covered with aluminium tape to enforce it. The flies were defeated, we were cool once again.

Restored Cockpit Steps

Old Boat Steps
Old Boat Steps

These steps were on their last legs, in the mud and amongst a wreckage; most people would have used them for firewood. I’m no master carpenter but I knew there was still life in the wood.

  Broken Down Deck Ladder.
Broken Down Deck Ladder.

In order to make the steps stable and safe I decided I would need to break them down and rebuild them glueing the joints. This gave me better access to sand the planks. To most woodworkers horror, I used an angle grinder to remove the majority of the rot. A fairly dull grinding disc means the disc won’t remove too much material but cauterize the outer wood, giving it a solid finish that will last a lifetime if oiled.

Restored Cockpit Steps
Restored Cockpit Steps

I was happy with the end results, I never go for new, I go for rustic, homely and aged. In my opinion, you’ll spend a lifetime chasing perfection but I’ve learnt to find perfection in my style.

Drop Down Bar

A DIY drop-down table
A DIY drop-down table

I’ll be the first to admit it, my boat is a Gin Palace and as a result, it needs to cater for those occasions. I made this drop-down bar, using two stainless steel door hinges and some off-cuts of hardwood and ply. The table was coated with a thick layer of polyester resin. Yes, that’s right, not Epoxy, it is possible to get polyester resin to key well to a surface that has been prepared correctly, it offers better UV resistance than Epoxy, its cheap, and I have it available. I coated the top of it with an old tin of polyurethane flag floor paint. This means if gets marked I can touch it up easily and match the colour. I will add a pulley system so I can change from a bar to a synth station. What’s that you say? Man, you have too much time on your hands… Of course, it’s Lockdown duh!

Isolation Bar and Korg
Isolation Bar and Korg

Cockpit Canopy Wallet.

Hand-making a wallet from leftover Canopy material.

The pièce de résistance of these projects is a handmade wallet made from the off-cuts of our cockpit canopy. During our search for a Sunbrella material substitute, we asked the boats and bits advice and tips group for recommendations. Wayne Roberts owner of Boaty Bits recommended Sauleda Acrylic. Humbly he didn’t tell us he sold it at the time so we bought it from https://www.profabrics.co.uk/. We are now aware that Wayne sells it – doh! We will talk about the canopy in another post once we are finished, it’s been a challenge in itself.

The wallet was the work of Maria, I merely sat there with my mouth open as she proceeded to chuck a wallet together using nothing but her imagination and my debit card as a template.

The inside of a reclaimed Canopy Wallet
The inside of a reclaimed Canopy Wallet
Complete with Danny DeVito patch for the Always Sunny fans
Complete with Danny DeVito patch for the Always Sunny fans

In true isolation fashion, we ironed on a badge of Danny Devito to finish and Maria stitched it in.

Danny Devito wallet
Danny Devito Wallet

COVID-19 brings out the creative side.

So there we have it. Not everyone has access to tools, but where possible we should find joy in the things we sometimes forget we enjoy. We may be held up in our homes but our minds can be free.

Stay safe, and please email or comment on this post if you are in need of any advice.

Louis@boat-renovation.com

1 thought on “Resourceful Britain; Covid-19 in a boat yard.”

  1. It’s great to see people like this with determination to do things in a way that does not cost money..What we are going through at the moment should teach us that health comes first and being able to be creative while in Lockdown.
    It’s great see this and read about what you are doing.
    Stay safe healthy and keep up the great work..
    PS we are in the UK:0)…..

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