Monday, 30 April 2007

The perfectionist in me


In between the sanding I’ve looked at some other boatbuilding blogs that make my standard of workmanship look shamefully slapdash. But apart from highlighting my shortcomings they also illustrate that everybody gets trapped in a fairing hell where, even as you eradicate uneven areas more appear and then more. Endless expanses of imperfect plywood stretch before you. Epoxy dust swirls, foxes even the protective clothing, laying a fine layer that dries your skin and clogs your hair. It intrudes on your dreams. It gets up your nose.

Ozzyc and Greg have been fairing their GT 23 Cruiser from Bateau.com for 9 months, not surprisingly they are getting pretty tired of it. And Peter Gron’s building Sam Devlin’s Artic tern. He’s been on one ten day sanding fest and had another mammoth bout when he faired the hull last year. Eric, who’s building Nina, a 22ft motor boat also from Bateau.com, hasn’t reached the fairing stage yet but he’s done some very neat epoxy work which will almost certainly give him less sanding to do when the time comes. Serious workmanship to be found on all three sites.

But while fairing is without doubt unpleasant and monotonous it’s also surprisingly difficult to stop. I reach my threshold everyday, but the morning after, in the workshop afresh, there’s energy to go round the boat one more time. This afternoon however, having been round countless times over the past few days and having gone from100 grit to 150 it suddenly wasn’t good enough, and I went back to square one, starting with the 80 grit that really munches. And I returned to block sanding by hand. The machines are just too noisy; they judder, they whine, they make an unsavoury job unbearable. And it’s just plain uncivilised to make that much noise after lunch, it echoes off the buildings, rips through the post-prandial peace of the sacred siesta. Easy going my neighbours may be but they won’t tolerate an interrupted siesta and I don’t blame them.

Using a block sander may be slower but it is also more accurate, less likely to chomp right through the epoxy and into the wood and it allows my mind to wander idly as my hand, rubs, rubs, rubs.

So while the sanding block moved in small circles over Onawind Blue’s sides leaving myriad thin scratches like the tracks of Lilliputian ice skaters, I mused on the perfectionist in me. Or rather his absence. He probably upped sticks, disillusioned, one Monday morning in my 20’s as I lay dozing in a Barcelona hangover. I suppose the entrepreneur in me went with him, along with the business acumen and that sensible chap who pays his bills on time.

5 comments:

Baddaddy said...

Oh Ben - careful you doon't cut into the fibres of the glass cloth - you could easily destroy their contribution to the strength of our boat!
Gav

Ben said...

Yes, it's all too easy to be over enthusiastic on the hard chines. But fear not the cloth is still intact.
I feel I'm getting onto the home stretch now Gav, and it's very exciting.

Paul said...

looking pretty good. way to go

ben said...

Good to see you round here Paul.

Baddaddy said...

You're not the only one who'se excited, believe me Crawshaw!

They day you'll be able to launch that boat to try her for rowing really isn't far away.

Gav