The build blog

The finished article - 30 April 2022

Whip'ma Whop'ma was transported by road from Garstang to Gallows Bridge Boatyard at Shipley on 25 April and lifted into the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Over the following 5 days we sailed her back down through Leeds to our home mooring at Lemonroyd Marina. During the voyage we unpacked and installed or stored all the items transferred from our previous boat (NB Earl). We also unpacked the items bought in advance specifically for this boat i.e. the recliner chairs and the electric piano. Over the 5 days we only ran the engine for a couple of hours and the solar panels kept up with our domestic electric use and some of the propulsion. From 100% battery we entered the marina with roughly 70%. This was easily replaced overnight by plugging into the electricity bollard for our mooring.

The snag list is pretty small, the most significant being the cracks in the front door windows. Replacement panes are due in a couple of weeks and hopefully the other items will be sorted at the same time.

Launch day - 20 April 2022

Whip'ma Whop'ma was transported from Kirkby Lonsdale to Garstang Marina, lifted off the back of the truck and slowly lowered into the water. Everything went really smoothly. The afternoon was spent loading the items which had been held in storage and some other items onboard.

There are a few bits and bobs inside to complete as unfortunately Martin at the boatbuilders had a medical emergency over Easter. However, Matt will finish most of those over the next couple of days.

We took the boat out of the marina on the following day for a very short cruise to check things out. Other than the tiller needing to be re-aligned with the rudder everything went well. We also picked up the dinette upholstery from Jonic.

Final detailed pictures will be taken after the boat has been delivered to Shipley and we have unpacked everything.

The countdown begins - 13 April 2022

We now have confirmed launch and trial dates of 20 & 21 April at Garstang Marina, just a week away, with delivery to the Leeds & Liverpool Canal on 25 April. Cranes and transport booked.

The fitout shed was buzzing today as the final pieces continue to be put in place. All the fixed furniture is now in place with just the music storage boxes and tables to be added in the saloon. All the radiators were on - literally - as the heating system was being tested. Otherwise internally there is just a couple of pieces of trim, some catches, a ventilation grill, cutlery draw, the fridge and TV to be installed. Matt has done a great job on the pull out freezer drawer under the dinette.

Externally, the deck boards are now in place and locker lids which makes the rear deck look much better. And finally we have a propellor and rudder. The swan's neck for the tiller was in the process of being constructed. We also now have 10 solar panels on the roof - bring on the sun.

The top paintwork was being polished, however, Kevin still wants to add the last layer of rollered black to the gunwales and a couple more coats of blacking on the hull (to add to the 4 already on).

The guys are going to have a couple of busy days but things are looking good.

Ticking off the boxes - 24 March 2022

Compared to only two weeks ago, this visit felt much more like ticking off completion of many items and checking small final details to be completed. Externally the anti-slip paint on the roof is completed and ready for the solar panels and the rear deck and stern is now being painted.

All the boat systems are now completed and nearly all the appliances installed. In the front cabin the steps and corner shelves are in place, leaving the cupboard internals (drawers, rails, etc) and the front doors to be completed. The bathroom is complete with everything plumbed in, including the washing machine. The main saloon still needs some cupboards but the dinette/bed is back in. Here a TV will also be mounted on the wall and the piano installed below. Whereas the galley is complete other than the fridge and a few pieces of trimming.

Throughout the boat nearly all the major pieces of oak trim are in place including all the window surrounds, leaving just some minor trimming to cover panel joins and a few handles and catches.

The next visit has been scheduled for 7 April with launch/sea trails pencilled in for 2 weeks later (after Easter to avoid the expected mayhem of small GRP cruisers moving around Garstang Marina).

In out, in out - 10 March 2022

It felt a little bit like "two steps forward and one step back" at this visit, as some things that had been in place previously have been taken out to aid installation of other items. For example, the dinette and some radiators. However, some major things have been completed. The flooring is now in and looking really nice. The galley is almost complete with the quartz worktops installed and sink in place. The wine cooler/veg storage locker has also been added below the galley floor and the back steps have been built. The cabin at the front now has the bed base in place and the cupboards are in progress. The cupboards for the saloon have also been started in the workshop.

Another visible change is that nearly all the trailing wires have now disappeared behind switches, sockets, control panels or pieces of trimming. Masses of oak trimming has been applied with even more to follow.

Externally, the hull sides have been covered in plastic sheet to protect the paintwork, but it was still possible to admire the signwriting which is going to look great when fully unveiled. The stern still needs painting but this is left till after the fitout to avoid it getting damaged.

Before leaving we confirmed measurements for the dinette so that we could also visit Jonic at Morecambe to agree fabrics and plans for the soft furnishings.

The boat is named - 17 February 2022

The boat has now been signwritten by David Crossley aka Big White Frog. The photos look great, can't wait to see it in the flesh.

A busy boat - 11 February 2022

Superficially it may look like there has been little progress since the last visit. However, things are progressing in all areas of the build and things are gradually getting completed. Today the boat was buzzing with three people working on the boat, plus Kevin and us checking things out, all at the same time.

The engine bay is now complete and the hybrid system commissioned (and demonstrated as working although still nothing on the end of the prop shaft to turn). The main electrics cupboard is complete and the 'electric switches and monitoring station' on the right side as you enter the boat is now being worked on, also forming the coat cupboard below.

The galley worktops have now been templated and the induction hob and sink are there ready for installation when the worktops arrive. The windows are in and porthole liners installed, although some adjustment is needed on the shutters of the larger windows to cope with the double glazed windows. Large amounts of oak trim have also been added around the cabins with some lovely detailing on the larger sections.

Externally, Kevin is now satisfied with the paintwork on the cabin sides so the signwriter can be booked to add the boat name and the hull has been tidied and the first layers of 2-pack epoxy blacking have being applied. This will continue until they have used all the paint purchased. The roof will come next and the solar panels will then be fixed on.

The big green lump - 20 January 2022

There were lots of changes this time having not visited since November, the most obvious being the big green lump in the back that is the Beta Marine 75bhp hybrid engine with 10kW electric motor. The 24 traction batteries are also in and most of the associated electrics. Hybrid Marine Ltd are due to visit and commission the engine on 26th Jan.

The cabin is starting to fill up with the kitchen units installed and almost ready for templating the worktops. Mick has added 3 thin shelves on the end of the corner cabinet and some small shelves in the cupboard under the oven (sized to accommodate Aldi baked bean cans apparently!). The bathroom will be complete with the addition of the basin, a few shelves and the washing machine.

The plumbing is complete and in addition to the towel radiator, two of the graphite grey radiators were in place. Another two will go in the saloon. Likewise the domestic wiring is complete with most of the sockets, switches and lights installed. In fact the cabin is now illuminated using the inbuilt lighting.

Everything appears to be coming together now with many items on site awaiting installation (e.g. solar panels) or due in the next few days, like the windows.

First fixing - 25 November 2021

Although looking similar externally, there has been lots of activity inside and in the engine bay. The bulkheads (walls) have been inserted, so it was time to once again check sizes of internal fittings. All the sliding shutters are in place at the windows and portholes. These look really neat and just what we wanted.

Most of the electric cabling is in place and the plumbing is going in. Cables have been run to external points for the navigation lights and aerials We also again checked sockets and lighting. In the engine bay the auxiliary (heating) fuel tank sits behind the calorifier (hot water tank), leaving room in front for the diesel boiler.

Two battery boxes have been prepared. On the starboard side for 9 batteries and 15 on the port side of the rear steps.

No further painting has been done as some detailed steel work has been done to provide various facilities such as ventilation slots through the top of the rear bulkhead and engine bay hot air extraction (exiting behind the steerers legs - useful on cooler days!).

She sees the light - 21 October 2021

This visit we were greeted by Whip'ma Whop'ma sitting outside of the fit-out shed basking in the sunshine. She is looking really good. The steelwork is complete (other than cutting a hole in the roof for the skylight which had been missed). The cabin sides have been painted in their grey gloss for us to check that we are happy with the colour, with much of the rest in primer and undercoat.

Inside the foam insulation had just been finished and the base floor is in place. This allowed us to draw on the floor and walls to check the layout and fine tune the positioning of the bulkheads, shower cubicle, bed, cupboards, etc. and check requirements for power and cabling.

As we left she was being pushed back in to the shed using the forklift. We had to turn away. They are confident and used to doing this but it looks a bit precarious!

Steelwork details - 23 September 2021

The steelwork now looks largely complete with the cabin sides in place and holes cut for the windows. There are also front doors, rear doors and rear dodger with built in lockers. Of course there is still quite a lot of welding to do as many things like the rubbing strips are still only tack welded.

Some of the detailing is looking really nice, particularly things like the grab handles on the cabin front and the shaping of the dodger ends matching the curve of the rear cabin sides.

Final decisions were made on the remaining details, such as control panel location, rear mooring dolly positioning and fender eyes.

The next time we see the boat the steelwork will be complete and painted. Less welcome news was that there are no Beta 60s in stock and the next one due will only arrive at the end of March. This would blow out our Q1 launch completely. We may have to use an alternative engine. (27/9: We have now agreed to install a Beta 75.)

A roof has landed - 02 September 2021

Progress has been slow over the last few weeks due to holidays and the impact of Covid-19. However, the additional 120l diesel tank for the heating boiler has been made. The most obvious addition is the roof, now ready for the cabin sides to be inserted and then we will have a full boat. Some of the other work is less obvious as tack welds get replaced by continuous welds.

There was much discussion about flooring, internal colours, electrical wiring and positioning of control panels. We also visited Howdens in Morecambe the following day to decide on the style and colours for the kitchen.

Lockers and tanks - 12 August 2021

Although initially it looks like there has been little progress, the bow is now up to full height and the front locker is in place, along with the well deck floor. This gives a reasonable size but allows for a good sized well deck despite us 'stealing' an extra foot for the cabin.

At the stern the rear bulkhead is in place along with a diesel tank, weed hatch tube, rear deck and drainage channels, first rear step and base of the bike locker. We had taken the folding bike and the guys checked that this would fit in once the locker is extended upward. We had also taken along a front and rear wrap-around fender and discussed the attachment points for these.

We have asked for the rear doors to be wider than 2 foot if possible, bearing in mind the required layout for the galley. Kevin has managed to give us 2' 3".

The build starts - 22 July 2021

This is what greeted us on our first visit to the yard, approximately 2 weeks after the steel was laid out. We now have a hull tack welded together.

Whip'ma Whop'ma is being built by Kevin and his team at Pintail Boats in the Daleside Welding & Fabrication yard near Kirkby Lonsdale (funny how so many boat builders are nowhere near a canal or navigable river). The guys here are very talented and make all sorts of things - from cattle grids to luxury glamping pods.

We checked that the radius of the stern curves looked right and had a discussion about the size and access into the bow locker. As it doesn't have to accommodate gas bottles we decided on a slightly smaller locker than normal with access from the front rather the top.

Pintail have built a number of 9' wide boats for their own hire fleet and private buyers using this chined hull design. It should give good directional stability when underway and help mooring in shallower waters.