The Monkey Island

In March 2018, volunteers embarked on a project to repair and waterproof the monkey island, as the topmost deck above the wheelhouse is referred to by salty sea dogs. This blog is a merging of blogs from our earlier web carnation to tell the ongoing story. Two years and counting......................

From the blog 13/3/18.

We have long been aware that the monkey island leaks. It is an aluminium deck partially clad with wooden decking. The wood is rotten in places and corrosion in the aluminium is allowing water in. After the recent heavy snow followed by the diluvian downpour on Saturday, the ingress of water was seen to be more serious than in the past and it is damaging the internal fabric of the ship. So we made a plan, in fact several, plans A, B, C and D. I won’t bore you with the early marks, but the current plan is as follows.

Part one is, as far as possible, to protect the monkey island deck with tarpaulins until such time as the weather and available volunteer labour allow us to proceed to part two. So today we removed as far as possible various swan necks and corroded steel girders added to the ship’s radar mast well into her career to minimise the danger of damage to our rather thin tarps. After that we got on with attaching the first two of three tarpaulins. With a surfeit of chiefs and no indians, five grumpy old men did in three hours what would have taken a competent carpet fitter, or better still sailmaker an hour to do on his own.

The end result, if nothing else is something Tracy Emin would probably be proud of. Part two of the plan is to remove the wooden deck, when probably in the spring/summer in order to survey the aluminium deck. We then plan to clean the deck of paint and other debris. Stabilise the deck along these lines. (guidance only) Surface Preparation and Priming – Aluminum After this we will either patch areas which require patching, or possibly plate over the entire deck. This of course is a fairly large project requiring much labour and funding. (£2500 or much more) If you want to volunteer and are within travelling distance of Leith email If you are willing to donate any amount, large, huge or gigantic. (If we over run our target 😂 we have many other money drains on the SS Explorer)

From the blog 20/11/18.

Rigging for a tent over the Monkey Island taking shape.  When complete it will allow us to repair the leaking deck over the winter. (Editors note:  Hope springs eternal :-})

A steel cable was rigged between the two masts, with further cables rigged from the apex cable to the handrails.  Further cables were rigged fore and aft entwined between these cables.  Scaffolding poles were placed outside the apex and downcoding cables.  Unnecessarily as it transpired.  When the skeliton was rigged, Strong scaffold sheeting was anchored to the cables

From The Blog 26/1/19

he Big Top Completed (Almost)

The big top pretty much complete except at the aft end. Will have to consider if we have enough Monarflex to do the remaining unshielded parts. Should keep most of the water off the deck and out of the accommodation. Turns out it consumed many more man hours than I had imagined. Hoping to start work repairing the deck shortly.

From the blog 3/2/19

Lifting the wid.  If anyone has any experience in aluminium corrosion control and repair, please get in touch.

The lifting of the wooden decking is progressing well. The first plank was rather time consuming as there were no openings either side and we had to take the buzzsaw down the seams. Also, some of the planks have cable gland penetrations. The one adjacent to Henry Hoover has two. One was accessed and removed via the sick bay, but the other is in the skippers cabin which was inaccessible today due to deck painting in progress. However, it is likely that the deckhead in that space will have to be partially dismantled.

We are beginning to get an idea of the state of the alloy. The white stuff in this photo isn’t snow, it is aluminium oxide. Corrosion.

We had to stop earlier than planned due to flat batteries on our drills. A little tentative needle gunning was carried out to assess whether this will be an effective way to remove oxidised metal. It appears effective but will require a lot of man hours.

A Dreich Day

After some appalling weather, both wind and rain, the big top seems to be doing its job. There is dampness due to blowing rain and slight leaks but nothing is penetrating to the interior. More progress made today and we now have around a third of the deck up. It’s a slog. And rain and a drill malfunction stopped play early today. (The wooden planks are to stop volunteers tripping over the welded studs on the deck)

From the blog 23/4/19

Stage 2 complete

Six months after starting this project we have hit milestone number two. The wooden decking is removed (bar a few details). A couple of big holes in the deck above the radio officer’s cabinet which has been badly affected by water. Now we can see why. Next stage is to remove all the corrosion before putting down a layer of GRP and resin. (Or not as it turns out)

From the blog 22/10/19

The Monkey Island Saga Continues

Today we needle gunned and soda blasted a small area of the monkey island. We then applied marine primer. It obviously won’t fix the leaks, but we are hoping it will provide a corrosion barrier before we do plug the leaks.

New Post. 11/2/20


The monkey island has now been Gorrila taped to within an inch of it’s life and a bitumastic coating applied.  Soon be time for framing.

New post 3/3/20

Gorilla taping complete and two coats of bitumastic paint applied to the deck.  We seem to finally be waterproof.

New post 10/3/20

Building frames to support the 18mmplywood deck which ultimately will be a substrate for the Douglas fir top coat.

monkey island framing
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