Much has rightly been said on the allergenic risks of using epoxy in home boatbuilding, I think there is a less publicised health risk. The prospect of building a big boat in a group on the shores of Loch Broom has generated a need for substantial numbers of epoxy mixing pots. Now we could of course buy them but the project is already costing us quite a bit and bearing in mind that the build is going to take place in a cold and draughty cowshed in the depths of winter we are going to be burning quite a lot of calories just keeping warm it seems to me we can achieve two objectives in one hit.
We are told to avoid heavily processed foods for the sake of our health – however raw ingredients, even in these days of over packaging, tend not to come in anything remotely useful for boatbuilding. So, purely in the interests of the hobby, I have been researching various products that look as though they might suit our purpose. It’s a hard job but, so far , my system has stood up to the research. I have sampled a number of products and enlisted the aid of my grandkids to try those less appealing to my palate, far and away the best containers are supplied with a microwaveable sponge pudding filling.
A variety of flavours are marketed – my personal favorite is the syrup pud, sickly sweet and very good for my dentist’s future income - others may favour the chocolatey ones.
Product to avoid are the individual fruit trifle type – the containers tend to be indented with strengthening patterns which militates against a thorough ‘poxy mix. The ideal pot will be smooth on the inside, enough flexibility to allow for cured epoxy residue to be popped out easily for container reuse on a subsequent day, strong enough to be capable of serial use and large enough to contain enough epoxy that one individual can apply it within the ‘poxy pot life. Consumption of its original contents should not require too great a sacrifice on the part of the builder – you don’t want to be discouraged from building your boat by having to swallow something abhorrent. Yoghurt pots tend to be made from a styrene plastic which is only good for a single use. For larger mixes I have found that the 500gm Glace Cherry containers ideal, luckily if you bake the Lemon Cherry version of the extreamly healthy HBBR Rally Cake you will have a good supply. Experience has shown that however many you may think you need the reality will be at least double that number with a big boat like the St Ayles Skiff.
The downside of this cheap-skate approach is the serious risk to your waistline and health. Granted once the boat is built most people will work off the surplus during the training sessions – although I have just realised there is a potential health hazard waiting to trip me up there as well. If we get serious about competing we are going to have to analyze our progress, because of the scattered nature of the population building this craft the logical place to indulge this analytical process will be a local Hostelry immediately after a training session, it would be ungracious to avail ourselves of the cosy hospitality without properly supporting their Bar sales – yet more calorific consumption. For now though I guess I am just going to have to live dangerously and get used to a diet of instantish steamed pudd. I hope my colleagues in the project are equally prepared for self-sacrifice. We might have to be quick, with only a small supermarket locally and a neighbouring community embarking on another Skiff there might be a run on the pudding counter, that should cause alarm and despondency amongst the health statisticians in whatever ivory tower they inhabit. The far Northwest Highlands prefered diet of Steamed Pud puts the local population on the road to obese ruin