Ready to roll

Thursday, 10 July 2014


Gracie, for that is her name, was launched on 28th June at Looe in Cornwall where a small crowd of family and friends watched her debut.

All went well and motor trials on the Saturday were followed by a short sailing session the next day.

The owner seemed pleased, and the bystanders, many of whom were boat builders (or certainly appeared to know a thing or two about boats) said nice things. Champagne was poured and there was a small gathering later to celebrate.

Have to say that the whole process was most enjoyable. Thanks Ian.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Painting Time

Rather than use gloss paint we decided to go for Hempel's Multicoat, a very tough, opaque and semi-gloss finish that perfectly complements the work boat origins of the CaledoniaYawl.

Easy on the eye and easier to apply.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Where are we Now?

Steady progress but no time for blogging. The end is definitely in sight but there's a way to go yet.

The rubbing strips around the gunwales were fixed a few days ago, and the gap between the inwales and the strips filled with epoxy and iroko dust, which will seal the end grain of the plywood. I saw a nasty example of what can happen if the plywood is not sealed at the top edge. Water gets sucked into the laminates and that is basically it. Very hard to repair.

The other innovation, and departure from the plans, is to fit a mast thwart at station 2. Because the foredeck has been lowered it is no longer high enough to support the mast. The foredeck as drawn has a slot with two mast positions: sloop and yawl. Having talked to owners, and the designer himself, we all agreed that a single mast position some way between the two works perfectly well and saves a lot of unnecessary joinery.
The foredeck now makes a great place to sit, and the mast thwart has been sculpted to form a comfy backrest. I can imagine the owner's two children sitting facing forward, watching the bow rise to the waves and laughing for the joy of it all.

Oh, and managed to squeeze the outboard into the aft locker.

The spars arrived from Collars the other day and - what can I say? - perfection. Steve Hall down in Essex is making the sails as I write (or I hope he is, as the owner is getting a little twitchy).

Meanwhile the Ilur is nearly planked. The eighth strake is next followed by the sheerstrake which I intend to make in solid larch, so no worries about end grain or delamination.

Friday, 18 April 2014

It was a Good Friday...

Here is the workshop as I left it on Thursday. I was planning to work on Friday but the weather was so nice that I decided to sort out the club Flying Fifteen instead. I spent an hour or so only sanding the Ilur, after the day before when I put up the garboards and fixed the skeg.

The mizzen for the Caledonia Yawl is a "recyled" Gannet mast. It will serve well enough until the owner gets round to making one for himself. It seemed a shame to waste a good length of spruce, but I did have to spend more hours than I should have tapering it and cleaning it up.

The hatch covers are also recycled, from the deck of a superyacht refitting in Holland. They should look smart against the interior which will be painted cream at some later stage.

That's a gadget my friend Mattis sent from Norway to gauge the angle of garboards, rabbets and indeed the angle of planks in general. I put it to first use checking the bevel on the Ilur's keelson, to make sure it was symmetrical. Clever people those Norwegians. Such a simple device and beautifully crafted by Mattis, for which many thanks. Incidentally he calls it variously a leggfjol, gradbrett or batvater (NB there are some accents missing along the way).

That's about all until Tuesday when more planks will go on the Ilur and a start made on the side benches for the Yawl. Lots more to do, although I can begin to see the end of it. Keeping two boats inside one head is quite an interesting challenge.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Two on the Go Now

Today saw real progress on the new build, a Francois Vivier Ilur. The planks were scarphed last week and since then it has been a case of cutting out the MDF moulds and plywood bits and pieces, all of which slot together to form a rigid, box-like structure.

If this is the future of boat building, then it looks nothing like the past. I can't say that it gives quite the same level of satisfaction but it is a welcome change from the traditional, and once everything is cut out it certainly makes for a quicker build. Enjoyable too, especially with Alan and Gordon lending an expert hand.

I take my hat off to the ingenious Frenchman who designed the boat. Salut Francois! The way it all slots together. Hats off also to Alec Jordan who programmed his router to cut the kit. 

Work on the Caledonia Yawl will stop for a few days while we get a handle on the Ilur. The keelson needs shaping, the centreboard box made and fitted, then the transom and by next week we may be in a position to start planking. That will be 14 or so days work to date.

I did manage to knock up a forehatch for the yawl, using some recycled iroko decking from the aft deck of a superyacht, refitting in the Netherlands. Who knows who might have trod those boards. Maybe Kate Moss sunbathed on that very spot. I think you can still see the marks of the suntan oil...