Back to boats again. Bob and the Ilur get friendly

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Down the Road

Philip and Liz arrived last Monday to collect their new boat. No time to launch but we did raise the mast before strapping her to the trailer for the long haul south.

 I am quite pleased with the larch sheer strake, which adds a touch of class and various small modifications to the layout.

Steve Hall made the sails, and Jeremy Freeland the spars. The long-suffering Alec Jordan kitted the boat and. incidentally, if anyone wants to build one I have the jig available for sale or hire, which would represent a considerable saving.

What can I say? A very nice boat for a very pleasant couple who will, I hope, have many pleasant hours sailing her.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

On Reflection

As the first of the two boats occupying the Old Milking Parlour awaits her new owner, it was time to reflect on boats built past and present. The Ilur and 16ft Gartside skiff, a traditional Breton design and a West Country rowing boat, will be the last new boats for a while as I concentrate on repairs, and try and make the most of a summer that has barely begun up here.

All have been designed, or based on traditional designs, often, as in the case of the faerings, dating back centuries. Most have been built using time-honoured materials and methods; some methods have been brought up to date, but still  keeping with tradition. As the old saying goes: if the vikings had had glassfibre, they would have used it (although I am not so sure...)

It is ironic that, having been so scathing about plywood and epoxy, I have at last come around to accepting the method, if not the materials. I still have little love for epoxy, for its mess and mixing and waste, and rot-cut marine ply I will maintain looks horrid under varnish, and is better painted, so don't waste money on the super duper stuff.

But if I had to build in plywood and glue, then this is the method I would choose. Collano/Vendia lapstrake.

Instead of epoxy I have been using Collano Semparoc for some years now, and recently I discovered Vendia, a lovely Finnish laminate made from pine, of which Finland has vast, inexhaustible forests. And it comes in handy sized boards, not 8 x 4in monstrosities.

12ft skiff; Vendia pine or solid larch?
Not only does it take varnish and looks great, but it is lovely to work And Bob is proof, I reckon, of that. So, if anyone would like to start building glued lapstrake boats out of a wood laminate that look nice varnished, and using a glue that makes them a pleasure to build, give me a call.

And to illustrate the full circle, I put together a selection of some of the boats I have built over the years, both traditionally built and not quite so. Here they are:

15ft fishing skiff in larch and oak

Atkin Ninigret launch (Robbins Elite plywood)

Traditional lugsail

15ft Scottish type lug sail

Viking faering, in larch

 Arctic Tern in larch/oak

19ft, 1930s sjekte and little 12ft sister

Cradle boat

15ft Norwegian-type rowing boat

Tammie Norrie pulling boat

Karsten Ausland, 1930s racing sjekte

Sailing lugsail double ender

Oughtred Faering

Caledonia Yawl in plywood/Vendia lapstrake

Gartside 16ft skiff in Vendia/Collano

Faering for Viking re-enactment society
Francois Vivier Breton sailing boat in plywood/Collano

Thursday, 19 March 2015


Throwing away the plans, once again as they refer to strip plank, and with laminated and riveted frames there was little choice but to make the gunwales open, in traditional style. Robbins Timber in Bristol supplied the Douglas fir which was planed down to around 15mm x 30mm, riveted to the frames then planed down again, not quite horizontal, but maybe 20 degrees sloping outwards. The rowlock bases will be angled inwards by the same amount to keep the pins vertical, or I may set the pin vertically into bases that slope outwards. Decisions, decisions...

Small spacer pieces, offcuts from the frames, were then glued and riveted, two forward, two aft to stiffen the last, unsupported sections of gunwale as they swept in to the stems. I quite like the way they parallel the sheerstrakes, before taking a direct line to the stem, where some sort of breasthook will tie all together.

Suddenly the hull has become almost stiff enough to plonk in the water and row.

Meanwhile the shape of the stem horns was roughed out according to the plans, and thoughts now turn to the rubbing strips and thwarts, again departing from the plans in order to make best use of the framing. Probably a short, but sturdy riser will go in from frames 3 to 9 and the thwarts fitted on top, the aft one moveable in case the owner wants to row solo.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Bob's Bin Framed

Bit of an experiment this, but it worked fine. Five frames, laminated from three layers each of 6mm Vendia, making an overall 3/4in x 1 1/8in, which were then notched over the keel and riveted in traditional fashion.

I was a little concerned that by using the moulds as the jigs from on which they were laminated, the curve would be to the inside, but in the event  there was plenty of spring and give in the finished frame to accommodate both this and the twist in the fore and aft frames. The three middle ones went in easily. In fact, apart from the time taken laminating, the process was quick and stress free: no juggling hot wood and, crucially, the frames could be sealed inside and out before fitting. It is impossible to prime or seal steamed timbers, to their long-term detriment. I am confident these will last for a very long time.

The frames once fitted the shell has stiffened accordingly and once the gunwales are in, even more so. These will be the only nails used, apart from to fasten the gunwales, and I think give a bit of character in an otherwise all-glued hull. A combination of new and old techniques, which appear to work well in this case.