The Ilur gets her bottom painted

Saturday, 20 December 2014

On the Third Day of Christmas (or was it fourth)...

... I had 35 boards of 6mm Vendia arrive, and what lovely stuff it is. Works nicely, planes beautifully, smells great (there are little pockets of resin occasionally which really bring out the sense of being in a Finnish forest), looks great and conforms to the moulds without needing to be steamed. I think I may have found the perfect compromise between solid timber and common marine plywood.

I have missed out, perhaps for the time being only, moulds 4, 5, 7 and 8 as there's not much happening that mould 6 can't handle. It makes it easier to work underneath. But if there's any hollowing or distortion liable to creep in I will add more moulds as seems fit. Either that or support the strakes using sticks from the shop floor.

As for Vendia as a material, when planing the lands on the garboards you could forget for a moment that this was a laminate; until you hit the middle layer, which is an excellent guide to the accuracy of the bevel.

Anyway, enough of this peaon of praise for Vendia, how about progress? Well, the garboards are on and spiling board strapped on to get the top edge of the next strake. So far so good. The skiff is designed for strip plank, so the moulds will have to be taken with a small pinch of salt. The smaller the better, but the other nice thing about Vendia is its flexibility. It takes compound curves to a degree without complaint, something to do with its relative softness compared to okume or hardwood marine plies.

Once the garboards were glued and the ends planed to the stems, I clear primed them to prevent them getting marked by grubby hands. glue or bird pooh (there's a little robin that occasionally takes refuge inside the shed).

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The Vendia has arrived

The Vendia for the 16ft Gartside skiff arrived yesterday, crown cut, 35 planks, 6mm x 225mm x 3000mm at a cost of Eur 509.25. Add delivery costs from Finland to Ullapool, a not unreasonable Eur 219.00 and, with Finnish VAT (24%) the total was Euro 903.03, around £715, which compares quite well with a quote for a similar amount of solid larch at £650, or so delivered.

First impressions are excellent, both quality and working. The top two veneers on each side (of a total of five) are what they call crown-cut, close grained pine, with a nice figure and no end grain showing. Only the middle layer exposed. This should make it much more resistance to water ingress, and impenetrable once properly clear sealed.

The scarphs I cut to make up the garboards proved a joy, with no splintering under a very sharp plane. It was like working with solid pine, with a middle layer to give an accurate idea of the progress of the scarph itself. So, it is plywood, but not as we know it.

The only thing is I will need to be super careful gluing and handling it to keep the surface pristine as much of the boat will be varnished, perhaps all to start with, if I can persuade my owner...

To that end I intend to fine sand and clear prime the strakes as they are put up, to seal them while the boat is built.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Busy, Busy, Busy

Things are getting busy now with the Ilur awaiting final touches and the imminent arrival of 35 sheets of 6mm Vendia from Finland, ready to start planking the Gartside skiff, for which the stems have been made and beveled to accept the garboards.

The stems have been laminated from 20mm oak, cheeks of 6mm Robbins Eilte ply, with a further layer of 15mm oak each side just below the waterline to support the garboard at its twistiest. The ply template is to check the bevel is fair throughout the transition from keelson to stem.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Bob Begins: Two on the Go

While the Ilur is all but finished and awaits her rig, a Paul Gartside 16ft skiff is in ther making, with moulds lofted and erected on the strongback and a start made on the stems.

The planking is a bit of a departure: 6mm Vendia, which is a very superior pine-faced ply from Finland, but with grain and figure that looks natural as it is not roto cut from logs but milled through and through. It comes either crown cut or quarter sawn, both of which look like the real thing and thus can be varnished without looking odd. It's a halfway house between solid timber and plywood; a compromise, perhaps but will make for a light and strong boat. In larch the planking would need to be 8 or maybe 9mm as opposed to 6mm. And no rivets.

I have gone for 225mm wide, 3m planks, 35 of them which is probably over the top for just the eight strakes a side planned. The rest will be put to good use, perhaps as floorboards, thwarts, risers and possibly some traditional bent timbers.

The stem patterns give an early indication of shape. The stems themselves have been laminated thwart-wise rather than ripped and glued to shape round a jig. It may take a little longer but is more controllable, less wasteful and messy. The inner laminate will be solid oak, sandwiched between 9mm plywood with the end grain on the inside face capped with larch. A further laminate of oak will add strength to the forefoot, provide a wider face for the garboard and reinforce the scarph.

The boat is for an old friend and customer Jan KS, so I can expect a lively email conversation and lots of discussion, which is what I enjoy about building boats, especially when the owners are more knowledgable than I (which is mostly).

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Getting There

The topsides had their fourth coat of navy blue, the interior its final coat of pale cream Multicoat and the thwarts and seats were dry fitted to make sure everything looked OK, and also it's nice to get some idea of what the fruit of all the work will eventually look like.

The bits and pieces arrived from Arthur Beale in London the other day, and next week I will begin the fitting out.

Meanwhile Steve Hall at North Sea Sails is working on the standing lug sail and cover.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Of Ffly, Ffools, Ffloods and Bouncing Bombs

You may recall that, as part of my extensive training to become commodore (I am hoping against hope someone will stand up and call my bluff when the time comes) I was foolishly obliged to sink and salvage a boat, which I managed to achieve to my fellow club officers' satisfaction in the aftermath of one of the Autumn's particularly nasty southerly gales.

Graham Lamond, from the FF association, who has advised us on many occasions, read of the sinking, and also the flood that struck my workshop around the same time. He writes:


I was sorry to read  that you had been flooded and that Ffly had been sunk. I know from personal experience what a trying time it is.

If you like irony - the following story may be of interest....

In May 1943 Lancaster aircraft from RAF 617 squadron attacked the Mohne, Eder and Sorpe dams in Germany, wreaking destruction on the homes, factories and inhabitants of those downstream. I am from Lancaster and as a boy, reading the book buy Wing Commander Guy Gibson 'Enemy Coast Ahead', ensured that the exploits of 617 were fixed firmly in my mind.

Sixty two years later, in June 2005, torrential downpours following a heatwave brought flash flooding to many villages in North Yorkshire. The old Victorian earth dam at the disused Boltby reservoir 3 miles up the valley from us partially gave way under the weight of water rushing into the lake from the surrounding moors. The resulting torrent swept down the valley causing plenty of destruction but, mercifully, no casualties until it passed through our village of Sutton under Whitestonecliffe, where it swept through our house like an express train on its way downstream.

My Flying Fifteen, 'Fettercairn' was in the garage and, secured to her trailer and she bobbed around until the levels fell, settling at an angle against the partially collapsed garage. Fortunately the damage was relatively minor and she was repaired to sail again, even though the insurance company wrote her off. Not so the house, which was a mess, as you now know yourself.

And the irony? One of the former names of Flying Fifteen 'Fettercairn' belonging to the boy from Lancaster was 'Dambuster' and her sail number?


All the best to you.


Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Blue is the Colour...

First two coats of blue Multicoat on the topsides over the last two days, and varnishing the seats continues apace.

Lack of pale cream means the interior will wait, but that's no bad thing.

Meanwhile the shiny bits are on route, so the finishing line if not in sight is round the bend, up the hill and close by the pub.