Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Boat building

I promised to show my new commenter MikeM from the USA pictures of my boat building exploits some years ago, and this seems as good a place as any.

Boat building for me was a diversion at a difficult time. I intended to elaborate, but decided this was not the right place, so here are the pictures. Suffice to say I gained more from the building than the sailing and both boats have long since been sold. I was under no illusions about the financial side of boat building, and from my experience you are only likely to get back a tenth of what you spent when you  sell.

The first boat was a 15ft 5in. rowing skiff with a mast and sails designed by Lilian Woods.

The second was a Bolger Micro 12 ft. mini cabin sailer with a large mast up front like a catboat, and a small mizzen at the stern. Bolger was an American designer with a reputation for eccentricity that worked. If you Google him you will see why.

The two sets of photos are chronologically wrong way round.

These are the only photos I have of the Bolger's construction; I took many on the old film camera with no film loaded. I have another set of pictures of turning the Bolger back from upside-down, but that is another story.

The boat was built upside-down to start with

The mould for the 440lb lead keel. Copper rods were inserted top to bottom at intervals so that individual pourings of lead would be held together

I had some assistance with melting and pouring the lead from a friend Kevin and his mate who were plumbers


Note the stratas of lead. The copper pipes can be seen sticking out, they run right through the lead and keep the individual pourings in one piece

My neighbour Dan who got me going with all this, and another neighbour Richard, an engineer by trade. To hear him talk you got the impression he built the whole of Heysham Power Station singlehanded -a practical and helpful guy though, who masterminded turning the boat back right side up. The lead keel is lifted into its framing with an engine hoist
 This is the framing for the 440lb lead keel. That long  keel baton was a superb piece of Douglas Fir, and had to be bent alarmingly to follow the profile of the boat bottom
The keel was then encased, glued and screwed with marine ply. The boat was finished with two layers of glass cloth before painting



I never got a picture of mine sailing. This is cribbed from Google Images
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My neighbour who had built many boats and passed the bug on to me

On Derwentwater with a Wayfarer

11 comments:

mike M said...

The skiff construction is very similar to the "stitch and glue" kayaks I mentioned to you. That is a very pretty little boat. What a task building that larger boat! I will google Bolger straight away to find out more. It's a little clunky looking, but then so were the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. Glad you weren't injured in the process...so many hazards involved there.....a huge diversion and looks to have been very well and cheerfully done! I think I saw pictures of a larger sailboat on TONE DEAF.....are/were you the brother/owner of that vessel? I believe there was talk of sailing off Cape Breton.....surely that is local to you and not Cape Breton Island in Canada!

Sir Hugh said...

mike M -RR is senior, I am middle and NR is junior. Sadly NR is now suffering from Alzheimers, but he was the sailor owning several cruising yachts in the 36 foot-ish category over the years. As three brothers we had several holidays together cruising off the Brittany coast where I think the Cape Breton referred to is located.

If you look at Bolger, one of his designs is called The Micro Trawler which I had ambitions to build, but time, age and space have conspired against me. You can fit a large outboard to this boat and get it planing at unlikely speeds considering its general appearance.

afootinthehills said...

You are a man of many talents Conrad.

My first boat was a Mirror(surprise, surprise) and the next a Gull which as you will know is a Proctor design like the Wayfarer, but smaller. We sailed on Loch Earn but our Border Collie wasn't a fan and preferred the hills!





mike M said...

That's a Springer in the next to last shot, isn't it? Our family had one when I was very young.....great dog. Have any in your circle done much sport shooting, shotguns, etc?

welshpaddler said...

I have done a little sailing in a proper sail boat and lots of down wind sailing in my open canoe.

Anyway well done to you.

Sir Hugh said...

Afoot - good to hear from you. We also had a Mirror - I taught son and daughter to sail with it.

Like you I think my heart's in the hills not on the water.

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Mike M - Springer Spaniels - I would never have any other breed. That was Barney, originally the family dog who came with me to where I live now after I had lost my wife, and son and daughter had both flown the nest. Barney was sixteen and a half when he went a few years ago. He was a great character, with a wonderful sense of humour. He went everywhere with me and got more exercise than most working dogs.

I am not into shooting animals. The only connection with a gun I ever had was when my daughter competed in triathlons and shot at a target with an air pistol.

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Welshpaddler - I envy you the canoeing. I think I could have enjoyed paddling round the fabulous Welsh coastline, but it's a bit late in life to start now with suspect joints and an increasing dislike of getting cold.

Roderick Robinson said...

What profligacy. That's three years or more of your life despatched in one post. You should have adapted my novel-extract system and eked out your stuff over months if not years. Strata is already plural (singular: stratum).

I can't decide whether there's a moral (perhaps psychological) issue involved here. I would have to re-examine the aphorism: it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive. I suppose for you boat-building is, or was, analogous to fell-walking: completion/arrival being almost an irrelevance. The problem lies in the lack of value you ascribe to the finished boat, the physical evidence of your labours. This seems to suggest that it held no intrinsic interest, that you would have been equally happy reproducing a copy of an eighteenth-century escritoire. No doubt you would attempt to refute this by saying that the boat was more manly, more in keeping with your outdoor brouhaha and I, recognising the Freudian traps that lay ahead, would avert my eyes.

mike M said...

C....I went through a period of animal killing, between the ages of 14 and late 20's. Followed in my father's footsteps completely, losing my taste for it as he had. I think a growing awareness of mortality can lead some few of us away from instinctive/cultural patterns of killing. I have a taste for meat, and I realize others are doing the slaughter for me, but I am cold only to killing biting insects. Frogs in the road on a rainy night? I slow down. Same for worms. Even killing invasive rodents gives me pause, as long as they are very small rodents.

Sir Hugh said...

RR - There is nothing to stop me using more detailed parts of that history in future.

I said in the post that the building was more rewarding than the sailing, but avoided detailing the fact that it took place during the three years of my wife's terminal affliction with Motor Neurone Disease.

I was not searching for a diversion, but building the boats served that purpose. The idea was suggested by my neighbour who was embarked on a similar project. This was something I could do at home and still be on hand to support Ann.

You are quite right - I had not much interest in the boats once they were completed, so in that respect “travelling hopefully” was more of an objective than finishing the project, whereas finishing the the climbing of Munros did not curtail my interest in cimbing hills.

Sir Hugh said...

Mike M - Sounds like we are both on a similar wavelength there.

Roderick Robinson said...

Cap Breton is almost at the southernmost tip of the Cote d'Aquitaine, France's north-to-south Atlantic coast.