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Monday, 25 November 2013

Hanningfield Gig cont

Heres a postscript to the story.
Last week i was working down the yacht club & found the old moulds that built the gigs Dauntless & Proud Mary, i had thought they were scrapped in a Club clear up years ago but somehow they escaped the bonfire. There they were poking out of the brambles!


This bought it all back, & is an example of how to build a cut & shut!
Lengthening boats is nothing new it was done to fishing smacks, Schooners, & is done with fishing boats & even cruise ships today!
I started with one of the 18ft Skiffs from Hanningfield reservoir.
These themselves came from a mould taken from an old wooden skiff of completely unknown provenance.
The donor hull was cut in half edges sanded to a feather edge & dropped into these moulds then lined up & joins secured with self tappers. New sections of hull then laid up in the moulds.
The mould for the original boats was by no means fair to start with & as you can imagine lining it all up took a good eye.
The fact that Dauntless came out ok was something of a minor miracle.
Proud mary had a sight tendency to steer one way but it wasnt drastic.

It did not matter in the slightest as i built the two Gigs to get the Club going.
Though the club paid for the materials eventually i was never paid & didnt expect to either. As founder Chairman it was the right thing to do.

Years later when the club desired a new boat i had designed the Seax gig & the club had decided to run with it. It had been suggested that we take a mould from Dauntless but knowing how unfair they were i wasnt keen & said so.
Unfortunately the club had become riddled with politics, Others decided to go to another builder & asked him to rip a mould directly from Dauntless, naturally i objected to this.
I had no recourse to the copying of the gig as there were never any plans the design having came out of my head. I resigned from the club over the issue.
The new builder had a lot of trouble & built a mould plus new Gig.

Looking back on it all i find it rather flattering not to say funny that they felt it was necessary to copy a boat of such lowly origins.
Other thing is two Gigs built by me ten years ago for nothing have introduced hundreds of people to the sport of rowing, of that i am rightly proud.
















Sunday, 17 November 2013

Hanningfield Gigs

Years after i built the first two of these i thought its time to tell the story! A couple of friends had acquired a fleet of Angling skiffs from Hanningfield reservoir in darkest essex. These were heavy GRP 18 footers.
A few of us had started a new Rowing club Ltrc in 2003 & having been pressganged into the job of founder Chairman i had to address the problem of how we could fit the fledgling club out with a few boats.
Sketching on the back of the proverbial fag packet in the yacht club bar came up with the idea of stretching one of the 18 footers.
The most beat up Skiff was put into my garage & the length was fixed at 21ft as it was the maximum length i could get in on the diagonal. Her transom & aft tank was cut out with a diamond cutter & a gig style stern fabricated from mdf. A mould was then taken polished & re affixed. This allowed the boat to grow by 3ft.

This is a photo of the as yet unnamed Gig on launch day in 2003. She was not a great success being far too heavy & did not have enough carrying capacity.
Needless to say she showed some potential by racing at the annual row 4 a reason race & winning it in some style.
In September the Clubs base at Benfleet station burned to the ground & the new club promptly collapsed.


The Club restarted in 2005 April fools day if i remember correctly!
Again i was pressganged into the Chairmans job. Again the question became pressing, we needed boats!
The Gig had been languishing on the marshes for over a year & she was again brought to my house & put into the Garden.

This time i sawed of the heavy GRP gunwales & seats & cut her in half right across the middle a centre section mould was knocked up & this was the result. Great care was taken to make sure the hull was straight and this shot shows she came out well!
Despite now being 26ft long she was now at least 50kgs lighter. Shortly after this she was named Dauntless after the Clubs Sponsor.
She proved to be a Good boat & tracked straight & true.








I built a second Gig in Dauntless Boatyard's Shed in early 2006, built underneath Paul redmans catamaran in just three weeks. This one was named Proud Mary after the Credence clearwater revival song.
There were a few subtle differences, her thwarts were slightly wider spaced & the stern had a slight kink in it, this caused a slight tendency to turn one way at speed.








This shot shows her just as she emerged from the shed.








 To be continued!















Friday, 15 November 2013

A New Commission!

Those of you with an eye for a good rowing boat may recognise this one!
I recently corresponded with a potential customer & after much talk of rowboats he placed an order for this boat.




Those of you who may have done the Great River Race will have seen the "Dinghy" Maggie which won it this year & has featured in the trophies for many years.
She is a standard Cosine Wherry 14ft long.

This one is a stretched version of the same boat.

There are some small differences, the sheer on the standard boat tends to go flat or droop if you follow the plans exactly so i have sprung it up a little at the ends.
She will make a fine pair oared Skiff.







Behind her is the mould for the 18ft Hanningfield Skiff & it was polished out last week ready to lay a new one up for the new Southend Coastal Rowing club,
There is a first class crew who need a good light fast boat.
Lots going on at the moment!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

More sanding & painting!

Well im nearly there, days & days of fairing & sanding, three coats of hi build primer & most of it sanded away again!


This was the second coat of Hempels light primer undercoat, it is good stuff & sands really well.
As you can see a lot of it is on the floor.
I looked like an extra from Braveheart!

Tools used Rupes long bed orbital sander
Sealey Random orbital sander.
Various hand sanders.

The last coat was final sanded down by hand using a foam sanding block & 240 grit paper. At this point i wished i had made her a little shorter!












And this is the result.
First coat of two pack polyurethane (Hempels polygloss).
Rolled on & tipped of with a brush.
A poor mans spray job!

This is why its taken a while longer than it should.

If i ever get to the stage of a production mould the finish will have to be better than this, probably to the tune of another 2 weeks work.

But for now She will do!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Out of the building cradle

On friday i lifted the Gig out of her building cradle ready to roll her over ready for final fairing & painting.

In the background are the rear doors to the shed, there is 1" clearance each side, and yes i have measured it!
I have worked out a good way of doing the stretchers but it will entail some stainless steel welding, I had better get some practice in!

Once rolled over i started fairing, didnt go well at first as the the filler i had skimmed her with clogged the sandpaper really badly, i identified the problem as the vinylester laminating resin i had used being unwaxed. This meant that the surface although cured had a faint tackiness. Remedy was to get a wide carbide scraper & scrape the surface layer off, several hours later with arms dropping of she was ready for a sand down & first coat of Hi build primer.
The hull is very fair & the time spent on the building jig was well spent.


The primer is a Hempels two part epoxy intended for superyachts, the local chandler has a job lot of the stuff. Downside was it stinks something awful & i had to open the doors & windows wide.
Overnight it had cured well enough for a rough sand up before the second coat.

The second coat went on this morning & by lunchtime was touch dry
Back to the sanding tomorrow if its cured enough!

Im looking forward to the not too distant future when you can see her out on the water not stuck in a shed!



Saturday, 3 August 2013

More nice bits = progress!


Good progress today, she is starting to look like she might get wet sometime soon!
                                                                                           


Got the thwart knees all rounded off
with the router & fastened in along
with the rowlock blocks.
Thwart knees are laminated mahogany & are barely 3/4" thick.

I now have to figure a simple strong & light foot stretcher system, the rowers will sit slightly staggered.

This Gig is a real meld between modern GRP boatbuilding & traditional wooden construction, if i ever get as far as a production version it will have far less woodwork on it!

Weight wise i am pleased my son & i can pick her up one each end quite easily.




A day away from her tomorrow as i am in the home workshop, a friend is coming round to wire up a couple of machines for me,i might be able to build boats but i avoid wiring especially 3 phase!
First to be done is my trusty Harrison 140 metal lathe,
i need to get it running to turn up some custom rowlock pins.
The other is a Union graduate wood turning lathe, just come out of a school.

A man can never have too many tools!

Friday, 2 August 2013

Fitting the nice bits!

I have been busy this week fitting out, the new thwarts were bolted in today with their pillars & all the thwart knees are fitted. Also got the rowlock blocks fitted.


I have got the coamings on the fore & after deck.
More photos of the details tomorrow!

I Was hoping to have got more done but had an attempted break in last weekend, i had to spend some time doing repairs & applying anti climb paint to the edges of the roof. It is lovely stuff, thick non drying paint that gets everywhere.
Despite wearing gloves i had to throw my shirt away afterwards.
Its the price of having a workshop in a remote location but then friends had a yard broken into which was like fort knox with cameras & everything.
The fact that the building is insured along with everything in it gives peace of mind. However i dont leave power tools there overnight!



Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Last of the fibreglass work!

I have been finishing of all the structural bits, seat risers with plywood inserts & bonded in fasteners to bolt the thwarts to, bilge stringers to mount the stretchers on & floors to stiffen the hull bottom.
 





 This shot shows the seat riser core built from foam & the first floor fitted.

The rectangluar cut outs in the core next to the keel are for two Elvstrom self bailers.

Fore deck & afterdeck fitted & bonded on.
This forms two large wateright buoyancy tanks.
All risers & stringers now bonded in with csm & biaxial cloth.
Vinlyester resin used thoughout. 

To the left of the boat you can see a large pile of timber. This was liberated last week from a friends barn where it had lain for the last 30 years.
Offered as mahogany it was not clear quite what it was as it was rather filthy but it turned out to be a mixture of brazilian mahogany, Utile, Iroko & Dark red meranti.
Mostly in wide 11ft & 16ft boards 2" plus thick it was a good result!
On the floor to the right of the boat are the gunwales.
And if anyone wants to know what the bucket is doing in the middle of the picture, its to hold the chains from the lifting tackle & stop me banging my head!

Thwarts are also all machined up & ready to go in, first set i machined i junked as the timber had a nasty streak of sapwood. Second set came up very well.
More progress!






Friday, 28 June 2013

Inner skin

Busy day yesterday, first job was to fit wooden inserts at the rowlock positions so i can fasten braces fron the gunwale down to the hull. Then it was final beveling of the core edge clean up & lay up the in








You can see the two inserts at the top of the hull, they are overlaid with unidirectional roving. Also a strip seen going in at thwart position.

















Inner skin all laid up. Strips of unidirectional reinforcement staggered down the hull.

This shot also shows the temporary gunwale batten screwed on to hold the sheer fair while the glass goes off, i trimmed the glass of while still green, saves grinding nasty glass!

Next job is seat risers, bilge stringers & floors.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Off the mould

Spent this morning assembling the building cradle for the Gig. After lunch it was pull the screws holding the core on & go for the lift. All went well.







Heres my son Nick standing by the hull
You may think she is laying over rather a lot, thats because she is sitting on keelblocks to take the lifting eyes out of the keel.

Second photo is dropped into the builing cradle. it has three grp supports which were laminated round the hull over mylar.












Trim up the sheer tomorrow &.Start fitting solid core panels, they have to be fitted at high stress points Also a bit of filling to do!
Well pleased with progress.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Layup time

Spent the last two days laying up the outer skins, all went well. I must be getting old, i could only stand half a day laying glass. It was pretty warm & the fumes got more than a bit heavy so i had all the doors & windows open. Finished at lunchtime.
Think if i do much more of this i will invest in an air fed respirator!


Tomorrows job is to lay up a couple of suppports for a cradle to support the hull while laying up the inside layer & fitting out.
Looks like hull lift off & turn over on monday.




Thursday, 13 June 2013

Laying the Keel

Well laying up the keel! I got all the foam core on in two days, it went very well & lays very fair.



Brown taped areas are where the hull goes single skin along the centreline & sheer.
Core is an Airex T92 PET based foam.
It was chosen due to its heat distortion point being far higher than PVC, as its likely a production mould may be taken from her a core that was stable under high temperatures was essential.







View from up the ladder, keel & bow glassed up, next job is to prime the foam & start laying glass.
Im using Atlac 580 Vinylester resin.
Hull layup is based on Australian surf lifesaving association specs Though its unlikely she will ever have to do what those surf boats do!
I have a target weight for the hull shell & to keep to it will need some careful laminating!













Saturday, 8 June 2013

Back on the Gig

About time i gave you an update! Had to have a week away from the Gig working with a scrap dealer friend. A local school were closing their Design & technology department down & we put a bid in a while back for all the equipment & won it.
I fear its a sign of the times, lack of investment over the years & schools & colleges becoming risk averse just in case little Johnny cuts himself or gets hurt. Its leading to generations of Kids having no knowledge of tools, woodwork or metalwork (Sorry its called "resistant materials" now).
Thing is as i see it, not everybody is cut out to be a software developer, or media studies wizard some youngsters actiually want to make stuff & there is increasingly precious little oportunity for that.
For the schools & colleges its cheaper to fill a room with banks of computers & teach gaming design or IT than invest in new tools & machinery.
Anyway we cleared the workshops, machines, hand tools, benches, materials the lot.
Took us 3 days of hard graft but hopefully it will be worth it!
We are thinking to put some good tool kits together for apprentices, all good British tools & no far eastern tat!
More on this subject shortly!

Back to the Gig, the jig is all covered with parcel tape so nothing sticks to it and this morning i started fitting the foam, got half a side on in a couple of hours.


Its going on nice & fair, screwed on from the inside, to be honest if i was doing it again i would space the stringers out a little bit as my arms are just a bit of a tight fit to go between them which means i have to keep ducking underneath, to put the screws in. Still its a learning curve!







Monday, 13 May 2013

Gig progress

Much progress today, the foam arrived early so it was straight down the hut & crack on. Sheerline is adjusted slightly & sheer battens fastened on. half the stringer battens fitted each side.






Tried a section of foam core to see how it lays & it wraps round really easily & takes a degree of compound curving.


Rest of battens go on tomorrow.






Heres a shot of the sharp end, she has a nice bit of flare to help sea keeping.

I entered her in the Great river race last night to catch the early bird discount.
Bit of a leap of faith, boat not actually built yet, no trailer to carry her & no trained crew.
Nothing like a challenge!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Tools of the trade

Tried the scarphing jig out today,each stringer batten has 2 scarphs in it, 64 in total. To cut them & plane them all by hand would have taken far too long. the jig allowed the table saw to cut them quickly & accurately with ease.

















And here are some more tools! The bottom one is a Prestons spokeshave i picked up many years ago its probably at least 90 years old & is one of my favorite tools.
Above it is a nice Stanley 130 block plane, i rescued it from the light iron skip in a friends scrapyard a few weeks ago.
The long chisel also came out of the light iron skip last year, it was made by Hearnshaw & son of Sheffield (john bull brand) & could be up to a century old. The original handle was so eaten by woodworm that it disintegrated. I turned a new replica handle from a fine piece of boxwood. It takes an edge like a cut throat razor.

The three wooden planes & record router plane came from the same scrap dealer today at a grand cost of £20. Apparently they belonged to Reg patten of Sea Kings boatbuilders in Leigh, so quite a bit of history there.
Some people like to collect old tools, i like to use them as well.
Probably a bit of a paradox using tools like these on a Gig being built in modern materials!










Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Fairing the molds

Good progress the last few days, all the molds have been rough beveled with drawknife & spokeshave & its down to final cleanup & fitting of stringers ready for the build. Quite a bit of inside out thinking to do as the jig is stepped at the sheer & keel so that the sandwich goes to single skin in those areas.


I scarfed a few stringer battens the hard way & thinking of the time it was going to take to do the rest went home & made a scarfing jig to run on the table saw. Should save hours of work.
Stem mold & transom mold are now fitted. In the above photo two fairing battens are in place to check the bevels on the molds. 20mm square Stringer battens will be fitted at 70mm spacing.

I have been using some rather ancient tools, a recently acquired paring chisel about 80 years old plus some other gems.
Will post some pics of them shortly.
Foam core arrives on monday.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Seax Gig setting up.

I have spent the last week reinforcing the molds, a good supply of well seasoned pine boards came out of a friends barn and they were just the job.
I could have increased the station spacing & saved myself some work but i do not want to run the risk of the hull going flat between the molds so it was time well spent.
The building jig is being set up for building initally in foam sandwich but with very little modification could be used for a cedar strip wooden hull.


Tomorrow I will be doing final adjustments to the molds & then fasten them to the strongback. Then its bevel & fair the molds & start putting the stringers on.
The lofting floor is still in use for working out positions of thwarts & structural inserts into the foam core. Thing with foam cores is you cannot bolt through it but must link the inner & outer skins with solid or high density inserts where you are going to put any fastenings. At the sheer & keel the core stops & the hull tapers or steps down to single skin.
The workshop reached 20 degrees C today which is ideal temperature for GRP work.
Just as well, you can just see two of the workshop heaters in the roof there are 6 x 3Kw, 18Kw in all, fire them all up & the electric meter sounds like the Starship Enterprise winding up to Warp 9. Needless to say i dont intend to use them often if i can help it!

Had a visit from the Police this morning, a house was burgled nearby & one of the perps was chased across the railway line behind the workshop. The Police had a very large black Alsatian with them & he was obviously raring to go.
Glad he wasnt chasing me!
















Monday, 22 April 2013

Seax Gig building as we go.

Well here we go! Piles of timber has been amassed from here & there, some purchased, some bartered for.
A good cutting table & rack for rolls of glass has been built and its also been handy to transfer the moldshapes from the master body plan from the lofting floor.



Excuse this being on its side! but the picture quality goes wonky if rotated.
Shows the master body plan having a pattern lifted using polyester drafting film.




Molds being set up temporarily, they still have to be beefed up so they can carry the stringers of the building jig.





Molds sat in place, Starting to look like a boat.
Tomorrows job is to start beefing the mdf molds up with pine boards along their edges.
Anyone who has ever tried to screw into the edge of Mdf will know why!

She is looking long & lean & pretty fair so far.

I do like this bit!

Foam ordered last week & on its way from Switzerland.
Going to be an interesting build!



Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Small boats on the creek

Unlike some people we have a small fleet of boats!
The one on the left is a Heyland trout that came from Barking boating lake. a friend rescued her & sold her to me for 30quid at the yacht club annual dinner as he was emigrating the next day!
My son Nick & i stuck a rig on her, mast was an old boom from a broken up Seaking yacht, sail is a cut down mizzen from a seadog. She cost us about £100 on the water. She is named "Beag" i am told gaelic for small!


The boat in the foreground Emily Ann is from John Gardners book "Building Classic Small craft" She is from the lines published therein similar to a Spurling rowboat.
She was the last boat my father built back in 1993 and she was never launched.
After 20 years in his barn he asked me to take her away & finish her off last year, this was her maiden voyage.

Not to be outdone my wife Wendy has her own small boat Skellum!


Skellum is a Blue streak class GRP dinghy, these were popular hire boats n the Norfolk broads & were built in the early 60's. Some years ago we saw a pile of these at the back of a boatyard in Stalham stacked like slipper limpets.
She is somewhat over engineered & heavy but is a fine little boat. The dog seems to enjoy sailing even though he can be a bit clumsy at times.











Friday, 12 April 2013

If ever a boat had a soul

A Funny title for a post but read on! "Billows" Is a Rye Beach boat, built as a sailing tripper boat probably to run out of Folkestone.
She was built in 1938 by Harry Phillips of HJ Phillips & Sons of Rock Channel Rye in Sussex. Apparently at this time the yard won a contract for 10,000 whaler sweeps for the Admiralty and so she was planked in Archangel white pine, a very tight grained spruce from northern Russia. Her framing was sawn oak floors with steamed timbers above to the sheer.
She came to Benfleet yacht club in 1946 when she was bought by AF Taylor known as "Buck". A consumate & careful sailor, He put a cabin on her & sailed her regularly until his death in 79. After that his relatives took her to the Broads.
In 1990 we were looking for a nice open boat & someone said "what happened to Billows?" A couple of phone calls later i had found that she still existed & yes she was for sale. A trip to norfolk later she was on her way home.


Here she is looking rather sad. She was a real time warp still with Bucks oilskins hanging on a hook in the cabin.
Two days later her rotten cabin was removed & she looked so sweet without it that the decision was taken to put her back to original.





Many months of hard work later she had a new stem & apron, all new deck beams & deck, new sheerstrake & new centreboard case, etc etc!






This shot was taken just prior to her relaunch & shows her sweet lines & planking.
Anyone who aspires to be a clinker boatbuilder could do worse than study this boat!









Rigged as a Gaff sloop she proved to be a superb sailing boat, I had made new hollow spars including a carbon & spruce gaff.
This shot was taken in the 95 Nore race on a windy day.
Half an hour after this was taken we were running downwind in a heavy wind against tide by the medway buoy when she took charge & nearly jibed.
The tiller broke of at the rudder head & she rounded up into the wind with green water pouring over her side.
The nearest i ever came to sinking a boat. We came last!










Two years later the same race with very light winds we won an embarrasment of trophies.
Every leg of the race was a Kite reach & this suited Billows rather well!
This is a poingnant shot for me as the guy in the middle Terry harding was diagnosed with a brain tumour a week later & was dead within months.
Gareth Jones on the left died of a heart attack aged 48 a few years later.


To this day it was the best days sail i ever had. Thank you for crewing lads & RIP.
And back to the title. Billows is a boat that gets under your skin. She has that Row away factor where when you leave her on the mooring you just have to row round her rest on the oars & just admire her.
If ever a boat had a soul she has.


















Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Hanningfield Skiff

This is a good 18ft skiff, she is the same hull as was used on Hanningfield reservoir in deepest Essex. These were used as hire angling boats for fly fishing. The fleet was disposed of in 2002 & got split up.
It is clear that originally a mould was taken from a wooden boat as rivets were clearly visible in the old boats. Who built her & where is unknown.
The GRP boats were fitted with a heavy plywood & grp solid floor & heavy interior seat & gunwale moulding. They were appallingly heavy at over 700lds.




 This one Leigh Ho was one of two original boats from Hanningfield that i stripped & rebuilt for our local rowing Club








 8 more were built at Heybridge Basin & i acquired the mould a couple of years ago. The first boat i laid up was Zev, she was built as light as i could go with a combination of CSM & Biax cloth. She could be rigged as pair sculls, pair rowing, or Randan. As you can see she is capable of carrying a good load!


Zev in the GRR Photo Courtesy of Birdman photography.



The skiffs have consistently done very well in the Great river race often winning trophies & featuring in the top placings.
Lara one from Heybridge was in the top 5 for several years.









Here is another shot of Zev in the Round Canvey race 2 years ago, its a 14 mile race round Canvey open to all types of rowing boats plus sail & oar boats too!
I borrowed the lugsail rig from my wifes sailing dinghy the night before the race!
Of the wind or on a reach she goes like the clappers. To windward its time to get the oars out!


















Monday, 8 April 2013

Starting a new Gig

A new project starts! East Coast Rowing association have taken on this redundant Scout hut & i am building a prototype Gig, basic idea is a genuinely afordable GRP gig that is suitable for clubs & teams.
She is one of a series of designs i have been working on for several years.
Designed using Delftship pro Software.
The building jig or strongback is all but finished and you can see on the floor the white painted panels that she is lofted on.

A new use for the old Scouthut!
Some say that using modern design software that lofting becomes redundant. However in my case i decided that the risk in not doing it was too high!

The problem with software like this is it is extremely powerful & the time required to train & practice to utilise it to its full potential is often not available if you are trying to make a living!
There were some inaccuracies but on the whole the lofting was a pleasure & she was not too far out!

The beauty of the process is that hull displacement & hydrostatics data can be calculated instantly along with resistance calcs.








Timber for the molds arrives later this week & then its time to start setting up.


Saturday, 6 April 2013

Another one i built earlier1

Here is the four oared Gig Dauntless, originally she was an 18ft Skiff from Hanningfield reservoir. Back in 2003 I & a bunch of like minded individuals started a rowing club, this was Lower thames Rc, As Chairman the need for a boat was rather pressing, so the most beat up of the 18 footers was extended at the stern.
She was now 21ft long and we just managed to cram four oars on her though she was very cramped for the rowers. We raced her at Heybridge Row 4 a reason & won our class but it was apparent that she was really too heavy to be succesful.
Dauntless nearly completed, new midsection in grey..





















In 2005 i took her into our front garden (at the time a building site)& sawed her in half, She was pulled apart 5ft & am mdf mould for the midsection planked up.
While i was at it all the heavy grp floor, thwarts & gunwales were removed.
With cost an over riding consideration the gunwales were made from 3/4 x 1 1/2 tanalised roofing batten. Cheap, strong & rotproof!
The pine thwarts came out of the building site skip.
Despite now being 26ft long she was in fact 200lds lighter & was transformed into a very usable & nice to row four oared Gig.


Re Launch day 2005


A year later i built another cut & shut Proud mary in Dauntless boatyard shed.
The Great river race organisers not quite sure what they were called them "Hanningfield hybrid Gigs".
Despite their unconventional even lowly origins they have served well for over ten years now & clocked up a huge number of miles.



America's Yawlboat

I built this shapely boat back in 88, she is a Pete Culler Whitehall which was originally built as a pair of boats for the replica of the Schooner America.
She was cold moulded from western red cedar veneer with oroko & ash trims.
Many people regard the Whitehall as one of the ultimate working rowboats.

She was undoubtedly fast but her draft & ruler straight keel meant she was very hard to turn. She was also trim sensitive and did not like being nose down.
I did my first Great river race in 1990 in her, a great experience but she was handicaped most horribly by the organisers!

later she was used in the Sky mini tv series "Scarlett" the sequel to Gone with the wind. In this she was fitted with a spritsail rig and had to sail in a storm on the Paddock tank at Pinewood studios. I got the job of technical adviser & was promoted to stunt double. Pity more jobs like those dont come along more often!

Friday, 5 April 2013

Another blast from the past

Back in 1984 Voodoo Child was built by myself Richard Smith, John Dickens, George palmer with help from various others.
Voodoo Child in the Southend raft race.
 He was a 36ft flying Proa (proas are normally male)and was built from 3 ex USAF grp drop tanks cut & shut together. An outrigger or Ama was mounted 16ft out on the windward side & the rig was borrowed from an admiralty whaler. all up weight was in the region of 850lds.
With over 220 sq ft of sail Voodoo child was a beast to sail and was the only entry ever to arrive at the Southend raft race and go home by sea.
Over 7 years over £3000 was raised by the crew for the RNLI.

A Good Rowboat.

Why start a blog? I have been messing around in boats on Benfleet creek all my life & dont suppose i will ever get bored with it.
First decent rowboat i ever had was this 16ft clinker Skiff, built as a Southend pier hire skiff in the 30's. A fleet of around 30 worked off the beach near where the 3 shells cafe is today.


Southend hire Skiff, pic taken around 1989
I bought her from Halcons yard at Canvey point & rowed her home to Benfleet one flat calm September evening under a huge harvest moon. Her bottom was covered in barnacles so she was rather sluggish. Halfway home a seal started following me & swam next to the boat for half a mile actually dipping under the oars as i rowed.
I arrived back at the club very thirsty & just made last orders! 






The Skiff was very old & tired with all but one of her planks split & most of her ribs broken. Despite being held together with patches & polysulphide sealant she was a lovely boat that rowed extremely well & gave me a lifelong love of rowing.
In the end she became so leaky that she was laid up ashore & ended her days one winter in the workshop stove. I never did give her a name!