Off she goes, Iain Oughtred's slightly foreshortened Penny Fee, at 15ft. Sails by Jeckells, spars by the wonderful Jeremy Freeland at Collars. The rest by Messrs Burke and Morgan (that's Jonny by the way...)

Monday, 9 May 2011

Three Things...

.... that caught my attention recently. First, the plywood that arrived yesterday had the name Burmarine stamped on it. Does that mean it came from Burma? And is not the Burmese military regime one of the most repressive in the world, and are we sure the money is going into the right pockets? Should I send it back (actually, it's a bit late as two sheets now form the bottom of the gun punt, see posts passim). And shouldn't it be called Myanmarmarine, in any case? Perhaps it didn't come from Burma/Myanmar at all, in which case ignore the above, and read on.

Secondly, I had a friend staying who used to work in a superyacht yard. He recalls an owner demanding the teak deck be stripped off his 140ft racing yacht because it was looking a bit tired after three years (couldn't scrub the suntan lotion off it...) They couldn't even re-use the old stuff, as it was well Sikaflexed down, and full of holes in any case, so into the skip it went. And that is common practice among owners of large yachts, I believe. When I worked at Ullapool Boat Builders Gill would have us collect the bent and offcut copper nails.

And thirdly? Why would you want to steam oak timbers into a glued plywood pram? That's like putting up Tudor beams on the ceiling of a 1950s semi, no? Must be me...


  1. I mentioned your comment to my good friend Rick, who is my partner in crime on the glued plywood pram with the steamed oak frames. Back four decades, when he was a shipwrights apprentice, he might have disdained such a travesty but over an afternoon toddy yesterday his comment was "If they'd had plywood two hundred years ago, they'd have used it too".
    At the least, we can say the transoms are real wood and there is no epoxy involved. Maybe we should put some rivets in the plank laps to give more of an impression of authenticity?

  2. Your friend Rick misses the point completely (drinking in the afternoon fuddles my brain too). It's not the plywood or epoxy that bothers me (it can produce fine, practical, strong boats) but using steamed timbers in a construction that does not need them.

    Steaming timbers into a traditional, riveted clinker boat is essential, as it imparts vital strength. A glued plywood epoxy boat gets its strength from the plywood and glue, with minimal framing. It' a good method.

    Thus it's the mix of methods that I find surprising. In short there is no need to add steamed timbers to a glued plywood boat, unless it's for quaint effect. It's like adding non structural faux Tudor beams in a modern house (or copper rivets in the plank lands of a plywood/epoxy boat).