The blog will now be devoted not to boat building but to my 82-year-old Vertue, Sally II, now undergoing a well needed refit at Johnson & Loftus in Ullapool (and gliding...)

Friday, 23 December 2011

Just Add Water

Well, there she is, finished save for a few last tweaks, and awaiting the water. It's been a long one this; a build that has stretched out over much of the Autumn, because it could. So much else going on that it was nice to be able to pick up and leave off more or less at will, to tackle other things, not least a summerhouse and, for the first time in years, a trip abroad.

Now I've seen a number of Tammie Norries, mostly in glued clinker, and still can't for the life of me understand why Mr Oughtred persists in designing boats with that method primarily in mind. OK, I do, and I respect him for it. It just means that we have to rethink quite a lot of the construction details, notably the centreline. On a plywood boat the keel is slapped on last, whereas this one is made at the outset. Logically, as this is clearly a traditional clinker boat, the plan should be drawn for that method, and modified for glued plywood? Or am I being contentious as usual?

As it happens, I prefer to make up things as I go along, rather than following plans slavishly. This one certainly followed Iain's lining out pretty closely, transom and stem shapes and general arrangement, and yet leaving a whole lot to work out during the building process, which is a huge part of the satisfaction.

Nevertheless I would like to see how Iain might suggest we build this in solid timber one day, with a detailed drawing of the centreline, for example. And maybe add a datum line that does not depend on the boat being built upside down. It's OK if your moulds are all fixed to a jig, as everything kind of jigs itself, but working up from a notional datum at keel level it a bit hit and miss.

Among many changes from the plans, including my own take on the rudder design (mainly due to having a nice offcut of Super Elite plywood, perfect for the job) I simplified the thwarts, and made the aft benches easily removeable, for revarnishing. The floorboards are more workmanlike as well. Who wants to revarnish fancy floorboards every season? These are solid larch, primed and finished in Blakes' deck paint, sprinkled over with non-slip granules.

The whole ethos behind this boat was ease of maintenance. It's a common complaint about traditional clinker boats that they need a lot of upkeep, and it is true, but only if the initial finish is so glossy and so precious that you feel obliged to spend every winter bringing it back up to scratch (or rather removing the scratches).

This one is designed to be used and used hard, with a minium of fuss. She's precious but there's no need to treat her with kid gloves, like some of those show boats you see  in which you'd dare not set foot for fear of scuffing the Epifanes. A fresh water hose at season's end, a thorough drying out and a misting with Varnol inside, and maybe a lick of varnish on the thwarts and topsides. I hope that'll be the extent of it most years.

As for weight, I have to say that in solid timber - Scots pine with larch garboards, in this case - the boat is significantly heavier than a glued clinker version, but will sit better in the water I reckon. As for looks, well you can judge for yourself. You know what I feel about plywood and epoxy...


  1. Very nice! I like the shape of the rudder. I also like the way you handled the floor boards. It makes sense. Having the open space in the middle will make it easy to sponge out the last little bit of water without removing a board.

  2. I agree that trad construction seems natural for a Tammie Norrie. Is this what happened to the larch that you got from Pol?