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...)

Saturday, 25 February 2012

One Week's Work

Four hands are better than two, and that goes for two heads. A week into the Arctic Tern build and we have the centreline up, more or less, the daggerboard slot cut and, once the aprons are fastened to the keel, we can finish the rabbet, where it gets trickiest, at bow and stern.

I can't say it's gone twice as fast, maybe a third faster, but it's certainly been easier, and I have already learnt a great deal from a man fresh from two years at Stockholm's traditional boat building school. The result so far is a centreline that is not only super strong but within a gnat's todger of Iain Oughtred's plans, as verified by Viking Boat's laser-controlled levelling system (£12.99 at B&Q, borrowed from our neighbour and aeronautical engineer friend John McIntyre).

So while Mattis gets on with glueing the laminates to the jig, I spend the time making the hog and keel, then we have a chat about what needs doing. It's only then that I realise how dependent I have been on my own company for so long, and how hard it is to put into words what usually swirls around in my head, incomprehensible to all but myself.

As Mattis is from West Cork, there is also a slight language, or at least, accent problem on my part at the moment which, combined with my increasing difficulty in hearing (legacy of too many fast bike rides) makes discussion interesting at times... It reminds me of the old saying about English and Americans being divided by a common language (WS Churchill). But we are getting there.

But I do like the way he will say quietly: "Adrian, I think you may be making a small mistake there" as I reach for something sharp to cut off something absolutely crucial. It's the kind of advice the little voice of caution in my head would have been whispering to me in former times, albeit with a difference: this voice has an Irish accent. Suffice to say, it has already saved me from some expensive mistakes and come up with some simple solutions to the few problems so far encountered.

Establishing the rocker was perhaps the trickiest part, but by a combination of luck and careful measurement the laser beam appears to pick up the waterline close to perfection. If built upside down, as Iain intends his plywood versions to be built, then the jig, would of course, establish the rocker automatically.

Next stage, after cutting the rabbets fore and aft, is to fit the garboards. We will probably depart from Iain's lining out and bring it up a little higher at stem and stern, because timber can be steamed and will take a tighter twist than plywood. We also intend to plank up with seven, not six or eight strakes, the idea being to add three strakes for Iain's two below the waterline, and steadily creep back to his marks by the time we get to the turn of the bilge, but many hours of splines and squinting lie ahead to establish fairness.

So, that's it for the first week. A solid start, some beautiful lamination from Mattis; accuracy and above all enjoyment. Financially, by splitting the build, there'll be less in the bank at the end of the day, but it will be quicker, I will have gained much from Mattis, we will be able to take on more commissions and, on the evidence of progress so far, owners like Arctic Tern's will get a better boat.

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