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...)

Monday, 13 August 2012


The faering was slipped into the limpid waters of Loch Broom at the weekend and... floated, naturally, although an alarming water spout from under the aft thwart suggested more than the usual amount of taking up time might be required. Until I realised that two temporary screw holes had not been plugged.

With no mastic between the lands I was always worried she would leak like a... faering? In fact the  water came from a few places along the garboard seam where the scarphs meet the keel, which was later fixed with the application of that ancient Viking leak recipe: a dab of acrylic frame sealant, and a doubling up of the fastenings. Should be more or less leak free now.

And does she row. Like a dream, slipping along with barely a pull on the oars, whilst leaving a smooth slick in her wake, as if she was made to fit the water.

Still some finising to do, and more Varnol. To date she has swallowed up about six litres of the precious stuff, from a store that was supposed to last a year.

The steerboard appears to turn the boat, though how strongly I have yet to determine. I have a good feeling about it, and it looks the part. It can be made bigger.

I like to be brutally honest (probably to my detriment) about things that "could have been done better" but overall, the impression is good. The faering to my mind is the simplest but most ingenious small boat to have evolved. Just three strakes and you have as elegant a shape as any afloat. It does require good timber though. And one day I will build one without the aid of moulds, just a table of strake angles and a gadget that looks like an inclinometer to measure them.

Beautiful? But that's surely in the eye of the beholder. Could I do better next time? Of course: a closer fit here; a slight imperfection in the line of a land; a tiny split at a nail... As Tom Whitfield, a time-served boatbuilder who emails me from Australia with comments would say: "you never stop learning..."

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