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...)

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Nearly There...

Twenty eight days down the line and the Woodfish is nearing completion. As this is to be an authentic-ish faering; ie one that might have been dug up somewhere along the West Coast, the finish has been given the Varnol and tar treatment. It's not the yacht-like finish I have been used to, and indeed it took some getting used to. I have to admit that the rich, warm, brown colour is quite appealing and enhances the grain, without losing the character of the superb larch I managed to lay my hands on. That's one teaspoon of bitumen paint to one litre of Varnol, thinned as usual with turps. I reckon a teaspoon per two litres would have been enough as the larch will  darken of its own accord anyway.

The treatment does however pick up any discolourations, notably the water marks where the ends of the strakes were steamed into the stems. It gives the wood an interesting, pre-used look. In fact working on the faering at this stage of the build feels more like a restoration than a new build. The pristine, yachtiness and obsessively sanded finish has given way to a more natural look. And I have been careful to leave the tool marks.

Why? Well, as you have probably guessed the boat is to be part of a collection of Viking-age type boats and needed to look the part. This particular faering dates from the 19th century, but can trace its roots back to the Viking age and that unbelievably lovely Gokstad faering. So, a compromise.

Mattis meanwhile is doing his usual excellent work on the Sula, another Iain Oughtred design, but a traditional Shetland yole, not a (nasty) plywood job. As both stems have rabbets, the strakes have to be made in sections; the garboards in two, the next strake in three, and the last four in two also. Otherwise, how on earth do you fit a full-length strake into the bow and stern rabbets? Was it ever done thus?

There will be four strakes up by the end of this week and believe me, they are close to perfection. What will I do when he departs for Norway on September 10?


Just had an email from Ted Phillips for whom I built an 18ft sjekte some time back. He entered the English Raid (East Coast rivers). I like the bit about prettiest boat. Not surprised (no need to be modest here, as I believe Florence Oliver to be the best looking boat I am ever likely to build).

Dear Adrian

I completed the raid ending last Sunday and have attached a photograph. This was taken at the end of a race up the Orwell to Orwell sailing club where the fleet were given a generous welcome including a very formal welcome a hand shake from the vice commodore. Very nice club and very nice people.

Anyway, FO got the vote from the rest of the fleet for prettiest boat so you can give yourself a pat on the back for that.

FO went very well and sailed very competitively in a fairly fresh breeze.

You will notice the outboard bracket I fitted [no holes in the boat] which was very useful for locks, marinas and creeks.

Hope this is of interest.

All the best


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