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...)

Thursday, 28 March 2013

It's Amazing What You Find...

...underneath a thick layer of red fence paint. At least it helped preserve a little dinghy that was on her last legs, and destined as a flowerbed, if the present owner hadn't spotted her on eBay.


I have to say that she is the prettiest little dinghy I have seen for a long time, and most exquisitely put together, although the thwart knees do look a little heavier than strictly necessary.

One of the intriguing things about her was that she was orginally a sailing dinghy. You can see where I have glued in an oak filler in the slot. The trouble was that, in stripping out the centreboard case a lot of the keel's strength went with it, such that there was a horrible hump in the centre. This disappeared with a bit of gentle persuasion over a weekend, and with the slot well and truly filled, the keel is as straight as a die again. And the new timbers could then be taken over the keel to help add stiffness.

... and after.
The wood used is elm, and flawless, with no splits after what must be 30 or more years. She must have been well looked after in her youth, as the lands are not worn or scuffed, and the rubbing strip is intact. But all the steamed timbers were cracked, and had to be replaced with slightly heftier ones. Which is probably when her owner decided to put her on the market. A common thing now that the ordinary skills of retimbering a clinker dinghy reside in the hands of a handful of traditional boat builders, where once it was a routine job for an owner to steam in a new timber every so often.

So, after a great deal of scraping of red paint, and sanding and varnishing, she's ready for another 30 years. And just look at how the thwarts came up. Again, under the red Cuprinol lay some lovely Honduras mahogany to set off the elm and oak nicely.

I just wish I knew what she was. Anyone out there with a class or type? Length around 11ft, with a rig originally and centreboard. No idea what rig, but probably a little lugsail. And the builder? Almost too good to be professionally built, if you know what I mean. Just such a sweet boat. I almost wish she were mine...

PS I left the rubbing strakes in red fence paint as a reminder, and I think they look fine against the planking.

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