Sunday, 14 December 2014

Life of a Boat Builder Part Five

Now into my third year of my apprenticeship at the boatyard and the jobs that I was getting to do were getting more and more interesting. This was especially true of one job the boatyard was given to do and which I was left to get on with guidance from the Master Boat builder. The job was to make a new solid spruce mast for a Broads Racing Yacht after it had been collision with another yacht during a yacht race when it brought down its mast as well as the other yacht's mast at the same time.

The job was all the more different as the owner wanted to put the rig back to the original rig from its modern rig. That is to say back to its original Gaff with Topsail rig. The only problem with this was there were not plans of the rig, just an old photo of the boat. This photo was a 10" x 8" black and white. So the master boat builder and myself then had to work out a way of scaling up the rig to its full scale and then get a solid spruce pole to make the new rig in one piece.

Looking round the UK gave us no results, so we had to look further afield and in the end the owner found a spruce pole in Canada and had it imported to the UK and delivered to the boatyard. This proved a fun exercise as it could not be delivered directly to the boatyard as the boatyard is not on the road and had to be launched into the river and floated down the river to the boatyard where it was hauled out and lifted on to blocks ready to dry out after been in the river.

Once it was dried out it was de-barked with a drawknife, then long job of squaring the log to the correct size and shape before then rotating it round and round put more and more flats on it until it was then a complete round mast with a taper was made. Then it was ready to fit all the mast fittings to the mast such as the hounds for the lower shrouds and the running backstays and the shroud ring for the cap shrouds and the forestay, also the eye bolts for the throat and peak halyards. At the same time making the bottom of the mast the correct shape and size to fit in the tabernacle and the hole through the mast to fit the tabernacle pin into and the two bolts to fit the balance weights on to make raising and lowering the mast easier for shooting the low bridges on the Broads,especially when taking part in the three rivers race.

Once the mast was made then it was time to make the boats' new boom and gaff and bowsprit and the same method was used to scale up the lengths of these from the photograph. Once they were all made then came the long hours of varnishing all these new mast and spars until there 10 coats of varnish on all the spars.

Then came the day that the mast was raised for the first time and the standing rigging was measured up and made and then the running rigging was made. Once that was done then the rig was set up ready to have the new sails bend on to the spars for the first time.

This was done when the owner came down to the boatyard along with a TV film crew from Anglia TV. The Sails were bend on to the spars and the boat was made ready to go for its first sail with this new rig. The boat set off from the boatyard and set off down the River Thurne to Thurne mouth. At this time the owner and my boss and TV presenter and a couple of the owners friends took the boat for a sail down the river to show her off and take some footage of the boat and its new rig for the evening slot on the About Anglia that evening.

The boats'name was Maidie

She as since had a new carbon fibre mast  put in her but the owner still has the rig I made while I was an apprentice all those years ago.

During the same year as making Maidie new mast I spent my weekends and holidays racing on yacht owners boats and learning how to sail a number of different yachts, sailing dinghies and half deckers,

So while I was not sailing these boats and yachts I was in the boatyard repairing them. This is how I spent my next two years of my apprenticeship at my first boatyard. So it was a mixture of Working on the boatyards' hirer fleet of launches and motor cruisers and half deckers. Repairing boatyard clients' motorboats and yachts and sailing at the weekends throughout the year either on other peoples' boats or my own.

Life of a boat builder Part Four

The Spring came around and like waking from a long sleep the river came back to life. As the days got long and the weather started to warm up and stay drier fro longer it was possible to start painting and varnishing the hire fleet. This was a bit of a hugging act, getting the boats painted and varnished and doing any small repairs that could not be done when the boat were not dry enough during the winter. The main problem at this time of year is not appearing to have enough hours in the day to get all the work done, but it always got done some how. The best lesson I learn during my early years of working for this company was how to mix different oil stains to get the right colour match to varnish boats and also how to mix up different types of filler using paint and chalk and how to make paint not leave and dry edge when hand painting a 30+ft boat by yourself in temperatures which would otherwise cause this to happen.

So as the spring moved on the calm of the winter was a thing of the past and the speed of the boatyard got back into full swing. So as the days moved on to weeks it was a madhouse of varnishing painting and launching the fleet of boats as quickly as they were finished and then refitting the boats and recommissioning the engines in the motor cruisers and the motor launches. Then re-rigging the half deckers. Then getting them ready for the first hirers of the year, this was normally the Easter weekend each year.

At the same time as this was going on, there was the boatyard clients boats to get ready at the same time. Some of them wanting their boats at the same time as the hirer fleet, However, there were not so many of them, which was a blessing as being a small boatyard not was not always easy to fit them all in at the same time. More often than normal, many of the owners wanted their boats in for Spring Bank Holiday so we had a bit of a breathing space between getting the hirer fleet re-commissioned and getting the clients boats done after we got our boats afloat and commissioned.

While all this was going on there was normally a new build being built either a fishing boat, a launch or sometimes a new dinghy, it really depended on what was being asked to be built that year. So as apprentice boat builder you would move from job to job, So that you could learn as much as possible and get to learn as much about the different parts of being a traditional boat builder so it was exciting times learning new skills every day.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Finally finished painting the bilges and now back to the planking

The aft end of the boat showing the inspection hatch to clear the prop if it get fouled up

The same area with a fresh coat of grey bilge paint
The main area of the bilge before its given a fresh coat of bilge paint
Now what a different it makes to the whole area
 A view from the Starboard side
 A view of the back before it was painted.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Painting the bilges and other jobs

Starting to paint the bilges out of the Coble while waiting for the wood to be cut for the new planking

Slow, but rewarding job to see the bilges looking clean with a fresh coat of paint
 Starting to sand the lod planks after they have been cleaned of the old paint.
 Showing a section where the sander as made a start and a piece to the right that yet to be sanded down.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Work on the inside of the Yorkshire Coble

Finally got the bottom of the boat cleaned of all the rubbish and now it needs a good cleaning down with degreaser before the bilges can be painted again.
View looking aft  

View looking forward

The first of the new floorboards being fitted to the main area of the floor
 New floor taking shape

The bottom of the boat as not just one Echosounder transducer, but three and not one of them is connected to a head unit.   
 Odd block on bottom of boat ????