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.

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