Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Life of a Boat Builder Part Six

At the end of the last part of life of a boat builder I was making anew mast for an old Classic Norfolk Broads racing yacht called Maidie.  Along with other jobs around the boatyard repairing and servicing client's boats and help run the boatyards fleet of boats. I had time at the weekends during the racing season to go sailing on my own boat and also clients racing boats around the Northern Norfolk Broads.

This was a great learning curve to see how clients ran their boats and how much time and money it took to run a racing boat on the Cruiser Class racing on the Broads and would stand me in good stead for my later involvement in the James Capel-RYA Crew Search for America's Cup, Admiral Cup and other national and International Regatta's which this completion was done to find crews for these events.

So while work at the boatyard followed a predictable pattern I was able to enjoy my passion for racing a vast amount of different types of yacht from dinghies up to large Broads yachts.

Then my parents got a sea going yacht and my focus on sailing and racing changed, and the fact that they moved the boat from the Norfolk Broads to Woodbridge in Suffolk and then to Ipswich opened up a completely different world to me. Thats another story for later on in the life of a boat builder.

Back to the life of a boat builder, after the mast and the weekends racing yachts around the Norfolk Broads,, during the week was spend as I have said it was repairing clients boats, however towards the end of 1978 I was to help the boss start to build a new wooden crab boat for one of the Davis fishing family. This was going to be my first venture into building a new boat from the keel up.

The first job was to get the building stocks down out of the roof where they had been hanging since the last crab boat he had built a couple of years before. Then get the mould stations down as well and get his note book out which gave him the measurements of the mould positions once the keel. stem and sternpost were made and fitted together and fixed on to the building stocks.

The first job in this whole process was to go out in the yard and look at the crooks and bends for the pieces to make the stem and sternpost and get the piece of seasoned oak for the keel and bring them into the workshop to start working on them to make them into the parts of the boat.

In those days it was before the age of heavy machinery and so a fair amount of this work was done with simple hand tools and basic electric tools. A far cry from the modern way of doing things these day, but it was good education into how to do it if there is little way of modern machinery and skill that is so easily over looked these days.

Once the first three pieces of boat were made they were fixed together with copper bolts and a good layer of red lead paint and then placed on the stocks and braced off the roof beams which the boat was going to be fixed to until the boat was completed.

Once this was all done then the moulds were fixed in place and screwed don on to the keel and braced on to the roof beams and to each other.  Then the long job of spoiling the planks was started, the first plank being the garboard or sand strake ascit is sometimes called was fitted to the boat, this plank more than any other of the planks took the longest to fit as it was fitted along its full length into the keel rebate and into the stem and sternpost, so it was going to be a long job.

Once the first plank the garboard was fitted then came the larch planks which the boat was built out of apart from the garboard and top plank which were made out of oak. So as the weeks progressed the hull of the new crab boat appeared as like magic from a log of larch on the floor to a thing of beauty.

Finally the hull was finished and the time had come to fit it out. First the green oak ribs had to be made up and put in the steamer and cooked for a couple of hours so that they could bend into position in the boat, these ribs were full length ribs from gunwale to gunwale and was a four man job with two men outside driving copper nails into the hot oak ribs while the two men inside pushed the ribs down into position and drilled the pilot hole for the copper nails to be driven into by the two outside the boat. This job had to be done at speed as the oak ribs would cool off quickly and not be able to bend into position.

The next job after fitting all the ribs was to clinch all the nails up with copper roves and then the long job of cutting and shaping wedges to go under every rib on the hull so as to stop any of the planks from splitting up the middle when the boat came ashore after fishing and was full of fish or crabs depending on the time of year.

Then next part of the life of boat builder will be about the fitting out of the crab boat and the next couple of boats I help to built with the boss.          

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