Winter projects 2015/16: rigging, gaff and blocks

Serving the standing rigging

  • Serving the standing rigging
  • Lanolin for serving the standing rigging
  • New deadeyes for the standing rigging
  • Standing rigging all ready for 2016
  • Stitching leather to the standing rigging
  • Serving board for the standing rigging

12 October, 2015 finds us back in Derbyshire and a sense of being ‘in limbo’ sets in after so long away. What are we going to do? There’s little interest in the house in Matlock Bath, and as we scour for sale listings in Suffolk and Derbyshire, we realise there probably isn’t a better place to live, after all. Following a ski trip to Val Thorens in late January, the decision is made . . . pay off the Estate Agent, take the house off the market and plan some serious ‘home improvements’!

The workshop at the top of the garden becomes a hive of activity again over the winter months, with the smell of tallow, varnish and leather, often brought back into the kitchen when it becomes too cold or damp outside. Steve turns his mind to the standing rigging . . . shrouds, backstays, forestays and new dead-eyes are all complete, re-served and ready for the launch day.

Making the parrel beads: tree to sea

We take a short break for a trip to Holland at the end of February 2016, meeting up with the Dutch OGA for a weekend of baking bread and learning to splice ropes. Inspired by both bread-making and ropework, it’s back to Derbyshire. After seizing in the new thimbles the blocks, made nearly ten years ago when the project didn't seem to be quite so big, are ready for use. Steve experiments with the lathe for a new set of parrel beads. Made from some ash felled in our own garden, he’s really pleased with his example of ‘tree to sea’, as they fit neatly onto the gaff.

  • Ash tree from the garden
  • Ash, first cut, for parrel beads
  • Ash, trimmed, ready for the lathe
  • Ash on the lathe, making the parrel beads
  • Parrel beads ready for cutting
  • Set of parrel beads, fresh off the lathe
  • New parrel beads, tree to sea
  • Remains of the old gaff, ready for a new one!
  • Making the new gaff jaws at the top shed
  • Varnishing in the sitting room - too cold outside!
  • Back outside now the varnish is dry
  • New gaff, ready for return to Suffolk
  • Set of new blocks, made from ash, and re-varnished rudder stock cover

New gaff jaws!

Next it’s the gaff spar. The jaws are completely shattered, so new ones are carefully crafted from oak during a sunny spell in mid-March. It then turns too cold and wet to varnish outside, so, leathered and gaff is fixed to the spar, it’s brought in through the sitting room window and just fits the length of the room for several coats of varnish. Taken outside again, it's awaiting transport back down to Suffolk along with another of the ‘bits and pieces’, the refurbished cover for the rudder stock, gleaming with new varnish and polish.

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