Posts Tagged: mast & spars

The boom and gaff

Bringing the boom on board

Along with tidying up the site, Steve’s hoping that the sailmaker will be able to measure up before the end of the season, so is keen to get the boom and gaff in place. There’s also nowhere left ashore to store any spars! James helps bring the boom on board and Steve sets up the gaff and calls to make a date with Ratsey & Lapthorne.

Preparing and stepping the mast

Room in the tent for the mast

Final coats of varnish

Now that the tent is empty, there’s room for the mast to be under cover. Two fellow berth holders volunteer to help move it inside, with a mast trolley loaned by Larkmans.

The tent has to be dismantled, and it’s not before time! The lean is becoming more and more pronounced, and it seems unlikely to survive another big storm, but makes an ideal workshop to finish varnishing the mast as another bout of wet weather approaches.

As Steve cleans up the mast and applies several more coats of varnish, Bev returns home to get the ‘other’ project up and running again after the summer interlude. There’s the plumber and plasterers to schedule in as well as sorting out the new floor.

Back at her berth with mast stepped

Steve finishes the mast, prepares the cross trees and gets the final bits of metalwork from Moray at BronzeWorks. It’s agreed that the best way to get the mast in is to take the boat to Larkmans again, so James takes the mast by road and Steve works at Larkmans to get the mast ready. Eager not to miss the tide, and having re-calibrated the depth sounder, Steve sets off a little early to motor up river and spends a few moments in the Deben mud part way to Melton . . .

Still lots to do before she’s ready to launch!

Coachroof skylights and hatch back in place freshly varnished

There were two weddings, another ski trip to Val Thorens and the kitchen project to occupy us from January to mid-April 2017, but Steve made time to write a long list of all the jobs that need to be done in preparation for getting in the water this year!

There’s new sails to be made, and Ratsey & Lapthorn have been engaged to make these, so we’ll be off to Cowes later this month.

Moray McPhail, at BronzeWork in Martlesham, will be making the new keel bolts and sorting out all the other metalwork for us. Following discussions over the chainplates, it was agreed to have a channel to carry the shrouds over the bulwarks so, on our return to Suffolk at the end of April this was the first job to be done, port and starboard.

After joining the OGA at the Tollesbury Rally on 29 April, we returned to Woodbridge but the incessant wind forced us back to Derbyshire by the end of the week!

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A new bowsprit

A new bowsprit, August 2016

A new bowsprit, August 2016

What about the spars?

'Cachalot' features in several photos in Tom Cunliffe's book 'Hand, Reef and Steer'. The caption for the picture above is 'a fine bowsprit', and of course, she's flying the St George's cross as a Dunkirk Little Ship sailing in company on the Return to Dunkirk, 1990. However, the bowsprit now needs to be replaced since it is showing it's age and needs to be a bit stronger . . . The new one has arrived from James at Larkman's, being constructed from two pieces of narrow grained Douglas fir and, whilst the same length, has a greater diameter.

The boom has now been taken to Larkman's yard for varnishing and other refinements . . .

The mast has already been repaired and varnished with several coats, surviving a fall from it's rack during the winter storms in early 2016, and ready to step once the hull is ready . . .and the gaff has also been repaired, but needs transporting back to Suffolk from Derbyshire where it attracts frequent comments and enquiries from visitors, bemused to find such an unusual item in the garden of a house in the Peak District!

Find out more about the gaff, still being stored in Derbyshire, in the post from Winter projects 2015/16.

 

A day trip to Essex, via Woodbridge

The coaming returns to Suffolk

The coaming returns to Suffolk

Mast restored to it's stand and tent patched up . . .

Mast restored to its stand and tent patched up . . .

A call from Toby and Hugo, wanting help in retrieving their tender from Fambridge, means the chance for a ‘one way’ trip with an empty trailer to Essex. Steve manhandles the repaired and varnished cockpit coaming down to the road. He lashes it to the trailer, carefully packing it in cardboard for the journey with Hugo. They make good time to Woodbridge, but find that Storm Katie took her toll on the tent. A full section of one side is ripped out. The mast has also been blown from it’s stand, damaging new varnish applied last summer. But as Hugo says, it’s nothing that would not happen during a good blow at sea! The tent, however, really won’t stand up to any more gales, so 2016 has to be the launch year, as promised last August in Ipswich! The wintry weather, since an early spring-like Easter, makes another trip to Suffolk quite unattractive for now, though, so we stay at home doing more of the ‘little jobs’ for the boat and think about plans with the architect for the ‘other project’.

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.

‘Your boat has sunk!’

The night she sank!

Late at night on 15 December, 2006, there was a phonecall from Mark at the Tidemill Yacht Harbour, "Steve, your boat has sunk!"

'Cachalot' was hauled out of her berth in the marina, and put in a cradle ashore, following a call from a passer-by to the Tidemill staff that she seemed to be ‘lying a bit low’ alongside the pontoon. Why had she taken on so much water so suddenly?

Was she telling us something? She’d been booked to be lifted out for work on the counter and seams just two weeks later, on 10 January 2007!

Positive thoughts, early 2007

Having brought a lot of the smaller ‘bits and pieces’ home to Derbyshire, Steve took great satisfaction in doing a few ‘small’ woodworking jobs well-suited to the kitchen table! The blocks are made from pieces of ash, sourced locally . . . the seizing awaits completion, it's not really a priority now, as things are turning out! Whatever else we were going to do, the mast certainly needed attention and was duly lifted by Richard and Mark at the Tidemill on a beautiful, crisp February morning. At least the weather was on our side, although chilly, the stove in the boat kept us cosy and warm and it didn't rain. Steve rubbed the mast down to reveal just one small area of rot at deck level, which could be easily repaired by scarfing. Another positive outcome!

January 2007: lots of discussion

After inspection of the soggy mess, in a dismal January visit, we removed all warps, cushions, rigging and halyards, mainsail, foresails, spars, anchors, chain and lead in preparation for a careful assessment of what to do about the hull. The whole experience was quite dispiriting, but there was some good news! Although the batteries were a write-off, water didn’t get into the engine, so at least that is probably going to be OK. Following long discussions back in Derbyshire throughout January, we eventually started to make some decisions. How much work should we do? Should we take off all the paint? Who should do the work and, perhaps most perplexing of all, what had caused her to sink? We tested various options for paint removal and did some research on caulking.