'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.
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.
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.
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.
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!