Saturday, 4 July 2009

Bits & Pieces

Just a few photos of details on the boat that might be of interest.
The trials went very well and we learnt a lot despite the trying wind conditions with frequent calms, complete changes of wind direction and speed. We measured gusts of up to 20 knots (apparent wind) and managed speeds of up to 7.6 knots.
We came to the conclusion that we needed to investigate changes to the sprit boom system (constant snagging of jib sheets), yet more alterations to the trailer (to make launch and retrieval easier) and finally to look at a tabernacle system for the mast (to cut down on rigging time and reduce the dangers of trying to step the mast in anything other than a dead calm!). Apart from that it was a roaring success and worth all the effort. It is a really beautiful boat, both to look at and to sail. We were surprised at how easy it was to row too, so it will be useful as a 'Raid' boat.

Sailing Trials, Llyn Tegid (Lake Bala), North Wales, 27 - 30 June 2009

Launch Day Friday 12 June 2009

The great day dawned at last when, a few days after my return from a month in France, we decided - almost on a whim - to get down to the river about 6 km away and launch her in the local marina. As the river is useless to sail on we just wanted to try out the oars and the outboard and at least to say we had launched the boat at long last (four and a half years of building!!). The champagne had been cooling in readiness for a month or so. Although we had at first thought of inviting all and sundry along we felt a 'private' affair was more appropriate. We all wanted to be IN the boat anyway and selfishly not talking to friends and neighbours on the bank instead.

After going out of the marina and onto the Severn an incredible thing happened. A canal narrow boat passed us and somebody shouted out "is that a John Welsford design? We're on holiday from New Zealand". What a one in a million chance! They took a photograph which us has just come back to us from John via Mike Austin of British Backyard Boatbuilding ( What a small world. We only know of one other 'Pathfinder' being built in the UK at the moment.

trailer, rigging and finishing off

Now that the boat was essentially finished, thoughts turned to designing a suitable trailer, getting the boat out of the workshop (walls to be knocked down and a wider opening needed) and final rigging before the launch. We had intended to launch in early spring but it took us much longer to find a suitable trailer design and to get the manufacturer to provide what we wanted.

We eventually settled on a 'Gullwing' aluminium trailer with keel and side wobble rollers. It took a lot of modifications post delivery to get it anything like usable and caused us a lot of angst. It is still not quite right in that launch and retrieval is not easy (impossible if single-handed).

1 April (an appropriate day) was the first time the boat saw the light of day and for the trailer deficiencies to come to real light as we struggled to transfer the boat from the build trolley in the workshop to the waiting trailer outside. Later came more problems in getting the boat off the trailer and onto blocks on the ground where it was to remain for another two months whilst modifications were sorted out. We were able to use some of the time in leathering spars, masts and oars, fixing and testing the wire stays and sorting out all manner of minor things such as cleats on the masts, rudder stock, sprit boom etc. Meanwhile Anne had sorted out boat cushions (we like comfort) and various useful bags for storage of things like rowlocks and belaying pins.
Paul's sister Sarah was commissioned (or was it inveigled) into painting a name plate for us and it really helped finish the boat off.

Masts, spars & oars

Whilst the plans suggested aluminium masts and spars we decided to try and maintain the boat's tradional look by making wooden spars and masts. Weight considerations meant hollow construction but we also wanted a tapered mast too. We decided on the 'birdsmouth' design using interlocking pieces of tapered douglas fir. Calculating the correct dimensions was made easy by using two little pieces of free software from the section on 'shareware for boat design' located on the web page of . Rounding the masts seemed to produce enough shavings to keep a pet shop in business for a year!

The spars (yard, sprit booms and boomkin) were made out of solid wood. We decided on rectangular cross section for the main sprit boom just for ease of construction and fixing of cleats.

Everything was finished off again with Deks Olje.

Paul made all four double handed oars (I think I was away at the time - again) and made a beautiful job of them especially with a decorative insert of purple heart into the blades. The picture shows Anne, his wife, putting the finishing touch to them.


Early on in the construction of the boat we had decided that we would have the tiller going over the transom rather than through it mainly because of concerns over possible fouling with the top of the outboard. Now was the time to start work on a design of the tiller using a simple mock up of scrap pieces of ply to get the general shape.
Once that was worked out we made a form that could be used to shape the glued laminates of ash and mahogany (decorative strips). After gluing, the final cutting to shape was done on the band saw, and then lots of work with plane, spokeshave and sandpaper to achieve the finished product. Paul used his wood turning skills to produce a button for the end of the tiller shaft.

Cockpit sole and other items

December 08
I mentioned before that we had been given just enough teak to complete the cockpit sole. Now came the 'sticky' job of caulking. After careful cleaning with degreasing agent we used SABA primer and caulk to do the job and the best masking tape we could find. It was messy, but effective. A week or so later the joints were ready for final sanding and then oiling (using Deks Olje again). We then started putting on some of the fixings such as hatches, cleats and fairleads, thinking about rigging and trailer design, sourcing rope, blocks and tackle and finally arranging for a marine surveyor to come and do a detailed survey for insurance and valuation purposes. Thankfully this last hurdle was passed with flying colours.