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Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Onwards & Upwards!

Bit of a funny old year, after losing the shed i had to revert back to working from a much smaller workshop.
First job was to finish a new rowing Skiff for a customer, i had started setting her up at the Scout hut but had to break the building jig down again when i moved out.
He had originally enquired about one of the 18ft Hanningfield Skiffs but felt it was too much boat for him & his young family.
I had been contemplating building a Cosine wherry for myself but at 14ft we felt she was too small. In the end the boat can be said to be inpsired by the Cosine but has some differences, there are no published offsets & the patterns supplied with the book rip strip & row were hopelessly innacurate, I ended up with something similar but stretched out to a more useful 16ft 6" long Displacement was also increased slightly to account for building in GRP.

 Here she is on launch day! Named Gracie May after the owners young Daughter




















We had a scant 20 minutes trial before she was loaded back on her trailer for the trip up north to Scotland to her new home at Newhaven rowing club.
Oars in the photos were too long so were shortend 6"


Stern view, She rowed very well & has excellent potential.
Being smooth skinned she is a far easier boat to lay up than the simulated clinker boats like the Hanningfield skiff.






I am now building a second one as i need a show boat!
Launching soon.




Monday, 5 May 2014

Launching Continued

Just got sent a few more photos by a friend Graeme sweeney who took these from the yacht club as we went past.
He is available for Weddings, Barmitzvahs & of course marine photography!




This was just as she set off for the first time, great thing was after the first three strokes the crew broke into a spontaneous cheer as the Gig accelerated!















The smiles say it all, Cox needs to lay of the pies though!









Sunday, 4 May 2014

Seax Gig Launching

The Great day arrived at last, its been some months of limbo as she sat in the yard & i worked flat out on a commision for a client (more on that one shortly!)
For a builder launching a new boat is always a slightly worrying time but when he has designed her as well its even more so!









 Here is the new Seax Gig sitting at the top of the slipway with Penny Jones, East Coast Rowing Association Chairman & Southend Coastal rowing Club committee member at the bow.

The Gig was launched with a libation to Neptune from a bottle of Champers poured over the bow, we drank the rest!











Sea trials went extremely well, its a long time since some of us were in a Gig but all were well pleased, she sat exactly on her marks (Big relief!) She seems slightly tippier than the old Hanningfield Gigs but this is to be expected with a boat that is longer & slimmer.
Once down the creek the crew gave it some power & she started to fly, looking aft from the coxes seat the stern wave was a long way behind her.
It was readily apparent that the Gig ran faster than the oars as they were set would allow, I need to increase the gearing by moving the oar sleeves inboard approx 4" at stroke & bow & slightly less at 2 & 3 seats.
All in all a great success. Jobs this week are Oars to be altered & non slip panels glued into the bilge. Then she can go racing.
Thanks are due to Penny, Adrian, Pat & Phil for the pleasure of a fine maiden voyage.
































Sunday, 12 January 2014

Out at last

A good day today, a crew of friends assembled to help move the new Gig out of the shed. A nice sunny day made it easy!

Left to Right Penny, Pierre, Adrian & my son Nick.

Also helping were Southend Coastal Rowing club chairman Pat o Connor & Craig elliot.

General consensus was that she seems slightly lighter than Dauntless.


                             There was about 1" clearance either side of the door just enough to get her out.
Pat made the comment "she reminds me of a welsh longboat", i suppose there is a resemblence but this one is 27' 6 " long.
Unfortunately she will be the last boat built in the shed as the local Council thought they would hike the rent to an unviable level. Sad thing is now it will stand empty & earn nothing until they demolish it at vast cost to the council tax payer. And so support to small buisness goes!
Still its been a good year and somewhere else has already been found for the next one.


Monday, 25 November 2013

Hanningfield Gig cont

Heres a postscript to the story.
Last week i was working down the yacht club & found the old moulds that built the gigs Dauntless & Proud Mary, i had thought they were scrapped in a Club clear up years ago but somehow they escaped the bonfire. There they were poking out of the brambles!


This bought it all back, & is an example of how to build a cut & shut!
Lengthening boats is nothing new it was done to fishing smacks, Schooners, & is done with fishing boats & even cruise ships today!
I started with one of the 18ft Skiffs from Hanningfield reservoir.
These themselves came from a mould taken from an old wooden skiff of completely unknown provenance.
The donor hull was cut in half edges sanded to a feather edge & dropped into these moulds then lined up & joins secured with self tappers. New sections of hull then laid up in the moulds.
The mould for the original boats was by no means fair to start with & as you can imagine lining it all up took a good eye.
The fact that Dauntless came out ok was something of a minor miracle.
Proud mary had a sight tendency to steer one way but it wasnt drastic.

It did not matter in the slightest as i built the two Gigs to get the Club going.
Though the club paid for the materials eventually i was never paid & didnt expect to either. As founder Chairman it was the right thing to do.

Years later when the club desired a new boat i had designed the Seax gig & the club had decided to run with it. It had been suggested that we take a mould from Dauntless but knowing how unfair they were i wasnt keen & said so.
Unfortunately the club had become riddled with politics, Others decided to go to another builder & asked him to rip a mould directly from Dauntless, naturally i objected to this.
I had no recourse to the copying of the gig as there were never any plans the design having came out of my head. I resigned from the club over the issue.
The new builder had a lot of trouble & built a mould plus new Gig.

Looking back on it all i find it rather flattering not to say funny that they felt it was necessary to copy a boat of such lowly origins.
Other thing is two Gigs built by me ten years ago for nothing have introduced hundreds of people to the sport of rowing, of that i am rightly proud.
















Sunday, 17 November 2013

Hanningfield Gigs

Years after i built the first two of these i thought its time to tell the story! A couple of friends had acquired a fleet of Angling skiffs from Hanningfield reservoir in darkest essex. These were heavy GRP 18 footers.
A few of us had started a new Rowing club Ltrc in 2003 & having been pressganged into the job of founder Chairman i had to address the problem of how we could fit the fledgling club out with a few boats.
Sketching on the back of the proverbial fag packet in the yacht club bar came up with the idea of stretching one of the 18 footers.
The most beat up Skiff was put into my garage & the length was fixed at 21ft as it was the maximum length i could get in on the diagonal. Her transom & aft tank was cut out with a diamond cutter & a gig style stern fabricated from mdf. A mould was then taken polished & re affixed. This allowed the boat to grow by 3ft.

This is a photo of the as yet unnamed Gig on launch day in 2003. She was not a great success being far too heavy & did not have enough carrying capacity.
Needless to say she showed some potential by racing at the annual row 4 a reason race & winning it in some style.
In September the Clubs base at Benfleet station burned to the ground & the new club promptly collapsed.


The Club restarted in 2005 April fools day if i remember correctly!
Again i was pressganged into the Chairmans job. Again the question became pressing, we needed boats!
The Gig had been languishing on the marshes for over a year & she was again brought to my house & put into the Garden.

This time i sawed of the heavy GRP gunwales & seats & cut her in half right across the middle a centre section mould was knocked up & this was the result. Great care was taken to make sure the hull was straight and this shot shows she came out well!
Despite now being 26ft long she was now at least 50kgs lighter. Shortly after this she was named Dauntless after the Clubs Sponsor.
She proved to be a Good boat & tracked straight & true.








I built a second Gig in Dauntless Boatyard's Shed in early 2006, built underneath Paul redmans catamaran in just three weeks. This one was named Proud Mary after the Credence clearwater revival song.
There were a few subtle differences, her thwarts were slightly wider spaced & the stern had a slight kink in it, this caused a slight tendency to turn one way at speed.








This shot shows her just as she emerged from the shed.








 To be continued!















Friday, 15 November 2013

A New Commission!

Those of you with an eye for a good rowing boat may recognise this one!
I recently corresponded with a potential customer & after much talk of rowboats he placed an order for this boat.




Those of you who may have done the Great River Race will have seen the "Dinghy" Maggie which won it this year & has featured in the trophies for many years.
She is a standard Cosine Wherry 14ft long.

This one is a stretched version of the same boat.

There are some small differences, the sheer on the standard boat tends to go flat or droop if you follow the plans exactly so i have sprung it up a little at the ends.
She will make a fine pair oared Skiff.







Behind her is the mould for the 18ft Hanningfield Skiff & it was polished out last week ready to lay a new one up for the new Southend Coastal Rowing club,
There is a first class crew who need a good light fast boat.
Lots going on at the moment!