Author: charlie

Tak Rags

I was starting to prepare for painting a St Mawes One Design that has been getting a litle TLC  when I was prompted to think about how I use Tak Rags.  It involves, as many tasks in boatbuilding do, the use and discard of something after just a few minutes of use.

Tak Rags are pretty good at picking up remaining dust after a surface has been hoovered but they have to be used with some care in order to avoid leaving a resin deposit that can compromise a paint finish.  What if there was something better, easier to use and that involved less stuff going in the bin?

I decided to do an experiment using micro-fibre cloths.  They are fairly cheap, can be washed and have, compared to Tak Rags, a fairly long useful life.

After hoovering as normal I wiped down the boat using a micro-fibre cloth.  I then wiped it down with a Tak Rag.  There may have been a very small amount of dust on the Tak Rag, but I couldn’t detect it.  I have now decided that for all normal purposes I can use a micro-fibre cloth instead of a Tak Rag, with the added bonus that I don’t need to worry about surface contamination from the resin.


Now all I need to do is remember to wash out the micro-fibre cloths before the next time that I need them!



Well, we went up to London on a wet and blustery day (April 2nd) for the Classic Boat Awards 2019 presentation at the Royal Thames Yacht Club.  True to form there was a lot more fizz than canapes to lubricate the crowd.  Once the well oiled throng of a couple of hundred (mainly) suits had partaken in a rousing sea shanty we all moved upstairs to seats for the presentations.

It was hot and crowded and everyone was being very polite.  I found myself wedged between two of the three other shortlisted entries in our class – so the tension mounted and….

Anyway, the class winners are listed at Classic Boat Awards 2019 – Winners.  We were, of course, disappointed not to win our class but mollified by the award of ‘runner up’.  No-one likes being second, even to a gloriously restored Broads cruiser such as Countess of Light.  On reflection, and looking at the other ‘runners up’ such as Ariki I was happy to be in such good company.

I suspect that it may be some time before I am in a position to put forward another entry so it will be back to smaller projects for the present.

Thinking back, the last time that I was presented with any sort of certificate is some 11 years ago, when I received my City & Guilds (Level 3) in Boatbuilding & Repairs from The Boatbuilding Academy.  Quite a lot has happened since then.



Classic Boat Awards 2019

Fortuna II has been nominated and shortlisted for an award at the Classic Boat Awards 2019.  The winner, in each award category, is decided on the basis of public votes.

If you would like  to see what I have done to Fortuna II during her restoration follow the link to Restoration: Fortuna II. Fred Parker Motor-Yacht.

If you want to look at Fortuna II’s competition for the award follow the link to Classic Boat Awards 2019: Restored Powered Vessel over 40ft.

Voting closes at 23:59 on 10 March 2019.

Fortuna II leaving Dartmouth.  Photo (c) Nigel Sharpafloat-7

Classic Boat Coverage

The restoration work on Fortuna II was completed in late May 2018.  Her owners, John and Catherine, with the support of son Aidan,  took her off to Scotland in early June.  She comfortably reached Ardfern, her new summer mooring, without incident and on a single tank of fuel.  I was sad to see her go but also relieved that, after such a major refit, she made the journey north so smoothly.

Nigel Sharp, a regular contributor to Classic Boat Magazine, had written a feature on Fortuna II during initial sea trials in 2017 that was published in Classic Boat #364 – October 2018.  The article is not available online but the teaser is available at Classic Boat #364 October 2018 Preview.

The article and awards write up highlighted an interesting point regarding the differing agendas of a magazine editor, who is often looking for a unique ‘peg’ on which to hang a story and the boatbuilder, who has a much greater focus, at least in this case, on the aesthetic  of the completed boat.

Anyone who has looked critically at boats for any length of time knows well that the very great majority of boats look good from some angles and less good from others.   Fred Parker, designing Fortuna II in the late 1950’s was operating within design constraints (volume, comfort etc) that ensured that Fortuna II would never be able to look good from every angle.   So, given this fact, how should a representative photograph be chosen?

In the case of Classic Boat Magazine, the ‘peg’ for the feature was clear from the title: ‘Sail to Power’.  The story of how a sailing couple migrated from a sailboat to a motor cruiser – with a  ‘compact’ sailing rig.  The best available photograph to illustrate this was a photo of the vessel – beam on – with all sails set.

I’ll leave you to judge which of the following three photographs best represents Fortuna II from an aesthetic standpoint.





The photographs were all taken by Nigel Sharp who retains the copyright.





Fortuna II – launched

After a long refit/restoration that has been consuming all my working time for nearly four years I’m pleased to say that Fortuna II has been launched and is in commission again.

The last winter has involved a lot of fitout joinery.


Fortuna II was moved out of the ‘long shed’ in early May to configure the rig.  At 15 tonnes and with a beam of 14′ Fortuna II is at the limit of what the Baltic Wharf travel hoist can handle.


Launch, a low key affair, took place on a rainy day.


After this Fortuna II lay against the wall at Baltic Wharf to take up for a few days. Once the deadwoods started to stabilise we connected up the prop shaft and were ready to head off down the Dart.


Fortuna II is based in Dartmouth for the summer where the owners are trialing her.  Here she is on the Dartmouth visitor pontoons.


First trials at sea gave the owner a chance to put up the sails on a nice sunny day.   I was driving for a journalist so failed to take a picture of her at full speed, about 10.5 knots!


Once I get a chance to take breath, which may take some time, I’ll put together a few more photos of what has been going on over the last winter or two and write up some of the more interesting aspects of the restoration.


Toe railed

The new toe-rails for Fortuna II are being made up with scuppers to the standard ‘Fred Parker’ scupper design.  A little more ornate than the original straight slots put on by Nunn Bros when they built her but, I think, reasonably in keeping.


Compare it to the ‘Fred Parker’ cove-line signature.


This example is one of Fred Parker’s racing yacht designs, Phizz (formerly Bluejacket)  that I caught on camera in Cartaret earlier this summer.

Work in progress

I normally get round to writing up projects when they finish.  However, in the case of Fortuna II,  I think that a few interim ‘position reports’ are needed.

After hauling Fortuna out at Baltic Wharf in August 2013 I stripped off her paint, removed a few obviously rotten planks and undertook a detailed condition assessment.  She had suffered, as is all too frequently the case, from rainwater damage.  Basically sound below the waterline, but failing at the deck margins, work required included: new frame heads more or less all-round; beam shelf repairs; a rebuild of the deck step which had failed and about 450′ of above-waterline planking.  Most of the electro mechanical systems (with the exception of the engine) were rejected and the tankage, wiring and plumbing systems slated for replacement.

How we identified the need for a new deck is a good example of how, once you start on a restoration intending to create a boat that will be sound for a good few years, things often snowball.  The deck, tongue and groove western read cedar currently sheathed in glass/epoxy was basically waterproof and in order.  However, there were a large number of raised (but currently intact) blisters.

The cause was the galvanised nails used to secure the deck planking. The galvanisation had (after 55 years) failed and the nails, starting to rust, had expanded and forced their way out of the top of the deck.  Replacing the deck two or three years after she gets re-launched would not make sense, digging out the nails was not viable – so a new deck went on the job list.

Anyway, here are a few pictures.


The summer holidays are definitely over – even if the weather is still great. Work started today on M.Y Fortuna II. A rather shapely and well built Fred Parker Motor Yacht dating from 1959. She has been languishing for some considerable time in Exeter canal basin and is now showing the signs.

Yesterday I helped her new owner bring her round to the Dart for refit. Some fun blasting through all the weed in the Exeter canal was followed by interesting pilotage down the Exe and a smooth run down the coast to Dartmouth. After a quiet night on the visitors pontoons a run up the river to Totnes in the morning delivered her to Baltic Wharf for haulout where she will spend the winter in the long shed being ‘sorted-out’.


Once out of the congested cancal basin and in clear view she started to look the part – albeit a bit scruffy round the edges.


Once out of the water the scale of operations – just to scrape all the paint off – became apparent.



She needs some planking work, a major simplification and upgrade of her mechanical, electrical and domestic systems as well as a full re-finish.

So much for a quiet start to the autumn…


The sun shines briefly for a morning and I get Shotley Rose’s new lower planking fixed in place. Replacing the three lower planks was not quite as simple as working up from the garboard – and there was quite a bit of plank shuggling before all three new planks (on each side) slotted into place. As usual, it is the tuck that makes things hard.

Time to get on with the rest of the fitout…


It is often useful to have at least two jobs to juggle. When one gets stuck – for lack of materials or client decisions or lack of money etc. the other can take over. This winter I have been working on two very different jobs – and enjoying the contrast.

‘Monty’ is a delicate 12′ motor launch. She is double planked in mahogany on light steamed Canadian rock elm timbers spaced at 2 1/4″. She needs planking repairs, new engine beds. floors (only three were salvageable), sole board framing, wholesale replacement of knees (they all had woodworm), new rubbing strakes, new engine box and refurbishment of the deck plus a few more things of course. All delicate work with each layer of planking being 3/16″ thick and timbers moulded 3/8″. Davey had to supply me with what they thought was their last ever box of 16g copper boat nails – not much call for them nowadays.

‘Monty’ – New framing in place

‘Monty’ was designed and built at Morgan Giles, Teignmouth, in 1947. The build number, embossed on a stemhead casting, came to light during work and, with the help of the Teignmouth museum, who hold the Morgan Giles archive, provided some welcome provenance. Such provenance is always useful for a boat that was, until the build number was uncovered, only tracable back to eBay a few years ago!

‘Monty’s Provenance – Build number 554’

Anyway, with ‘planking repairs complete, framing in place and nailed up with the help of Marc Chivers it is time to turn my attention back to the Folkboat ‘Shotley Rose’.

Whereas ‘Monty’ is in a nice dry well-lit workshop, Shotley Rose, although under cover, is in a dark damp and very well ventilated barn. Even with four florescent tubes strung round the boat I work all day using a head torch. When it blows the rain comes through the slat walls and mist the boat in moisture – good for the boat but not so good for me. At least it isn’t cold.

With the bottom three planks off each side cleaning out the bilge is much easier and re-assembly can begin. We have decided to opt for Utile to replace the mahogany planking. The planking was originally fastened with copper boat nails but used bronze dumps for the hood end, rabbet and floors. The dumps now have little grip in the oak backbone and easily pulled out with a prybar. A good job that they did not use gripfasts! We will be using silicon bronze screws instead of dumps.

‘Shotley Rose’ – ready for some new planks

Winter Warmer

It might be (nearly always) wet and (sometimes) windy but it ain’t cold down here in Devon. It is mid January and I have yet to wear a coat to work – although a waterproof has come in handy for the rain.

Working in the dark is, however, a common and regular occurence.

This one, a rather nice folkboat built by Cyril White, is in for a bit of work. She’s been sitting outside in a yard for the last five years so there are a few things to sort out. Burning off the paint to see what the issues are was the first stage. I’m taking the varnish off the coamings as well – Some of it was stuck hard and some of it was coming off in huge flakes. More on this one anon..

Happy new year!

Spars and Scarphs

With our arrival in South Devon this autumn I appear to have started off working as a spar maker – just for now at any rate.

Getting established as a boatbuilder when you don’t have a lot of local contacts has it’s own challenges, of which more later, but to get off the mark down here (work wise) I recently undertook some mast repairs to a Harrison Butler Askadil design called ‘Naida’, which was built in Essex during 1939. The mast was of interesting, if fairy basic construction. A 40′ pole had been split, the pith (and a bit more stock besides) scooped out to form a 2″ diameter hollow and the two sides glued back together. The pole was then shaped up to form a pear section, tapering above the upper spreaders – with a rectangular stock drilled for tabernacle mounting on 1″ bolts. On exploratory dissection it was clear that the glue used was an early Urea Formaldehyde (more recently known in the UK as Cascamite, Polymite etc etc..) presumably recently available from the aircraft industry. It had done remarkably well in the intervening 70 or so years – with nearly all of the glue lines in the areas that I had to dissect still being much stronger than the surrounding wood.

Despite the success of the glued construction the mast had spent a few years lying on the floor at the back of a shed in Latham’s Yard and was now in sorry condition. There was a significant section of rot and worm infestation to be cut out and replaced just below mid height. In addition, detailed investigation (with a table saw) showed that there was rot at the gooseneck. At this point the owner decided that it made sense to replace the whole lower half of the mast.

Douglas Fir was sourced from John Moody (just down the road), prepared in the workshop, and shipped up to the barn where Naida is being restored outside Yeovil. One of the major costs of getting a new 40′ spar is the transportation. Moving a (new) 40′ mast would have been expensive. Moving the 22′ lengths of timber needed for the mast repairs (on top of the trusty Picasso) was merely a challenge!

With the new stock on site I set too and machined up the scarphs. This was straightforward for the rectangular stock that I had brought up but machining scarphs on an irregular pear shaped spar was fun. A power planer does most of the work of course but a router down the ramp was needed to trim up the faying surfaces before gluing up.

Resourcinol is the glue of choice for this sort of work, Aerodux 500 in this case. Clamping pressure is hard to get when you need nearly a newton of pressure per square milimetre of surface area! Clamps, clamps, more clamps and improvised wooden clamps – and a tent with fan heater overnight were all needed overnight to get the glue to go off and allow fairing the next day.

The fairing process was interesting too. Using a spar gauge does not, of course, give the right result. Fortunately, the length of spar that I was replacing was parallel sided (apart from the stock) so I made up a section template, marked up a number of tangential chords, scribed them on the rectangular stock with a marking gauge and power planed to the lines. Once there I had to resort to spiral planing by hand to get of the flats and used a rhino hide strop to remove the plane marks. With the mast track back on, the stock faired into the mast shaft and the tabernacle bolt holes drilled my part of the job was done.

Richard, Naida’s owner, who is making a great job of restoring her, will take on the varnishing and re-instatement of mast fittings.

With Naida’s mast out of the way I then quickly polished off a new bowsprit (4″ section)

After the bowsprit it was an extension to Mat Ali’s boom (5″ section). This latter, with a single feather scarph over 1.5m long, needed a new 12:1 scarph box.

I think that it’s probably now time to do something other than spar making. If not I’ll find myself dreaming about spar planes and ways to power sand a pear shaped mast fair.

And then the sun shone…

At 4pm the sun shone for a few minutes. Just in time to show me where I still needed to do some more fairing to Lizzie May’s new counter planking.

I got to learn a bit about steaming heavier stock with this one. The new planking is 1 1/4″ oak and getting the short lengths to bend and twist to shape meant, in the end, about 1 1/2 hours of steam. I certainly did not get this one right first time and was glad to have some advice and assistance from Nigel Gray when steaming the crucial first plank.

The trouble with… new teak

Fixing old boats is what I do most of and an awful lot of what I get to fix is made of teak. Prima facie this seems quite reasonable and sensible. Teak rubbing strakes, toe-rails, decking, saloon furniture; They all get damaged and need, ideally, like-for-like replacement. However, when like-for-like means sourcing timber of questionable political origin, astronomic price, limited availability and dubious quality we need to start finding better solutions. I don’t think that I have a solution to this or even a hint of one but need to start by telling a story as an example of what can go wrong when people get hung up on an idea like ‘I need a laid teak deck’.

I’m currently in the process of replacing the aft king plank (rotten) on a Spey Class Motor Sailer. The deck is 1″ laid teak, rather fancy for a boat built in Buckie but it looks, to me, about right. Nothing unusual about that you might think for a boat built in the late 50’s. However, when I tell you that the deck was completely re-laid 10 years ago you might raise an eyebrow or two. What could have happened to the job such that 10 years later the teak king plank had rotted, the deck had started leaking and, of course, the deck beams had rotted as well.

Once the old plank had been dug out it was pretty clear what had happened. The teak was soft and spongy and when I cleaned up the end grain you could see that the growth rings indicated that the tree had been putting on 12mm of girth, each side, year after year. This, if I have ever seen it, is fast grown plantation teak suitable, at best, for paper making.

So, whose fault is this: the timber supplier; the client (who supplied the timber to the yard); the yard or the the shipwright? The supplier would try to claim that this is all that was available on the market, the client would claim that he purchased teak (and everybody knows that teak does not rot), the yard would claim that the client supplied the teak and the poor shipwright probably knew that the deck would not last but just did as he was told.

More important than the particular party at fault in this case is the general climate in which a large number of people ask for a particular natural resource (in this case teak) which is is in increasingly scarce supply and all expect to obtain access to the ‘real thing’. There just isn’t enough material, at any price, of a quality suitable for boatbuilding. We, as boatbuilders (or whatever) have to have more imagination in proposing alternatives and be more aggressive in saying ‘no – this wood is not good enough to go in a boat’.

As a jobbing boatbuilder (working here as a subcontractor) I got on with the job, scarfed in repairs to the deck beams and made up a new king plank using the supplied teak. I pointed out that decking and especially a king plank, however tight the growth rings, really really does need to be quarter sawn but when is the last time that you saw a 200mm wide quarter sawn teak board? If there is no option of doing the job properly because the materials are not available on the open market there is little motivation for the yard to tell the client about this impossible option. There’s no doubt about it, I’m part of this consumption conspiracy.

This post is not meant to be a whinge or a rant but is, I hope, a way of phrasing a few questions.

  • What happens to wooden boatbuilders when wood suitable for boatbuilding is no longer available?
  • What happens to all the old wooden boats that need to be repaired?
  • What happens to all the fancy superyachts when they need new teak decks?

I know that people have been saying this sort of thing for generations but for us it really does seem to be the end of the line, for using tropical hardwoods in boats at any rate.

Article in Watercraft

Writing a magazine article is probably the nearest that I am likely to get to doing marketing work, other than sailing of course.

Anyway, Watercraft Magazine recently (Nov/Dec 2011 issue) published an account, written by me, of building a 4.5m Peterboat. To my knowledge this is the first 4.5m Peterboat built since Norman Whyte of Findhorn closed up shop in about 1994. Reading the article on paper, a few months after writing it, it all looks a bit worthy and, for anyone not interested in actually building boats, a bit boring. Is this good marketing?

Anyway, to help atone for all the technical stuff in the article, here’s a couple of photos of Teal looking all nice and pretty, just before she was all bolted together for delivery.

The first photo illustrates, I hope, the success that I had in creating an ‘all round’ seating arrangement.

The second photo shows how surprisingly good matt varnish can look – very few distracting reflections.

The eagle eyed reader of Watercraft will also have spotted that the new Peterboat, sailed by the owner, also features in the photo-coverage of Portsoy 2011 by Kathy Mansfield. As I recall, I was on the other side of the camera boat at that moment, sailing Seapod. That weekend, my first visit to Portsoy, was exceptional not least for the weather. I spent the whole weekend sailing in t-shirt, shorts and bare feet and went back to Edinburgh somewhat sunburnt.

Here is the ‘sail and oar’ fleet, relaxing in the sunshine after the Kipper race.

One of the points that I did not make very clear in the article, is that I now hold a license to build wooden Drascombes in the UK. What’s next, a Lugger, Dabber, Longboat ….??

Builders sometimes take liberties

This summer I was doing some refit work on Mat Ali.  She is a Harrison Butler Khamseen, built in peninsular Malaya during 1935.  An interesting boat with lots of stories to tell no doubt.

Part of the refit work meant removing the (non original) rubbing strake to access the chainplates and once off it became apparent that Mat Ali’s sections were perhaps not quite to her lines.  The design lines (a rough copy of which are published) show sections with the traditional tumblehome that you would expect of a Harrison Butler.

Looking, however, at the midships section of the boat as she is now, it was clear that someone, at some point, had taken liberties. Not only had Mat Ali been equippped with tumblehome – but the tumblehome had, over the last plank or so, been reversed out and turned into a subtle but definite flare.

With some boats you might reasonably ask the question ‘has she moved/pinched/hogged’ to create this effect, but Mat Ali, built over 4″ sawn frames, is a bit too stiff for that sort of movement. Besides, the covering boards (original) continue the flare in line with the sheer strake, the frames sit cleanly against the planking and the boat shows no other signs of movement. The extent of the flare is not huge but enough for me to need to bend the re-galvanised chainplates by 1/8″ when tightening the bolts up in order to get the chainplates to sit flush against the planking. These sorts of things don’t just happen by accident.

I guess that this sort of ‘interpretation’ of a set of lines is the way in which builders make their mark on a design. My fancy is that Mat Ali (the builder of Mat Ali), who had never built a yacht before, but had a lifetime of experience in building Malay working craft, had some strong opinions about the way that things should really be done – and adding flare to tumblehomed topsides was his contribution to how a real boat should be finished off.

What I have not yet been able to establish is if tumblehome reverting to flare is/was a feature of any Malay craft and what the proper term for this feature is anyway.

Time to build a new boat

For some time I have been thinking about a new boat for myself. Building one that is. Before I can really get started I need to sell Seapod. Lovely though she is, I can’t accumulate boats so … Seapod is for Sale. I built her in 2008 and have used her each summer since. I now want to build another boat for myself (i.e. the sort of boat any normal client would never commission) and can’t justify keeping Seapod when I do.

Update: Seapod was sold to the first viewer – and now lives in North Berwick.


One of the good jobs over this winter has been to assist with the winter refit of the Cornish Pilot Cutter, Lizzie May. On a boat of this size, used for chartering, there are always a collection of broken locker catches, sticking doors and minor breakages to attend to. One of the more photogenic tasks relates to Lizzie May’s tender and has a nice tale attached.

When Lizzie May was built by Luke Powell, way back in 1999, she was supplied with a traditional clinker tender built by one Will Stirling. At some point the yacht (if that is the right word) and her tender were separated and subsequent owners had to make do with inflatables. On a trip down south over the winter Jerry, Lizzie May’s owner, was offered her back and jumped (I think) at the chance. After a lot of oil poured into her inside and a grey paint job to her planking she arrived in Granton (winter berthing) to be re-united with her ‘parent’.

There is no evidence of dinghy chocks on deck so she was originally stored, I presume, inverted over the coachroof and skylight. Anyway, Jerry decides that it makes more sense to store her right way up so chocks are made up (by me) and a cover is measured for and made (by Fabricworks).

So, on a very very wet day I drill a few holes in the coachroof, bolt in the chocks and we fit it all together. The arrangement looks, I think, quite fitting.

I was initially sceptical about ‘right way up’ storage on deck but can now see three big advantages.

– somewhere to put the fenders (and lots of other junk)
– no need to roll the tender over when launched and recovered
– light still gets through the skylight

The gap between the tender and boom is not large (some surgery was needed to the stemhead to ensure clearance – sorry Will) but she fits on deck rather well – for a counter sterned boat ‘only’ 42′ LOD.

Assuming that she gets well lashed down when it blows hard she should stay in place. In harbour she will enable skipper and crew to arrive ashore in considerably more style than last year. I do hope that yacht and tender manage to stay together second time round!

BTW Lizzie May is a charter boat and can be booked.

Another year

Well, another year is just about over and I’m still working as a boatbuilder. This year has been pretty varied and I had my first quiet patch this year with little to do for a couple of months. Fortunately it was sailing weather so quite a lot of that got done this year.

Finishing the year I’m in a cold, cold shed (or it was last week) building a glued plywood dayboat (a Drascombe Peterboat). Last week, just before Christmas, it was -8C inside when I arrived and eventually warmed up to -6C by mid afternoon. All glueing gets done in a tent of course.

After a couple of years doing restoration and repair work it’s great to be building another boat from scratch. Here she is just before planking started.

Happy New Year to you wherever you are.

Puffin the Peanut

The manufacture of the Peanut class dinghy was, from what I can gather, a job creation scheme that took place in Norway in the early 1960’s. You can read a bit more about it but for me, Puffin the Peanut was a great re-finishing project.

Owned by Richard since about 1964 Puffin had, by the time that I met her, been languishing un-used (in a garage) for a number of years. A quick inspection established that there was basically nothing wrong with her and that all that was really needed was a good varnish job.

Puffin’s hull, hot molded from 5 x 1mm veneers was glued up using (I guessed by the dark coloration) Resorcinol and seems to have fared at least as well as most glued laminate work done in Scandinavia at that period. Across the whole hull I found only one tiny area where the external laminate was separating from the underlying veneer. A small amount of epoxy resin injected into the void and squeezed back out soon cured that one. Other than that the only remedial work was to replace the scratched plastic rubbing strip with a light (6mm) rebated oak strip.

The thwarts were taken out and set aside to assist with re-finishing and I set to, carefully, with a heat gun.

Stripped and sanded back, the original veneers start to show through

The super lightwheight rubbing strip needs a fair number of clamps to stay in contact with the deck edge.

And once a few build coats of varnish are applied the hull starts to show her true colours.

I stopped when I got to the seventh coat but would probably of liked to add a couple more. Nevertheless, Richard was delighted with the result and saw Puffin, I think, in better condition than her had ever seen her before.

The oars, stripped, oiled and re-leathered looked, I think, fitting. She was then ready for transport back to Port Appin and her next lease of life.

Sail and Oar

When I built my peapod as both a sailing and rowing boat I assumed, as someone who mainly sailed, that I would use it as a sailing boat. This I do – when there is wind, but when the wind drops I have been discovering that rowing can be fun too.

Earlier this summer we took Seapod to the West Coast and had a good weekend sailing from Toberonochy. Pictured her are Mary and myself in Seapod trying to keep ahead of both Ewan and Ken in Kelpie (his sprit rigged semi dory) and Adrian Morgan (enjoying a sail in an Oughtred Whilly boat). Humm.. This plywood boat stuff could be infectious you know.

Photo (c)Richard Pierce, 2010

After that weekend I realised that our oars, designed for an 8′ tender with a 4′ beam are, at 7′ 6″ just too short for Seapod (beam 5′ 3″). The relevant authorities suggested that an oar length of about 10′ would be suitable so I set to and made up a new pair in time for Crinan Classics. At Crinan the weather was dire and it blew old boots so we sailed a bit (between the gales) but failed to row. However, since then I have been getting into the habit of heading out for a row when there is no wind for sailing. The new oars make a huge difference to rowing pleasure.

Last sunday was a case in point. About 3 knots of breeze (at best), sunshine and a fair bit of tide running on the Forth. I got to the boat, dumped all the sailing gubbins on the ground and was on the water in 10 minutes. Rowing upstream – with the tide at this stage – I was overtaking yachts drifting nowhere. A stop after lunch at Limekilns, somewhere I had never visited while sailing, was a pleasant break and then I headed back downstream with the ebb. A quick play in the eddies round beamer rock (never been that close before) and a hard pull across the river against the tide and I was back on the slip. A bit sore perhaps – but a great afternoon on the river.

Rowing nowadays is so unusual I had a well meaning fisherman in a rib stop by and ask me if I was OK or did I need help. He must have thought that my engine had broken down (on a double ender?).

Sore toes

If it’s a while since this blog was updated that’s because I generally get round to doing so when I’m either ill or injured.

This is one of those injured ocassions as I dropped a 12′ hardwood beam on my big toe yesterday. Where were my steel toe-capped boots you ask? Well, I was wearing them all day (working on Scimitar) but took them off when I got home. When I just popped into the garage to try and sort out a bit of the mess that lurks everywhere I lifted the end of – and then dropped a beam – which hit my big toe quite hard.

The wood, which had been scavenged from the beach, is still a bit of a mystery. Dark red, coarse grained, non interlocking – obviously durable in a marine environment. None of the usual suspects could offer and answer. We found 8 beams, each 12′ or so long and about 4″ x 5 1/2″ in section. Apart from a nail through each of the halving joints at the ends – no embedded metal – held together by dowels and loose tongues. A jetty structure I suspect. Anyway, It was loaded up on the trusty trailer and brought home in order to injure my toe.

Grrr. There must be a better use for the timber than breaking my toe!

Sea Berths for a Jeanneau

This commission was for an internal upgrade to a fairly new Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 49. The design brief, for a set of removable berth boards, was to make them look ‘as if they were fitted in the factory when the boat was made‘.

A common problem with many of the larger production boats is that the luxurious double cabins (this one has three) are fine while at anchor or in the marina but not much use at all while on passage in a seaway. This particular example, Erin, gets raced across the North Sea, often in rather nasty weather. On passage a way of making up workable sea berths is essential and after a couple of seasons making do with makeshift plywood panels John had decided that it was time to do the job properly. I think that Jeanneau should offer them as a ‘passagemaker upgrade’.

For a small independent boatbuilder – making up moldings to match the large radius curves (70mm section radius) used by Jeanneau is a bit of a pain. Router bits don’t come that large and even 40mm or 50mm spindle moulder cutters don’t do the job.

Here is what I came up with.

The island double in the forward master cabin needed side rails to stop to occupants falling out of the side of the berth. The berth was angular but I made the side rails curved. I had to make these permanent – but the supports should hold stuff in place outboard of the berth.

The main removable posts holding the berth dividers had large radius faces on both sides to harmonise with the door frames.

The teak faced ply used for the dividers was, you guessed it, oversized – so the 12mm routed grooves needed opening up a bit (have you ever found a 13mm router cutter?). This side rebate plane from Veritas worked a treat.

Once finished in satin varnish I was quite pleased with the result. More importantly, so was the client.

The berth divider boards, by the way, are held in place by removable metal pins between the berth base and the divider base. The main end posts are each secured by a teak socket at the top and a teak slot and single recessed bolt at the base.

Any other takers for the passagemakers upgrade pack?

The right angle

A couple of weeks ago I made up a couple of hatches and a pair of washboards for a Nantucket Clipper ‘Tofog’.

When setting to in order to make up framed teak washboards to replace some old painted plywood I was faced with the head scatcher of how to orient the vertical and horizontal members of the washboards. None of the four sides of the washboards were parallel. I had happily made up templates without worrying about this issue – but was not about to go back and take another look as Tofog was (and is) sitting on a swinging mooring at Arfdfern, 150 miles away.

Here is a picture of what I did (click through to picassa if you want to see a larger version)

Note that the sides are not parallel and the hatch, being offset from the centreline, is not horizontal.

My solution was to orient the frame perpendicular to the base of the cockpit (fairly horizontal) and ignore the side and top faces.

I’m not sure if my solution was right or even good. Any suggestions of the RIGHT solution to this sort of problem and feedback (with examples of better or worse arrangements) are welcome.

St Ayles Skiff launched

I took some time out at the weekend to get over the the Kingdom (of Fife) for the official launch of the first St Ayles Skiff.  A new Iain Oughtred design based on a Fair Isle skiff and to be used for on-the-sea rowing races.  If you haven’t yet got the idea think Cornish Pilot Gigs – but in Scotland – with four rowers and a cox – and much cheaper as they are glued plywood construction.

The new boat looked great.  Alec Jordan (who makes the kits), Chris Perkins and a number of  other folk had made a great job – and the weather smiled on us all.

Everyone who wanted to row got a row and there was a fair amount of discussion about both technical and non technical issues.  The ‘organisation’ that has initiated the class and will organise racing is Scottish Coastal Rowing.  On the basis of the response by those present I think that there is likely to be quite a few of these built in the next few months.

I took a few photos and even a bit of video.

The boat, at the moment, is very simple. Not even sole boards to complicate things. It looks as if there will be strict control of the hull form but that clubs will be able to experiment with various fixtures and fittings until things settle down in a few years.

Iain Oughtred examines the new boat.

I could be tempted to build one of these….

A mixed bag

Since the new year its been a bit of famine and feast so, as so often happens, you don’t want to write and then don’t have time to write. The Katydid restoration project went on hold just before Christmas (for the normal economic reasons affecting most people this year) and for a while not much else came along. With luck, the Katydid project may re-start and I may well still be involved with it, but it could be a while coming…

So, instead of working full time on a keel-up restoration of an antique Fife I have been working as an itinerant freelance boat-builder doing, well, all sorts of things.

The ‘keel up’ restoration of Katydid got just as far as shaping up the new keel.

The oak (enough for a new backbone) came in the long wheelbase Damhead van from Harry Simpson at Mackay’s Boatyard, Arbroath. There was no room for organic mushrooms on that trip!

After kicking my heels for a while in the new year I got in ‘the egg’ and went looking for work. Posters in sailing clubs, visits to local boatyards (not many of those) and phone calls to less than local boatyards yielded, initially, the usual story. The notable exception was Steve Kelvin in Grangemouth who gave me a week’s trial, then gave me some work and since has continued to give me freelance work since I first drove into his yard in early March. Why did I not go straight there after I finished training? Well, by his own admission, Steve is too busy to do marketing – and you won’t find him anywhere on the web. I was sort of aware of Kelvin Marine as somewhere where some people (i.e Chris Hall) took their boats for the winter. In fact, Kelvin Marine do storage and craneage up to 20 tons (those slings are heavy I can tell you), interior fitout, engines & sterngear, hull repairs ( in wood, glass and steel) and just about anything else. Anyway, I’ve been doing all sorts of things there and learning all sorts of new skills of the sort that I could never learn at the BBA.

Some of the projects will get stories in due course but for now just look at the crane. No wimpy travel hoist in THIS yard.

This ex-pilot boat weighed in right at the 20 ton lifting limit. Twin CAT engines and a lengthy restoration (by the owner) awaits. We (i.e. Steve) may get to do some work on the engines at some point.

Alongside a core working week at Grangemouth my adverts in clubs and efforts to talk to people started to yield results with a trickle or local boats needing repairs and assistance. Folkboats are more or less the most common wooden yachts in this area and being 50+ years old most of them seem to need a bit of work at times.

The restoration of Scimitar, with which I am helping the owner, John, is progressing and will offer all sorts of challenges. Dave Blatchford from Buckler’s Hard came up to assist in reviewing the programme of work and we had an interesting day during which the scope of operations expanded to include the removal and re-bedding of the ballast keel! Current work on the boatskin includes scarfing in (lots) of plank segments to recover from aggressive chainplate boltholes, numerous graving pieces replacing numerous tingles and replacement of dubious and not quite so dubious sections of sheer strake.

I’m working alongside John rather than for John so work and teaching get rather mixed up. I’m not experienced enough to teach anyone but am happy to show John what I have learnt so far and he seems to pick it up and work effectively alongside me. Scimitar is the most Nordic of the folkboats that I am working on and is a big project. I suspect that John (and his numerous friends who help out) will write ‘Zen and the art of boat restoration’ when we all get finished and re-launch her.

Marine Carpenters get to fix toe rails and rubbing strakes. Everyone know that as a fact. Well, here is my first. Merlin is not a Nordic Folkboat, she’s not even an International Folkboat (whatever one of those is) she’s a Freshwater Folkboat. She was built on Windermere and is carvel (of course) splined (in pretty good condition) and just needing a few repairs before the (mid to late start) season. After an argument with one of the notorious port-edgar pontoons in an autumn gale she needs new section of toe-rail, rubbing strake and a few other bits and bobs. Here is the new toe rail – just clamped up…

The third Folkboat that I am working on is a Cowes built clinker boat with a raised coachroof. Border Maid (no picture yet) needs a new wooden mast. Although Collars would be glad to oblige Ken and I will build one from Douglas Fir between us, to the class specification of course.

The fourth Folkboat in this piece, is NOT one I am working on. It is resting in the old dock at Grangemouth. It is different in that it is close planked (no splines, no caulking) It is 50 or so years old, built in East Germany and took up in a couple of days after a couple of years ashore. How did they do it? Anyway, if you want it (Woodnut is the name) you need to talk to Nicola – who owns it (and one or two other boats as well).

After working all these Folkboats I have sometimes thought that it would be rather fun to own (and race) one. To work, for me, it would have to have the short nordic coachroof and no guard rails. Any offers?

To finish, for now, here is Twinkle, Lorne’s Twinkle 12 and the latest visitor to my workshop. She is in for quite a bit of work as she has had a few hard winters sitting in the breeze round the back of Seapan. New garboards, keel repairs, a new apron, centre board case repairs, quite a number of timbers…. Anyway, in due course she will look lovely again but right now she looks as if she has a very bad hangover…

Oh, the real reason why I’m writing this post is that I have pulled a muscle in my hand and can’t work properly with hand tools. I can’t even go racing on Henceforth. Who would want to be self-employed when things like this can happen? Back to real work next week I hope…

Sheerlines and waterlines

This entry is more or less all about Katydid’s profile – the way that she looks when viewed from the side.  There’s lots more to say about her ‘end-on’ view but that will have to wait.

More or less the first thing that I did once Katydid was moved into the shed was to level and measure her.  Together with the design offsets provided by Fairlie Restorations from the Fife archive I had enough information to compare Katydid as designed and Katydid as she is now.  While the tables of offsets and raw measurements were adequate to confirm a few basic facts I decided to create CAD models of Katydid’s hullform in order to investigate how and to what extent there are differences.  The whole process was, for me, amazingly illuminating.  I really don’t think that I would have got very far at all in interpreting the history of Katydid’s hull form without the use of CAD.  For those of a technical inclination I am using PolyCAD for this work.

Katydid’s sheerline is a bit flat (and bumpy).  The weight of the coach roof on the deck structures has nipped her in at the waist and paradoxically, lifted her sheerline amidships, contributing to her rather flat looking sheer.  The damage that the running backstays have done to the beamshelf and frames where they attach also indicates that her hullform has been pulled about a fair bit over time.  This photo, of Katydid on the water (probably in the 1970’s) gives a general impression of what she most recently looked like afloat.

Katydid in the 1970's

(note that she is a bit fine in the stern and not really designed to carry weight in the cruising cockpit – hence the nose-up attitude)

The datum that I used for measuring Katydid was her scribed waterline. This was (I foolishly thought) a reasonable assumption, particularly since there was no evidence that Katydid had ever been completely re-planked. Once the fact that there were two scribed waterlines on the hull had been sorted out (fortunately they are parallel and either side of the boot top) I dropped a perpendicular from the intersection of the scribed waterline with the front face of her stem (admittedly a bit of a movable feast) and laid out a grid to match the design offsets (11 stations at 1′ 8 1/2″ starting at the DWL/stem interface and waterlines at 6 25/32″ vertical intervals). The idea here was to collect the same measured data as was provided by the design offsets. Once loaded into a model I was presented with a profile that looked as follows.

Katydid - measured profiles

(Measured lines are green)

The main points to note are

  1. The measured boat is longer than designed
  2. The measured forward sheer is lower than designed
  3. The measured stem and forward keel profile are fuller than designed
  4. The top face of the measured ballast keel is at a different angle to the designed top of ballast keel

For me, the key point was the last.  After a small amount of thought it was clear that the scribed waterline does not coincide with the DWL – either in level or in attitude.  So, I rotated the CAD model of the measured boat to align the top face of the ballast keel and re-aligned the front face of the stem with the design model (try doing this on the lofting floor!).  This gave me something more useful.

Katydid - Aligned profile

The main (profile) differences remaining are

  1. The profiles of the ballast keels do not match
  2. The sheer profile of the measured boat is significantly flatter than the designed boat.

The second point is easily understood when you see the distortion of Katydid’s frames over time and her saggy deck.

Katydid was designed with a lead keel for which we have the displacement calculations but no detailed section data – the keel profile is the only design data available to suggest how it looked.  May Kohn confirmed (from reading correspondence in the Scottish Maritime Museum) that the lead keel was removed during the first world war and replaced by a cast iron keel in the 1920’s.

When was the waterline scribed on at the present angle?  Why did it not match the DWL?  I could speculate that Katydid as built may have sat heavy at the bows but have no proof.  Anyway, the fact that we are working with a cast iron keel that needs internal lead ballast to bring her down to her lines, means that we can restore her to float to her design lines.

To complete the hull-form analysis I produced a composite CAD model that included the present backbone structure, current ballast keel and as-designed sections and sheer profile.  This defines the shape of the boat that we will restore – being very close to what was lofted in Fairlie in 1891.  The main differences relate to getting a good fit between the ballast keel and the lower face of the wooden keel – which has a minor influence on the lower plank lines.

Katydid - Target hullform

I suspect that we will be looking out for some scrap lead to use as internal ballast.  Any offers?


Deciding if a component of an old wooden boat is original or a repair/replacement is not always straightforward.  What may initially seem original can turn out to have been the result of a previous reconstruction, enhancement or a repair job.  My purpose in trying to ascertain what is original is not just to decide if materials should be retained – but more importantly – if the material can be used as a pattern or template for what it should be replaced with.

The project now has a ‘restoration plan’  the key sentence of which encapsulates the purpose of this restoration.  I quote:

“The objective of the restoration programme is to restore Katydid as a racing sailboat to look and sail in the way that she did when launched in 1892”

To this end – establishing what is and is not original is an important issue.  Doing so has caused me (already) a fair bit of head scratching.  The primary construction material, wood, can if poorly maintained – decay very quickly and give an impression of great age.  I have been finding, in this project, that fastenings have been providing me with the key clues and evidence to support judgements about the age and originality or otherwise of various components.  The originality, or otherwise, of the deck is the best example.

During my initial investigation I removed material that was obviously not-original.  In the case of Katydid this included the internal accommodation, cockpit lockers, canvas deck covering and coachroof structure.  Once this work was completed I was faced with the question – what, of the remaining material, is original.  This is what I started this phase of work with.

katydid's semi swept deck

A semi swept deck in pretty poor condition, sags and dips and caulking and paint and rot and all the rest. But – is it the original deck or a deck by a previous reconstruction exercise?

The material, yellow pine and moulding dimension (5/8″) are consistent with the construction plans for Fife 17/19 Clyde Luggers (Fairlie Restoration did not hold the construction plans for Katydid but did provide us with construction plans for other Fife designed Clyde 17/19 Luggers). The deck also looks very like Hatasoo’s, already known to be unrestored.

At a first guess it looks and may be original – But – a lightly built racing dayboat 116 years old still with its original deck? Everyone knows that decks don’t last. I can already hear the questions and see the raised eyebrows.

Firstly, the deck does pre-date the conversion of Katydid to a cruiser and the addition of the canvas deck covering. When the canvas deck was laid the covering board (and possibly sheer strake) were replaced as the canvas was laid over the deck planking and UNDER the covering board. A pretty good way to ensure that there was little motivation for replacing the canvas deck covering!

underneath the covering board

I am of the view that Katydid’s deck is original. The evidence, for me, is provided by the fastenings used for the deck structures, beams and beam shelf, lodging knees and breasthook. Here is how my thinking goes.

The deck planking is fastened by a combination of hidden ferrous cut nails (fine brads) holding the edge of each plank to each deck beam and cuprous nails with heads removed (square in section) pinning each plank to the  next between each deck beam.

The ferrous nails pulled through the planks as the planks were removed

deck beam 15 - with 'hidden' nails

The ferrous brads may have once been galvanised but are now heavily corroded.  However, if they are 116 years old – they have done very very very well.  Are you sure about them being original?

deck planking fastenings
The cuprous pins are on the left!

The deck beams, once scraped clean, show no signs of old fastening holes so can be assumed to be the same age as the deck planking.  The deck beams are fastened to the beam shelf with heavily corroded  ferrous nails.  No signs of old fastening holes so the deck beams can be assumed to be the same age as the beam shelf.

The sheer strake has been re-fastened through the beam shelf with with a mixture of bronze bar and ‘modern’ copper boat nails but shows lots of holes and old fastenings as well for the various generations of chainplates that have been attached to Katydid at various points.  Additionally there is no evidence that the lodging knees, transom knees or breasthook have been replaced. So…..

If the beam shelf is original then the deck beams must be original then the deck planking must be original….

And it is the fastenings that tell me all this rather than the timber!

Having worked all this out and measured up the deck in detail and set the port side deck planks aside in case they are needed for reference I have a cleaned out boat on which restoration can commence.

stripped out

Caution:  The lifebouy in the background is probably not original

I am not posting Katydid’s restoration plan online but if you would like to see it just drop me an email and I’ll be happy to send you over a copy.

I still have lots of questions running around in my head about the cuprous alloys that were available to Fife in 1892 and how well they lasted.  This cut boat nail, used to fasten the planking, is now very brittle and clearly not a very noble form of bronze. I broke this 2″ nail by hand.  Were screws made of the same alloy?  How do I find out facts like this?  – back to the library I guess as there this is a matter that probably pre-dates Google.

brittle boat nail

Comments on any of this stuff are, as always, welcome.

Heavy metal

Taking the ballast keel off an old keelboat is, for me, a stressful experience.  The weights involved (Katydid’s keel weighs about 1.5 tons) mean that mistakes with supporting structures can have serious implications – on my health – and the boat’s fabric.

The process takes place in two stages, separate the keel from the ballast keel by removing the keel bolts and then move the ballast keel out from under the boat.

The removal of the ballast keel is the last practical stage in the pre-restoration investigation that I am currently undertaking.  Once the ballast keel has been removed then the condition of the wooden keel can be properly assessed and a decision taken on whether to replace or repair it.

The keel bolts all get soaked in WD40 for a few days prior to my trying to get them off.  The keel is through bolted and the underside face of the ballast keel suggests that the iron bolts are well and truly corroded in.  I give it a go with bolt 1 (foremost of 5 keel bolts).  The nut and washers quickly come off with an angle grinder and a block hammer is used to drive the bolt down the inch or so before I have to get a big punch out.  It all seems easy until I get out of the boat and see that the bottom of the bolt has not moved at all.  The bolt has of course collapsed – as well it might after 115+ years.  This fact, strangely, makes the whole job much easier.  I clean out the keel bedding compound (fossilised of course) around the keel bolts using screwdrivers and use a sabre saw to cut the bolts off between the top of the ballast keel and the wooden keel.  I get through a dozen blades for the five bolts – they are not really meant for this sort of punishment – but the keel separates away and the ballast keel is soon jacked down clear of the boat.

Clear daylight

Daylight showing between the boat and the ballast!

Getting the ballast keel out from under the boat takes a while longer. It is heavy, intrinsically unstable and I am working in a constrained space. The ballast has to stay more or less supported all the time as it is moved. I use a chain hoist, blocks, rope, lashed together wooden cradles and steel bar for rollers.

ballast keel pulling rig (a chain hoist)

Once (just about) clear of the stern post the whole caboodle is swivelled clear of the boat

swivelling the ballast keel clear of Katydid

and hauled across the floor

Pulling across the floor

To where it will rest until it is carted off for re-conditioning


Somewhere in the delicate middle of this operation (during the swivel as I recall) an STV cameraman wanders in (James seems to have a regular Friday appointment with STV) and blithely suggests that I continue working while he looks around. The ‘closeness’ of some of his shooting suggests to me that he has not quite appreciated either the weight or instability of the keel as I haul it across the floor. Fortunately, there was no ‘incident’ and he departed un-crushed.  Whether the footage will be usable is another question.

On the radio yesterday afternoon as I drove home there was an intense and pretentious discussion as to whether cars (expensive cars such as Ferrari that is) can be art.  It was argued that while in general, they are probably not art, however gorgeous they are – they can perhaps become art by being appropriated as such by a (presumably suitably qualified) artist.  Anyway,  I hereby appropriate Katydid’s ballast keel as art (sorry that should be Art with a capital A) and offer her to the Scottish nation (on temporary loan) until we need her in order to keep Katydid on an even keel again (sometime in 2010).  I think that she (Katydid’s ballast keel that is) would look very fine residing, rust, toxic paint and all, in the foyer of the Dean Gallery.

The purpose of all this effort was (at least at this stage) so that I could ascertain the full and gory details of the underside of Katydid’s wooden keel after 100+ years.  Judge for yourself,  this photo of the underside of one keel bolt is typical.

Underside of keel

If I am to keep this account going – on anything like a regular basis, I can’t operate in a vacum – so please give me feedback (see below for the comment box), indicating, on the basis of the above photo, whether I should repair or replace Katydid’s keel.  Remember,  the seaworthiness of a crucial piece of Scotland’s maritime heritage may depend on your vote!

Garboards off

Let’s get one think straight.  This blog is not a chronological account of work as it gets done.  It is selective, irregular and completely biased in favour of the colourful aspects of what I do.

When Katydid’s garboards came off yesterday I just had to take (and post) this photo of the warm rich colours exposed.

Katydid's garboards come off

The fastening marks on the keel suggest that this (port side) plank has never been (completely) off before – unlike the starboard garboard which seems to have been on and off several times.

Taking off the garboards is part of the investigative process that I am going through in order to prepare for restoration.  I need to inspect the condition of the keel to establish if it can be saved (perhaps..) and confirm details of how the backbone is held together.

The planks were originally fastened with cut boat nails.  The frames and timbers were notched into the keel with the frames held by dovetail joints and the steamed timbers simply notched.

frames are notched with dovetails

The port side garboard comes off in a few minutes. A peppering of cut boat nails in the hood end has been supplemented with numerous #12 copper boat nails. Once these are removed the whole of the plank just pulls away from the rabbet by hand – the holes from which the cut nails are pulled are clean and crisp suggesting that the plank, as a whole, has never been off the boat. The starboard side plank is a different story with supplemental nails, screws and several graving pieces set into the rabbet.

garboards are off

Once both garboards have been removed the skeletal structure of the boat starts to emerge more clearly.

the skeleton emerges

Not really work but…

We managed to fit in a lst minute trip to the North Berwick Classic Boat Muster.  A great low-key atmospehere, some lovely boats sailing in majestic scenery.  It’s not really work – but these boats look so great.

Click on the photos if you want to see larger images.

Crystal Sea – a Yorkshire Beach Boat

Crystal Sea - North Berwick Classic Boat Muster

Playbuoy (YW dayboat) and Plaisir du Chocolat (Ness Yawl).

North Berwick Classic Boat Muster

One half of the fleet – Craigleith in the background.

North Berwick Classic Boat Muster

Seapod tied up outside Tula

Seapod alongside Tula at North Berwick

The wind dies as soon as the race started so we went ashore to the clubhouse for lunch. The wind filled in later that afternoon allowing us all to go for a sail along the coast. Alex and I hitched a lift on Paragon II as we had left Seapod’s rig at home.