Early winter blues – part the second*

The evenings are now really drawing in: sunset in suburban Buckinghamshire is now around a quarter past four. Plenty of time in the evening to contemplate next summer, or even do something in preparation for it.

My loyal reader may rember my last post – as well as blethering on about crossing the North Sea, I mentioned projects not quite forgotten. Come on – it was in the first paragraph….

I had mentioned that I was thinking about building a boat and a half size Swallow Bay raider seemed a good idea. Would the yacht designer from Cardigan let me have a set? This was not rejected out of hand but deftly turned (by him) into another design project and voer the course of a couple of evenings in a bar, some “homework” and several phone calls, the self build project emerged. It just so happened that the Yacht designer was thinking of a tender for his yard….

The design was more or less finalised at the Southampton boat show:


A little Lug sail dinghy – water ballasted, of course, with a carbon fibre mast and yard but a wooden boom (so, as he said) you can mount more stuff on  it. Just under 5 metres long, with an open well** before the mast for anchors and the like and some sort of “electric” pod in another well forward of the rudder.  Quite how this pod could be lifted from the water when not is use was left vague – another problem for me to solve at a later date.

After some persuasion, the rudder was configured to be vertical and mounted on pintles rather than bolted to the transom.  A lifting centreboard, a well just aft of it where the water ballast would both flood in and flood out. Oars (now that’s a novelty for me) and precious little storage so a day sailer……Expected weight – less than 200Kg. By now the project had been given a code word – “yellow hammer” – no relation to that envisaged by Boris and his team.

I was expecting plans and lots of jig saw work but no – software and NC milling machines would make light work of cutting the panels out of 6mm ply.

“I think it best to start with a model” – no problem – at set of bits at 1 inch to the foot arrived in the post a few days latter and I spent a happy hour or two working out which bit was what:


The bottom, side planks, various bulkheads and the deck were pretty easy to spot but what on earth were the two parts that I’d marked up as W in the picture? ***

Another happy few hours were spent using instant glue to stick the model and my fingers together**** and a rough version of most of the boat took shape.20191006_175754

After further discussion with the designer a deal was struck – he’d provide me a set of full size parts and it just happened that he had a second hand trailer for sale – but, it was emphasized, Swallow Yachts is NOT returning to its roots in the marketing and sale of kits.

A delivery date was set for October – but where was I going to build it? What about at home – in the1970’s sized double garage. 

Even when cleared out of rubbish, tools and the general storage of stuff that you keep after you have “downsized” a pair of 1960’s minis would only just about fit. It wasn’t long enough!

So was the whole project stymied from the start? Had Yellow hammer failed to fly?


* an old Goon show mis-use of an ordinal number where normal practice is to use a cardinal number **

** I think there would be some diy added here, otherwise everything will fail out when the inevitable capsise occurs.

*** It turns out that they are formers to bend the transom into shape

**** I’m obviously in training for participating in Extinction rebellion events.

4 thoughts on “Early winter blues – part the second*”

  1. That sounds like quite a neat little project which deserves a blog of it’s own John!
    Nothing really beats sailing a boat you’ve built yourself. Will it be build aording to the stich and glue method?


  2. Hi Martyn, Rob here – who’s John? Yes, traditional stitch and glue – just like the iron age, only using plywood, cable ties and resin!
    Do you want me to have a new blog on the subject so that you can continue using the Riff Raff site? Perhaps we can come to a deal! Rob J


    1. Hi Rob,
      I’m sorry about that. It occurred to me later that morning that I mixed things up. Apparently early-morning pre-coffee comments are to be avoided in the future.
      I wasn’t suggesting an entirely new blog, just hoping you would take the opportunity of keeping a blog about the build as it would be a perfect opportunity. But you’re way ahead.


  3. What a great project baggsie a sail ………but perhaps not the first one 😀⛵️ and don’t forget if you fancy a sail on Hardytoo she’s still in the water and sailing ⛵️


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