Imagination and Bloody mindedness

Welcome back and thank you all for the comments. Please keep them coming in as I need the inspiration.  I’ve discovered that building a boat is a combination of craft skill (for want of a better description), imagination and bloody mindedness. The last of these is most important.  When I was assisting the designer with the specification of this “little” boat, I said that I wanted lockers in the sides of the cockpit. In my experience, there’s never enough locker space in a boat – for the fenders, the ropes, the anchors and all the other stuff that’s needed to take a boat from the “sailaway”1 condition to one that you can actually use.

The designer kindly left three locker spaces in the plan – I said, full of confidence and DoomBar2, ‘Don’t worry about the locker lids, I’ll take care of them’. I’m still thinking about it – the inventiveness (see above) is somewhat lacking – my initial idea involved cutting away a significant chunk of deck and of the longitudinal bulkhead ,as well as some tricky “preassembly” of the sides of the locker lids before the deck was glued on top.  The bloody mindedness came into play when I continued to fiddle about to make my idea work, even though I realised it was totally impractica. After several days work, the main lockers were “put on hold” and I’ve contented myself with a couple of self draining “letter boxes” on each side of the cockpit.3

Don’t hold your breath for the solution.

So, it’s mid August, the Owners Agent wants to know how much progress has been made. After all, as she points out, the project is already 3 months late. She reminds me that my voyage round Britain in Vagabond took 3 years, not the one promised and she doesn’t want this bloody boat to take up so much of my time.

At least she’s upright4.

Upright – with the deck “mocked up”

I managed to do that all by myself, although she did get stuck on her side for a few minutes – I’d forgotten how low the ceiling was in the workshop. Now she’s had the cockpit floors fitted. The aft floor covers a buoyancy tank and the forward floor covers the water ballast tank. This is one tank on each side of the centreboard case; these are connected by a pipe at the forward end to keep the water levels the same.

The ballast tanks and bilge well

They are filled and emptied through the bilge well, just aft of the centreboard case. Just before I glued down the forward floor, I was imagining filling the ballast tanks. I’d pull out the plugs between the well and the tanks and then open the plug(s)5 in the bottom of the well. In theory, water would flood into the well and thence into each tank until the water level in the tanks was the same as outside the boat…..It just so happens that, for this water ballast system to work properly, both tanks must be full to the brim. If they are not, water will slosh down hill when the boat heels – Herald of Free Enterprise here we come 6. I phoned the Designer – ‘Oh yes’, he said. ‘ The waterline is a couple of inches below the cockpit floor – I meant to have told you to glue some foam to the underside of that floor’…….

The Foam under the floor

So, a little imagination averted a potential disaster. The builders scrap lying around the cowsheds provided the necessary insulation foam and the floor was glued in place.7 The anticipated capsize test will tell me if there’s the same amount of foam in each tank 8….

That brings us to the end of July – when the Owners agent and I made a long anticipated visit to Fife to reunite with the shaman, herbalist and author of the family.9

To my surprise we were allowed into Scotland (and out again) without let or hindrance. I had my new passport at the ready.10


  1. This is the advertised condition of a sail boat to give a prospective customer the idea that the boat is good value and that he/she can afford it. Unlike many advertising phrases, it means exactly what it says.
  2. A rather tasty “artisanal” brew, once limited to Cornwall but now spreading
  3. So at least I can store handy supplies of liquid (see note 1), sandwiches and other essential supplies, and still leave room for the hand bearing compass and the binoculars.
  4. The boat that is.
  5. This reminded me that these plugs are in my imagination only, as I had forgotten to fit them
  6. A cross Channel car ferry that sank several years ago because water sloshed from one side to another.
  7. I almost expect to have to take this floor up again next winter, after the capsize test8
  8. Part of the acceptance trials, the full extent of which are yet to be determined – I expect the Owners Agent will have much to say on the subject.
  10. It’s an awful Blue colour – the first outward sign that Brexit is finally here……

3 thoughts on “Imagination and Bloody mindedness”

  1. Looking really good Rob. I can clearly see the Swallow heritage, both in her lines as well as the ballast tank configuration and the way the rudder connects to the transom.
    Good thing you caught that ballast tank issue in the nick of time. It could have become a really big problem to solve once the boat is finished.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well mate its looking really good at this stage ,bigger than I thought it was at the start. Ah DoomBar! that marvellous beverage that enabled me to drive 2410 miles around your fair country with my wife an two daughters on our four week holiday some years ago.
    I have to say your drivers would have to be the most polite and tolerant I have come across, very forgiving of this blundering old Aussie.


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