Friday, October 27, 2006

A Lick of Varnish.

Lovely what a lick of varnish can do for a tatty old bit of scrapwood. A little sandpaper helps too.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Kick-Up Rudder


My idea of a kick-up rudder was based on an illustration I had seen in a boating book some time ago. Though I was sure it was in one of my own books, I couldnt find it when I decided to try and fabricate my own. Lacking a prototype, I simply began to sketch the design of the rudder on a very weathered 12mmX 200mm pine board and let it take shape from there.
I used a blackboard compass to describe a 5cm radius for the pivot point about 30cm from the top. I cut the resulting line with a jigsaw and then spent some time smoothing the arc I had cut so that the top and bottom halves of the rudder pivotted smoothly. A pair of sheaves were made from an offcut of plywood and a 6omm stainless steel bolt formed the pintle of the joint. The chord of the rudder was shaped using an electric plane. This was the first time I had a chance to try out this new tool of mine and I was very pleased with the result. I shall try a more ambitious shape when I get round to manufacturing a shallower draft daggerboard.
The tiller was formed from a length of 12mmX20mm scrapwood I found laying around. I used a router to round over the stock and then spent a fair amount of time sanding it to the shape I wanted. Lastly I ran a length of shock cord through a channel on the leading edge of the rudder to allow it to pivot upwards should the boat run aground and then pull it back straight once in deeper water.
The shape and design of the rudder were not arrived at in any scientific way, they simply 'look right'. That having been said I am confident that once I undertake sea trials the new rudder will do the job nicely. There is something immensly satisfying about turning a few very shabby pieces of scrapwood and turning them into a rather handsome rudder and tiller. Now I must hunt around the back of the shed to see if there are any larger planks that might make a nice centreboard.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Sailing Into a New Season



My fondness for comfort and particularly my aversion to wading through cold water and shivering in the cockpit of Nifty Scarlet made winter a long hiatus from sailing. Not that the winter was, for the most part a bitter one, just that I prefer warm weather for sailing and so it was the coming of spring that heralded Nifty Scarlet's return to her element. She had wintered on the trailer in the driveway and had become full of wind-blown leaves and twigs and had a little water pooled in the bottom of the cockpit. Other than this she seemed to be in good shape and apart from a tidy up I did little to prepare her for the new season.
This weekend being the first opportunity for a while to go take to the water I was keen to take the boys back to the lake. My younger lad decided he did not wish to join us so we took a freind of my elder son. The weather was perfect for a shakedown trip, warm and with a mild onshore breeze. A helpful passer-buy gave me a hand rigging the mast and we were ready to launch fairly quickly.
Nifty Scarlet seemed a bit reluctant to return to the water. We made several attempts at getting underway and each time she would stall and then the breeze would push her back into the shallows where she would become stuck fast. I think a large part of the reason for this is that the NS14 is not well suited to the shallows of Narrabeen Lake. The daggerboard keel is long and the rudder also. Since I have no plans to race her I should look into fabricating a shorter keel with a slope to the front, so that it might 'ride-up' as the dinghy sails into shallows. Likewise a second swing-up style rudder might be worth experimenting with.
In the end, by wading rather further than I normally would have in the muddy water, we managed to get her underway and free of the shallows. We spent a pleasant hour tacking back and forth across the lake. Along the way we saw a couple of spectacular jumps by some large fish that inhabit the lake. The breeze was light but constant and the sun not too fiercely hot. Our guest seemed to enjoy the afternoon as much as we did.
On de-rigging the boat I discovered that the transom section contained rather a lot of water. Im unsure if it had seeped in from the cockpit during the rainy part of winter or if there is a leak somewhere. Inspection of the hull on the trailer showed no sign of a hole or crack although it would benefit from another coat of paint.
Although I also ejoyed the afternoon I am beginning to feel somewhat confined by the lake. The beauty and space of the harbour beckons and I long to take her back to Clontarf and the deep water. Id love to be able to really let her take her head with the keel all the way down without worrying about approaching sandbars. I shall have to make some plans, get the crew onboard with the idea and get permission from Admiral Home-front.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

A Last Sail for the Summer.


The hole repaired Nifty Scarlet underwent sea-trials in Narrabeen Lake a few days later. Remembering the Heron from a few weeks back I loaded a small inflatable dinghy into Nifty Scarlet along with the usual rigging and safety gear.
My eldest and I are already becoming old hands at rigging the boat so the transition from trailer to water was quite rapid. The fibreglass patch held and the cockpit stayed quite dry (for a dinghy) throughout our sail. Having established the seaworthiness of the boat we decided to see how well Nifty Scarlet tows a tender. We streamed the inflatable behind us and my youngest son eagerly climbed in. In the fresh breeze Nifty Scarlet made light work of towing and its young crewmember enjoyed the ride.
For about an hour we tacked back and forth the lake, my young crew becoming increasingly confident in the boat, enjoying the fresh breeze that propelled us quite rapidly even with the inflatable in tow. Then as it became dusk and with it a chill that might herald the coming winter we packed up for what would prove to be the last time this summer.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Holed Beneath the Waterline


During our last sailing expedition I had made the alarming discovery that Nifty Scarlet was holed beneath the waterline. Whilst this did not prevent us from enjoying an afternoon's sailing, it required remedy as soon as possible. The source of the leak was, as previously noted, from the vicinity of the starboard venturi. On closer inspection the area around the venturi proved to be rotten. The bolts holding the venturi in place had rusted and the rust had allowed water to wick up into the surrounding plywood leaving it soggy and weak.

There are few activities more contra-intuitive than using jigsaw to cut a hole in the very bottom of your pride and joy but, there was no help for it, the rot had to be cut away. By the time all the rot was removed I was left with a hole large enough to put my fist through.

Patching the resulting hole was not difficult, though I made fairly heavy work of the fibreglass job on the hull. I fabricated a thin plywood patch for the inside of the cockpit, cut to shape to fit the venturi. This was glued into place with araldite. I then wrapped the venturi in cling-wrap and placed it into the hole in the patch to act as a mould for the fibreglass to be used on the outside of the hole.

Two layers of fibreglass, followed by liberal use of automotive filler to fair the hull, completed the job. All that remained to do was the sanding and painting which, as usual, accounted for the lion’s share of the work. I also took the opportunity to use some left over glass to reinforce the keel near the bow, which was rubbed quite severely. I bought new stainless steel nuts and bolts to hold the venturi in place and sealed it with silicon sealant. By the following weekend Nifty Scarlet was ready to set sail once more looking none the worse for wear.


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