Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Starling Project - Part 1

This was originally posted on 8 / 5 / 2014. I am now in a better position to take this project forward, so I have re - posted this and the next post to give better continuity to the story.

Well shipmates, it happened like this. A couple of years ago on this blog I posted a series of posts about the restoration of a small seven foot P Class yacht (The Cygnet Project). I have to say the whole process was a great joy, a sort of long meditation where I lost myself in sanding, painting, filing and fixing. The result was a pretty cute looking, thoroughly restored little yacht which sailed very well considering the load it was expected to carry i.e Me! But alas she is a bit too small and cramped, so I have been looking around for something a bit bigger. I had set my heart on restoring an OK dinghy class yacht which like the P Class I had sailed in my younger days. While I was looking around fate intervened and I ended up with a quadruple heart bypass operation and all the malarkey and post operative limitations that an event like that involves - So I decided to downsize on the OK dinghy and recently bought on Trade Me a nine foot Starling class sailing dinghy. The Starling was designed by the legendary New Zealand yacht designer Des Townsend as an intermediate class between the New Zealand P Class and bigger single handed dinghy classes such as the OK, Laser, Zephyr and Finn dinghies. They are popular in New Zealand with good competitive racing fleets.
This little dinghy is big enough for an average sized adult to sail easily without the kind of physical exertion that a larger sailing dinghy requires.
In my workshop I have just restored a large number of wooden chisels (Shipmates DON'T use them as screw drivers or for mixing paint as it quadruples the restoration time) some wood planes and other equipment ready for this dinghy restoration.  I have to say I am very pleased with myself for restoring all these tools. It has been a lovely long meditative task specially designed to please old Mariners like moi with dodgy tickers.

Here she is after surviving being driven home on a hire trailer all the way from Auckland. In very good condition you can pay over NZ$4000 for a Starling. I won the online auction for this one for NZ$430 which is about one tenth of the new cost - BUT as you can see from the photographs there is a reason for the low cost.

When I took to the paint with a heat gun I immediately had large areas of the ply veneer bubbling up all over the place because of the super heated steam from the wet plywood. In the photo (above) the dark stain at the side of the deck has been made by the ingress of water over a long time - I think this little boat has been stored outside and the rainwater has slowly saturated the hull. Similar saturation on the sides of the hull have caused some spots of rot in many places around the sheer of the boat.

So the minimum amount of work at this stage is a completely new deck. The maximum will be the complete replacement of the hulls plywood sheathing. I think it's going to be a bit scary to see this little boat reduced to something like the skeleton of a beached whale, but I have found out surgically that if you want to fix stuff you just have to get to the heart of the matter. So whatever needs to be done will be done. Its a nice manageable job with the future prospect of some great sailing. Small yacht restoration is a very, very satisfying activity for obsessive yachtie aficionado types such as me   - so I am happy with this small restoration for the time being - BUT - There is a Magnum Opus yacht restoration looming on the horizon, looming like the clear bright light from a lighthouse on a dark moonless night in winter - more of that another time.

No - I haven't forgotten the Magnum Opus restoration either - it's waiting in the wings, but first things first.


Ben said...

It looks nice under your carport. Expecting a long winter looking at the firewood or is the shed full of other things? Sailing a Starling in heavy waters must have been a challenge. The smallest boat I sailed in was a Schakel, loa 4.7 meter.

Alden Smith said...

Not as challenging as sailing a P Class (2.4 meters) in a big sea! Small yachts are a bit like corks, as long as you can keep them afloat you are safe - although in big seas, the breaking waves can stop progress and in very bad weather a small yacht will not be able to make any progress at all to windward.

The firewood always goes in the carport, it is dry there and its handy to the back door. We have started having fires at night as its getting colder - the woodburner has a large glass window in door so you can see the flames - nothing nicer or more comforting on a cold winters night.