Sunday, December 14, 2014

Designer, Builders, Sisterships.

Allen Smith and Charles Shepherd at Smiths Boatyard Riverside Drive Whangarei NZ Circa 1984 
On the left in this photo is my late cousin Allen Smith the designer of the good ship 'Mariner'. On the right is Charles Shepherd the builder of 'Omega' of which 'Mariner' is a sister ship. Allen told me that he sold 12 sets of plans to the 'Omega' design.

It was 'Omega' that I saw in 1971 on a visit from Christchurch to Whangarei just before her launching. It was a design that I was encouraged to build by Allen. I cut out a lot of time and effort by simply making the molds for 'Mariner' from the lofting of the design that was already available. When the molds were completed I railed them back to Christchurch. In 1972 my parents shifted to Whangarei, which is where I eventually ended up in 1974 and the molds came north with me, much to the delight of the NZ Railways accountants.

Of the 12 sets of plans that were sold by Allen I know of only 5 boats built to the design. Their names in rough chronological order are:  Omega, Mariner, Starfire, Jasper and El Tigre.

El Tigre was the second boat built to the design by Charlie Shepherd. She was built in Airex foam and fiberglass. Charlie used most of my molds to make his second boat making 3 new molds where the stern sections had been widened by about 18 inches. El Tigre is lighter and faster than Mariner and during the time I was racing against her I never was able to finish in front. Apart from being an improvement on the original design she was always stripped out for racing where I have always carried a lot of cruising gear including 180 feet of good anchoring chain - extra weight slows yachts down when racing.
This is 'El Tigre', nicely built by Charlie Shepherd who was a great craftsman. But she never had the same ambiance as 'Omega' his first boat to this design which he built beautifully in wood.

This is 'Jasper'. She is from Auckland and I don't know much about her. From the photographs I have of her it looks like a nice job has been made of building her in wood.

This is 'Mariner' getting ideas above her station; parked in an expensive marina berth.

My cousin the late Allen Smith (1934 - 2008) , Whangarei (circa 2006) yacht designer and boat builder extraordinaire.

"Time and Tide waits for no man" shipmates. No one.


Ben said...

Hi Alden,
Very interesting boatbuilding blog. Can you explain what the differences are between how you build your boat and the “Airex foam and fiberglass” way. Is there another difference with the wood construction of the Omega? Are there any special features in the design with respect to the design year 1971?.

Alden Smith said...

My yacht is double diagonally planked. That is, two skins of 8mm kauri timber laid at right angles to each other. This planking was over 10mm square 'stringers' (fore and aft laid timbers). This planking was then fiberglassed with 6oz fiberglass cloth and resin.

'El Tigre' had 'Airex' foam (which is a closed cell polyester foam which comes in big sheets like plywood) laid over a mold. The sheets were fitted together and wired to the boat mold which was underneath the foam. The Airex foam sheets are flexible and are able to be flexed in multiple directions unlike a sheet of plywood. After the Airex is in place woven rovings of fiberglass cloth is resined onto the Airex foam to a well planned format (heavier in places of high stress, lighter in other areas.

After the hull is fiberglassed on the outside the whole hull is faired carefully, turned over the molds and stringers etc removed, the hull cross braced and then the hull is fiberglassed on the inside. The bare hull is then ready for decks / cabin / internal fitting out. -- lots of work. Charlie Shepherd rented a big shed on a local small farm to build El Tigre. The hull was Airex / fiberglass, the rest of the boat was crafted in wood.