Friday, August 19, 2016
This particular canoe yawl (above) is the beautiful little 18 foot Nutmeg designed and built in the UK by David Moss. She is a modern build of the type and includes all the elements that make these little boats so enticing and pleasing to look at.
A brief history of the evolution of the canoe yawl which is inextricably linked to the Humber Yawl Club of the late 19th Century will be the topic of subsequent blog post.
Saturday, August 13, 2016
'The Canoe Yawl' is a fine companion to another older Lodestar Books publication - John Leathers, 'Albert Strange; Yacht Designer and Artist'. Needless to say I am voraciously devouring my new books contents. It's from its early pages that I have learnt that a third version of John MacGregors 'Rob Roy' canoe circa 1897 survives to this day as part of the National Small Boat Collection in the UK at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, at Falmouth. I didn't know that. (The Voyage Alone in the Yawl Rob Roy - 1865).
The second mystery relates to the photograph on the cover of 'The Canoe Yawl' . It is a mystery more easily felt if you have the book on your knee when you look at it, but you can get some inkling by looking at the above photograph. There is an immediacy about some old photographs despite their age or sepia tint. It feels as if the photo was taken yesterday. As I gaze at the light glistening off the water on the windward side of this little yawl designed by the gifted Albert Strange, time seems to dissolve. Yet the photograph of the little yawl 'Birdie' was taken in 1897.
Friday, August 12, 2016
I am pleased with the work bench renovation and now have a good solid work station to wile away my time on various projects of a nautical nature.
Spending time on something you love helps the mind to concentrate on only one thing at a time, its a 'mindfulness' exercise of sorts. It is meditative, absorbing and turns off the deluge of chatter that characterizes the 'monkey mind' that plagues our waking existence.
Tuesday, August 9, 2016
The question now is - do I paint the newly renovated outside workbench or leave it au naturel ?
Monday, August 8, 2016
Yesterday the last of the winter centerboard racing series was held at One Tree Point Yacht club, about three quarters of an hours drive from Whangarei on the southern side of Whangarei harbour.
The OTPYC is one of the nicest on the shores of Whangarei harbour being close to the water on a narrow headland with approximately 220 degree views of the harbour.
Most of the courses in this series have been windwind - leeward races only but yesterdays races contained a triangle. So the course was: Start - windward - triangle - windward - leeward - windward - finish. I like the triangle part of the course because the boat is broad leading and planing very fast - the problem is that a fast and efficient passing of the buoy requires a gybe, which is a precarious manoeuvre especially in high winds.
In the above selfie I have just changed into dry clothes after coming ashore. I have two big lumps on my head having been belted from gybing booms. I also have a cut hand after a spectacular capsize in the last race (how it got cut I don't know).
Luckily for this very cold skipper my brother Tony was at hand with a steaming cup of tea, having driven out in his camper van to watch the racing. He had passed the time watching the races and getting regular updates on the Olympics on his TV (hence the satellite dish) - I hope our Kiwi sailors in Brazil do better in their respective races than I did on the cold winter waters of Whangarei harbour.
The Starling dinghy I am racing has a recommended weight range of 50kg - 70kg and I am 90kgs + This fact has made me rethink the sort of dinghy I want to race in the coming years. I think I need a bigger centerboarder, one that I can safely gybe without having to wear a crash helmet. The NZ Zephyr class is looking most attractive at the moment. Despite my love of OK dinghies which has always been my preferred bigger boat option I have noticed some of the older OK skippers sailing out of Whakatere Yacht Club in Auckland wearing protective helmets - I know why. The NZ Zephyrs boom is quite high and would easily clears my head in a crash gybe - so maybe this boat is an option worth investigating.
NZ Zephyr Class Centerboard Dinghy
Tuesday, August 2, 2016
I first modified the table by fitting a small vise. But I found the bench far too low and awkward to use. Despite this I have actually done a power of work on it at the low height of 67cm ( 2 foot 2 1/2 inches).
The height of the workbench in my small workshop is 94 cm ( 3 foot 1 inch). I was going to raise the outdoor workbench to this height but I then remembered a chapter I had read in L. Francis Herreshoffs' book The Compleat Cruiser (Note the American spelling of 'Complete'!). In Chapter 2 Herreshoff provides a nice diagram of an amateur workshop and discusses many things including bench heights.....
"............. I used to do the planing of planks on the long bench, which is 35 inches high, like most benches, but you can certainly plane easier on a table 29 1/2 inches high. It is the general custom to have the top of the vise right at the height of a man's elbow, believing that one can file straighter and evener at this height, but I prefer a vise one or two inches lower than this because the work itself is generally held above the vise".
By simply using timber I had in hand I have compromised between the height of my small workshop bench and Herroshoffs recommendations and obtained a good working height that fits my own body height and way of working.
So the comparisons now break down like this:
Workshop bench height = 37 inches (94 cm)
Original unmodified outdoor table height = 26.5 inches (67cm)
New outdoor workbench height = 32.5 inches (82.5 cm)
Herreshoffs recommendation = 29.5 inches (74.93 cm)
This issue of heights may seem to some to be a trivial thing but I can assure you that if you are putting in hours at a time at a workbench then it's imperative that you make sure that the working height is comfortable.
Further modifications will be to provide some diagonal bracing at either end of the table to make the whole outfit as rigid as possible and the addition of some plywood shelves to hold tools and lengths of wood etc.