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In Greenland

Iron Bark

Iron Bark
Under full sail


At Russell Boating Club's Tall Ships Regatta

Blue Water Medal

Blue Water Medal
Blue Water Medal

Books By Annie Hill

  • Brazil and Beyond
  • Voyaging on a Small Income

20 January, 2019

Russell Boating Club's Tall Ships Regatta 2019

Last weekend I took a break away from boatbuilding to attend the Russel Boating Club's Tall Ships Regatta, along with the junks Zebedee, Tystie, Blondie, Arcadian and Freebie.

I am also going to take a break from blogging about building a boat to blogging about sailing one. In truth, I just want to post a load of pretty pictures!

We couldn't have had a better day for the race, although at first the wind was so light we thought it might be a bit of a disaster.  However, it filled in at about F3/4 and we had a great sail.  A couple of months ago - it's a long story and I won't go into the details - Alan made a new rudder for Zebedee and it has completely transformed his sailing.  Alan took the tiller at the start line, but then handed it over to me, having a fond conviction that I can take his boat better to windward than he can.  Regardless, I certainly took Zebedee to windward better than I have ever done before.  He pointed right up, while still making reasonable boat speed and before long we realised that we were actually overtaking pointy-rig boats - bigger pointy rig boats at that - to windward.  Those who sail junk rig will understand just how gratifying this was: one gets so tired of being told that junks don't sail to windward!

We fair galloped round the course and had some wonderful tacking duals and personal races with several boats, all of which added to the pleasure.  The finish line was breathtakingly exciting as we sped along neck-and-neck with the incredibly fast gaff-rigged yawl, Shanty, beating him by a matter of feet.

At the prizegiving, Alan and Zebedee were awarded a very well-deserved second place.  However, the next day, our friend, Gary, noticed that the comparative times showed us 57 seconds behind Shanty, whereas in fact we were 3 seconds ahead.  When this was pointed out to the Race Committee, it became apparent that someone had done their sums wrong - hardly surprising in the rush to get the results sorted - and the final result is that Zebedee won the Tall Ships Race by 28 seconds on handicap.

Poor old Zebedee's handicap will take a hammering now, so I'll quit while I'm ahead and let someone else steer him next year!  Who knows, I might even be at the helm of my own boat, but far more likely is that I'll be on another friend's junk and maybe enjoy the whole spectacle instead of concentrating on getting the best out of the boat for four and a half hours!!

So here we are: lovely photos from a heap of people.  I hope I have all the picture credits correct.

Sorting out crew tactics at the start line. Arcadian in the background. 

Alan was also showing the non-junkies the ropes.  Literally.  (Colin Courtney) 

Milling around before the start.  With Alan at the helm we had every chance of making a good start.  (And did!)

Zebedee at the start line.

Colin and Gordon each assigned a sheet to pull in or let out as ordered! - Maren Prince. 

Tystie and Arcadian

Even among western junks there is a great variation in the rigs. - Roger Scott.


She is lost among the bigger boats, but holds her own. - RS
 Blondie and Arcadian cross the start ahead of Thalia - CC

Zebedee starts moving ahead - RS

R Tucker Thompson and Tystie - RS

 A convert contemplating a perfect sail.  Colin was impressed at how well  Zebedee goes with his cambered sails - and new rudder! - CC


I think the gaffer may be Undine, but am not sure. - RS

 Blondie, Rat Bag and  Arcadian - CC

The fleet starts to spread out: Shanty, Rat Bag, Arcadian, Freebie, Blondie and Tystie. - RA

Arcadian with Zebedee in the background - RS

Little Blondie shows the big boys how it's done. - RS

 Blondie blasting along.  Zebedee found her had to shake off for a while, which says something about this 20 footer! - RS

 Freebie with his new rig looking very jaunty -  Paul C Gilbert

 An enormous cruise ship gave use something else to think about.  Here Mason Bay and Freebie are trying to avoid the obstacle. - Rachel Alford.

Finally, Freebie  breaks free - RA

 Overtaken by several big ketches on a beam reach, we round Roberton Island and now running, start catching them up - RS

 And then passing them.  Zebedee is going like a train!

- RS

Wing-and-wong, Zebedee occasionally gets a real roll going. - RS

Zebedee approaches Tapeka Point. - RS

And once around we are having to work hard to fight of Shanty's challenge - RS

Shanty, such a beautiful little boat, is sailed superbly well by Jim, her owner. - CC

It was a close run thing, right to the finish line with one boat, and then the other drawing ahead.  A despairing cry of "Damn you!" came from her skipper as we crossed the line less than a boat's length ahead!  PCG

Alan, grinning from ear to ear, at the prize giving. - RS


06 January, 2019

Another year - more boatbuilding

Well, here we are comfortably into the New Year of 2019, and may it be a good one for everyone reading this.  I should like to think that my little boat will swim this year, but to be perfectly honest, I shouldn't like to bet too much on it.  So we'll carry on as before, one day at a time until the job is done.

The best news is that the New Year will see me starting a new project.  The interior is almost complete and I can get on to the decks at last.  That will be exciting.  It will also be very hot as I shall be laying them through the middle of summer in temperatures that will be in the 40°s C at the top of the shed.  However, if my usual progress is anything to go by, it will probably be winter by the time I finish and things will have cooled down.

 My last post saw me fitting the galley sink.  I then coated everything and have to say it looked rather magnificent!  I put this coat on immediately to stabilise the rather excitable tigerwood.

 I then sanded it all down again, and fitted wood plugs to all the screw holes.

 Finally I could start one of the real lolly jobs: putting down the cabin sole.  I've been looking forward to this.  The bits of masking tape have numbers on, so that the pieces all go back in the same place when they get glued down.

 Gluing the pieces in by the settee front was more than a little awkward, as I had to work under the lift-up settee extension. I decided to take the wood up the side of the boat - the white paint just looked out of place.

Screws out, glue cleaned up and everything sanded waiting for plugs to be fitted.

 I rummaged around and found some offcuts of tigerwood that were perfect for fiddles around the top of the drawer locker.  Oddly, the athwartships one looked too heavy and needed to be planed down to look right.

 I have spent a long time agonising about how to drain the sink and finally hit on the idea of a 'grey water tank'.  This eliminates holes through the hull, means I don't need to empty a container every time I use the sink and avoids a lot of pipework cluttering up the space under the sink.  I realise that this solution would not suit many people, but it fits in with my way of thinking.

 The water containers will live under the cabin sole, so the floor boards are effectively hatches, to give me access to the bilge.  In order for them to land securely, once they were cut down, I had to add some thickness to some of the existing floor bearers.

With everything cut to size, I could then start fitting the rest of the planking on the cabin sole.  I decided to fit the planks full length, running across each hatch.  Traditionally, the hatches would be framed, but I felt that would look far too fussy and, besides, the full-length planks look rather lovely.

 Everything was 'dry fitted' and all the pieces of wood were carefully marked so that they would go back in the right places and not get mixed up.

  Again, I covered the side of the boat with tigerwood, leaving white paint only on the stringer, which I think looks rather good.  I used paper to make a pattern

 and then MDF to make a more solid one I could fit accurately.

Finally, all the wood was fitted  and I could get down to gluing it down.

I took out all the hatches and put them on the table.  Quite apart from anything, it's about 5°C cooler down at floor level than it is in the hull, now that summer is well and truly here.  I added some microballoons to the glue mix, so that it is closer in colour to the wood.  Some of the pieces of wood needed a bit of persuasion to line up to the one next to them and occasionally there was a small gap that couldn't be straightened out, however hard I tried.

Then I had another big sanding session, followed by the cutting and fitting of no fewer than 420 tigerwood plugs.  My knees are looking rather the worse for wear after all this!

Because this part of the boat will have stuff spilt on it and a lot of foot traffic, I wanted to be 100% sure that there were no little crevices to trap dirt and go mouldy.  So I mixed up filler and went over the whole sole carefully, filling in every little hole I could find.  And then, of course, it all had to be sanded.  Again.

One major job left to do in the interior: make the saloon table.  You may remember that I mocked one up several months ago.  I got it out and dusted it off.  I tried it out.  It seemed too high.  I cut 50mm off the legs.  It still seemed too high, but everything I read told me that I'd already made it too low, so I daren't take off any more.  I hope it's OK.  I hate eating my dinner at chin level.

I pulled down some more tigerwood from the stack and cut it to length.

I assumed it is called tigerwood because of its stripey appearance, but have come to the conclusion it's because the wood goes wild as soon as it's unlocked.  Send it through the saw and it wriggles and wobbles all over the place.  Somewhat hopefully, I clamped the pieces to be glued into the table leaves, to saw horses to 'keep them straight'.

Then I glued them up and left them overnight to get used to the idea.

After sending them through the thicknesser one leaf was perfect; the other still showed a tendency to bow.

 I slapped epoxy on both sides as quickly as I could, clamping them flat again, each time.  Again, I left them overnight hoping that they would stabilise.  Once this is posted, I'll be taking the clamps off.  Fingers crossed that the tiger has been tamed!