Friday, 26 February 2016


I had no idea when I stopped working on Seagull that it would be months until I resumed play work again.

We had visitors on and off from November to January. They came from Yorkshire, Australia, America and Dubai. Which took a lot of my time as it was Christmas. 
   People often ask why a pair of old-timers like Pat and I need such a big house? Now you know, but don't tell, keep 'em guessing.

My last post was two months ago to the day.  Ever since, between the pair of us, we've cornered the market in illness ... hospitals the lot, but let's no dwell.

I finished removing the mould (molds) from the strong-back, cutting them in half, butt-strapping (no laughing in the US please) them back together and re-fixing them to the building-jig. To remind you, this is so that I can take them apart and thus remove them easily when they are covered in the planking - otherwise they get jammed in situ.

I then finished off cross-bracing the moulds to stop them moving about.

Next up I spent ages making sure everything was lined up accurately, you know the sort of thing: spirit levels, plum-bobs and string stretched along all the moulds from bow to stern (front to back).

They say a painting is only as good as the drawing beneath it and the same applies here. The hull will only be as good as the 'jig' it's made on and I was happy(ish) with that - you can never be totally happy with curved surfaces and very few straight edges. In the Dockyard where I was an apprentice they used to say, Engine fitters work to the nearest thousandth-of-an-inch, Electricians to the nearest ohmn and Shipwrights to the nearest ship. Not true of course!!

 Then I fitted the hog. This is the part of the keel that lies inside the boat - the inner-keel as it were.
The hog is to be laminated in place. Here I have to glue two pieces of timber together with special maritime glue, which I ordered today from Robbins Timber. When the glue arrives next Tuesday we can discuss it. 
   Anyway, back to the hog; I'm laminating two piece of Douglas Fir (love the stuff) about three inches wide and each a 1/2 an inch thick - to give a one inch total thickness.

Here you can see the hog running along the top of the photo, remember the boat is being built upside down and from the inside out - don't worry you will see it develop over the months and understand). Can you see the notches in the moulds at that top of picture that hog sits in? Below the notches are short pieces of wood I screwed the hog to.

One advantage of fitting the hog is that it ties all the mould in place and stiffens the whole structure.

The next move was to crew small blocks of wood to the moulds as shown below.

Although these blocks are at the bottom of the picture they will be at the top, at the gunwale (pronounced Gunell).

These blocks allow me to attach battens right around both side of the boat.

  Notice the modern blue clamps £10 for two (US $14). Never thought I would forsake my own beloved clamps & cramps that I made aged 15 in the first year of my apprenticeship.

This modern type of strip plank building my clamps aren't really suited to: they mark the narrow strips wood and aren't flexible enough. The new clamps can be used one-handed, useful when your working on your own, have soft pads to protect the wood, and flexible. They won't last the 52 years (and counting) mine have.

The battens around the gunwales and the hog help keep the whole set up rigid. Please note the piece of specialist equipment called a pillow  - essential for kneeling  on.


  1. Good to have you back and with an excellent post too. I learned a lot. Wish I had someone I could show off my new knowledge to, but pretty landlocked here. Only thing I see floating on water is my rubber ducky at bath time!
    Glad you use a pillow...knees are especially sensitive to hard floors. They get their own back if you don't take care.

    1. Hi Julie - I'll get back on the art blog and visit friends as soon as I can.
      I can't walk around with those knee-defenders strapped - so a pilloe each side of the boat does nicely. Look forward to the portrait of the rubber ducky.