Better out than in

The Largs chainsaw massacre is nearly at an end.
In addition to removing the deck aft of the cabin, cockpit floor and sides, several deck beams and cockpit floor supports have also been taken out ready for replacement with new oak beams.
A repair involving a c-section channel bolted to the beam shelf has been removed, it was not an elegant piece of work but stood the test of time and allowed a repair to take place without removing all the deck. It may have been in place for 15 or more years. Replacing the deck will allow a new deck beam to be half dovetailed into position. Below this repair the starboard quarter planking has been repaired with strip planks fastened to the frames with stainless steel bolts, again not an elegant repair but it has worked and will be left undisturbed. A purist would have clenched full size new planks in place but I need to get sailing this season and Crunluath is not that classic a classic yacht!
The next move is to clean up the mess, take the opportunity to replace and repair various items like the cockpit drain, the aft end of the exhaust and remove the now redundant bilge blower, a remnant from petrol engined days. A mysterious heavy duty bracket to the starboard side of the engine has proved immovable without seriously heavy duty force so it will be coated with anti rust and left to baffle the next owner!
A plan to replace the cockpit lockers’ side access with easier to use top access has been considered as this would allow me to create a watertight cockpit. This will have to be decided upon as soon as the new deck beams and cockpit framing are in place.
Owing to the 125 miles between the boat and my home much of the work will be prefabricated at home so large numbers of measurements have been made, photographs taken and old pieces removed for patterns and measurements.
There is undoubtedly a good deal of satisfaction to be had from taking out the rotten timber and delaminating ply, even if unexpected nastinesses are discovered! Better out than in I say.

A boat with a lid on


Crunluath is a Honey Bee class sloop, designed in 1958 by A.K.Balfour and built in 1965 by William Boag of Largs. We acquired her in November 2002 and began to explore the Clyde during 2003.
Crunluath is Gaelic for the fast bit of a bagpipe tune, her previous owner suggested this was a play on words for a fast lady (a fast piece) At the time I said I hoped she was not too fast for us! However the Honey Bee design is a well behaved boat, able to look after herself and the crew in a blow and capable of a suprising turn of speed for an old lady,especially to windward.
After twenty years of racing dinghies and latterly a Flying Fifteen my wife suggested we get, a boat with a lid on. After a lifetime with wooden small boats I thought it sensible to get something a bit less time consuming to maintain. Despite my best intentions the feel of real tree wood and the intoxicating smell of Le Tonkinois varnish lured me into Crunluath’s clutches! Living 125 miles from my boat and attempting to carry out maintenance outdoors in Scottish west coast winters have not made it easy but the admiring comments and the friendly banter with some of Crunluath’s former racing crew members have more than compensated for such minor inconveniences as near frostbite and travel exhaustion.
Currently she has no deck aft of the cockpit, forty year old ply has at last got to the end of its life and a botched repair to a broken deck beam (the result of a port and starboard incident in a race long ago) has rotted away the oak. Still better out than in I say-it’s too late anyway now, the deed is done and there is no way forward except to rebuild the cockpit and deck.
Watch this space for the next (doubtless frustrating) instalment!

Boats as Therapy


We were crashing into steep short waves sailing past Black Rock in Falmouth Roads. Racing in the class had been abandoned for the day, we were cold, wet and fed up as Pampero, our Flying Fifteen nose dived into nearly every gray wave crest. My bedraggled wife turned her back on the seas coming over the foredeck and said,
We’ve got to get a boat with a lid on, we are getting too old for this.
A family legacy had given us some spare funds and with retirement looming for both of us we went on a tour of Scottish marinas and boatyards looking for a sensible little cruiser. We found her at Largs, an admirable Hunter 26. We got the key and went aboard. It was thoroughly depressing, neglected, uncared for and overpriced. We mooched back to the office and handed over the key. A photograph of a handsome wooden sloop caught my eye, I had seen it earlier on the sales office web site.
Later as we drove home I kept saying,
I can’t take it on it will be far too much work to keep it looking good. A wooden boat is for life not just for Christmas.
But if it’s what you really want it’ll be worth it, came the reply.
So now I am part of Crunluath’s life, five years of blood, sweat and fingernails full of varnish.
Moyna and I shared four of those five years before the cancer returned. She took what was to be her last sail with me in July 2006, a short gentle trip in the Largs channel.
A few times during my wife’s final stay in hospital I escaped to my boat, travelling late in the evening after hospital visiting time to spend the night and a few hours the following day aboard Crunluath. Sometimes a brief early morning sail was possible, on other occasions just a bit of pottering around fixing bits and pieces, a never ending task for wooden boat owners.
Plans to sail north or across the North Channel to Ireland in 2007 did not materialise, the motivation was just not there.
There’s always another season to prepare for and Crunluath is in her 43rd this year. In a fit of rash enthusiasm I have begun to tackle a job that my surveyor suggested should have been done five years ago! Replacement of the deck aft of the cabin. This turned rapidly into a “chainsaw massacre” and I have ripped out the entire cockpit. So all I need to do now is rebuild it!