Maiden Voyage

This wasn’t supposed to happen but Signora was away in Italy, having her hair done, and I was at a loose end. So I thought “why am I here, I should be out sailing?” so I suddenly got the urge to go down to Dell Quay. The weather was perfect and the tide also, so there was no excuse.

It was a Monday, so parking at Dell Quay was easy, so taking the boat down with the Panda was a doddle. Before long, we were afloat! I’m afraid there are no launching photos, as my friendly photographer was away, but I managed to grab a photo on the iPhone as we approached Bosham – yes, a very brave first voyage, but it was no trouble at all.

Boudicca acquitted herself very well. A good turn of speed and very well balanced on the helm both upwind and down. I learnt how to take the tacks slowly, so the centreboard didn’t stall, and as long as you keep the boat moving, the centreboard bites fairly quickly.

Rather amusingly, on the way back, I almost ran over a swimmer off Cobnor point, and he asked me what the boat was. I shouted “a Morbic 12!” and he immediately said “ah yes, a Vivier design”. I wonder if I will track down the other Morbic 12 on the harbour, which Adrian Donovan had already told me about.

A lovely day on the water.

Official duties

Of course, before we can go sailing on Chichester Harbour, we have to pay our dues. We went down to Itchenor on one of the Harbour open days in the Spring, and while there were stands advertising and selling rubbish to those that wish to fill their houses with rubbish, we took the opportunity to call into the Harbour office to register for a licence. A one-off payment gave me a sticker which had to be affixed to the port quarter, hopefully the first of many……

….and we were ready to go. I was informed that to launch at Itchenor would entail a £5 fee each time, which I thought was a bit extreme in view of the fact you also have to pay for the parking, so I decided that Dell Quay would become our base. The only advantage of Itchenor is that you can launch at pretty much all states of the tide, whereas Dell Quay turns into a mudberth more than 2 hours either side of high water.

However, with some general awareness of tide times, I’m sure that’s manageable, even if it means being stuck at East Head all day waiting for the harbour to fill.

Covering up for winter

Let’s face it, I didn’t time this well. Finishing a boat just as the clocks change is not ideal, so Boudicca was going to have to spend the winter at home. I needed a cover and quick!

I was recommended by Chris Lintern at Shoreham to go to Cover Care who are based in Thornham Marina, just down the road from Emsworth. All I needed to do was get the boat down there, and they would make a fitted cover there and then.

Dave Hockaday was very helpful and, true to his word, I collected the boat with cover later that day. Just as well, as it was pissing down with rain.

Everything was perfect, including a snug collar for the mast where it passes through the transom, and a coverall for the stem.

The maiden voyage would have to wait until next year…….

Any excuse for a party

As we approach the end of the year, we celebrate the attempted destruction of the houses of parliament by Guy Fawkes by having a firework party on or close to November 5th. It seemed a good idea to turn that into a naming party too, as my chums from Shoreham Sailing Club were wondering why I was always covered in epoxy and paint!

I tooled up with some humungous fireworks, and the scene was set. It seemed a waste to smash a full bottle of sparkly, so I found a miniature in the cupboard to do the job. The contents still ended up over Bill’s trousers, but I see that as a good sign!

Fortunately, the brass stem band stood the test and no damage was done – thanks to Lisa, Bill, Mandy, Chas, Mandy and Ivan for encouraging noises. I suspect Chas has possibly got the boatbuilding itch. How long can it be before we have a fleet of Morbics at Shoreham!?

Finishing touches

The Classic Marine website is a dangerous place for the casual browser with a credit card, and I couldn’t resist the odd embellishment.

Here are some gratuitous photos of the finished article…….

Sail and rigging

During the build, I asked the great Michael McNamara if he would make the lugsail for Boudicca. Although he is renowned for his racing sails – he is our nemesis in the Hornet and Wayfarer fleets – I knew that he made sails for boats on the Broads, and had just done a set for a refurbished International 14 at Itchenor.

Made out of the same nice off-white cloth, it came with battens, reef points and tell-tales for a very reasonable price, considering it was a one-off from an A4 drawing!

This had to be lashed onto the spars, and the rest of the running rigging put in place. For the halyard and downhaul, I originally went for a traditional polyester which looked like hemp, but in practice, this was not a good move as the stretch was huge. To get a lugsail set properly, a LOT of halyard/downhaul tension is required, and a low stretch rope is a must.

Fortunately from my Hornet history, I had a bucket of blocks and fittings, so I found a nice ratchet block for the mainsheet, and some Harken ball bearing blocks for the rest. Dead posh!

Final turnover

With the underside of the hull finished, it was time to turn the boat over to finish the painting and brightwork.

Fortunately, as a result of another rash purchase of a small 10ft rowing/sailing dinghy for use on the canal, I had a handy road trailer which was forced into service.

The final painting job is the sheer strake in green, and varnishing the rubbing beads and any remaining brightwork. Again, don’t stint on the varnish – two-pot International is incredibly tough, and gives a good finish on well-prepared surfaces

The transom fittings were also added – I thought about using modern Seasure pintles for this, as the cost of bronze ones from Classic Marine was exhorbitant. But in the end, why spoil the ship for a ha’porth of tar, so I splashed out on the real thing, including gunmetal rowlock sockets and a couple of fairleads.

I ended up not making the oars from scratch as my friend Bill donated me a pair, which I tarted up to match, and they fitted in the stowage very snugly (see above). In practice, these turned out to be slightly too short, so I might revert to making them, as the material is in stock!

What’s in a name?

Boadicea is a Colchester smack, built in Maldon just after the Battle of Trafalgar, and still sailing today, in the hands of the Frost family in Mersea. That makes her probably the oldest sailing vessel still in use in Europe today! Strictly speaking, she is more like a Bawley, with a transom stern rather than the elegant sweeping counter you normally see on oyster-dredging smacks. At only 30ft long, she’s small by the standards of later boats, but well-proportioned nonetheless.

I was brought up in Mersea to the sight of Boudicea moored off the houseboats in Besom Creek, and I suppose the name stuck. I therefore chose the name Boudicca for my creation, preferring the less anglicised version of the name.

Boudicca was Queen of the Iceni tribe, based in Colchester (Camulodunum), and led an uprising against the Romans in AD60, when they reneged on a previous agreement with her husband Prasutagus. Colchester (allegedly the oldest town in England) was razed to the ground as a result and Boudicca died shortly afterwards.

The Victorians loved the story, and she became a symbol of British resistance, with her bronze statue standing opposite Big Ben on the Embankment in London, riding a horse-drawn chariot.

All that remains is to add the name to the transom, so I chose a suitably Celtic font and ordered up the artwork from Funky Monkey.

Again, the laser proved useful in getting it horizontal, and while at it, I added a piece of masking tape, to ensure the rudder fittings would be vertical when fitted.

Final touches to the hull

Once painted, the hull needs a few extra touches to complete the outside. A couple of brass half-rounds are fitted to the skeg and the stem, to make things a bit more hard-wearing……..

….and the drainage hole fitted in the transom

Before the final turnover, I thought it a good idea just to check the fit of the centreboard, and get the shockcord hooks in the right place inside.

I had thought about putting some slot gasket too, but let’s see how she sails before seeing if it’s really necessary.

Laser technology

Now, call me Mr Picky, but I hate it when waterlines are not straight or actually following the, er, waterline when the boat is afloat.

It’s particularly tricky with clinker hulls to get it right, especially when there is a sharp return under the quarter. Many choose simply to follow the clinker lines, which always looks like a cop out.

Now I suppose if I had lofted the hull from the plans, I could have marked out the waterline then, but I came up with a smarter way.

Assuming the upturned hull is levelled correctly (see use of Bekvam stools), then I used a builder’s laser level to project a line onto the hull, and then apply Frog tape along the line. I chose a waterline a couple of centimetres above that on the plan, so the white underside would be visible. This helps to make the boat look less tubby in the water.

Once masked off, the real painting can begin. White below the waterline, and grey above.