Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Alea iacta est.

Alea iacta est is attributed to Julius Caesar and translates as, "The die is cast," and so it is with me: I bought the wood for the building jig today and it arrives Friday morning.

Cutting List
12 off Sheets Sterling Board   8' x 4' x 3/4"
  3 off   planed softwood         5" x 2" x 16'
  1 off  planed softwood         5" x 2" x 12'
 8 off planed softwood          3" x 2" x 16'

Which brings me to my second saying for the day, "I've crossed my Rubicon." 

Julius Caesar Crossing The Rubicon  (from the film Quo Vadis)

Which was what Caesar was doing when he said that the die was cast (according to the bard).

So, after all that waffle ......... there's no turning back now, the journey begins. 

 The last boat I built was in 1955 which, to save you counting on your fingers, was exactly 70 Oooops 60 years ago (thank you, Julie, for pointing out my miscalculation. It looked exactly like this (which I copied from

I have the tools and the self-confidence (my wife reckons I'm still a teenager) so it's playtime!


I shall keep a running total of costs, which may be of use to others when they are making feasibility studies.

Note. UK cost includes 20% tax. This 20% is carried across into the US$ cost as well.

                                                  £                 (US$)

Plans                                         75               (114)
Timber for Building Jig          355.15         (542)

Monday, 26 October 2015

Nearly Ready!

Well the Workshop is really and finally finished; I put the glass in the windows last week.

I've got rid of the jobs that need doing: sanding down and French Polishing coffee and dining tables; finishing the garden (yard) - don't forget we only moved in a year and the garden was a bit 'bombed-out'.

Now emptying the garage  boathouse into the new workshop in order to make room for the boat build.

Gale blowing, horizontal rain off the Atlantic ... just the weather to be boat building ... not boat sailing!

The Fishguard to Ireland Ferry having a rough arrival at my 'front door'

I shall order the first batch of timber for the building on Wednesday and hope to get it by Friday ...fingers crossed! 

Monday, 12 October 2015

Watch This Space....

I hope to be ordering the wood for the building jigs & moulds (molds) towards the end of this week. I see that OSB Sterling Board

is cheap this month £18 (US$26) per 8' x 4' board. This is what I shall use for the moulds. I thought I should hunt around for an image of a building jig & moulds for non-technical visitors and here it is.

I've been striving to get all the outstanding tasks completed before starting the boat. I still have to fit the glass into the workshop windows, get the rest of the flower beds planted and do some portraits; see my other blog <link to portraits>

Wednesday, 7 October 2015


Fifty years ago Sheerness was generally declared by naval officers to be the most God-forsaken place on the face of the earth. There was no railway to it, and the only way of getting at it was by crazy little paddle-steamers from Chatham. The town itself was mostly composed of wooden hovels built of dockyard chips [chips are pieces of scrap wood produced in shipbuilding]; for in the old days - the very old days - the shipwrights were allowed to carry out of the dockyards, when they went home at night, the chips they had made during the day - partly to clear up the litter around the building slips and partly as perquisites, for firewood; but the indulgence had to be stopped, as it was found that they made an abnormal amount of chips, quite out of proportion to the finished article, and that the chips got bigger and bigger, until at last they were able to build houses with them. And thus it came about that the district known as ''Blue Town,'' where most of the dockyard workmen lived, was a collection of clinker-built houses built of dockyard chips; the term ''clinker'' or ''lapstrake,'' indicating, in technical language, that method of boat-building most commonly in use where one plank laps over the next one.”
Admiral Penrose, 1903
I grew up, in Blue Town, in one of those wooden 'chip', clinker-built, houses. One room up, one room down. No electricity and no running water in the house.

We used a kitchen-range for heating, cooking and just about everything else. My job as an eight year-old was to keep the fire burning and for this I took to beach-combing. Here I would find modern day 'chips' washed ashore from the Dockyard next door. My territory was three miles long and here I fought pirates all day long, along my Spanish Main!

One of those ‘Crazy little Paddle-steamers’ Admiral Penrose referred to (circa 1850)
   On the right the Dockyard; between the Dockyard and the pier lies ‘Rats Bay’. To
      the right of the pier was my Spanish Main – three miles of cobbled shoreline.
 It seemed a natural course of events then that I should enter the Dockyard as a shipwright apprentice and, in my turn, make 'chips'. By the same chain of events, albeit there is a 56 year globetrotting gap, it seems logical that I should now once more build a boat and again produce .....    chips!

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Life In the Plate Shop

On the photograph below, the Plate Shop is the large grey (gray) building in the distant left below the jib of the crane.

On the ground floor were the machines machinists and welders that made the replacement plates for the ships in the dry docks.

On the second floor ventilation trunking for the ships was made. Also up here was the Second Year Apprentice Training Centre. The man in charge was Fred Davis, he had a very pronounced limp which earned him the nickname (behind his back) of 'Gimpy' Davis.

The Working Mast House in this drawing, was the Plate Shop during my time in the Dockyard

 Here we made brackets and small metal work 'jobs' for the shipwrights afloat. The shipwrights would make working drawings of their requirement on thick red card, which they brought to the foreman of the Plate Shop. He would determine which work came up to us apprentices.

We were in the Plate shop for six months. The second six months of our second year would be spent back in the boathouse learning how to build wooden boats.