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Findochty Water sports Club
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The build (part 2)
April 2015 WE are now on to the details of the Skiff. The main hull is complete and we need to add the bits that make it work. First on the list was to attach the outer gunwale. Some build groups use Oak or other hard woods but we opted to continue building with the very nicely close grained Siberian Larch that we sourced for the Hog and Keel. We laminated this Larch for the stem and stern but for the gunwales we could use solid timber cut to  3/4 inch thickness. This was cut, epoxied and clamped over a couple of nights and once the clamps were removed the hull was noticeably stiffer. Meanwhile our “Rudder meister” was making progress with shaping the rudder and by the end of the month the pintles had been manufactured in stainless steel and attached to the hull and rudder. The tiller is still being fettled at the month end but should be completed shortly. The tiller is quite sophisticated. Most builders opt for a simple T-bar with tiller ropes attached each side but we are producing a wooded tiller with a dog-leg to take it down the side of the coxwain. It will be able to be fitted either to port or starboard depending on which way the race course directs the skiffs around the turn markers. We have also started to manufacture oars. These will also be made from Siberian Larch. depending on the look once they are finished they will either be painted or varnished. Back with the hull we then started on the inner gunwales. There are two ways to do this. one is a solid gunwale, of two strips of 3/4 inch timber, with slots for Thole pins or rowlocks. The second way is to have the inner gunwale solid and the part next to the hull made up of six inch lengths with gaps the same between them. This gives a very traditional look, although I would imagine painting would be a nightmare. After a bit of discussion we decided to go for the solid option on top of which we will mount a solid capping. This was duly completed and the next job was to attach the tops of the frames. The frames have been attached since almost day one, but the tops cannot be attached until the gunwales are complete. This in theory should be a glue and clamp job, but there was a fair amount of fettling to get a close fit. This was obtained after a few man-hours and glue and clamps were secured. The final job of the month was the capping for the rowlocks. These were made from solid Oak to an estimated fit before being fettled to the contours of the gunwales. A good fit was obtained and the rowlock cappings were glued and clamped. Discussions now have turned towards seating and foot rests. Progress indeed!
Click on the video above to see a big event in the Skiff build. The first time the hull was turned over.
May 2015 May found us with the major part of the Skiff complete. We were now on to detailing. The first detail to go on was the capping for the Gunwales. These were made out of the Siberian Larch and were glued and stainless clench nailed in place. We are starting to think about what the paint finish will be and we have decided to clear varnish the cappings. When the cappings were fitted we then faired them up to the gunwales with planes for the outer curves and spokeshaves for the inner. This was another one of the jobs that,at first sight, didn’t look as if it needed doing but took a long  time to do and looked much better when it was finished. There are lots of small individual parts to be made now and individual members of the build group just find a project and get on with it. A lot of care and attention was put into making knees for the bow and stern. (or are they breasthooks?). A trial seat was made with a notch cut into the edge for the frame to fit, but this will be modified to be a broader seat with a slot in the centre of the ends to fit the frames as it was decided this would be stronger. We are also building in braces fastened between the frames that the seats will rest on which should make the seats stronger and the boat stiffer. There were gaps between the tops of the frames and the gunwales but these have now been filled with nicely shaped pieces of larch which are good to look at as well as functional. One of the most satisfying jobs to be started in May is making the oars. These are also made from Siberian Larch cut to 3”x 3”. The blades are made by glueing extra extra larch either side of the main timber before everything is shaped. Where the oars meet the row-locks they will remain 3” x 3” square section, but the rest is shaped by spoke shave into  a round shaft with a nicely shaped blade, which will be flat to comply with the regulations. Above the square section the spoke shaves were used to shape an oval shaped  double hand grip. When they are finished they will be varnished down to the blade, which will be painted. The oars will have to be made in different sizes for different rowers, so we shall be making a few more than is needed to row the Skiff. Other builders have gotten around this by using thole pins and having a number of different holes  in the oars to “change the gearing” but this makes for an ugly oar so we have decided to put style over function at the cost of a few extra oars. I think we have made the right decision.
June and July 2015 During June and July progress was less evident. As all the major construction was finished the changes were harder to spot. Scraping and sanding was a good fall back for those at a loose end but there was some construction to complete. The tiller has been constructed so that it can be either port or starboard side fitted. This will give extra steerage for port or starboard turns, depending on which way courses are set. The set up worked well but the tiller could drop down the rudder which reduced steering angle badly so a large dowel was passed through the rudder to stop the tiller dropping too far. We had heard from Portsoy that they had problems with planks being sprung due to crew walking on them when the skiff was aground. To prevent this we decided to make duck boards to spread the loads. These are work in progress as they may lift the rowers feet too high when rowing. They may not be right first time for rowing but they do look good. Most of the work still to be completed will be cosmetic so we have more scraping and sanding to look forward to. So far we have the outer hull painted in white pre-cote and the top plank painted blue. Even though these are only undercoats they really show off the lines of the skiff. We have also decided to order a new road trailer as the funding included this and we are within budget.
August 2015 The final push was made in August. In a fifteen day period the build crew did the last bit of fettling before painting inside and out with the finish coat of paint. All that remained to be done was to extricate the Skiff from the building bench. To make room to move, one of the temporary benches was dismantled to allow us to thread it between the many room supports. It’s new resting place was the road trailer. The last work night was a short one. We looked in to the best way to tie down the Skiff and that was about it. We then felt free to admire, the soon to be name, Morag. Almost immediately talk turned to the next build. This will be a kit already ordered for the Three Harbours Sea School, in Cullen. Then, if interest in rowing is there, we plan to build another for Findochty Water Sports Club. Until then the next project is to hone our rowing skills.