Tag Archives: builder

Edwin Schoettle on catboats, Gavin Atkin on what’s wrong with yachts and yachties

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Legendary catboat Silent Maid

Edwin Schoettle’s classic Sailing Craft published in 1928 is a fabulous big old book of nearly 800 pages – so I hope no-one will mind me posting a few of them. And perhaps my post will serve to keep the memory alight.

I’d like to explain why I’ve been thinking about the catboat lately.

I’ve complained for years that many yachties  motor or motor sail for much of the time and I’ve often wondered what the reason might be. Well, I’ve come to think that it isn’t laziness or a dislike of sailing. The reason why they’re reluctant to use their full sailplan is that they’re either sailing alone, or effectively doing so, and don’t want the fag of having to manage sails, winches and sheets as well as steer, navigate and keep a look out.  And because they’re not using their full sail plan their boats are slow without the help of its engine – and that’s why most yachties motor for much of the time.

Looked at another way, it’s because we’re using the wrong rigs.  Instead of the Bermudan sloop with a masthead rig, big foresail, winches and the rest, we could be using rigs that reduce the number of essential control lines to very few – the cat and the cat yawl.

Of course there’s a shortage of cat yawls outside of a few designers offering plans for relatively small boats aimed at the amateur builders, so I’ve been considering the experiences people have had with the catboat.

I’ve no experience with these boats and have no firm opinions to offer, but it’s interesting that Schoettle emerges as such a fan of the catboat. I’m inclined to think a modified form of catboat, perhaps one with the kind of capacious hull that’s long been normal in family cruising boats could be seriously useful to yachtsmen in the era of expensive fuel and growing environmental awareness.

Those who find it difficult to swallow the idea of the Bermudan sloop being replaced by a more old fashioned rig might thinking about the argument in a different way – instead of describing the cat or cat yawl rig of the future as being derived from historical yacht types or workboats, just think of them as big Lasers with heavy keels.

Read more about Silent Maid in a recent post at the weblog 70.8%.

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Our first half-million hits

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Thames Barges

Thames barges on the Blackwater – one of the first photos
to appear at intheboatshed.net

It feels a little funny when I think of it, but some time in the next two or three days in the boatshed.net will rack up its first half million hits.

Those with long memories will recall that this weblog began in a very small way at the end of 2006, and benefited early on from the support of various weblogs and online magazines, most notably Chuck Leinweber’s Duckworks Magazine and Tim Shaw’s Chineblog.

Ben Crawshaw’s wonderful The Invisible Workshop followed as did Chris Partridge’s Rowing for Pleasure, and so did a host more I won’t mention just now because if I do this post will become too huge for words.

We’re now all part of a community of interconnecting weblogs and online magazines, and I’m grateful to all of them both for their assistance in helping readers find their way here, and for the entertainment and interest they have given us in our household. If you come to this site and happen to land on this post, therefore, I’d like to suggest you take a little time to explore the sites and weblogs, as well as the rest of the intheboatshed.net blogroll.

But I have another request: please send me pictures and stories that you’d like to share! We’re particularly interested in old boats, traditionally built boats whether old or new, in boats that bear the influences of the past, in the history and culture of boating, in influential individuals and in alternative ways of enjoying boating rooted in the past. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a proud owner or not, or a boat builder or other boat related craftsman, or even if you simply have something interesting to sell. And the occasional story about a boat-related shed doesn’t go amiss either!

Finally, I’d like to pay tribute to my family and wife Julie, who has shown immense understanding and enthusiasm over a long period. I know that I’ve been very lucky to have their support and I hope they feel the result justifies the effort and time that goes into the inthboatshed.net project.

Reach me either at gmatkin@gmail.com or by using the intheboatshed.net contact page, which you can get to using the page tab above the title line.

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Motor launch Louise is ribbed out

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Louise gets her new ribs

Hampshire-based and Devon-trained boatbuilder Nick Smith has sent us some more photos of his current 16ft clinker-built motor launch project, Louise. This time he’s steaming and fitting her ribs, a process that would be recognised by boatbuilders going back many centuries.

‘Hi Gav

Louise is now ribbed out: the oak timbers, approxiamately 3/4  by 5/8in went in the steam box when steam was up, and cooked for the best part of an hour – the rule of thumb is an hour per square inch cross section, but it depends on the moisture content. ‘Green’ – almost straight off the tree – is best.

An hour and three quarters later we were done, including a beer break to put the second batch in the box.

The next job is to rivet all the copper nails , then gunl’s, risers, knees, breasthook and engine beds.

I went to the Beaulieu Boat Jumble yesterday and picked up, among other things, a period pattern matching pair of bronze fairleads, likewise a foredeck cleat, a bronze bilge pump and deck filler fitting, all to match the era of the design.

Thats it for now, more in a couple of weeks.

Nick’

Thanks Nick – I really like to see these projects progressing.

Click here for an earlier post about this project. If you don’t already know him, Nick comes from Devon and specialises in new builds in clinker and carvel for sail, motor and rowing power from 8ft to 28ft with a special emphasis on West Country style and design, and also takes on repairs and refits from 25ft to 50ft. He can be contacted by email at nick_smith_boatbuilder@yahoo.com and by phone on phone on 07786 693370.

For some photos of Nick’s boats at last year’s Beale Park Thames Boat Show, click here. Nick tells me he’s be at the show again this summer, so if you’re interested it might be wise to put the dates 5th-7th June in your diary…

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