And decisions were taken.
I thought it best to acknowledge, at the start of this post , that the Dayboat was a mistake and i now don’t think is what i want in a small sailing boat. I didn’t really get that until i started it’s refit and then spent a weekend working on and staying aboard the Liberty. Although i had 2 intensely cold nights aboard i was comfortable most of the time although some form of heating would have made it better. Just with jobs and work though the Liberty is so much easier to work on because i can mainly sit and don’t have to kneel anything like as much. For several months i have been stuck in a bit of a mental cycle of trying to prioritise jobs on both boats and so now, with the decision taken to sell the Dayboat, i can now completely focus on the Liberty again. I have one last problem to get past this year ie what happens with the car MOT , if that goes reasonably well then i can really concentrate on the Liberty full refit. One thing that happens as a result of not keeping the Dayboat is that i don’t need to keep such a powerful towing vehicle and that gives me many more options when the Pajero comes to the end of its working life.
I had a good weekend doing some basic jobs and while i was working i spent more time working up a complete master list of jobs for a complete refit. Most of the time with WABI”’ i have worked to my usual method of running a ‘defects and omissions’ page in my logbook and that is really just a normal everyday maintainance jobs list. That usually means getting jobs done expediently , away from base, so that i can keep sailing. That has worked for the 3 years that i have had the boat so far and i have completed some work during each stage of the cruising so far…..for example drying out to scrub in both the Fal and Fowey rivers and just recently in the Exe.
I do think that it’s time that WABI”’ got a thorough refit and in fact some actual modifications so my plan now is to get her back to my base in the Tamar, get her ashore when there is space available….at the moment i have to describe Calstock boatyard as ‘tins…sardines’ ! but that should change after Easter. I did almost contemplate a fast sail back from the Exe as i write this post : except that the ‘useful’ easterly will be blowing at about a predicted force 9 !. So maybe not. What i do intend is to get the autohelm fitted and go as soon as we get slightly warmer weather and more daylight even if the trip has to be on the motor. I should be able to do that in 2 long days with a beak in either Salcombe or Dartmouth.
I have to admit that i feel a lot more positive now where i know i am going with this. Although not the world’s most spacious ‘small’ boat, nor the best small sailing boat, it does do what it says on the tin and oddly i think it suits me and works for us as a couple. I did seriously consider putting both boats on the market this spring and then starting with a clean slate, i did even bid on a plywood Waarschip 725 (quarter-tonner) which would have had the speed and space but i would have then had other compromises to deal with. As it worked out that didn’t happen either so i am thinking along bikers lines of ‘run what ya brung’ which in sailing terms means ‘sail the boat that you have’ rather than what you daydream about. The Liberty does most of what i want, some of it quite well and some of it very well : it’s the boat’s weaknesses that i want to try and deal with during a major refit.
Anyway lets take a look at the first list of refit jobs taken straight from my notes and just edited into some degree of slightly less random order.
Hull and topsides. The GRP topsides really need a rub-down, cut and polish at the very least and really i think she needs painting now. That particular colour from Hunter is notoriously difficult to keep looking good so a paint job might be a better option than yet another session with the buffing paste. Hull job 2 will be to raise the boot-top a bit as i always sail her ‘heavy’ and she grows a beard around the waterline. I have seen a couple of colours that i really like and i can do most of the prep even with 2-pack. Although i am a tolerably good with a brush It might well be worth then having the actual paint sprayed on.
Rig. Is the big planned change. The basic Liberty isn’t a good upwind boat especially in light winds. They don’t have enough sail area so start with as standard and early boats didn’t have enough ballast. Early rigs tended to break. My boat has the sleeved masts and some more ballast so i can push a bit harder when i have to but i think that it’s best to accept the relatively low pointing ability with the cat-ketch and ‘lifeboat’ hull form and aim to get performance that is more like a gaffer…ie sail lower but sail with more boatspeed consistently. That i think means having more sail area but with a lower centre of effort. While it might seem a radical change i am thinking about conversion along these lines (junk and essentially a mini-schooner) from 2.30 in the video below.
I have been in contact with the owner of Alouette (John) who is a member of the owners association and we have arranged to have a call about his rig. The history as i know it is that both of his original masts broke and he then acquired the complete junk rig from the owner of a modified (German) Liberty that has done at least one transat but since modified that boat to a ‘conventional’ sloop/junk. Alouette certainly looks ‘sweet’ to my eye where the sloop version looks slightly wrong. Those readers who know me would probably think that this is a very strange direction to take given that i was all but born on the foredeck of an IOR quarter tonner !. If i go in this direction i will of course be posting a lot more about junk rig as i get my own head around it. I have always associated junk rig and small boats with a certain type of sailor, hard to describe except that they usually have straggly ginger beards and are called Eric !. Its probably best to realise that the junk is actually a standing lug and at one time that was the fastest and closest winded rig in the west-country. I am also influenced now by Roger Taylor’s excellent work with his modified Achilles and his extraordinary arctic voyages. For reference here is Roger Taylor talking about his version of the actual sail.
Nice to see that Roger is a keen city gardener as well.
Most days at the moment i spend some time with Blondie Hasler’s book (practical junk rig) as i work up the details. Some time , as i have said recently, i would like to cover the life of the late Blondie Hasler as he has also been a major influence on my life in sailing and of course sea-kayaking. Junk rig is anything but crude, from what i have learnt so far, and has a mass of subtle detail.
This week i made the first practical moves on this side of the project, which was to go find some tapered alloy tube of about the right size and section. There is nothing on the internet, the original masts aren’t made any more so there is nothing to just go out and start with. I had a useful, polite, but ultimately negative chat with the local sparmaker/riggers who had little idea of where to start. They fully admit that the industry can’t easily (therefore commercially) deal with requests like mine as ‘no standard option’ exists today. Nobody in the UK or Europe produces a boat with a small freestanding rig so no sparmaker has the tools to build a standard alloy tube. I did think seriously about Carbon and wondered if Carbospars still existed and apparently they don’t. Nowadays even Freedom rigs are only made in the US and they of course start out much bigger. One option might be to talk to somebody like Nigel Irens who has put fteestanding Lug on his ‘Roxanne’ and ‘Romilly’ designs.
I suspect that what i will be doing is designing and building a pair of wooden sticks !. Again and so far, it looks as though the best option might be tapered birdsmouth construction especially if i can get the specialist timber supplier to mill the birdsmouth groove on what would be 200 board-feet or so of the basic wood-stock.
For now the existing rig will get a normal inspection, tidy up and completion of the current work i am doing to get ‘all lines aft’
This has got to go !
‘This’ of course is the Liberty’s infamously huge heads compartment also known as the junk-locker (had to get that in !). Very early on in the project i took the marine toilet out as it was awkward to use and wastes a very large space in a small boat. A small amount of the bulkhead does support the centreboard case at the bottom and is probably stiffening the deck in that area. I have to different plans : first remove all the existing bulkhead except for the bottom 18 inches or so and add a post to the forward-inboard corner to tie the deck to the remaining bulkhead. Secondly to do a very nice curved cut-out which would leave the bottom and a narrow strip of bulkhead up the outboard side and under the deck…..probably sister that for stiffness. Both would basically open up that compartment for multiple use. The main thing to go in there will be a icebox/cold locker at the cockpit end then a general/dry food locker and possibly a space for a stove at the forward end. Recent use has suggested that having heating onboard would really improve my autumn and winter stays on the boat.
Heating….looked at before and most likely to be either the small propane stove or solid wood stove as earlier post.
Knock-on. This job will mean moving the electrics again and building a new primary switch-box but i know what i am doing with 12 volt wiring now so that’s not a big deal.
Deck safety and ergonomics.
This is the second area where i am having to do a lot of thinking.
The cockpit is great so i want to do as much work from there as possible, that principally means sail handling and anchoring. Sail handling should already be improved by my ‘lines aft’ project rather than having to move around the narrow and awkward side decks. The guardrails are next-to useless so i want to get rid of those and instead have something that i can get hold of more inboard. My current thinking is stainless steel frames at either side of the companionway with a grabline going forward and around the foremast. The framework at the companionway would also like to build and rig as a sprayhood/ hatch cover but on a fixed frame rather than pramhood style. It should also be possible to use the same rigid frame as a boom gallows. I would then like to have a similar frame at the aft end of the cockpit, behind where i normally stand, that could be linked to the hatch cover with a cockpit tent. Being able to sit in the cockpit under both shade and rain-cover will extend the living space enormously.
I have already cleared the stbd side of the companionway hatch (the winch is gone) so one of my first jobs will be to make some ply templates of the potential frame that side.
Port side is mostly clear. Aft frame would need to go across near the tiller line and could also mount an aft boom gallows. (or be a hinged one off the pushpit)
Have i mentioned a new engine yet ?….no
A few more things to think about here yet.