Stop, think, sharpen pencils.

An Inanda projects post.

Sailing Inanda from her home port of Ipswich all the way around the south-east and south coast has been a testing but valuable time in that i have found out much that i need to know about her.  Early on i did consider doing some sailing over on the east coast and then having her craned and trucked over to my home yard in the Tamar but right now i am glad that i didn’t do that.  By the time we get home i will have done at least 500 miles sailing aboard Inanda in a good variety of conditions from east coast rivers, the Thames estuary and some tough conditions in the channel.   What you all might notice is that i have had to a few running repairs and quite frankly ‘bodges’ to get the boat as far as Poole, i don’t mind that at this stage but i’m also aware that my short term fixes mustn’t become long term solutions.   If anything i have had to fall back on my very basic level of craft/tool skills, the kind of thing that got us around the world in the Whitbread race and the cruising circumnavigation, but the project now needs a much smarter and more professional approach.


In Chichester i met up with wooden boat boatbuilder and boat owner Nick Gates who was incredibly helpful and generous with his time.  Even that short time with him has persuaded me to try and do my best to do a ‘proper job’.  The second influence here is that of Pete Thomas, Inanda’s former owner.  Pete is a very quiet, competent and unassuming guy who totally rebuilt his own Essex smack ‘Transcur’ from a total wreck. He says that we often don’t do things because of a lack of confidence but with a bit of ‘try’ and maybe a few mistakes made that we can get there.  Now i for one fully acknowledge that i’m not a competent and skilled woodworker but i also know that i improve quickly with practice. Aboard Inanda for example i have had to do a quick (and dirty) cabin/coachroof repair….pretty it isn’t but i now know from having done it once that i could do a better job next time.  With the frame repairs for example i bet that my first scarphs won’t be shipwright standard but iv’e got enough to do that they will improve as i do them…..note to self to do the less visible ones first !


There is another principle at work here.  I was very tempted at first to hand the frames job over to a professional boatbuilder like Nick for example or the crew down my way who built ‘Greyhound’.  That would be a simple case of draining my bank account , getting a nice job done but not learning anything from the process.  I would then have just played to my strengths which would have been working on the rig and making the boat look nice, although not the best i am a half decent painter/varnisher mainly because i am prepared to spend the time doing the prep-work.  I know enough now to understand that if i take on the harder jobs first, and specifically the ones that that i am not good at that i will put the effort in and even if it takes a long time and lots of mistakes that i will get there…..then when i come to stuff that i know i can do i will be ‘in the flow’ and working well.


Aboard Inanda last week i took a bit of time out to think about the total project and actually as a planned and prioritised one.  It was also the stop/go moment at which point i would either commit to doing a lot of work or deciding to do a quick tidy up and sell-on.   There is a lot of work to do to restore Inanda to full sailing condition and i will always be up against the problem of being an unskilled perfectionist.  At this stage in my sailing life it is enormously tempting to just go off cruising with what i already have (WABI”’ not having sold) or something equally simple to maintain and sail but i do want to have this one go at doing a difficult wooden boat project.  Part of that is the fact that i just like this old and ‘salty’ boat, last week when i took some time out i just relaxed in my bunk with a coffee and a book and really enjoyed just being ‘in the boat’.      The other angle is that i have done a reasonable amount of sailing for my age and within that done some things that very few sailors do get a chance to do and that to go off long distance might just have that ‘been there-done that’ kind of feel.     This project has the feel of an entirely new direction in my sailing life, not so much about the sailing as just trying to do a ‘proper job’ for once.

In parallel with these project posts i am also re-writing the entire small boats/big oceans concept,the idea of setting the Liberty up to go transocean…….but while realising that the next couple of years are more likely to be spent in a dusty shed rather than out beyond land.  I am of course also waiting for surgery myself, i even have a date now ! and that is a watershed moment of sorts.         With the blog i am trying to get a whole load of new posts ready and scheduled to cover the period when i am completely out of action,my intention is to use that breathing space to plan the work in detail and have a go at the first jobs that can be done before i pull Inanda apart.  If quite soon i make patterns for all the cracked frames i could go into production mode once i am mobile and have all the new frames ready to go. At that stage i might need professional help at first.   There will then i think be a horrible stage when Inanda’s lid will be off and her cockpit out when i will almost inevitably find more problems but by stripping back that far the actual work i have to do should be at the least more accessible.


At home i have several lists all developing quite nicely, firstly there is the total list of jobs, still getting longer, from last week’s visit i now have my own rig survey and measuring session which has created  a job-spec for each component of its modifications.  Right now i am working up the job stages plan for the combined cockpit, coachroof and frames job…that looks as though it all needs doing in a single project.  The final thing i am working up for now is the materials and tools list.  For the frames i know i am going to need lots of thin and straight grained oak and ash stock to laminate the new ones, the material for the deck beams and beam-shelfs , plywood, glue, batten stock etc.  Just on the tools side i need a whole heap of clamps for when i laminate the new frames, some new power tools and a specific bench to lay-up and jig the laminates.  Possibly i need to invest in a bandsaw.      I am already buying-in tools and materials, although not necasarily a huge priority i got home last week to find a very expensive cardboard box in the porch….just over £300 worth of new string

Oooh that’s nice…..but i have a thing about new rope !


The last thing i need to do before i bring Inanda back from Wareham is maybe to take the rig out once and quickly replace the critical blocks and halyards….in days past i would have just gone up the rig and done that but in this case i don’t trust a single halyard and neither do i have a practiced solo mast climbing technique sorted out.

Clare Thomas photograph.

Inanda Ipswich

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