Sunday, 16 December 2012

Building Again - a new Junk is being born.

Well I thought we were heading south to go on Holiday! We seem to have been too late in the season for getting much further south than the Uk - sure we could have but it would have been a rush down the European Atlantic coast and the weather systems were never looking great for the Biscay area so a few battering's were going to be inevitable , no thanks Mr gale.
While we were hanging around Falmouth various fishing lines were dropped in front of us with some very tasty bate that we could not resist. We took the bate and were hauled directly into Bristol docks.

I am working for Tim Loftus (  I arrived just as Tim was popping out over two tons of lead from a steel mold for the ballast on a new 25foot sailing boat.
Tim has designed the boat himself for Tim Start. Tim carved a half-model then lofted this full size on 8x4's which now form the side of the temporary shed we are building in. The rig ... wait for it ..............yes it's goiing to be a Junk Rig . perfect.
The construction is very traditional - oak backbone and frames with Larch planking (Carvel). not a drop of epoxy anywhere  . err.. maybe on ply deck.
 It gets more interesting as Tim Start has a woodland in Shropshire where all the timber has been taken from and he is very involved with the building of his boat too. So,  at the end of the day he will have basically grown and built his own boat . This is living the dream.  The new boat will be called Cubbage  Wood,
We have now finished the backbone and are hoping to get all the frames steamed in by Christmas. The pictures should show more about the construction than i can explain. Pictured on the left is the stern post fastened through the wood and lead ballast keel.

Here is a nice picture of Tim Start admiring his lovely new boat 'Cubbage Wood'. To the right you can see some of the larch stacked up ready for planking and the temporary molds are in position showing the outlines of a fine ship.
To add to the good work we are still afloat - living on a narrow boat in the docks. Charlotte has a great studio in the city center - see
Hestur is patiently waiting for our return in April/May2013 in Falmouth Harbour.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Lands End, Lizard , Falmouth.

Well lots has been happening, sailing, biking, sunning, storming (round the Lizard..!) we ended up leaving the boat for about a week on the Menai Staits (Thanks to Denise for kind lend of mooring). We had a very fine time here where Erle and Carloe watched over the boat when we were not there as well as entertaining us when we were, thanks so much. More friends Di and Paul also were very hospitable feeding us and taking us to local music session, great times. 
We visited my parents in Shropshire where we collected our latest ebay indulgences - Brompton folding bikes. O yes . A pair of them.
 Once I had welded up a seat post extension and oiled the chains we were ready for their first test ride of 65 miles. 
Timing had been perfect to join in the first day of an 800+ mile ride to Turin ending up at the ‘slow food festival‘ 
The ride has been organized Maddy Corbin (my brothers Partner) in memory of a dear friend Philippa Corbin, and to raise awareness of depression. A very worthy cause - please look up to fine out more.  a few days ago all thirty cyclists (including ma Mum and brother) finished the ride including  over the alps (you cant avoid these!) and battling headwinds (sounds like sailing). The biggest well done to you all for the ride and raising all that money for the ‘Charlie Waller Memorial Trust’ and ‘The Human Givens Foundation’.   
The Brompton bikes coped very well for the first day of 60 odd miles winding up and down through the lovely Dorset countryside from Axminster to Swanage. We are sure they are going to be fantastic for exploring ashore from the boat - we had some great rides around Anglesey never mind just nipping out to the shops (minutes by bike hours by foot).

Anyway back to Sailing the junk. We left the Menai straits on the 21st october heading south. It took 48 hours and 200nm to get to St Ives Cornwall (nice round figures arnt they!)
We had thick fog and not much wind for the second part of this. Also dolfins following us for 8 hours during the night (about 20 of them) amazing as great fosferesents (sp) made them sparkle. Also poor garden type birds joined us for hours at a time lost at sea in the fog. 
We anchored off St Ives for the afternoon and went ashore for a pasty yum. In the morning we set off on a favorable tide for rounding Lands end. We decided to push on and get around the Lizzard and in towards Falmouth. We had a f6 headwind (NE) so it was a long rough battle through the night around the Lizzard. We finally picked up a visitor mooring on the Helford river at 8am and went to bed. We had a day or two exploring the delightful area around Halford. 
We met a friend of a friend, Tim, on board his junk rigged boat ‘Santiana’ which he is currently trying to sell as he is building a new junk with trees from his own woodland with Tim Loftus, a boatbuilder friend of ours. Small world. I hope we will see him again In Falmouth to talk some more junk! 
Another short day sail into another strong headwind up to St Mawes where we dropped anchor. Its free to anchor here which was a nice surprise even though we were asked to move a few yards for some reason. Very friendly harbour staff.
Goiing across to Falmouth this afternoon where there is lots to see and do.
We have now got to plan the next stage of our voyage - we are real late in the season now for heading further south (across Biscay) so we are looking at various possibilities ...........

Tuesday, 9 October 2012


A bit of a late start but after what seemed like weeks of preparations we have finally set sail south.
We left Ullapool on the wednesday 3rd October, had a great sail down and inside of Skye - going under the Skye bridge at around midnight then running through Kyle Rhea (at 9knots!) under moonlight. priceless. We then anchored until daylight in Sandaig Bay.
Next day was headwinds so we bashed on to the isle of Eigg and anchored in the Bay of Laig (NW side). From here we sailed none stop to the Isle of Man (200 nM) in two days two nights. Goiing outside of all the islands (Mull, Islay etc) and then running down into the North Channel skirting northern island and out into the Irish sea.. We picked up a slightly dodgy mooring, 5am Sunday, (the pick up immediately broke off!! apart from that it seemed good) in Port St Mary on the south end of the island. After a few hours sleep Charlotte and I went ashore and had a very nice day wondering about (got steam train to Douglas- really felt like we are on Holiday!)
Yesterday (Monday 8th) we had a great sail south to Anglesey - North Wales. We ran a few miles down into the Menai Straits in the dark from the north east end and dropped anchor just off Beaumaris.
Just woke up to a beautiful morning with the sun rising behind the Welsh mountains, now waiting to get the tide through the Swellies to pick up a friends mooring for a few days while we visit friends and family.
Everyone says that the hardest thing about going cruising is getting away - I think i can totally agree with this - especially if you are starting off with a brand new boat - my list of jobs to do and finish (on Hestur) seemed endless in the last few weeks and took up most of my time - packing my bags only took a few hours! Charlotte probably had the hardest job of packing up / moving out of our little house where we were staying in Ullapool so i could spend the time getting the boat ready...
Everything is working well - the new Tender floats and fits perfectly on the fore deck - Also a dream to row - thanks so much John! The self steering works well and has steered us just about all of 350 nM in a wide variety of conditions (not always good ones!) Thank goodness for that as it was very untested.
Top photo taken just off the Small Isles when we were joined by pod o Dolphins.
Bottom picture Taken by Reiner Luyken as we sailed out of Loch Broom Ullapool. Thanks for that - great picture taken from the Ullapool - Stornoway ferry as Reiner returned from a great trip across the Minch in a open Boat.

Moor soon...

Monday, 17 September 2012

Baby Tender

 Our good friend John has been building us this fine new tender. The plan is that it will sit between the foremast and the forward bulkhead of the main cabin. It will also cover up the fore-hatch/skyelight , if all our measurements are right anyway. - the fore-hatch is just over 3foot square. this will make it much darker in the fore cabin which is a good thing if you are trying to get some sleep in daylight hours. we should also be able to open the hatch for ventilation and not take any water below in case of wave / heavy rain as the tender will act like one very big dorade vent - thats my theory anyway!
Overall dimensions are  -   length: 7 foot     beam:  4foot.
The design had been a joint effort by john and myself. The mid-ship section is roughly based on a small  traditional (larch on oak) tender i built some years ago. Pictured on the right here is John adding his magic touch of glass cloth - he is a true master of this stuff. not a crease or miss-alignment in sight.
John is, as usual, making a super job of this so it should prove to be a great 'hard tender' that is lightweight and easy to row while being very stable due to a largely flat bottom and tight turn at the bilge.
Next issue we shall go for a row and see if it fits......... maybe even a sink test?

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Out Sailing and Self steering

Been getting out as much as we can while getting the boat ready to head south. I still seem to have a long list of jobs to finish.... One of the big ones has been making and fitting a self steering system. I tried direct lines to the tilled with a wind vane which works well if you are sailing to windward... but starts to fail when sailing off the wind. So decided to dry the boat out and fit a trim tab and then make the wind vane drive this. The first rig I made was very 'crude' and experimental just so i could see if it would work - and it does. you can see 'mark one' in the pictures above and below (vane not attached).
I have now taken it off to make a proper version so will add more details about the construction when i have finished it.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Engine fixin

Heres a quick video showing how we replaced the valve springs when they broke on our way to oban with no wind (we really needed it!) Note that you would normally take the cylinder head off to replace them but my brother and I came up with a plan........

Friday, 6 July 2012

Hestur News

Just realised that i have not put up any 'Hestur news' recently and people may be thinking that we have drifted off - O no , not yet.... I just cant believe its been nearly two months since we launched.
So that first little 'test sail' south - as a briefly said in the last post we had made it down to Oban where we left Hestur for a week. After that Charlotte and I returned to sail north again back to Ullapool. Of course we were hit by 5 days of north east winds (absolutely our direction of travel) This would really show us how Junks go to windward - they do. Heading north we decided to go inside Mull then outside Skye taking in the Outer Hebridies (Barra) . This proved to be a good plan as the Minch provides a great seaway for tacking against northerly winds! Heading west across the Minch towards Barra we experienced our first largish sea and strongish wind aboard Heatur - F6 with 10foot crashers. She performed perfectly with nothing unexpected (sometimes big bangs when breaking seas slap big flat topsides) and we were broad reaching at 6knots + with two pannels up on foresail and 3 in main. Very easy sailing with no deck work - all reefing done from cockpit (sometimes we need to go and tie last batten down at forward end when reefing the foresail??!! main reefs fine).
From Barra back across to Canna in the Small isles and up the west coast of Syke. We had a very big whale breach (jump clear of the water) about 10 foot away from the boat, never seen that before. not sure what type it was. no photo!. we then battled the north-easters for another 48 hours back to Ullapool. When sailing on the wind she will sail herself if you balance the sails - we often leave the helm quite literally for hours and hours not even lashed. This surprises me as she is a fin keeler - think it must be the substantial skeg arrangement.
In all is was a great test sail and we have learnt a lot about the boat and she has showed us a few problems that we fixed on route (most engine related! - I will write about this another time just for the engine boffs out there. lets just say valve springs oops)  
A total of 10 days 360 miles (quite a few days were windless and enginless! - not all sailing). Humm i cant think of any bad points on the boat. good. One point is she has high topsides so its a long climb from the dinghy. She is very comfy for two people cruising and 4 is no problem either - Nick and Maddy joined us for the initial sail south. 
Over the past month or so I have been slowly ticking off the remaining job list (still quite long) including a nice oak saloon table and Self steering gear - very exciting.  - home brew trim tab and wind vane..........     

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Sailing Hestur !!

I have very little time to write, but here are a few pictures of the end result. Words cannot describe how delighted we are with the boat. We set off south From Ullapool on the 20th of may for a five day 'test sail' and got down to Oban. Lots happened in these few days including southerly winds and Engine failure !! all fixed now. We have been in land locked Shropshire for the last week but heading back to the boat tonight to sail back north to Ullapool (of course now we have Northerly winds!!!)
Will write more about the final rigging soon...

Monday, 14 May 2012

Sail Loft

Heres a quick clip feeding the sewing machine a 12 foot seam. This is joining the top two pannels of the sail to the bottom. These are Chinese Junk sails. I have decided to make them 'flat' rather than 'cambered' as some people are doing these days - flat sails are a bit quicker to make and as these are the first sails i have ever made I thought i should keep it simple. Below is the sail plan for Hestur as drawn by J Benford.I am using a Sailrite zig zag sewing machine which has been fantastic. Its a very solid portable (its heavy) machine with a walking foot that seems to be able to sew any thickness of canvass - if it fits under the foot it will sew it!!  My sail loft at the moment is a conservatory of around 100 square foot and the sail is 320 square foot!  I bought the Dacron sail cloth off ebay for 150pounds. good value -   I have finished the main sail and am close to finishing the fore sail so we should be test sailing towards the end of the week....
I have also been making the battens and yards from some nice Ash. getting close.....

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Kind of sailing

 So we could not resist . I have not quite finished here proper junk sails so we thought we would try an old spinnaker from Maureen (our old boat). We raised it up on the main halyard to the top of the fore mast and let it fly - and we did. We had a fantastic cruise down the loch at 5 knots (relatively small spinnaker and towing heavy tender) in a F3/4. we were even able to reach across the wind with the sail flying on the port side and were very surprised at how stiff and steady the boat feels as it was quite a pull. also what was amazing was how little the masts deflected (look at main mast compared to the loaded foremast in photo).

I am back to finishing the the junk sails so more soon........

Monday, 30 April 2012


Just woke up to find a lovely post by doryman on his fabulous blog here:  (not sure how to make clicky link) theres even a short movie.
cheers Doryman and thanks to chris perkins too of his great pics...
We are just off to put a few hours on the engine around the local islands. fingers crossed.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Sunday, 15 April 2012

progress film

As I have been very slow at updating this blog I thought I would Make a movie to show progress. The Sailing season is just starting here in Ullapool with a few local boats goiing in this weekend. So not long to go......
At long last I have finished the masts, and have one coat of primer - Heres a picture of me electric plane-ing them into the round. This made my arm ache after a few days!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

We Have Rudder

Heres i quick pick of the rudder and skeg assembly.

We have KEEL. O Yes

So i had first thought that we would pop the keel on at the pier using the the crane. Easy. But not half as fun as doing it in the rather small shed with our own muscle power. Dad and Richard come up for a few days to join in the fun. First job to do was lift the boat up into the roof of the shed then slide the two tons of keel across the floor without it falling over on us and finally gently lower the boat onto the keel hoping the newly drilled keel bolt holes are in the right places. This plan worked a treat.
To lift the boat up I felled and collected a few trees from the local woods (thanks Northwoods). These provided four good strong posts to lift the boat up on. They were stood up at 4 strategic points around the boat, then block and tackles hung from the tops and big boat slings slung under the hull and connected to the tackles. We then lifted the boat about 5 foot up to give the keel good clearance. This took five people - one on each tackle and one to give orders (me!) . Next we dragged the keel sideways across the rough concrete floor using a smallish chain hoist working horizontally . We made a good anchor using thunderbolts in the concreat floor. To reduce friction we managed (just) to get two scaffold poles under the keel. It took to people to operate the chain hoist to lift the keel (i think it was on its limit).
We made a template to drill oversize holes for the keel bolts (24mm for 20mm bolts). The keel was then lowered onto a load of thickened epoxy and also epoxy poured around the bolts inside the boat (filling the + 4 mm gap) befor the nuts went on. Interestingly one bolt hole took about a pint of epoxy!! humm.
The whole lot looks totally solid and i would not fancy trying to get it off again.
Richard whipped up some fantastic trestles using only a chainsaw which the boat is now sitting on.

New Deck Hatch

Heres a few pics of progress around the deck and inside. My Very kind Dad has made us the most beautiful deck hatch along the lines of one that J Benford had drawn. We have gone for double glazing (total 16mm) to stop that condensation dripping. It really changes the feel of the fore peak and its now tempting to move in . I have also got around to cutting the two portholes in the side of the hull up forward - these are great - you can lie in the bunk looking out to sea - anchor dragging ??!!! Also just laid a nice oak floor throughout the cabin, you can just see the heads of the keel bolts pokin through - its just getting the varnish treatment now...