Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Autumn Project

Rae and Malcolm rowing in Salcombe harbour in May this year.

The oars I made for Defiant of Lyme Regis last year.

Defiant on her mooring

Rae and I had a lovely row on Monday in Defiant of Lyme Regis at Conyer. The sky was overcast the water was calm and the tide was very high, 6m. We were both very pleased to see that our rowing boat is still looking in very good condition, her bottom remains free from weed and barnacles, the topsides are still shiny as is the interior.

At this point I feel I must sing the praises of Varnol Danish oil, forget varnishing, it is a real pain and takes ages to get a really good finish, see my previous posts. In contrast Varnol is very easy to use. It is easily possible to apply eight-ten coats in one day. What is more it is a natural product and works out cheaper than any varnish equivalent. Being a natural product Varnol also smells wonderful, I have not met anyone who does not like the smell, it is similar to the effect that stock holm tar has on people, another of my favourite smells. I should mention here that I have no business connection with the manufacturer or vendors of this product, I just simply love it. Oh, yep, and another thing, when it comes to the maintenance of Varnol it is extremely easy and yes you guessed it, quick.

As an aside, I will admit that properly applied varnish is a wonder to behold and yes, if you own a classic yacht then varnish will probably be necessary and it has to be said that traditional varnish also smells great and there is a huge satisfaction in doing a skilled top quality varnishing job.

So back to rowing, it was great, we took turns and then we rowed together, Rae with one oar in the forward rowing position and me with the other amid ships. We trimmed the boat by shoving the box containing the anchor, chain and warp aft. It was great being on the water on an autumnal day.

That day brought back memories of my childhood, I grew-up in Leigh-on Sea, Essex. I was a land scout and did a seamanship badge which meant that I spent a very happy winter gaining the skills to get this badge with the sea scouts who were based in Leigh old town just along from the Smack Inn. It was great, I learnt to row in a wooden whaler. It was a very cold winter and we rowed in the snow, fantastic! I also learned to scull, a skill I have forgotten which I am attempting to learn again.

The oars I made last year are flat bladed, 9' long and are very heavy being made of pine. During the Spring when we rowed with Malcolm Darch, he thought I should make two pairs of spooned oars out of Sitka Spruce, very god strength to weight ratio. During our row on Monday Rae and I discussed this and agreed this is a good project for the Autumn.

So yesterday I went about tracking down a supplier of Sitka Spruce. Umh, not as easy as I thought. In the end I managed to track some down at the Boat Building Academy in Lyme Regis which is great as I get to see the guys down there who I have not seen since I left the Academy last Christmas and importantly I get to have one of Wendy's bacon sarnies!

So, all being well I get to start making my oars by the middle of November. Can't wait!

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