Sunday, 22 January 2017

Dead-eyes progress

The first step to go from square to round is to cut the corners off to make the blank octagonal.

The important thing is that the newly exposed parts should be the same width as the remaining part of the original sides.

The traditional way of marking it up is to use a spar gauge. This will 'magically' draw the lines the right distance from the edges. This is really only necessary for a tapered spar. It just implements the 1/√2 rule that comes from cos 45°, or Pythagoras if you prefer.

In this case I just checked that was the right number and measured it. It came out OK.

Then it was a matter of planing the corners off until I was happy enough. I'm not making wheels here so roundish was good enough.
I measured it up - the old dead-eyes are 2" thick and I could get four from this piece so I sliced it into four equal pieced and then used the router to make the faces more parallel.

Now I have four thick discs.

Three steps left to go.

  1. round the edges - this worked well with a 'rounding-over' router bit last year.
  2. cut the groove for the wire rope to fit in - a 'core-box' bit does this nicely.
  3. cut the holes for the rope.
The holes for the rope are strictly 'blind sheaves'. This means they are doing the job of the sheaves (pulley wheels) of a block, so they should be as round as possible too. I'll have a go at using the drill at three 45° angles to make that octagonal (5 sides of an octagon) too. Then I'll try using abrasive cord to take the corners off.

Sunday, 15 January 2017


I finally made the effort to start making new dead-eyes for Robinetta. We got some nice cherry from the Birchanger Woods Trust last week. This cherry tree was damaged in the great storm of 1987 and was finally felled recently. Most of the wood is likely to be picked up by the local wood turning community.

I got a sample last year from a different tree and it made a beautiful and functional dead-eye which we used all season. While sweet cherry is nowhere near as hard as lignum vitae there is a lot to be said for using native species on a traditional boat.

The rather spectacular failure we had on the way from Douglas to Holyhead proved that Robinetta's existing dead-eyes are laminated plywood! That was about the fourth one to show some kind of wear so it is time to replace them all. If I make eight new ones we will have a spare.
 So far I've cut one piece to square. A hand saw is not a quick or efficient way of doing the rough cuts but it is a really good way of getting enjoyable exercise.

This piece should make four dead-eyes. I'll make it into a cylinder by sawing the corners off to make it octagonal and then either use the saw or the spoke shave until it's round, just like making a spar.

Then I'll slice it into four discs and drill the holes before using the electric router to round it off and cut the slot for the wire rope loop.

I'll work harder on these than I did on last year's one to make the holes into proper blind sheaves. I have some ideas about how to do that.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Talking about Ireland

We will be talking about Robinetta's journey round Ireland on 21st January at the Nottage Maritime Institute,The Quay, Wivenhoe, Colchester CO7 9BX. This has been arranged by the East Coast OGA, and should be booked through them if you want to come.

Doors open at 19:00, and the talk starts at 19:30

There will be a £7:50 charge to cover your first drink, cheese and nibbles and a donation to The Nottage Institute.

In order that we know how many people are coming it is essential to complete and return a booking form before the day.

booking form for talk

If you have any questions about,  or problems with, booking, please leave a comment below and we will reply with a solution if possible.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Day Sailing Round Ireland

Once again we have spend some time compiling the season's blog into a book. With the posts tidied up, and bits added in, this runs to over 52,000 words! There are also many pictures and if we were to publish it as a paper book the cost would be prohibitive.

Day Sailing Round Ireland was published on 3rd November, and is available through Amazon, Apple, Barnes&Noble, etc..
As usual, we have edited the posts into a single voice, mine this time. We think that makes it easier to read. I did do the bulk of the posts this year but it is a joint effort.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Work ashore, ready for winter

Robinetta came out of the water on 15th September, and I drove up there on the 21st, leaving home at 5am. It's a five hour drive, and leaving that early gets me past the traffic bottleneck of Birmingham's Spaghetti Junction before rush hour.

I reached Holyhead at 11am and was shown where to find Robinetta by the yard staff.
Start of Day 1
I got to work putting away ropes and fenders, then unshipped the bowsprit before touching up the hull where the paint had flaked off. There are always patches of bare wood at the end of the season. It was just about dry enough to get a layer of varnish on the cabin sides too.
End of day 1, Proped up rather than on a cradle
By 5.30pm I needed a rest, so headed for my B&B for an early night.

I was back on Robinetta before 9am, to find puddles in the yard from heavy overnight rain. Thursday itself was beautiful though, warm, dry, and sunny, and I got a lot done. First came emptying out the cabin and all the lockers, then giving a second coat of grey metallic primer to yesterday's bare wood. After that it was time to renew the Woodskin in the cockpit, and re-paint the fibreglass there. This had not been done since leaving West Mersea, since it is only practicable to do it when there is only one person working on Robinetta at a time.
A clean, rope free cockpit
The cockpit looked great when I had finished, and I left the paint to dry while I sanded down the hatch surround on the foredeck. The varnish there had got quite badly damaged over the last couple of seasons, so it was time it was redone. I decided to go with Deks no.1, like the forward bulkhead, so had to spend a couple of hours sanding it down completely before I could apply the new coating.

After that it was on with the winter covers, to protect Robinetta's topsides from the weather until the next time I could get to Holyhead.
End of day 2
I drove away at 5pm, feeling as though I had got a lot done in my two days.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Map Updated

This will be the last map update of 2016 as Robinetta's sails are now here in Bishop's Stortford.
Click on the image to go to the navigable map.
Robinetta and Worm have travelled 1349 nautical miles this season in 43 days under way. We spend 350 hours on passage, for 249 of which the engine was on.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Holyhead Parade of Sail

Saturday was scheduled for racing but the weather was horrid and only a few brave souls left the harbour.

Sunday was much better and we headed out of the marina with 5 on-board. Alison and I were joined in the cockpit by Mary Gibbs whose own Molly Cobbler was stuck in Fleetwood following engine repairs. On the fore-deck we had two young sea scouts. We send them forward whilst raising the main to avoid any chance of injury.
The idea was to do about two circuits of the harbour, getting close to the crowds if we could. The problem is that the harbour is shallow with groins near where the public can be!
As well as the Severn class lifeboat leading the parade and squirting everone with their huge water canon the Charles Henry Ashley was looking good.

 Scott Metcalfe's Vilma is always a highlight of the show. She and other boats carry canon for the festival and there were also canon on the shore, courtesy of Hearts of Oak the Anglesey Hussars.

We discovered that our Sea Cadet guests were a major benefit. Not only did they attract ribs and other craft carrying water canon and bombs, which made the whole affair more fun, but they also drew most of the fire to the foredeck! In the cockpit we kept (mostly) dry.

After the parade of sail we lent Mary Worm so she could practice sculling. I don't have a good sculling oar - the ones Alison made for rowing are square cross section and float. I borrowed one from a Mirror dinghy and, as you can see, it worked a treat!

Robinetta and Graunuaile shared the prize for boat traveled furthest. I think we should really have been counted as having come from Portaferry, but I'm not complaining!

Thanks to Peter Philippson for the photographs.