New Parrels for Custard

As mentioned before I need to sort the effort involved in raising the sail. This was forced on me by injuring my hand while on holiday.

The sail on Owl is easy to pull up; that on Custard is too hard. They should be about the same as, while Custard’s sail is almost twice as heavy as Owl’s, Custard has a pulley system that should negate the extra weight.

The first thing to tackle are the batten parrels. These were ultra-short – normally junk rig parrels are quite long allowing everything to move around. The main reason for them being ultra-short was that I didn’t build them into the sail early enough but left them as something to sort out at the end. By that time I didn’t have much option but they seemed to work ok.

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Problems pulling the sail up

Over the summer I injured my hand pulling the sail up. I’ve got an old trigger-finger injury and the high load on the halyard meant that this re-occurred: one finger couldn’t be straightened for a week or so. This is irriating rather than a big issue but I don’t want it to get worse. Thus I clearly need to sort the halyard load out.

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Wanderer Dinghy – Mast Step Repair – Part 4

The hole through the foot of the mast was too tight for the stainless steel rod, so I ground the end of the rod as a quick and dirty reamer to make the hole the right size.

DIY reamer to get the holes the right size

This worked well. However, on assembling the system in the boat a problem became apparent: when in the boat the rod wouldn’t go through as it wasn’t aligned perfectly. Boats are never straight and the mast wasn’t at right angles to my new mast step.

I solved this with three approaches:

  1. Adjust the alignment of the metalwork with washers under one side;
  2. Barrel the centre of the rod so the mast could move from side to side without jamming;
  3. Put a big handle on the rod to help in applying force to get the rod in or out.
Pin shaped to allow the mast to flex from side to side, and a big handle to help getting the pin in and out
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Wanderer Dinghy – Mast Step Repair – Part 3

I’ve cut some more bits of wood. There is:

  • A big block cut from a fench post – possibly Larch. This provides somewhere for the screws to go and takes the vertical force into the old plywood hog (which I cut a section out of).
  • A top plate that is split into front and rear halves. Since the tabernacle is glued in, it isn’t possible to get the top plate in in one piece. The top plate transfers the side-to-side force into the new ribs.
  • A couple of fiddly little bits to block up the remaining hole in the front buoyancy tank.
Big block and rear top plate
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Wanderer Dinghy – Mast Step Repair – Part 1

The Wanderer dinghy – mine at least – has marine plywood cunningly concealed at the lowest point of the boat. The plywood runs from the front buoyancy tank, under the mast step, and to the centreboard case. Sitting at the lowest point of the boat, the wood is often sitting in water. My boat is now 40 years old and poking around in the front buoyancy the wood appeared a bit softer than I’d like. Well – the wood at the top could be pulled apart with my fingers.

The view from inside the buoyancy tank

In addition, my boat has a free-standing mast without shrouds. This is both a good and bad thing. The shrouds help to keep the mast upright, but they mostly try to pull the mast through the bottom of the boat. The wood is obviously designed to resist this downwards pull. However, the free-standing mast has huge sideways forces at the foot and if that foot isn’t really attached to anything strong then this would be a disaster – both for the boat and anyone sitting near the mast.

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Dinghy insurance for customized boats

I got a bit of a shock when I tried to renew the insurance for Custard – my junk rigged Wanderer. Insurance was refused. The boat isn’t worth much but third-party insurance is essential for my sailing club and many other places. The reason is simple – insurance is calculated by computers and something that isn’t in the computer is unknown.

A web search revealed that Fyne Boats had hit this problem and offered to help, even with boats that weren’t built from their kits. I contacted them and they responded quickly with a suggestion. I’m not sure if Fyne Boats get any money from referrals but their help is very welcome! The insurance is now in place and is cheaper than the previous year’s.

Fyne Boat kits do look lovely and I want to build one, one-day.