Thursday, August 19, 2010

William Paynter launched in St Ives

With police escort and lead by 'Piglet' - the town-crier borrowed from Penzance (how don't St.Ives have their own?), the new jumbo entered the town right at 10am sharp temporarily bringing traffic to a standstill.

By the time we launched her onto the sand to await the flood tide a large crowd had gathered for the naming ceremony lead by Matthew Care.

Next up, the winners of the jumbo painting competition receive their medals from the mayor.
We also received a blessing in Cornish from Mick Paynter, Grand Bard of the Cornish Gorseth and relative of the 19th cent. designer after whom she is named.

Finally, the crew goes aboard in the St.Ives punt that inspired me to build Jumbos.

As you can see, we were unbelieveably lucky with the weather. Early indications suggest William Paynter is every bit as fast as her sister.

The day concluded with the customary pint and shout with the Cadgwith Singers at the Castle. Strangely no pictures were available. (All these, incidentally, were taken by my brother Damian- over from the States

I'm really sorry if you were unable to make the occasion. But here they are waiting for your next visit!

With very best wishes to you all.

all photos courtesy Jonny Nance

Jonny Nance and the St. Ives Jumbo Association launched the second Jumbo, the William Paynter, in June. Seems to have been a joyous affair with a large attendance. The two boats are now racing and also available for sails in St. Ives, Cornwall. Mr. Nance and the association are using these boats to promote civic involvement, awareness of tradition, and ultimately, a return to fishing under sail, which was the original purpose of these boats, and which evolved in response to local conditions.

Jonny first wrote about this two years ago on the St. Ives Jumbo page, and I'd like to share that original vision with you:

When sailing the Jumbo you can readily appreciate why the lug rig remained popular for small fishing boats through to the last days of sail. To start with you've a wonderfully clear working area with the masts out of the way, and no boom to duck under. Even when close-hauled the sail and sheets are clear of the work area. This, combined with he manageable scale of the boat and rig makes the Jumbo an ideal model on which to develop skills and explore the potential of fishing for a living - under sail.

Our aim is to establish a racing class of these boats at St.Ives in order to regenerate a waterfront community in decline. How much more effective it would be if, in addition, these boats could be eventually used for the purpose for which they were designed whilst providing a seasonal income for a couple of individuals!

Clearly, there may come a time when, in addition to any green, carbon neutral credentials, a sail-operated fishery could become commercially viable or at least a natural way of conserving resources (as demonstrated by the Falmouth oyster fishery -much celebrated as the last in the world to be worked under sail). In the meantime the skills required need to be developed.

There's a growing recognition that this approach would at least address some serious issues; the sustainability of fish stocks, the rising cost of fuel, the dependence on imported goods and the lack of employment opportunities in rural areas to name a few.

And if successful, the model could be readily repeated elsewhere.

Only a few months ago such a proposal would have been dismissed as romantic fantasy. So far however, my inquiries have been met with a degree of excitement .

Stephen Perham, the Harbour Master of Clovelly, who has been working the herring season there for decades, explained he has been thinking of reviving the 'picarooner' (their Jumbo equivalent) for the purpose. It's no coincidence that a replica of this particular craft is currently under construction by students on the Traditional Boatbuilding Course at Falmouth Marine School.

Nathan De Rozarieux, the Project Director of Seafood Cornwall reckons there's sufficient public awareness to support a significant premium for 'zero-carbon' fish when sold direct to the customer. This would ensure a market for the smallest catches. This view is shared by Matthew Stevens MD of Matthew Stevens and Son, the regions leading supplier of fish and seafood based in St.Ives,who said,

"Clearly the time is right for an initiative like this. We look forward to receiving their first catch!"

Even the authorities are supportive. The Marine Fisheries Agency at Newlyn inform me that obstructive legislation has been amended to allow unlicenced (unpowered) vessels of under 10m. to land and sell fish.

Without realising it individuals from each of the contributing sectors: boatbuilders, part-time fishermen, fishing authorities, and marketting have been quietly thinking along parallel lines but as yet have not joined forces.

We are on the threshold of a revival that could see several small, inshore and engineless fleets springing up around our shores over the next decade.

The logical place to start is where we left off - and engines took over.

Sceptical? Of course - but just think where the organic industry was only 30 years ago!

Also, found on the website today:

"2 years after Jonny Nance put out a press release promoting 'Fishing under sail' the idea is catching on...!

"Readers of Classic Boat have nominated our humble craft - almost unknown before we came along - 24th out of the top 50 classic boats. So there you are. It's official - she's a classic! William Paynter (her 19th cent. designer) would be chuffed!"

There has also been a design competition put forward by Classic Boat to design a boat for British fishing under sail, which was endorsed by the British Parliament. Unfortunately, the Classic Boat search function is down and I haven't been able to reference either results.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

And Sprouted Seeds

Stephen Lansdowne

Launch first sail

My first time out. Very stable, but shifting from one side of the cockpit to the other while seated on the bottom is not easy for this older body. Sitting on the side deck is a good option if there is some wind. I'm learning how to adjust the sprit (that goes from the mast to the top of the sail) and the downhaul to keep the crease in the sail (which is not very visible here) from happening. The boat can fit two, but it is tight if both sit in the cockpit. In practice the 'crew' can sit on the front deck facing aft with his/her feet in the cockpit, shifting side to side as needed to keep the helmsman from having to change positions at all when the wind stiffens.

Forward spar support in use within mast hole

Hiding from the ducks

Actually this is me installing the cover to the rear hatch which is in the aft bulkhead. I added these to provide an air-filled flotation compartment aft 'just in case.' In practice this bulkhead is too far aft to be easily used, as is evident by the fact that I'm having to lie down just to fit the cover, which is held on (as is the forward hatch) from beneath via shock cord. While it is likely not fully watertight, it will sure slow down water entry if I capsize. Once I sailed the boat, I understand others who say that a capsize is unlikely, as she is very stable.

Launch on trailer

Going into the water at last. The cockpit coaming is cherry, with mahogany quarter round between it and the deck. In practice the square loomed Culler oars I already had and the height of the oarlock risers were not a good match, allowing the square part of the looms to scrape the top of the coaming when rowing. The solution was to make another set of oars with fully round looms and raise the oar lock risers by about an inch, which at present (Nov 09) is being done.

Primed deck and hatch

The 'spoiler' at the top of the transom is part of the decoy rail system that I opted not to install along the edge of the rest of the deck. This boat was originally used for duck hunting in the late 1800's back east. The notch in the spoiler serves to keep the tiller from swinging too far in either direction.

Beam detail 1

Cedar deck knees cut and fitted on the port side. Starboard side knees are in the foreground waiting to be installed. A temporary gusset on one side of each knee was used to hold the knee in place while the glue dried. Circular cutouts in the side of each knee are where the oar will sit. Attempts at steaming green ash knees were not successful -- grain runout and too tight a bend.

Deck beams and carlins in

Deck beams, carlins, etc. installed or ready to be glued in. Atlantic white cedar is a joy to work with. At this point I'd not yet decided to go with a centerboard. Doing so led to a need to modify some of the forward deck beams. Notice how the hull is supported by MDF scraps at the front, with carpet scraps between the hull and the MDF. A similar arrangement is used aft. The horizontal MDF pieces, which are screwed to the strongback, can be easily removed as needed. The flat bottom of the boat lets it rest easily on the strongback.


Here the outer stem sits where it will eventually be, but it was just placed there for appearance in this photo. After this was well set up, I removed alternate molds and cut extra wood from those that remained before turning the boat over with help from some rope, pulleys on the ceiling of the shop, and a few friends. Those 3/4" MDF mods are very heavy.

Garboard preparation

Trial fastening the first garboard. Chines are held down to molds via blocks screwed to the molds below the chines and screws upward through these to the chines. The chine beveling was slow, but molds needed minimal beveling for the garboard. Still, what mold beveling I did (for other strakes) was no fun!

Ttransom forward

Transom forward -- distortion caused by not shooting photo precisely – ideally the pieces of the transom should have been glued together horizontally, not vertically as I did. Keeping the aft end of the chines in place while the glue dried was rough -- I came back into the shop an hour later and found that the two chines had popped upward (toward the ceiling of the shop) and thus were not still in contact with the stem. Some fast work with some screws through a block screwed to mold 12 fixed that.

Stem lamination

1) A messy job needing clamps of the right size and advance planning. Put waxed paper or plastic film or clear packing tape between the lamination and the clamps/mold to prevent sticking. Don't make the laminations too thick. I think mine are no thicker than 1/8".

all photos Linda Lansdowne, courtesy Stephan Lansdowne

Marc Cozzi


Ready to go!


This really is a three or fore hand job. Pushing in, holding down, aligning and screwing all at the same time. Thanks Kay.

7/8" X 7" ash mast bed mortised, glued and screwed in. Dummy mast pole is inserted in the 3" mast hole. A plum line is dropped to determine the 4" per 10' rake.

It goes slow but the results are good.

Here I've setup a rubber band driven 12' lathe. The idea is that the router will slid along the straight edge on a sled while the mast turns. Holes are drilled for centers in each end of the mast.

First deck beam installed. The arch is 3" per 25" half side.

courtesy Marc Cozzi

Each of these builders sent me links to their story after I'd requested it through the Yahoo Melonseed group. Each of these guys built beautiful boats, both to the Barto plans, I believe. Marc Barto drew detailed plans for the modern builder based on the Chapelle plans, but expanded from one page to ten, at least in the WoodenBoat version. Marc Cozzi started his project in 2002 and finished it in 2003. Stephan Lansdowne started his project in 2004 and finished in 2009. Marc has a nice website about his Melonseed, and a Rob Roy canoe he built as well as links to other melons here. Stephan Lansdowne set up his strongback in Oct 2004 and launched in August 2009. Steve doesn't have a website, but his flickr photo set is so richly captioned that it is as informative as one. I believe Barry Long has communicated with Steve about his build experience. Thanks and cheers to both these fellows, for stepping forward and congratulations on their beautiful boats.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sprouting Seeds...

Mike Wick

Mike Wick's Melonseed, aptly named Pepita, scandalising sail at the basin of the ISM, during the 2009 Wooden Boat Festival in Philly

Mike is building another Melonseed, this one with some design modifications he wanted to implement after his experieince with Pepita.

above photos thomas armstrong

Mike is introducing camber to the deck, visible here in the model, hoping to achieve a drier sail.

The new boat is a Cortez Melonseed, I think drawn by Roger Allen of the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez, FL, with the hull built from a kit by the FMM by Ted Cook.

Mike is finishing the boat himself.

these photos courtesy John Guidera via Mike Wick

Barry Long

scribing the skeg

one of the completed hulls

both boats half stripped

Set up, keelson, stem and transom in place, twelve strips on each boat

Two at once.

Steam bent stems cooling

And set up.

Two full sets of molds laid out.

Setting up the strongbacks for the work to proceed upon.

Barry first saw a Melonseed in an historic photo, and the boat grabbed his imagination, but it wasn't until years later that he saw this boat in MD and began his research in earnest. A year later he'd finally identified the Melonseed.

all photos in this segment courtesy Barry Long

Melonseeds evolved in the Mid Atlantic region and there's been a revival of interest in these boats in recent years. Howard Chapelle wrote about and surveyed these boats and they are included in American Small Sailing Craft, the bible for those interested in traditional American small craft. Although this revival is mainly centered in the home waters of this boat type, the popularity of the Melonseed has spread to other areas, the Midwest, the Deep South and the Northeast, at least.
Two friends of mine are currently building or finishing Melonseeds and I wanted to write about these elegant small sailboats. There's a Melonseed Yahoo group and I wrote to them inviting members to submit their build photos and text, more of that later.
Mike Wick is a fellow member of the Delaware River TSCA group and is a Melonseed devotee. Mike is a prolific boatbuilder and collecter, and has a livery of around 13 boats. He recently sold his lovely Oughtred McGregor sailing canoe to a friend up in the Thousand Island area, in an attempt to lighten his load. He's currently finishing out his second Melonseed. This one is to a design by Roger Allen, head of the Florida Maritime Museum in Cortez, Florida. Dubbed the Cortez Melonseed, an original strip planked hull was built by Mike Lucas, which he gave to Mike, who used it as a male mold for a cold molded hull, seen in the photos.That done, Mike pooped off his hull and passed it on to Roland Anderson who took over the original hull to build another melonseed. The model Mike is using to work out his deck modifications is a lazer-cut kit made by Ted Cook and are available from the Florida Maritime Museum. As seen in the photos of the model, above, Mike is making some modifications, mainly building in a camber to the deck to make his boat a drier sail. Mike's other seed Pepita was designed by John Brady and built by Carl Weissenger, and is a gem of a small boat.

Barry Long set himself an ambitious project. The Virginia based graphic designer and photographer decided, after falling in love with the Melonseed, to build a brace of seeds, one for himself and one for his better half. He's basically done that, but is still adding the finishing touches. He's also chronicled his build on a weblog, which has to be the most detailed, erudite, well written and photographed build blog I have ever encountered. Build blogs can get a little dry, but not so with Barry's, which is interspersed with amusing and enlightening asides, a host of informative comments from his followers and witty, introspective, informative and insightful commentary on the building process. Not to be missed! Barry seems to be completing the dual project and I've pushed him to get the pair done for the October MASCF in St, Michaels this year, owing to my completely selfish desire to sail one, or both of his sprouts this Autumn. I anyone reading this can make this annual celebration, I highly recommend you do so! Also, Barry's photos here will be best read from he bottom up. There are tons more photos at Barry's website.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Roger Taylor and Mingming make good the Davis Strait

The Jester fleet assembled in Plymouth

A Russian contender,Igor Zaretsky, sailed his Peterson 25 The Grand into Newport on the 26 th. of June, being the first to arrive, therefore the 'winner' of the 2010 Jester Challenge, though in my estimation, all entrants, those who got to Newport and those forced to retire, are winners. Read, for instance, about Guy Waites experience, one who had to retire .

Roger Taylor had another idea for his summer cruise, to start with his fellow entrants in the JC, but make for a more distant and exotic goal, the Arctic circle by way of Davis Strait between Greenland and Newfoundland. Here he's checking coordinates mid Atlantic.

Mingming's daily log with Roger's drawing of shearwaters.

Roger celebrated his birthday during the cruise, with cards and newly opened gifts.

Lots of heavy weather experienced on this cruise, here mid Atlantic.

More of the same,

And even more.

Here Roger is hand sewing a Greenland welcome flag in case he needs to make an unplanned landfall. Despite the ensuing events , he didn't need to.

These ingredients make...

A dinner! Typical fare aboard Mingming

The highlight of the cruise, according to Roger, was a visit from this Black Browed Albatross. 8' wingspan.

Davis Strait

courtesy wikipedia

Heavy weather in the Davis Strait.

Mingming was knocked onto her beam ends by a rouge wave in this heavy weather in the
Davis Straits, which flew Roger across the cabin and resulted in his injury

Mingming back in Plymouth Harbour

all photos courtesy Roger Taylor unless otherwise noted

Intrepid voyager Roger Taylor set off this year with the other entrants in the Jester Challenge, but offered a piquant twist. Instead of taking a heading for Newport, RI, like the other participants, Roger decided to make the event his own by stamping off for the Davis Strait, the body of water between Newfoundland and Greenland. He nearly made his proposed goal of entering the Arctic Circle via the Davis Strait, but encountered some very heavy weather in the strait and suffered an injury which caused him to decide to return to Plymouth post haste. A broken rib. Roger:

"A south-easterly gale which started on June 24th built for a day and a half. We were running before it quite comfortably under bare poles. At 0015H on the morning of June 26th, at which point we were about 130 miles west of Cape Desolation on the west Greenland coast, a rogue wave caught us on the wrong quarter, gybing us round and then putting Mingming on her beam ends. I had been dozing on the safe, downhill side of the boat. The gybe moved me to the uphill side, and as we went over I was flipped over onto my back and thrown across the cabin, catching my right side against the corner of the chart table. I did not realize immediately that I had injured myself. My first concern was for my back, which had been wrenched during this short haul flight and awkward landing. It was only a few minutes later, when I was getting us back on the correct heading, and had to reach for a steering line with my right hand, that I heard, as much as felt, a loud 'click' from my right rib cage - the click of two pieces of displaced bone slotting themselves back together again."

At this juncture Roger decided, wisely I believe, to abort further progress and run for home. He returned to Plymouth on July 29th after 67 rather eventful days at sea. Roger reports that he's healing nicely and glad to be home. He counts this voyage as very successful, despite not quite reaching his the circle. I'd agree. Please read the full account at Roger's website.

Also, Roger's second book ,
MINGMING & THE ART OF MINIMAL OCEAN SAILING is actually available now, as opposed to the original date in September. I recommend it.