Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Old Weather: Swords into Plowshares

submarine depot ship, ex-sloop, Condor-class, was 980t, 1898(l), 6-4in, 13kts, 130 crew. Sold 1921
Nov 1913-Sep 1918, China, Hong Kong

Similar but unidentified depot ship, with old submarines alongside (Maritime Quest)

Log of Rosario

old sloop, Alert-class, 960t, 1895(c), 6-4in, 13kts, 106 crew. Sold 1920
Mar 1914-Nov 1914, May 1918-Aug 1922, Pacific

Log of Torch

rum-running schooner waiting to load up at Demerara, British Guiana during US prohibition 1924
(Yeoman of Signals George Smith)

Logs courtesy Old Weather

Images courtesy NAVAL-HISTORY.NET 1998-2010
working with National Maritime Museum & Citizen Science Alliance/University of Oxford

Here is a very engaging project which is truly interactive internet at it's best. A project which will appeal to all generations, from the youngest, greenest (climate change) activist to the older veterans of the wars and all in between, a unifying force for collaboration. And a chance to easily make a contribution to and participate in scientific research which can help us understand where we stand in terms of climate change and inform our future. And it's fun. Here's what you can do, anyone can do. Go to the Old Weather website, read the intro, review a couple of the tutorials and get to work. You'll pick a vessel of your choice and join a crew of other folks working on the same boat. Your task will be to log some entries into the database by viewing the actual log entry of your chosen ship. The entries will pertain to the location of the vessel, the weather entries of the day, and the log of events aboard ship for any given day, which can range from tedious to exhilarating. Tis a cool magnifying glass thingie which will help you read the entries. And it all goes to helping science understand where we are in terms of the geologically recent past, in order to grasp weather changes over the last century. to wit:

Help scientists recover worldwide weather observations made by Royal Navy ships around the time of World War I. These transcriptions will contribute to climate model projections and improve a database of weather extremes. Historians will use your work to track past ship movements and the stories of the people on board.

There are links to photos and a synopsis of each vessel's history. This is a well conceived and executed project, a joint effort of several UK institutions. An example of interdisciplinary sharing, and an engaging of the public to share in the grunt work of scientific research that should and hopefully will be taken note of. This works, and in my opinion, it rocks.

Take the data from these ships and the history from these ships, engaged in warfare, and, turning swords into plowshares, help the understanding of climate change and help tell their stories. This is redemption in action. Turning weapons into data into understanding into prediction ( I guess) and into action (I hope).

Friday, November 12, 2010

Constance .3: First Sail

Constance ready at East Mersea

courtesy Dick Wynne

Sailing photos off East Mersea by Martin Treadway

courtesy Martin Treadway via Dick Wynne

courtesy Martin Treadway via Dick Wynne

courtesy Martin Treadway via Dick Wynne

courtesy Martin Treadway via Dick Wynne

Nice rear end

courtesy Martin Treadway via Dick Wynne

Mr. Wynne looks pleased with Constance

courtesy Martin Treadway via Dick Wynne

courtesy Martin Treadway via Dick Wynne

Constance at Wivenhoe 18 July, presumably returning from Mersea

photo unattributed

Fabian Bush (who built her) just sent me (Richard) this snap he received of Constance, with first reef, on the return leg of this year’s white-knuckle-ride of a race. Me helming, son Mike sheltering. More about the race at the East Coast Classics website.
(And here, on the ASA site)

photo unattributed

Dick Wynne's new venture, Charm


Constance was launched July 8 2006, and a week later Dick picks up the narrative of her first sail:
A week later my son Mike and I took her for her first proper sail, downriver to Mersea Island and out on the Thames Estuary, in a moderate breeze on a gloriously hot day. On a reach under that ample sail area, she was just exhilarating; I’ll need a lot more experience of her to report in full on her sailing characteristics. On beaching her for lunch at East Mersea we were pleasantly besieged by admirers.

We were lucky enough to encounter ASA Hon Treasurer Peter Maynard on his Folkboat ELIZA, with professional photographer Martin Treadway on board, so were able to secure that Holy Grail, photos of our own boat under sail, on her very first day out. Readers will be familiar by now with the details of her design, so I leave you with these photos of her finally in commission, and a promise of more detail photos to come.

That was four years ago. While I was in correspondence with Dick about this series, he informed me that he is in the process of selling Constance, with mixed feelings, of course, and acquiring a new(old) Albert Strange masterpiece, Charm, a sister ship of Thad Danielson's Sea Harmony.

I have also included a link to the new (as of July) website put up by Dick Wynne and two other members of the Albert Strange Association, canoeyawl.org , home of the Canoe Yawl Association, whose raison d'etre is as follows:

'The CYA was started by three active members of The Albert Strange Association as a means to focus exclusively on a small boat type which offers so much to today's cruising sailor. We encourage you to visit the ASA where we think you will find much of interest.'

Take a look in. If you like canoe yawls (who doesn't), you'll find much beauty there. The site is still in it's incubation phase, so you can have a hand in growing it

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

'Constance' .2: Launch

Down the ramp in Rowhedge on the River Colne

Easily seen here, some stern details, click the photo for a larger image to study further.

Into the Colne, with a local audience

Isn't she lovely

Quayside, stepping the mast, and rigging

All rigged

Constance in her mudberth

Preparing for the first sail

all photos courtesy Dick Wynne

In my previous post on Constance I shared several photos of the building of Dick Wynne's Albert Strange Wenda. Here we see the result and her launching. Here's Dick on Constance's launch:

On Saturday 8 July CONSTANCE, a traditional clinker rendition of Albert Strange’s much admired but seldom built Design No 45 WENDA of 1899, slipped into the waters of the River Colne at Rowhedge in Essex, across the road from builder Fabian Bush’s yard. With the aid of a sweep Fabian and I got her alongside the little quay to step her mast and rig her with the help of family and friends, and by next day were able to sail her past the crowd assembled for the annual Rowhedge Village Regatta to applause well-deserved by her builder.

And here some comments from Phil Bolger via the ASA weblog:


August 10th, 2006 by Dick Wynne, London

Readers may be aware that the working plans for Albert Strange’s Design #45 WENDA were developed for WoodenBoat magazine by Phil Bolger about 20 years ago, in response to strong interest from the magazine’s readership. Both Fabian Bush and I have corresponded with Phil during the building, and on receipt of some photos of her on the water which I sent him, Phil wrote back:

“Thank you very much for the photos of your lovely Wenda (CONSTANCE). They all delight me, especially the one showing her nestled into a mud berth, and those showing the beauty of a canoe stern.

My compliments to Mr Bush, and to Mr Hall as the cut of the sails looks extremely nice. Watch out for that added halyard outside the jib roller. I had a traumatic experience with such an arrangement when the sail was allowed to thrash, rolled the second line into itself, and would not go in, out, up, or down, in the mid-watch and a rising wind in the middle of the Med.”

I plan to move the lower end of the spare halyard to the foot of the mast, where it will be out of the way yet available if needed. I doubt that loss of the wire forestay through the jib roller would result in danger to the fairly short, keel-stepped mast before the spare could be deployed.

[Postscript — Phil Bolger also did us proud with a double-page spread in the October 1 (2006 ed.) issue of Messing About in Boats — Ed]

You can access many more photos as well as informative articles on Albert Strange boats, designs, painting and stories, and boats by his contemporaries, on the ASA weblog .

Next up, first sail et al.

In the meantime, visit the ASA blog for more Strange boats, and there's also a new kid on the block, started by Dick and others from the ASA, canoeyawl. org ...go! ( more on this later)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

'Constance' .1: the build

Albert Strange: Taken in the Bennett family's garden. Edmund Bennett, a Gravesend architect, commissioned Strange to design Wenda, named after Bennett's daughter.

Wenda, AS #45

Clinker larch on a wych elm backbone, with oak stems and frames. Centre-case and rudder trunk are iroko. Steel centreplate. Plywood deck. Oak brightwork. Fitted out in oak, cedar and ash. Spruce spars. Built by Fabian Bush. Sails in Clipper synthetic canvas, made by Steve Hall, North Sea sails.

Lead keel 1350 lbs

Backbone - elm
Builder Fabian Bush's friend George lending a hand.

Lining out - 14 planks

Planking - 1/2" larch

Planked up

A stern "to die for"

That expanse of deck will be broken up by 3 deadlights to illuminate sleeping area and forepeak, oars, anchor, jib sheet blocks etc.

Internal fitout complete apart from stove to be near bulkhead on port side. Keep it simple!

Building outside the lines and raising the deck 2 inches meant the steeply raked rudder shaft reached 2 inches further back, very close to the mizzen. This left no room for the horse to be as drawn between rudder and mast, so rather than move either we moved the horse forward a few inches to avoid a crowded look.

A couple of planks at the bilge have sacrificial layers added for a few feet, to take the wear of grounding. We may add a metal-shod rail. (They did, creating in effect, a bilge runner , ed. )

Roof framed, decklights fitted,bow rollers fitted

near completion

all material and photos courtesy Dick Wynne

I first became acquainted with Albert Strange through a WoodenBoat article (WB #64, pg 49) by Mike Burn who had discovered and renovated Strange's first Sheila. That article appeared in 1985, and I've since never lost interest in the work of this most distinguished designer. There is a wealth of research and information on Strange, his work and that of some of his contemporaries to be found at the Albert Strange Association website. The site also offers views and articles on Strange designs sailing today, and I highly recommend it. Dick Wynne is one of the principals of the Association and and author of many of the articles found on it's weblog. He became enchanted with a smaller Strange design, Wenda, the plans for which were resuscitated and offered by WoodenBoat. Initially imagining that he would build her himself, after taking some steps in that direction, Dick began to realize the project would be better realized by a professional. In his words:

'The rationalisation continued: If I could not build her someone else would have to, at least in part for me to complete. And whilst I was about it, why not have what I really wanted, a traditional clinker rendering of the design? To my mind this would show off her lines to perfection, as can be seen in Jake Roulstone’s Sally, and provide a high strength-to-weight ratio.

It didn’t take long for me to locate Fabian Bush (of Rowhedge, Essex)* on the basis of a hull-only clinker build by him written up in Water Craft magazine (Molly Cobbler in No25, Jan/Feb 2001). Molly is a super boat with a lovely job of lining out, so if Fabian was game to repeat the experience I was too. As Fabian puts it:

“I must say that I have always found it more pleasant and satisfying to be afloat on a traditional-built boat … in a way, maintenance is easier (simply using basic traditional paints and varnishes), the materials and surfaces are kinder, the smells are more pleasant, the sound of the boat sailing and at rest is more gentle and ‘full’; the hand-built nature of a traditional boat is much more evident …”

I was keen to achieve a robust craft in which I need not worry too much about taking the ground or indeed the odd knock, and equally keen to keep costs down. After some discussion and thought Fabian suggested doubling up the planks at the bilge for a few feet, with the ends faired-in, in fishing-boat style. As well as a measure of protection, this would impart additional rigidity and may enable us to dispense with bilge stringers (longitudinal internal members, one each side against the frames) along with the inconvenience in maintenance and repair which they contribute. Their value in adding rigidity to a clinker hull, where the planks are joined to each other as well as to the frames, seems questionable.'

And so happily the work commenced and was brought to fruition. I've selected a sampling of photos of the build process here, but there are many more to be found on the ASA site. You can also track the project through several articles written by Mr. Wynne as the work progressed from inspiration to completion, with a progress report along the way. There is also a bit of commentary by the late designer Phil Bolger, who drew up Wenda's plans for WB.

*I first discovered Fabian Bush also through a WB article on the British Wooden Boat Revival back in 1986. Take a look at his Osea Brig in that article.

This is the first installation of what will likely be a three part series, stay tuned.