Thank God for the Lockdown!

Well, here we are in May 2020, and we are actually looking like Befur will soon warrant her “S.Y.” prefix, being a real Steam Yacht and all!

Almost all 6 panels, but missing a few bits of string – hence the creases….

Nine years work, and we feel like we are getting close to the end – the lockdown has been a blessing, as it has removed the stress of trying to be ready for the 1st of April, when our Windermere berth became available, and allowed us to work through the near-endless list of jobs that needed doing…

Today we managed to hoist the sail for the first time, and while there are several more bits of “string” to be added, it actually looked something like the CAD drawings we have been working from for a couple of years. Rather satisfying!

Missing String List:

  1. Sheets & Sheetlets
  2. Tack Line
  3. Luff Hauling Parrel
  4. Lacing of Sail to Boom
  5. Lengthening Aft Lazy-Jack Span

(if you want a nice movie and HTML animations of all the rigging on a junk sail these are good)

Rigging the Mast and Sail

The first challenge was to raise the mast again (since we poured the extra casting rubber to

Showing the mast step/tabernacle & view to companion way

A view of the tabernacle from inside the cabin – note hi-viz clamps!

make a good fit between the tabernacle and the mast foot), the first attempt failed (it was all too snug), but some spray-on silicone lubricant produced the desired result. As noted previously we use a temporary running fore-guy to do this (as per PJR), but it is nerve-wracking – and a failure would surely destroy the cabin and mast at the least!

It took a few attempts to manage to rig all the lines without a twist/snag, but thankfully we did not need to drop the mast to fix the issues we had.

But it is quite scary doing all this standing on the roof with the boat on the trailer, as falling would not produce the impromptu dunking you would get from the dock, but a certainty of some broken bones!

Fitting the Batten Parrels as we raised the sail, with the builder damaging his knees – OOowww.

It’s amazing how all the reading comes to life once you are dealing with the real article. All the lines start to make sense.

Not much to say about the process, but a BIG thank you to the members of the JRA (Junk Rig Association) who were generous with their advice – particular note to Arne Kverneland (for his excellent write-up’s and guides to sail design), and to David Tyler for a very informative visit to him and Weaverbird and his advice on sail cloth and casting rubber – and general encouragement!

So, just some pictures to record the day, and show the internal arrangement of the Cabin, Mast step and Tabernacle…. and then below on some of the other tasks we have undertaken in the last month or so… (as always, click on the pictures to see a bigger version) ..

Other Activity

We had a work list of about 45 jobs that needed doing, we have made quite a lot of progress, perhaps the most notable activities have been:

  • Installing a third of a tonne of pig iron ingots under the cabin floors, to make her more stable and get her floating at/near the intended waterline. This involved making frames and retaining bars, to keep the 18Kg ingots in place and prevent them from resting on the hull planks. We have left about half of them out, so we can make final adjustments on the dock, and got the rest in the back of the Landy to help when towing…!
  • Installing hydraulic/wheel steering. We concluded that it would be good to be able to steer from the “engineer’s position” to make docking easier, and allow single-handed operation. We are retaining the tiller for use when sailing. (The sheets are controlled from the stern, while the halyard and other lines from the rear of the cabin.) This has turned into a real mission – the helm pump proved to have jammed while sitting on a shelf, and required a two-day strip and rebuild!. Mounting the hydraulic ram and hoses was very hard as the rear of the boat is a sealed, water-tight, compartment with just a 8″ x 4″ hatch. The current challenge is  trying to design and fit a linkage from the ram to the tiller, that allows for the radial movement of the tiller and the various other “miss-alignments” that result from the interface between curvy wooden boat and linear hydraulic engineering!
  • Fixing a variety of trailer-related tweaks to improve the towing/loading processes.
  • Designing/making/fitting a Mast Boot (to provide a removable water-proof cover for the tabernacle).
  • Fitting all the blocks, cleats, jammers and winch to the cabin roof.
  • Refinishing the cabin roof (epoxy, glass cloth, 2-part epoxy paint etc.)
  • Refitting the loo, better curtains/track for the heads
  • Fitting the mast head lights and wiring, and relocating the solar panels to the front of the cabin roof.
  • Removing a great deal of oily filth from the bilges and tanks….yuck!

Thank you and hugs to Louise for all her patience, weight lifting and skill with the sewing machine…

However, the to-do-list is down to about 12 items!



3 thoughts on “Thank God for the Lockdown!

  1. nick

    Very impressive as you say makes her very different. Lets hope lockdown allows sailing soon.

  2. Geoff Shingles

    Malcolm – you are undoubtedly a star. What a project. Very close to finished as I’m sure you know there will always be a list of 12 things to do or more on any boat.
    But what an achievement – full of admiration here.

    1. sybefur Post author

      Thanks Geoff. Just lots of dogged/bloddy-minded determination and a very accommodating/supportive Louise! You must come for a sail…if/when we get out of all this 🙂


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