An article dedicated to all those who said it wouldn't happen!
'Dove' is a 15ft x 5ft clinker built Humber Yawl.
One of the previous owners, Mr Dodgson, has told us that in the early part of the century she was copied several times, but each time the tight canoe stern defeated the builders. One copy ended up with a transom stern. He also thinks that the remains of a sister ship are in the mud at Brigham.
Dove and the H.Y.C.
She first appeared in the H.Y.C. yearbook in 1904, owned by R.Garlick of Hull. It seems that she was however sailed almost exclusively on Hornsea mere or the sea and was never considered a Brough boat. Mr Garlick is shown as the owner until 1934 when she disappears from the club records.
We have recently heard from Mr James Dodgson of Bridlington that Dove was owned for a short while by a Mr Hemingway of Bridlington, who was captain of the Bridlington Hockey Club where James Dodgson also played.
In 1936 or '37 Dove was set up fully rigged on the dance floor at a yacht club dance at the Spar, and having seen her for the first time Mr Dodgson bought her. When he purchased her, James Holmes of Hornsea offered to do a survey of her for him; the offer was declined as the cost was to have been more than the cost of the boat.
She was kept in Bridlington harbour and sailed in the bay. She also sailed as far as Whitby and the Humber in the years before and after World War II. She was owned and sailed by him and his son in law J.R. Tait of Hornsea, until Mr Tait gave her to us in 1976 as she was in need of repair.
So in 1976 Mr Tait, the son in law of Mr Dodgson, was concerned enough about the condition of the boat in his small garden in Hornsea that he communicated with the Humber Yawl Club to say that if anyone wanted to take the restoration job on, then they could have the boat for free.
By chance, as we had missed the meeting, we got to hear of this offer and had arranged to collect the boat the following weekend. Luckily the boat would fit on our Humber One Design's trailer and we were able to go as a family and collect it. We felt that we were in a good position to restore the boat, having built numerous canoes, a Cap Horn, a Lymington 4½ ton sloop, and having, for a family of Solicitors and Accountants, a remarkably well stocked workshop and boat shed.
When we got to Hornsea the boat was a sorry sight. She had obviously been out of the water for some years.
It was plain to see that the family had spent many happy hours playing in the boat and filling it with gravel, before we could lift the boat onto the trailer we had to shovel the gravel out to reduce the weight. After we had removed the gravel, we could see through the bottom of the boat as long (3' to 4') ½" splits ran for 5 or 6 feet on some planks.
Some time after the boat was 'put down to mature' in the
boat shed Mr Dodgson turned up to see it. He was not best pleased that his
son in law had given the boat away to us, but recognised that we were
doing something positive to it and gave us his blessing, he hoped to see
it when it was fully restored.
About half of the planks had long longitudinal cracks along the grain of the planks. This seems to have been caused by either beaching or drying out. The larger cracks were perhaps ½" wide and up to 6' 1ong. However, there were many others which were only visible when the deck was cleaned and pressure applied to the planks when you could see the sides of the crack open out.
The whole of the bottom of the boat had been plastered on the outside with a bitumastic type paint which obscured much of the damage, and by the end of the restoration much time and Nitro-Mors had been used up in removing this filthy stuff.
The centreboard case had a lead tingle attached to it and the hog which when it was removed revealed a large area of rotten wood on both sides of the centreboard case. The lead had been added in an attempt to stop the water coming in through the holes. The centreboard case obviously had to be replaced.
Much of the boat was inaccessible because of the deck so the deck was removed, and stored on top of the car! The process of removal showed that it too was rotten around the edges and screw holes. It also showed that it was the origina1 deck as it had been cut and shaped from solid tree wood - the deck planks were 3/8" thick and 30" wide. The deck was kept so that we could use it as a reference when we came to make the new one.
Almost the first thing that we did to Dove when we got her home was to take many photographs of deck fittings, the mast and even the sails up. We felt that this would be useful as the restoration progressed and now sixteen years later we are very grateful for the foresight. The collection of photographs showing the deck fittings were particularly useful and enabled us to put all the fittings back where they belonged.
Having seen the longitudinal cracks in the planks the initial plan was to replace the planks one by one, and for that purpose several long planks of larch were bought and laid aside to season in the shed. However as the boat was slowly dismantled it was obvious that it would be impossible to get the boat back together again if the boat was taken apart down to the keel. This meant that another way had to be found to repair the splits in-situ rather than by replacing the planks.
The cuts were made parallel by using a number of hacksaw blades, the crack was judged to be 1, 2, 3 or more hacksaw blades wide and the blades inserted, and after much uncomfortable sawing (as hacksaw blades without a hacksaw are not the most pleasant things to cut with! ) the groove would be complete. There were other complications as the splits did not run straight and some of the slots looked more like a set of steps.
It must also be realised that it was important not to cut through the ribs of the boat as one cut along the splits. The ribs were all that held the boat together. Working from underneath the boat cutting through from the outside and avoiding the ribs whilst widening the crack in the plank, is as difficult as it sounds.
Often the parallel cut was not a straight line as the split followed the grain of the wood, this meant the job of inserting splines of wood into the crack was not the most easy. The splines were cut from the larch planks and sawed, planed, sanded and enticed to fit, first dry; then with a generous coating of Cascamite. These splines were then left for eight years to set fully!
Several of the boat's ribs had broken, some were even missing. The boat should have had floorboards in it to protect the ribs - there are battens across to take these- but the boards were missing.
We obtained a very nice plank of unseasoned straight grained oak from H.Y.C. member David Anthill in a swap for some seasoned oak, and cut it up into 3/8" x 1" x 6' strips. These were to be steamed to make replacement ribs.
Steaming & Riveting.
By this time it was six years since we had got the boat and the work had been very irregular, with work concentrating on 'Turmoil'. The planks were stuck together and splined but there was much more work to do. The Humber Yawl Club centenary regatta was approaching and H.Y.C. member Cliff Harwin offered to help to get the boat launched for the regatta.
Work started on replacing the ribs.
A hacksaw blade was used to cut out an old or damaged rib. The blade was inserted between plank and rib, as the boat is clinker built there is just enough room for this, and by cutting the copper nails the rib could be freed. When the rib had been removed the area around it could be cleaned of paint and the area pained with primer and white paint.
It was important not to remove too many ribs from one area at a time as they defined the shape of the boat. Later we had to support the keel of the boat in the middle as well as at the ends, as we discovered that the when the deck beams were removed as well as some of the ribs, the boat sagged down in the middle and became wider.
Once the area had been prepared the unseasoned oak was steamed using a
collection of Primus stoves, old paint tins and hose pipe the steaming
usually took twenty minutes to half an hour. The steamed strips which had
been roughly cut to length were then placed in position and coaxed to
adopt the shape of the boat, then clamped at their top edges to set.
Rot Rot Rot!
Removal of the aft deck revealed that the stern knee and sternpost were very rotten and that the planks were only stuck to the sternpost by the glue of time rather than by mechanical means, both ends of the boat were very nail sick and as a temporary measure most of the nails were replaced by silicon bronze wood screws, these did as much to keep the stern and stem posts in place as to keep the planks attached to them.
Far more work than expected.
It soon became apparent that there was far too much work to do on the boat and the centenary celebrations slipped by.
The 2nd attempt.
Some years later, at the 1991 annual genera1 meeting of the Albert Strange Association, we heard about the boat festival in 1992 at Brest and at the wooden boat show in London in June 1991 we made the error of signing up at their stand, this may have been because we spoke no French, and they no English! We thought that we were just expressing interest in the event, but for the next 12 months we were bombarded by letters in franglais explaining ell the details of the events.
We then decided to move house, which involved moving into an unheated, unpowered and unwatered house in late November. After three months of D.I.Y. the house was liveable in and we were thrown into a panic to get the boat ready for the rapidly approaching July.
A small space of time.
The most significant change in our boat building style was that we were now the U.K. importers for GRAF epoxy resin and so had copious quantities of resin to use, hence our build philosophy changed slightly.
Cleaning up the inside.
The inside of the boat needed considerable work, each time a rib was removed the area around it was stripped back to bare wood, any cracks filled with epoxy and then primed, undercoated and white glossed before the new rib was put in place.
As has already been stated it was impossible to remove too many ribs at a time, for fear of the boat sagging. This meant that much time was spent waiting for epoxy and each layer of paint to set before the next stage could be carried out. The whole process of replacing the ribs in the centre part of the boat took from March until early May this year.
In the eight years since the first attempt the piece of straight grained oak obtained for the ribs had become well seasoned and was now totally useless for steaming, and a second, far inferior, piece was obtained, this plank although it looked straight grained had a funny twist to the grain which caused some of the ribs to buckle and split as they were immersed. When you have got up steam and steamed a rib for twenty or thirty minutes, this is very disappointing!
In the fina1 stages of restoration when time was getting short we tried riveting the strips to the boat while they were stil1 hot, this was not very successful as often there was no strength in the wood to cope with the forces of riveting and the wood split or the copper nail bent in the soft wood. As usual Murphy's law held and the rib invariably split on the last rivet.
In fact the final rib took three attempts, each time the steamer had to be fired up for this single rib and each time it snapped on the last rivet. In desperation we tried fitting a steamed rib that had been lying around the boat shed for 8 years, left over from the first attempt it fitted perfectly
Ribs & Lockers.
Dove has two side lockers in the cockpit, which although they take up valuable room also act to support the side deck strongly. Both fronts to the lockers were in poor condition and were used as templates for replacements. The origina1 lockers were also sealed up the back with other planks to stop water from the boat getting into them and into the crew's sandwiches, but this was thought unnecessary with the advent of Tupperware boxes.
Once the ribs had been replaced it was possible to remove the centreboard case which had been, even in its poor state of health, supporting the structure of the boat. Great care was taken to support the boat before the case was removed, in case the boat sagged without this inside it.
How did the Centreboard work?
Our biggest problem was to find out how the centreboard worked. The old keel had been removed early in restoration, and we were unable to identify where the centreboard pivoted about. We expected that the pin would go through the case inside the boat and we had identified that this pin had been the cause of all the rot on the case. However, when we came to inspect the case it was clear that the holes on either side of the case didn't match. Closer inspection underneath the boat and of the old keel, which as you might expect had been saved in a decrepit state in the boat shed, showed that the pin went through the centreboard case outside the boat, and is in fact an excellent place for it as the pivot in this place does not need to be sealed against water.
A new case.
Before removing the old case it was measured very carefully. The measurement was slightly complicated as the case leans forward in the boat to give clearance for the board when it is up, this meant that there were very few right angles on the case from which to work.
We had already decided that Iroko was to be our choice of wood for the centreboard case and replacement keel and shortly before they ceased trading we bought three 16' by 12" by 1" planks from Hanwell's in Hull.
The case was made from two sides each made from three epoxy butt jointed planks and these sides were then sealed on the inside with at least three coats of epoxy.
We allowed a gap of 1/8" on both sides of the plate in the case, and using it has shown us that this would be the minimum that should be used, on another boat we would allow ¼" at least, the Humber mud seems to relish the challenge of a small gap!
Removal of the old case.
A chisel and mallet then removed most of the rest from the inside of the boat, but left the problem of how to remove the bit that was stuck in the hog. Examination underneath the boat didn't help except that it became obvious that this was the origina1 centreboard case, and it was evident that when the boat was built, the case went in first and everything else was built round it!
Eventually there was nothing for it but to proceed carefully with a chisel to remove the wood and a hacksaw to remove the screws that came from somewhere inside the hog. Eventually the slot was clear, including a widened cut in the bottom two planks of the boat which had previously overlapped the bottom of the case.
Fitting the new one.
A trial fitting was attempted. This was complicated because in order to keep some strength in the boat one or two of the deck beams were in place to hold the sides of the boat together. Once we had manoeuvred the case between the beams we eased and cajoled it into place, admired it for a second or two - and then tried to remove it.
One thing to remember about epoxy resin is that it sticks quite well! We had hurried the trial fitting of the case and the epoxy coating we had given it was still slightly tacky. When put into close contact with the slot, it stuck like the proverbial! We finally got it out with a 5 ton jack pushing up on the case from underneath and our weight pushing down on the slot from on top!
Finally after some further trial runs with a dry case the case was fitted permanently with epoxy poured and 'squeegeed' down into the slight gap between slot and case, and the top of the case held vertical with the deck beams. (The old case leaned about 5 to port).
Spars & Sails.
As work progressed on the ribs and centreboard case we had busied ourselves in sorting out the masts and assorted rig as we wanted to avoid any problems with these at a later stage.
Dove's rig is a rather complicated.
The Mast. The mizzen is a relatively straight forward Bermudan bat wing. The batwing 'elbow' and boom are made from rather nice spruce spars and are in fine condition. The mast, bumpkin and spars were varnished and put aside.
The mainsail is even more complicated. The sail has a free gaff which is held almost vertical, with the bottom part of the sail held by a boom attached to the mast with a standard gooseneck. There is a second pole about 18" up the sail which is used for reefing. All of the main spars are of bamboo and are each about 1½" in diameter and between 12' and 15' long. More will be said about these spars later.
The main mast was of spruce and it appeared that sometime before a crack had appeared in it, which someone had filled with putty. It was now unusable. Unsurprisingly however, we just happened to have a spare mast in the shed which someone in the family had picked up on the off chance that it might come in useful one day. It was almost identical and simply required packing a little to fit into the mast step on the deck.
It appeared that we had got the original sails as well. Although they
would not stand up to any sort of breeze, they were perfectly useable as a
pattern for a new set. Rockall sails unfortunately underquoted for the job
of making a new set at the boat show, and then were decent enough to make
them for the quoted price, and then charged plenty for putting on the sail
Keel and ends.
Next a completely new set of deck beams was made from the larch we had bought to make the planking, and was fitted to ensure that when we turned the boat upside down for the next stage, the boat would not lose its shape. As a precaution complete deck beams were fitted where the cockpit would go these would be cut out after the deck had been fitted and would not only help with the boats strength while it was worked upon but would ensure that the deck would have a symmetric curve.
The time was now about the second week in June and Brest '92 was less than a month away!
At this stage the boat was quite light enough for the two of us to turn it upside down without trouble and the boat was inverted and work started on the underside.
The final bits of the original keel were chiselled out and work started on laminating up a new keel from 3/8" strips of Iroko. We were able to apply one lamination per day and progressed well. The biggest problem was that the laminations were held in place with screws while the epoxy set and often the screws became extremely well stuck. In our house-building phase we had bought a variable speed hammer drill with screw-driving ability it was simply marvellous at removing the glued in screws.
Cleaning the planks.
While the laminated kee1 was setting hard much effort was expended in the hot weather at the end of June in stripping the bitumastic paint and varnish from the hull. This was undertaken with Nitro- Mors', a wall paper stripping knife, a large amount of steel wool and copious quantities of sweat!
Once the hull had been cleaned off the problem areas such as cracks, irregularities, and holes were identified with chalk marks and repaired with epoxy and filler. We started by using sawdust as the filler as we hoped that it would match the wood better, but found after a while that the sawdust when set resisted almost all attempts with sandpaper or files to smooth it. On the whole we recommend the more normal fillers.
An inspector calls.
In order to obtain insurance for sailing her we needed to obtain a survey of Dove, we suggested to Nigel Ling, the recommended surveyor from Hedon, that the boat was at a stage at which it would be easiest to survey as the deck was about to go on and many places would become inaccessible.
The survey went well. The opinion was that it would leak like a sieve to start with but with a little time the wood would swell and she would be fine. He also suggested that the gaps along the clinker construction would be the most trouble and that the best repair would be to use Secamastic as a sealant as Sikaflex would be too strong and inflexible for this.
On the whole he was impressed by the condition of the boat and thought that our splining technique was unconventional but acceptable with modern glues!
He was also impressed that, when riveting, the old man of the family had been made to lie on his back in the dust under the boat, while the youngster had remained comfortably up above
It was now less than two weeks to the event and high time we started on the deck!
The old deck was in very poor condition and it had been decided that the new deck was to be made from a sandwich of two layers of 4mm marine ply and epoxy.
The ply was cut to shape and the first layer glued down and held to the deck beams with ½" screws. We found this a very ineffective method of clamping the ply to the deck beams. Even though we started in the middle of the boat and worked outwards the curve on the ply was never quite right, we always required another one screw just where the deck beam wasn't! Inspection of the bond from inside the boat showed us that the bond was strong enough but didn't follow the beams at all times. We realised that we would have problems with the second layer of the sandwich if we couldn't get it to lie flat on the first layer.
Another problem was that this part of June was the hottest part of the summer, the temperature in the shed was always above 24' C and the epoxy was setting very fast in both senses of the word, potlife was as low as fifteen minutes and the screws used to clamp the deck remain to this day.
A brainwave hit us that a staple gun would be just what we needed. The staples could be put in very quickly and would leave little for the epoxy to stick to. A compressed air staple gun was hired and the forward quarter of the first layer of deck and the whole of the second layer of the deck was laid in the one day!
The boat was turned back upside down so that the planks could be varnished.
It was impressive how much stronger the boat had become with deck and keel fitted.
Varnish and rain.
It was now less than ten days to the big event, and as Murphy's law would have it, it was also the end of summer! The week before had been so hot that the resin was setting before it could be used. Now that time was of the essence the heavens opened, the temperature dropped and the varnish on the planks refused to dry! Secamastic was putty knifed into the gaps between the planks and we were forced to sit and wait for the varnish to dry. As a boat nears completion the few tasks that remain always seem to depend on the one simple job to be finished!
We used traditional linseed oil varnish manufactured in Hull by Westoby's and costing about £11 a gallon, so far we are very satisfied with the result.
Finally the varnish dried and the boat was righted and work started on the deck fittings. In the final week we had worked on the cockpit coaming and the sets of pulleys that are used to raise and lower the centre plate - which weighs about 8 stone - and those used for the mainsail.
The 'spiders' which hold the rowlocks, the cleats on the deck and the horse which holds the main sheet tackle were all fitted.
Time was getting very short and the whole family arrived from Suffolk and Scotland for the final weekend so that we could complete the boat in time for Brest.
Spars a second time round. It was at about this time - probably that we reappraised the bamboo boom and gaff. We had seen that some of the splicing was in a sorry state and that it could do with tidying. When we leant on the spars to see if there were any cracks, we were horrified to see great gaps appear in the poles. As there was no time to do anything about getting new spars, the family set to and bound every inch of the poles. The end results have lasted the rest of the season.
Oh yes - we built the trailer for the boat in the last five weeks as well! The only really significant features of the trailer are that one, it still is not quite finished, and two it has 'soft ride' suspension. This suspension means that even when it is unladen the trailer rides smoothly over bumps. Although it cost a little more, about £100 for a 750kg trailer, we feel that it was well worth it, even on poor ground the boat glides smoothly on the trailer.
And to Brest!
On the morning of Wednesday the 8th of July there was still much to do, and we had to catch the 11pm ferry from Plymouth. Somehow we managed to attach the rubbing strake, manufacture some floorboards, put the locker doors on, and alter horse, spiders and cleats.
The boat met the trailer for the first time at 11:45am - and fitted! There was just time to pack, chock, tie down the boat and throw in a bucket of water to start the wood swelling, before we were off.
We left Cherry Burton at 1:30pm set for Plymouth and Brest '92 and to see if she floated, - but that's another story!
The moral of the story is that for a restoration job you need a fixed deadline, preferably one which you have paid for, such as a ferry. It also helps if it's sixteen years off!