Gales, sleet and snow earlier in the week and today it’s howling from the West. The sun is trying but the clouds are winning. Yesterday, Thursday, we were so lucky. Not a big tide but oh-so gentle breeze with wall-to-wall, warm sunshine. Both boats out for the first trial with the latest set of oars, crafted by Rob, Peter and others in Ian’s barn.
Firstly, getting the boats ready:
Comparing the oars, weighing the previous set:
Now the new ones:
Balance and centre of gravity improving. Lacing of leathers waiting for further stretch/shrinkage before final tightening up.
Hoi Larntan and crew then took them on a record-breaking anti-clockwise circuit of the Pit while Bluejacket had a sedate row to the beach by Pinchen’s Creek, where coffee and chocolate biscuits built up energy reserves for the row back.
Rosemary took the photos – thanks.
Amid the gales, sleet and snow it’s easy to forget that just a few days ago we had this:
Roll on Summer!
Thanks to Tom for photos. (What were you doing up that late?)
The oar construction gang are in the final stages of making the latest set of oars – and this involves needlework. First cut out a piece of 4mm leather, mark out & punch holes for the lacing, same number each side, then soak in water for a couple of days. The result is a soft & stretchy piece of leather which can be clamped to the oar and laced with strong waxed thread whilst still wet:
The soft leather has to be stretched around the oar, so that as it dries out & shrinks it is a tight fit. To do this, the lacing is pulled hard. Really hard:
and once all the lacing is done, tighten further by picking up each pair of stitches with a screwdriver & twisting tourniquet fashion:
Nothing subtle about this – an amazing amount of force can be applied without the leather breaking – far more than might be thought possible, to the extent that consistency of highness can be checked by the ‘twang’ each stitch makes when plucked. Once done, it’s left to dry out & shrink. Time for each oar – around 25 minutes to cut & punch the leather, 2 days to soak, an hour to fit, then a couple of days to dry out.
Theres some final painting & finishing off to do, but not long to wait now.
Well, it felt like it yesterday. In the morning Rob and crew were out with the turning buoy, which you can just see (if you are lucky) in the stern of the boat as they made their way back home from an outing in near perfect conditions.
(Photo taken from the Blakeney webcam, sited on the roof of the White Horse pub in the High Street, courtesy of Glaven Valley Internet and Print Ltd – many thanks to both – a fantastic resource. If you haven’t had a look, please do. New picture every two minutes or so – and the White Horse is a great place for a drink and to eat).
In the p.m. it was back to oars – stretching and lacing the leathers which had been soaking for a couple of days in a bath of water. Oars now varnished and blades being painted – bit of shaping to handles and we should be there.
Rob brought my new t-shirt, in special Strangford Skiffie Worlds livery:
Pretty smart eh? And they are wicking too! If you don’t know what that is, ask Rob.