Process of documenting “Spindrift”

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Poor “Spindrift,” not much chance of saving this boat I am afraid, she was in such poor condition that rennovation was out of the question. This fact eased my conscience, as my plan was to thoroughly document this boat by first measuring,  then carefully dismantling it in order  to reveal construction details.  Documentation of this boat began on the 12th September. Before I could begin measuring I had to re-establish the sheer line as most of this had rotted away. To solve the missing sheer problem I wrapped a batten around the boat using the remaining features as landmarks upon which to locate the sheer. The batten was secured in place using a combination of clamps, glue from a hot glue gun, and nails. Once I was happy that the sheer was as accurate as possible I was able to begin measuring. Measuring done I made the drawings, which I am at present inking, once done, these will be in the following blog post, along with some history of the boat.


Keel length: 10 feet (305 cm)

Length overall: 16 3/4 feet (513cm)

beam: 5 feet 1 inch (156.5 cm)

Aft stem: note the rotten stem head and the oblique cut skair and upper rudder hangings. scale marks are 150mm long.


First observations: the stems.

The strange thing with this boat is the fact that the stems are the same height. I thought I must have made a mistake measuring, as normally Shetland boats have a slightly lower aft stem, but know, the stems were the same height. A friend, and Shetland model guru, Brian Wishart,  explained that these early racing boats were ballasted towards the stern which made the stern sit lower in the water. This meant that they were therefore built with the stems the same height so that when on the water and ballasted they looked right. It seems that the view in the 1930’s was that boats sailed faster if they were trimmed stern down, this of course is not true, as trimming the boat by the stern actually increases the wetted surface area, therefore increasing drag and making the boat sail slower.

Fore stem skair, note the remains of a bobstay fitting.

Each stem was constructed in two parts, from a grown curve of what looks to be larch.  There was some short grain and this had been the cause of the aft stem failiure; fracturing at the level of the bottom rudder hanging. Indeed, short grain was also a problem on the baand (frame) heads too, and the majority of these had failed at just below the sheer. The tops of the stems had rotted away, and so, again using the vagueist of clues left on the stems I reconstructed the stem heads so that an overall length of the boat could be established. The stems were generally in very poor condition and the aft stem showed signs craking along the short grain towardst the apex of the curve. The rudder hanging fittings on the aft stem were intact, the top two were of black iron, corroded but serviceable, and the bottom fitting was made of copper also serviceable. There was the remains of a fitting on the fore stem and it seems that at some point “Spindrift” was fitted with a bow sprit.

Keel with the bevelled hog.
keel with port gairbuird forward looking aft.
Keel with port gairbuird aft looking forward. Note the lower rudder hanging and where the aft stem had failed.
Car body filler at the end of the aft keel skair.
Car body filler removed.

The keel.

Keel length from scarph end to scarph end was 10 feet (305 cm) made from larch. The keel was made in two-parts: a lower keel which had a 38mm thick hog ferrous fastened on top (300mm centred fastenings). The hog having the bevel on it for fastening the garibuird (garboard) strake to. There was no rabbet present on the keel or stems. Unlike many Shetland model boats the top of the keel hog was completely flat; ending abruptly with no transition to the inner stems. Noted at the aft keel skair with carbody filler.

The bands braced so as to maintain their shape, note the failed tops of some of the baands which have split due to short grain.
Forward facing skair on the hassin board (portside).
Hood ends, note the remnants of red lead putty, this seems to have been the preferred bedding compound used throughout the boat.
Ply wood repair patch.
Foward facing skair on the hassin strake . Note the plywood repair patch on the strake above.
Evidence of strake replacement. Note the two plugged fastening holes either side of the middle hole.

The hull.

Was constructed of two types of timber, the upper four strakes were made from a very light (in weight) white, fir wood, possibly spruce,  and the lower three strakes were constructed from larch. Planking thickness varried between 11-13 mm along the strakes which suggests that these strakes. The hull was through riveted by means of copper nail and rove fastenings, and the distance between the fastenings was not consistant: ranging from 90mm – 130mm centres. Plank landing width on the three lower larch strakes was 30mm and 20mm on the upper four white wood strakes.

There were numerous skair (scarph) joints that were not symetrical from one side of the boat to the other.  There were some plywood patches on the inside of the boat that were rotten. These patches had been rivet fastened using copper nails and roves. The patches covered splits that had formed along the plank lands. a common problem with larch (which is known for splitting easily along its grain). Plank scarphs were 60mm in length and all scarph joints were aft facing except one, located on the port side aft on the hassin (second strake up from the keel) board. This was in the area of the boat called the shot (the space between the last baand aft and the middle baand). It is not clear if this was a boatbuilder error or was following the west Norwegian tradition of having forward facing skairs at this part of the boat on the halsane strake (gairbuird). I have seen this feature on a few Shetland models and this is an interesting remnant of a very old west Norwegian boatbuilding tradition which only exisits in the Oselvar boats of Os today. There was a nile (drain) hole on the starboard side well aft and this had a diameter of 13mm.

Drawings to follow shortly.


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