A Boat on the Side
24Jan/110

Scruffie Days Landlocked!

Outdoor English Oak Furniture

Three or four years ago we saved a truck load of locally grown English Oak logs destined for firewood. We got in a contractor with a Lucas Mill and stacked it up to season. We sprayed it for borers and waited.

Since then we’ve had no requests to trim boats with it which is a pity but it is heavy and hard. There’s some wild and wonderful grain patterns and shapes though – a lot of it was twisted and gnarled. Some benign fungi had given it streaks of grey-yellow and dark brown so it’s excellent for feature panels in THE NEW BOOKCASE (photos soon!) But there’s an awful lot of it in the yard and big quantities of small misshapen chunks. So for Christmas I built a garden bench for Annette – not that she has much time to sit in the garden but in a year or two  . . . .

The bench was a success and a passerby walking her dog remarked that it looked lovely and can she have one please? I made up two more which meant more of the good oak went to a good garden and the timber stocks shrank a bit. Business as usual, however, gets in the way of such fanciful pursuits and boat work is beginning to build up again. It was nice to do them though – 50 x 50mm epoxied tenons, stainless steel roof batten screws and all, they’ll outlast me! It’s unlikely we’ll be doing too many more but I’ve cut out enough timber for a refectory table and done some balustrade rails for the house. Bullet-proof, flood-proof, oak-of-ages furniture.

P.S. In the end our dog walking neighbour not only bought a bench seat, she ordered the table (bad luck Annette) and second bench seat to match!

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7Jan/110

Sailing the Past Book Review

Edited by Jenny Bennett

An excellent book for all those fascinated by our sailing forebears and their (sometimes) excellent vessels from triremes to cogs.

But surely there can be no sexier hull than a Viking longboat – find out how they were put together and how they perform.

When I was a student in the 1960s I visited the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark and was blown away by the simple beauty of these ships.

I’m not the only one who admires the Viking’s boats of course, lots of people have made a good living designing variations on the longboat theme but there’s nothing like the lines of the originals to ramp up the gaspometer – Respect!!

There’s much more, of course, including the weird (several) and wonderful – Pride of Baltimore, a wicked replica topsail schooner. The first one was crap to sail but looked like a million dollars and ultimately sank. Undeterred, the good Baltimoreans built Pride No II which is fast, weatherly, safe, seaworthy and looks like a billion dollars – dream on Derek!

A wonderful little book which will be gladly added to my growing marine library in the new bookshelves (photos soon!)