Thursday, January 22, 2009

Building the Iain Oughtred Ness Yawl

Remember last May (2008) I posted about the Iain Oughtred Ness Yawl? It was a new design to me, by a designer I love. My friend Chuck is the builder/ owner of "Selkie" and has graciously contributed his own words to the DoryMan blog:

 "I’m flattered by your interest in Selkie, my Oughtred Ness Yawl. At the same time, I completely understand – Iain Oughtred has both the artist’s eye and designer’s mind. I note that Iain’s own boat is a Ness Yawl, which I consider a strong endorsement!"

"Selkie started, as many boats do, as a discussion between friends – in this case, Jamie Orr, of Victoria, BC, and myself. We had both competed in the first Shipyard Raid, from Silva Bay, Gabriola Island, BC to Port Townsend, in 2005. Jamie and I have been friends for years, sharing an interest in our Bolger Chebaccos – Jamie’s Wayward Lass and my Full Gallop. While both boats are similar, they are also expressions of their masters, with different detailing and rigs, but both true to the designer’s intentions. It was in these boats that we both participated in the ‘05 Raid."

"In the winter of ’06, we were discussing the upcoming Raid, the ideal raidboat, and the fun we’d had. As one thing led to another, we decided that the right thing for us to do was to enter in ’07, only as a team instead of competing against one another. As the Emeritus team, we’d bring our superior intelligence and experience to bear!"

"It was clear that neither of us wanted to row a Chebacco 100 miles again, and so I offered that, if James would agree to crew, I’d build a Ness Yawl, which we both agreed would be a serviceable raid boat. She’d carry a modest load, sail in any blow, and row well enough (we’d rowed a majority of the time in the ’05 raid, with the wind on our nose for most of the trip)."

"I ordered plans, and started work in February, ’07. Almost 6 months to the day later, we launched Selkie on the North shore of Vancouver Island and rowed for Silva Bay on Gabriola Island. It had been a forced march for me, with assistance from Jamie and a friend, Alan Woodbury, who donated Pete Culler-pattern square loom oars, sewed the Sailrite balanced lugsail and mizzen kits (as well as a custom drifter jib we rigged) and drove from Canada to spend a long weekend building spars at my boatshop in Fall Creek, Oregon. The effort had taken most of my after-work time, as well as almost full time efforts on weekends, but as the pictures show, the effort was worth it."

"Oughtred’s glued-ply lapstrake construction was initially suspect to me; I wasn’t sure how to lay out the planks and account for the curve of the planks when scarfing the plywood. Information on the web was mixed; everyone had their own ideas, and none of the descriptions were clear. On the other hand, other builders reported only minimal confusion, and had worked out their own methods for resolving the many questions I had."

"Oughtred’s planset included full-size patterns for molds and stems; setup was in the conventional manner. I have an embarrassment of high-quality African mahogany lumber, which became the stems, keel, and other solid-lumber components."

"I developed a method for patterning the planks using inexpensive hardboard paneling ripped to 12” widths; each piece was temporarily clamped to the molds, with the adjoining piece overlapped and screwed to the first. This made a full-length piece composed of 3-4 12” wide ‘planks’ screwed to each other with sheetrock screws. From the underside, I scribed the critical points, such as plank lands, keel, etc. I was then able to gently remove the attached sheets, “connect the dots”, and describe the shape of the “real” plank from the pattern."

"I decided to trace and cut the pattern material to shape, tho I could have picked up the shape on the real planks by pricking through the pattern. By cutting the patterns out, I was able to test them on the molds to ensure their shape was accurate, and I didn’t mind cutting the inexpensive pattern material to ensure a proper fit."

"I was able to economically cut 9 mm okume plywood into rough planks, place the patterns on them, and plot the shape and location of the scarfs on the real planks. I built a jig to cut scarfs with my skilsaw, which resulted in quick and accurate scarfs. I’m glad I decided to build the jig, as the planking required something like 36 scarf cuts, and the jig ensured that each one was near-perfect with little effort. I then fit and glued the scarfs, re-traced the pattern from the inexpensive pattern stock, and cut the final planks, two at a time, port and starboard."

"Many lap-ply builders go to great length to explain techniques for developing a good beveled land for the next plank; I found this very simple, scribing a pencil line 1” in from the bottom of the installed plank, and using a handsaw to pick up the approximate bevel, making small cuts on that plank edge every 12” or so. I power-planed this bevel to the approximate angle, and finished with a hand plane. Laying out and planning the bevel took 15 minutes per side, max. The planking progress fairly rapidly, using System3 resins and sanderdust filler."

"I built clamps according to Iain’s plan, included in the drawings, to clamp the planks. These clever wedged clamps were a key to success, as they quickly pulled the planks tight, and their low cost meant that you could make 20 or 30 of them to keep you moving."

"The rest of the story is pretty straight-forward, but it does the process a disservice to call it routine; I greatly enjoyed a long weekend visit from Jamie and Alan to lay out and mill the spars, which we made from Khaya mahogany. Lacking readily available spruce, the Khaya was light and strong, and made a handsome set of 2 masts, a boom, a sprit, and a yard. The project also required a significant daily effort to meet the deadline for the Raid. As a project manager, I took the time to carefully schedule the tasks, and worked hard to meet my interim milestones.

In the end, the project came out almost precisely on schedule."

"Selkie has several designer-approved modifications, as well as some un-approved ones. I wrote to Mr. Oughtred regarding seating to accommodate 2 rowers, instead of the one rowing position shown in the plans.

He promptly replied with a pen-and-ink sketch and narrative, outlining how an additional station could be added, but also indicated that his preferred raiding arrangement was for his crew to row, and him to steer from the stern!"

"Other options include a steel centerplate, instead of wooden centerboard, since I anticipated single-handing the boat much of the time, post-raid, and the 100# plate would add stability and security. I also built a removable wishbone-type bowsprit to carry the 50 s.f. drifter jib Jamie designed and sewed. In the end, this was a huge asset on the Raid, as we found that rowing with the jib and mizzen was perhaps our fastest mode; trying to row with the mainsail was difficult, as the heel of the boat made rowing almost impossible."

"We tracked out Raid performance closely via GPS, and could easily row 3.5 kts for extended periods – hours, in fact – without any sails. This isn’t bad for a couple of 50+ year old office jockeys. We reached 5 kts under sail on occasion, which would be about hull speed for this design. And, while we didn’t win the Raid (we were 4th of 9) we were the most photographed. Selkie is a joy to sail and look at, lean, graceful elegant and fast. I find her without fault. Her RED lugsail is unmistakable, and she is complimented wherever she goes. I recently added a fabricated motor mount for my 2 hp Honda, which, while not in keeping with her classic lines, does help when cruising. However, she rows so well that using the motor feels like a loss, as she easily makes her way with 1 or 2 rowers, even over long distances."

The design of the JII Ness Yawl is drawn from the Shetland Yoals. Initially, these boats were imported to the Shetland Islands from Norway, and then assembled by local builders. They were of lapstrake construction that dates to the Vikings.

The Ness Yoals became a popular boat for inshore fishing, averaging 21 feet over all, with a 5 foot 5 inch beam. They were rowed by a crew of three men with a pair of oars each. Hence the name Sixareen. When the wind was right, they raised a single lug-rigged square sail.

The boat designs from Iain Oughtred retain many of the desirable qualities for both rowing and sailing. Built of high quality marine plywood and employing glue lapstrake construction, they are lighter in weight and move easily on the water. When matched with other boats in the "Raids" they have proven to be fast and seaworthy.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful work! The Ness yawl is my dream boat.

doryman said...

I have to agree! Of all the designs I review, study, build, this one keeps coming back to remind me how simple beautiful is. And by all accounts, it's one of the most versatile small boats around. All of Iain's boats are like that. He's an amazing designer.
As a post script, I rarely find a boat design I can't tinker with, but to alter this one would be a crime!

Unknown said...

Congratulations for your blog and your work.
My name is Giacomo De stefano and I rowed and sail for more than 1000 km the Po river, the italian longest.
You can see more on my blog

If you click on press and then Watercraft article you will read an article about my trip.

Take care Giacomo

giacomo said...

I am Giacomo again. I forgot to tell that I used a professionally buit Ness Yawl, by shipwright Roland Poltock, in Venice, Italy. A lot of pics on on the blog, and videos.


doryman said...

Giacomo, my friend! You are the Italian Doryman!
I salute you and your journey. May all your Voyages be blessed!