St Ayles Skiffs
Just getting to the end of this year’s skiff re-furbishment for the Arran Coastal Rowing Club. The boats are well used and probably travel getting on for 3,500 miles per year under oars. We need to ensure that the finish is fit for purpose and is protecting the timber of the boat. We also need to avoid accumulating more and more finish thereby adding unnecessary weight to the boat. For the most part the boats are finished bright rather than painted, though in fact the older boat, Iolair, is painted outside but finished bright inside – which is where most of the wear takes place.
At each refurbishment we aim to sand down to remove weight and provide a key for the new coat. Firstly the refinish consists of treating any bare wood with a coat of epoxy – generally we do not need much for this step – and then we sand down and apply the next coat which is a two part Hempel Diamond Cote finish. A 750ml tin is enough for a full coat of varnish either inside or outside the boat and we apply the varnish with a roller and then ‘tip’ it off with a sponge rubber ‘tipper’ which distributes the varnish evenly and removes any roller marks. It is a quick process and you really need a ‘supervisor’ to spot any ‘holidays’ or runs. The finish isn’t bad either!
Fortunately we have lots of enthusiasm within the club and lots of people volunteer to sand and varnish – it promotes ownership and we book for sanding and varnishing in just the same way as we book for an active row. Quaint it may be but it works.
There are lots of small tender type hulls lying around on beaches and in yards. Many owners have forgotten they have them and have moved on to a new tender, a ‘little rubber boat’ os something like that. As a result there are quite a few glass fibre hulls lying around that could be done up and if not they will sink into the detritus of the yard or the beach or the shore. For many of them all you need to do is to strip off all the wood. Replace the inwales, gunwales, breasthook and quarter knees and at that stage you have the makings of quite a nice little boat on your hands. Then you add the sternsheets, rowing thwart, and a pad for a motor and then paint / varnish it. Always remember that these boats will be used by single crew, two or three crew, so remember to make sure that you position thwarts amidships or for’rard so that a rower will be in balance on his or her own as well as with someone sitting in the stern and / or bow.
It takes a bit of time, but does not need to cost too much and there’s a bit of fun for kids or a tender for very little money.
Refurb – Various
Just dug one of these hulls out of a bramble patch – the fibreglass is fine, but all the timber has to be replaced. Looking forward to that one…