With only a day or two left until the New Year it is time to look forward to the 2013 sailing season. With many long and dark nights and cold days before I can even think about getting Ebony ready for the water I need a new project.
Last year my spring project was to build a 7’9″ Greenshank pram to serve as a tender for Ebony. Not only was it a success as a project, it was also a success as a tender. The Selway-Fisher design was just right for the purpose and I had a great deal of satisfaction from just rowing about. The dawn at China Point when I rowed five miles from the moored Halman up to the head of the Orwell river as the sun rose out of the mists on the river was one of the highlights of my sailing summer.
Although I certainly don’t need another tender a boat just for rowing would seem to be the next logical build. There are lots of plans for wherries and skiffs and shells, some with hi-tech sliding seats, outriggers and carbon fibre oars but I plan on taking a more traditional route with a simple wide-bodies skiff. I have returned to Paul Fisher’s catalogue for a new plan and have selected his Medway Skiff, based on the Medway Doble. I have confidence in the link that is possible between my limited skills and patience and his plans. Although I have some difficulty in visualizing the translation from the lines seen above into a boat I am comforted that the boat that emerges really can have a degree of style as seen from the photo on the site.
This design also relates to one of my major limitations as a boat builder – the cellar steps. I have no wish to be one of those builders who ends up either cutting the boat into pieces or inserting a new opening in the foundation in order to extract the craft from the basement shipyard. I know from the building of the Greenshank dinghy that the cellar steps will accommodate a four-foot beam and an eight foot length. The Medway has the same width and length of just under eleven feet. I know that I have enough room to lay the boat out in the workshop part of the basement and I was relatively sure I could manoeuvre it around the washing machine and dryer and into the television lounge although some furniture might have to be adjusted. The issue was the steps themselves. A quick and dirty template could answer the question. As seen below it looks as if it will work but may need a couple of lads to shove it up the steps and perhaps take the door off the hinges.