Advice needed

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Advice needed

Post by roger » Wed Jan 14, 2009 1:40 pm

Just received this email. Can anyone help.

Hiya Roger,
My Name is Dave Ridyard aged 43 and I live in Bolton, Lancs,
My problem is this,,, I have just acquired (for free) a national 12, clinker built dinghy, N 802, and according to the web site,
is a Holt design from 1950, I have two aluminium masts, one wooden boom, two sets of sails one from jeckells which are light weight and one from patsy and something in cowes dated 1951 I cant quite read the bag,, which are a heavier cotton type fabric,,
I know ziltch about boats of any type but would dearly love to learn to sail.
The boat has been stood on its transom for 6 months behind a shed and has seen better days, the varnish is peeling off the ply decks,and underneath it has had some repairs the bottom 3 planks have been glassed over which is splitting and peeling off also two of the planks have already had sections of them replaced ,, overall to look inside ,,, not looking too bad,, you can see those repairs and some glass tape that has been added to the joints but the varnish seems to have weathered quite well, not rotten,,,, outside the bottom three planks have been painted white with with grp strips placed along the joints but some of that has cracks now, also on the second plank there is some damage about two foot from the bow to one of the planks and has split/cracked width -ways not length-ways,, looks like its been dropped on a sharp stone or rock,,,I would love to see this boat back in the water somehow but am on a really tight budget,,I am not too bad with my hands but my knowledge base for this type of thing is 0,,,?????? do you know of anyone within say twenty miles of me who I could take it to who might be able to look at it for me and point me in the right directions,, It would be such a shame if a boat of this vintage were not done right and brought back to all its glory,, but I still need to learn to sail as this years resolution is to sail the Atlantic before I'm fifty,and Ive had this yearning for as long as I can remember and my last stab at getting it off the ground was 11 yrs ago when I did day skippers at night school but had to give it up after 6 weeks when I was moved on to shifts,,,,, I love the older boats, anything with a bit of history really, I think I was born 100yrs to late,,, and would dearly appreciate any advice you could give me that would have this little thing back to how it should be,, or if budgets wont allow a full restoration at this time, enough renovation to at least get her back sailing again,,,, I should mention that the sails are in really good nick,, looking at the boat i feel sure I can do the work needed and dont feel intimidated by anything I see there, my wife on the other hand overheard my Friend say "a boat is just a hole in the water that you throw money into" and will be watching my budget closely,,,,
Im not bad with GRP and could soon have this thing tickled up enough to be waterproof again if I tissued or maybe used one ounce mat on the bottom three planks inside and out and with a tiny bit of filler, but even I know that would be a temporary repair and that unless you get that kind of repair bang on ,, it will just rot the wood inside the grp if water was allowed to get under the resin.
My untrained eye would say that two full planks need replacing on the boat as the sideways split one is also one of the ones that has had a section repaired apart from that maybe a rib would need looking at but everything else is there I think, The rudder, tiller and dangly pole give you a clue as to how the boat once looked as do the sails, my friend says I should take it back down to the wood, ie remove any grp and go and ask my local sailing club at belmont to sink it for a month or two before deciding what needs a repair,,,,,,,,,????? is he mad?
He says he has it from an old sea dog and that its what they do to the old rowing boats at windermere in winter???????? also Ive had a look over your website and joined but I'm not sure where or in which class you would put this boat, I can send photos if needed and her name is Fortune, according to the register at,,,If the cost is prohibitive for me and you know of someone who would give this boat the restoration it deserves and has a grp alternative though not smaller as my 5yr old daughter is desperate to learn to sail and come with me as I learn also, I could consider that option as long as they could promise that it would not be cannibalised and would eventually be restored as the good Lord intended

Any help would be most apprietiated

Regards Dave
Hornet 191 Shoestring,
Hornet 595 Demon awaiting restoration
Hornet 610 Final Fling
Hornet 353

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Re: Advice needed

Post by Rupert » Wed Jan 14, 2009 5:48 pm

The National 12 expert in the Manchester area is a chap called Brian Herring, a little more than 20 miles away (somewhere not far from Jodrell Bank, if I remember right) but an old fashioned professional. His number is 01625 585745, according to the Firefly site, anyway.

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Re: Advice needed

Post by Michael Brigg » Thu Jan 15, 2009 2:27 pm

I've certainly heard the advice about sinking the boat before. Preferably in salt water so it is less prone to rot.

This boat has been allowed to "season" or dry out. While standing on its transom may not have done alot for fine tuning of the hull shape it will at least have kept any standing water out of the hull. Standing water soaks into the hull and then frost expands it causing the wood to soften and become more susceptible to rot.

Longtitudinal splits in the planking look very alarming but in practice are no different to the "gaps" between each plank or strake and it is remarkable how much these will close up when the hull "takes up." The stength of the hull is gained from the combination of curves in the planking and the ribs, so a few cracks here and there wont hurt as long as the wood has not lost its tensile stength due to horizontal breakage (Usually due to collision or weakening due to rot.)

The clinker construction is surpisingly light. Before the advent of moulded ply it was favoured for racing boats over Carvel because the thinner planking required gave a much lighter vessel, that was also cheaper and quicker to build.

I have a clinker in similar state but perhaps better preserved. I hav'nt yet taken the plunge although my local wooden boat yard suggested it (and he used to run the boatbuilding school in Dorset and does this to XOD's etc that are up for restoration) My main concern at present is that I don't want to spoil the apearance of the wood but perhaps this wouldnt be affected.

I also know that my hull is sound.

Here are some of those Windemere boats... they seem no worse for the treatment!

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Re: Advice needed

Post by Ed » Thu Jan 15, 2009 5:32 pm

Oh certainly true about sinking the boat to allow it to 'take up'.

When I first got ISKA Merlin 6 from 1946, she had not been in the water for a number of years and stored first in the roof of garage and outside under many tarps.

The gaps between the planks were really enormous, not 'Oh gosh, I think there is a bit of a gap between those two' but more like 'Cripes, I can see through those gaps.

I asked Laurie Smart from whom I had bought it what I should do....and he said: "No worry, just sink it for a while and she will be fine"

So I took it down to Roadford, pulled out the boyancy and walked it out into the lake and left it in the reads. I didn't have to fill her up as the water just ran in. I left her in for the whole w/end and took her out at the end. Still leaked like a sieve.

I rang up Laurie and said "I don't think it is going to work" and he replied "how long did you leave it in?" Well I told him a couple of days....and he said...."No, try a couple of weeks!"

So I did. I was really worried because lots of the varnish took on that grey look that you get when water gets under it. The boat also filled up with mud/silt, which was a drag. Oh, and became the home for thousands of leeches that I never realised lived in the lake.

But anyway, after two weeks, I took her out. She was watertight-ish and all the marks disapeared when she dried out...and the mud was gone after a good wash.

I was always worried that this amount of movement must stretch the rivets....but it seems OK.

Another year, I did try refreshing the wood a bit with a mixture of turpentine and linseed oil, which did also seem to help. Chris really fixed it by getting all the crap out of the lands, which really made a big difference and she is now pretty water-tight.

I am told that sometimes people used to use 'tallow' or 'lard' to fill the cracks. It slowed down the ingress of water...and the fish slowly ate it to remove it, by which time you didn't need it any more. Havn't tried that though :D

Anyway, Welcome Dave,

you have certainly come to the right place for help with your N12, but you may have to break the questions down a bit into smaller chunks to make it easier for us to answer.


Ed Bremner

Jollyboat J3
Firefly F2942
IC GBR314 ex S51 - 1970 Slurp
MR 638 - Please come and take it away
Phelps Scull
Bathurst Whiff - looking for someone to love it

Michael Brigg
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Re: Advice needed

Post by Michael Brigg » Fri Jan 16, 2009 10:07 pm

Ed, I am interested to hear that you used a mixture of Turpentine and Linseed oil. How did you find this?

I always thought that Linseed oil might be just the thing to refresh the wood. Old memories of smoothing the stuff into a cricket bat in order to give it spring and prevent splitting. I believe the real benefit was to give a harder surface to prevent the surface cracks and after this endless "hammering " of the surface with a hand held cricket ball and after that wrapping the blade with tape.

After all that nonsense it's no wonder I became a "Wet Bob"

I have since had a very bad experience with Linseed oil. I was reccomended to treat the terra cotta tiled kitchen floor that came with the new house with the stuff in order to proof it against cooking spills and toughen it up against chips from dropped pans, glasses, children etc. It soaked in fine for the first coat but Oh dear, the second coat saturated the porous tile, and went into pools. Sticky lakes of the stuff that still haunt me today. The clean up operation failed to really clear it and the remaining oil has steadily darkened the originally Salmon pink tile.

It was nearly divorce!

Until the situation is solved with a new kitchen I am virtually banned from furthur (visible) boating expenses. At that point all may be forgiven and I will be able to say "I never really liked the tiles anyway." (Definately going to be wood next time!)

I have also read somewhere about natural oils in tropical hardwoods means they do not take to linseed oil very happily. We must remember that these older ladies were not made from renewable plantation stock and as far as rainforest is concerned they hark back to the days when it was still fashionable to wear fur.

This does of course mean that a Solid Hardwood straked pre-war boat will be far more rot-proof and perhaps stiffer (if heavier) than more modern boats, a fact that may need to be remembered when matching timber to replace any planking.

I digress hoever. My point is this; Do you think Linseed oil will cause too much darkening of the wood if used as a preparatory layer and is it an effective or lasting primer for natural varnish?

In the event that my boat (for reasons outlined above) is condemned to linger under a (well ventilated and frost free) tarpaulin do you think splashing linseed oil all over will work as a temporary preservative or will it proove to be a devils mixture to remove when I finally get around to a proper scrape and varnish job.

The Rot Doctor web site talke about a homebrew of Glycol (anti-freeze) and Borax as a neutral, clear, water-miscible and importantly permanent anti rot treatment primer. (From "links" on this website, boat building section)

They suggest Cuprinol has a rather less permanent effect.

Does anyone have experience of this?
Michael Brigg

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Re: Advice needed

Post by Ancient Geek » Fri Jan 16, 2009 10:23 pm

I think the Glycol mix you mention is the sort of thing they use on The Mary Rose and the Scandinavian Viking Ships?

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Re: Advice needed

Post by Ancient Geek » Fri Jan 16, 2009 10:46 pm

I thought the Viking ship Museum woul;d have something on its web site it does (Easily the best Maritime Museum known to man especially if tripled with the yachting museum in South Funen and the Sofart Museet at Helsingor.) not that I am biased its even tranlated into coloquial English for those who do nor read Danish! ... t[]=Glycol
Not I think a practical preservation for boats that may want to go to sea again though!

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