A Major rebuild of a middle aged Nethercott International Canoe, with a bit of a diet involved.
I picked up IC 257 Samantha C Slade (originally named Purple Haze) in 2005 for a reasonably moderate sum. The plan had always been to use this boat to get to grips with Canoe sailing and then upgrade to a DC. However In July 2007 I made the highly unwelcome discovery that 257 had wet rot in place of internal framing in some important places. Having wood frames in a carbon shell does leave you a bit vulnerable to undiscovered rot because there's no easy way of spotting something nasty is going on.
Whilst I certainly had some Canoe building in mind for the not too distant future what I was plotting was to fit out a new shell. However at the time this all came up there was neither a mould available with a shape that I was quite comfortable with, nor a build slot available with my preferred boat builder. So it was either wait 6 months or more for a new shell, throw away the current boat and not go sailing or else put 257 back together... So 257 went back together.
At about this time the Canoe class was considering a proposal (since adopted) to return the IC (which is sailed without a spinnaker) essentially to the restricted hull shape rules that were used up until the early 1970s and to reduce the hull weight to a figure that was, relative to modern materials and techniques, as light as the current IC weight limit was when the rule was introduced. The end aim is to keep all the upwind delight of the standard canoe but to add sufficient slipperiness to make the boat more interesting and exciting downwind but without the extra complication of a spinnaker.
So the plan was to give the boat a substantial weight reduction see how close I could get to the new 50kg minimum weight. The answer was predictably, not very, but it has made quite a difference - off the water at least, and the lighter the boat the better when it comes to hauling up the ramps at my home club.
I documented what I'm doing not because I'm a particularly skilled boat builder or engineer, but because I'm not. I've played about with boats, and especially foam sandwich boats a fair bit over the last fifteen years or so, but I'm not especially skilled, or have any especial aptitude. I'm just another amateur, and you can be confident that what I can do you can do too. Because I'm not a pro or especially expert I will doubtless get things wrong, and some of my decisions about how to do things may not be the best options. You'll hear about the ones I spot! What I choose to do will be based partly on talking to those who know more about boats and boat building than I (some of which good advice I may well ignore), partly on my experience of owning the same foam sandwich Cherub for fifteen years or so, partly from personal prejudices, partly from the consideration that putting a new interior in a 13 year old shell - even a Carbon Razorback one - has something of the new wine in old wineskins about it, partly naive optimism and partly perhaps just plain idiocy!
Another point that needs to be made is that at times things I say may sound critical of the original builder of the boat. This was never a professionally build boat, just an amateur completed professional shell, just what is happening again fifteen years on, and there's only one thing about the boat, and then only with the benefit of hindsight, was not right in the context of building an 83kg IC in the early 1990s. That things need to be done differently when targeting 50kg is hardly a suprise. Many of those things would be bad choices when building an 83kg boat. Whatever else one can say the boat lasted 15 years racing, and if she had been stored better (which could easily been down to me) ahe should would have been good for many more years.
Finally, how long did it take and how much did it cost? Well I reckon totalling it up I probably spent the equivalent of between 45 and 50 days working on the project, mostly reasonably relaxed days without going flat out. I get quite enough stressful days at work. Money? Counting up the money you spend of building boats is a fools game. The result will probably depress you and it will certainly upset your partner if he/she sees the total. However I reckon many thousands of people in the UK spent more on fags and booze over the course of my rebuild than I spent on boat building... I suppose, putting my finger in the air, I doubt it was under £1,000UKP and would be very suprised if it was over £2,000UKP.
29/5/2008. I don't know that I'll continue this much longer - I don't think the world really needs a middle-of-fleet (at best) Canoe Sailors blog! There's quite enough nonsense on the net. I'm just club sailing the boat really, I'm not managing to raise much enthusiasm for driving to salt water at the moment...
I've spent a bit of time playing with the rig. I tried moving the spreaders forward some to power up the mast a bit, but the results were horrible - it quite spoilt the boat with gust response taken out and in gusty inland conditions the boat was suddenly very difficult to manage. They're back now (well most of the way). The mast stump hasn't been a total success. Because the tube is rather flexible low down what's tending to happen is that when the rig tension goes on the mast bends low down, not at all what I wanted! Really I think it needs a mast that's sleeved or otherwise stiffer up to the spreaders to gain best advantage from the concept. Lowers/checks to about three feet above the gooseneck would be worth trying too: maybe I'll get round to one or the other. (I did - see here for details). There are occasional creaky noises from the sliding seat with my non optimal carriage design, but nothing to worry about. Waves might be another matter. At the moment though the biggest problem for the seat is a club jetty fit out that involves ring bolts an inch or more proud of the pontoon deck and which crunch through plywood very readily... Must fix it again tomorrow night...
I changed the boat to having jib cleats on the lee side rather than the windward when I reworked the layout. On the whole I think its an improvement, but I had to hastily buy one new jib sheet because you most definitely need them different colours with that setup! I'm pleased with the new layout though, I think it works better, although there's work to do on the tail tidy up, and my adjustable jib height barber haulers are a bit prone to coming uncleated.
14/3/2008. I spent a morning playing with the boat setup on the beach yesterday and have reworked the rig a lot. I was happy to note no distortion of the foredeck even when pulling on extreme amounts of rig tension. Distortion in foredeck is of course a sign that the boat is bending. Last weekend was a Canoe open at Grafham. I did one and a half races before the cold got to me! I now reckon the rig was a mile out, but I reckon I was keeping Colin Newman close enough to keep him honest, which maybe didn't always happen before. Alistair Warren's DC "Monkey" is a boat transformed with a two sail rig instead of the previous una rig, but I think they are just plain better rags to be quite honest. To my mind the jury is still out on the single sail/two sail choice, though I believe two will be better for *me*.
9/3/2008. I don't intend to keep writing this up indefinitely, but maybe a few notes on the working up of what is to a large extent a new boat may be of interest... I managed to miss the start of the morning race today, but joined in for the second lap, keeping clear and to leeward of everyone of course, and was able to line up against a few different boats. In was a nice moderate low end of F3 much of the time, and in those conditions I had the normal upwind edge on most things. However downwind, even in the lighter patches, speed seemed noticeably better than before - others noticed it, not just me.
The wind came up for race two, but along with it came a bang, as one of the dyneema strops on the kicker gave way. Sigh. I took a lot of care over all the kicker strops and splices, but seemingly the load was just too much. I've made new strops from the next size string up. Now of course its getting them to length again. I need to shorten the jib halyard a bit more, lower the jib luff slightly: this is the sort of fiddling you expect in the first few sessions. My system for the cunningham, which was supposed to enable quicker rigging has a small flaw - the blocks are just a tad fiddly to get the line through with gloves on. Next size up blocks I suppose. The systems seem basically right though, the kicker maybe a tad underpowered but not too bad. I shall have to make Finn/OK style lever arrangement with a bit more power at some stage.
2/3/2008. I put my back out yesterday so couldn't sail much, just long enough for colleague Robin Carter to grab some photos. The revised jib cleats are fine, the kicker and cunningham setup better. The lever kicker catches on the daggerboard if the board is slightly up. Hmm, hadn't thought of that one. I shall live with that - put the damn plate down boy! Maybe its just lack of practice, but the boat really feels different. Especially when stuffing up tacks, much more wobbly. I'm going to put it down to the weight loss [grin]. I need to rig up more rig tension - look at the lee shroud in the photo...
I'm getting to grips with the tuning on the new rags. The optimum jib seetings seem to be nothing I'd predicted - if they are right and not illusion: the next open should give some more data. Basically the new "touching the mast" jib seems to want to be sheeted a lot further outboard than the old jib, which was around 4 inches shorter along the foot, but ending up with much the same pointing angle. At least that's how I see it at the moment, but only comparison to another IC alongside is really valid...
I also figured out what was in my mind with my flawed carriage design (see here. I was talking early on in the process about how a compromise between the long seat/supportsabove the gunwhale design used on most of the new development boats and the UK traditional one of a shorter seat that slides a little further might be of advantage, and that's what I was thinking of. I'd still have been better off leaving the full width though. Maybe these sketches will illustrate - click for the captioned enlargement: it won't make sense without!