Details, Details, Details

There’s an old saying: the devil’s in the details and we have been truly be-deviled in building the Greta T. As a completely new boat with many unique features, Skip Izon (the builder) and I have had to do a lot of problem solving. There are no blueprints to guide us other than Skip’s lines drawings. Here are some particular examples that may be of interest. As well as describing how we made some of the various parts, I have included a few pictures to show the progression of the build.

The mast holders and their supports: The challenge was to create “receivers” for the mast and boom that would be held together at the correct angle and would, together, swivel at a 15 degree angle to the vertical. This is what causes the mast to cant to windward when sailing downwind rather than heeling the boat, and keeps the centre of the sail’s power over the centre-line of the boat when sailing downwind with the sails eased out. The two pictures of the prototype mast holder, one from the side, and the other from the stern with the sail eased shows this.

The third photo (above) shows how I am building this. After creating fibreglass tubes from the ends of the masts and booms, these were held in a holder at the correct angle and then ‘glassed together with fillets created at the joints. These will be shaped, have the bottom section attached and the whole unit will be reinforced with a wrapping of Kevlar “tow” and biaxial carbon fibre to create lightweight yet immensely strong units for both the foremast and the mainmast.

The daggerboard case: Here, moldings were made in fibreglass and carbon fibre from the forward section and the trailing section of the daggerboard. These will be connected by reinforced “walls to create a case that is slightly longer than the board is wide, so that a narrow foam insert can go in either the front or back to allow adjustment of the “helm” and to provide some give in case of going aground. It’s going to be a tight fit to get the rowing unit, the daggerboard trunk and the mainmast support into the available space, so if it’s needed we are considering off-setting the daggerboard trunk from the centre-line and then linking it to the mast support so they reinforce one another.

The rudder and its supports: Below you can see the head of the rudder – this will hold the rudder blade and allow it to swivel and attach it to the stern of the boat. It was created by laminating “U” shaped carbon fibre and foam sandwiches and then shaping the stack. The dowel shown is through the bottom “gudgeon” which is a very hard wearing and slippery plastic called Delrin. There are two, both aligned to fit over the “pintles” which will attach to a post at the stern of the boat. In the side view, you can just see (near the bottom of the brown middle section) the pilot hole for the pivoting bolt. There is still a Delrin insert to go here as well. The issue of weight is critical especially weight at the bow or stern of a boat and I am pleased that the entire rudder and its fitting came out at about 7 pounds – lighter than a Laser rudder even though larger. The rudder head unit will receive a coating of carbon fibre, inside and out to further strengthen it.

Throughout the entire build process, Skip and I have collaborated on making all the various parts and I have learned so much from him about making jigs to keep things in alignment and planning ahead for all the stages of fabricating. He has accumulated a wealth of experience and knowledge over 40 + years of boatbuilding.

Yes, I could have just bought a conventional boat, but none that would be entirely suitable for the trip as planned. Although it has been a long and expensive process I have learned so much and am sure the finished form of the Greta T will be fast and safe, will break new ground, and will certainly turn heads.

Published by Ian C. Robertson

I am a retired Mathematics teacher and formerly a sailing instructor and Instructor-Evaluator with the CYA. I have been planning this fundraising trip for a number of years now, and despite setbacks - notably a cancer diagnosis and the pandemic - I am now at the building stages of a light, wooden, 16 foot rowing and sailing boat for the trip. The trip: 1,3000 km. along Lake Ontario, up through the Trent-Severn Waterway, along Georgian Bay to Lake Huron, through the St. Clair River, Lake Erie, alongside the Welland Canal and back onto Lake Ontario to get home to Grimsby! I am offering to match all donations to the WWF for this trip up to $8,000 and I hope and believe that there are lots of people who will support me and the WWF!

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