One Word of Caution

What I am describing is how we built boats, mould, etc. in 1988. Modern materials and resins have changed since the best practice of those days. In fact the large improvements in boat building extend not only to materials, but also design, engines, equipment, etc.

I recall helping deliver a state-of-the-art Swan 44' from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. The proud owner had just purchased at considerable expense the latest Satnav. He and his new wife both sailors were awaiting a weather window. We were placed on standby. Receiving the go signal, we flew to Cape Town. On approach, we could see the tablecloth covering Table Mountain. "The Tablecloth", is a Capetonian expression, as the strong South Easterly winds cause a cloud formation over the top of Table Mountain.

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TABLE MOUNTAIN WITH TABLECLOTH

It was agreed that we should set sail tomorrow, as the forecast has the SE winds abating with a short gap until a moderate SW fills in. East wind is on the nose, while West winds from behind.

That evening we were well entertained, wined & dined and treated to a live show in our best sailing clothes.

Next morning sitting in the harbour we could clearly see the tablecloth, although it was not now overflowing the edge. Table Bay can be very misleading, as you are in the wind shadow of the mountain and likely to misjudge the wind strength just a few miles out.

We left just before lunch, keeping close to the shore & mountains. Things were calm and pleasant until Hout Bay, then the wind blowing Easterly 20-25 knots hit. We were now having a close beat with nasty seas, sometimes covering the whole boat.

Just after sunset, close to Cape Point, it was decided to switch on our navigation lights. Nothing happened, the owner suggested one of us go forward and tap the nav lights on the pulpit. This with our present seas was not an easy task. I and Russell, my companion from St Francis Bay decided to pull straws. Fortunately I won. Russell was given a light tennis shoe and gingerly mostly on his bottom worked his way forward. Standing up with one hand on the pulpit he smacked the nav lights several times with no "reward". Just then we hit a nasty wave. As the bow plunged down, the water came up and into his wide bottom oil skin and finally emerged around his jacket collar totally wetting him from bottom to top. On returning he did not see the humour of his wetting.

Some hours later Russell & I were again on watch in the middle of False Bay, the sea & wind had moderated, but still on the nose, visibility was good and the radio very quiet. About half way through our 4 hour watch we noticed a small well lit coastal ship miles behind, but following in our wake. We decided to tack away. Shortly thereafter the ship altered course, again in our wake. Being faster and gaining on us with no lights, we again decided to tack, only to observe the ship again change course onto our wake. We decided to get some torches and light up our sails, also wake up the skipper owner. With our torches on the sails, the skipper's wife burst out of the companion way, wearing nothing but a tiny panty. One torch dropped momentarily to highlight her beautiful breasts, while the other concentrated on the sails. The coaster passed us a hundred metres away, probably wanted to see what this zig zagging dot on his radar was. Just before dawn the wind gave way to a light land breeze with heavy fog. Our dead reckoning had us on the Augullas 12 mile bank. Very uncertain of our position, we all crowded around the SAT/NAV prominently placed above the chart table in the saloon.

The Doppler Satellite circled the earth every 4 hours and it was due any moment. Satnav showed it had made contact with the satellite. Anxiety was high, as we waited. Eventually the signal came up "NO FIX". Concerned about the unusual shallowness of the 12 mile bank we proceeded with caution. Out of the mist appeared a huge black shape. It turned out to be the side of a tanker that had previously sunk off the Augullas 6 mile bank. At any rate we now knew our position and plotted a new course. The charts do warn of strong inshore currents in this area.

Shortly thereafter the west wind came through, the fog cleared; the skipper admitted his error with switches, causing navigation light problems. The seas abated to a gentle following swell. These beautiful sailing conditions lasted until the voyage end.

Because of the late start & bad weather, Russell & I were to miss a birthday party "not a train smash", but somehow it got back to our skipper. He came up with the idea that since conditions were so calm and St Francis Bay only 6 hours from Port Elizabeth he would drop us off. Our clothing, etc. he would get to us within a day.

With thanks we agreed to swim ashore. Our landing would be just east of the slip way, an area used by surfers because of the smaller waves and easier rocks to climb. Through PE radio we managed to get a phone hook up to our wives arranging a pickup. Approaching the site we were greeted with a line of at least 12 cars, all with head lights on. This spooked our skipper as the distance was difficult to judge. Instead of having a 100 yard swim, it was more like 300 yards.

Arriving in the Breakers – approaching the rocks, it was almost impossible to see where you were going. The headlights covering the area completely blinded us. I resorted to slowly swimming backwards, where I had excellent vision of the waves, but no idea of what was behind me. The message finally got to the drivers and the lights turned off.

On dry land at the party I experienced the worst attack of wobbly legs ever.

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Resin bonding procedure

Basic Rules:

  1. The bonding glass must have at least the same strength as the parts that are bonded.
  2. Best to orientate the fibres to cross the joint at 45˚- 90˚ – 135˚. We normally finish off with a 300 CSM, as this leaves a smoother faired off finish.
  3. As applied each layer overlaps its predecessor, this is to insure that if one layer fails the joint is still intact.

Hull deck joint & chainplate fitting

In most mass production yards the hulls are completely fitted out with bulkheads, engines, tanks, furniture, etc. before bonding the deck. This is a good economical method for mass producing one design.

All our boats use the same proven & tested hull design, but are customised to suit a client's particular requirements. Anything from 1-5 double en-suite cabins, galley-up or down. Furniture made to owner's design.

We are not & do not want to be in the mass production market. Our capacity is 4 of the best build boats per year. As such every aspect of our assembly is carried out by dedicated craftsmen. All bulkheads, furniture, flooring, etc. are bonded to the hull & deck and any part they may come in contact with. The outcome is a very rigid, light boat that does not squeak & grown in a seaway.

This attention to detail also pays off in the resale value and minimum maintenance required during years of use.

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