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So the last couple of years it's been more selling boats than buying boats due to moving up here but I can't seem to get the sailing bug out me; For my birthday last year we hired "Clipper" from Marthams and the odd walks around Woodbridge and the north norfolk coast hasn't helped! and I've been slowly thinking of trying to get a dinghy and ideally a timber one.

We had last week off work and headed up to hunstanton and on the way home we drove back via the coastal road and randomly decided to head down a "Harbour road", parked on sea bed and had a wander around, Kinda looking for the usual for sale boards on the boathouse wall but didn't find one so after a little walk headed home.  Back home on the laptop, googling I found a clinker dinghy for sale for a fair price. A few emails later and we headed up yesterday to view.

"Surprise" was in the boathouses saillloft in Burhham Overy Staite, the yard manager invited us in and walked us around the boat (She had kindly stored her and listed for sale as the owner had no space and was about to "Burn her" :( ) advising she's in really good condition). The owner wasn't reachable but I left a fair offer and we headed over to Wells for lunch.

After lunch, I spotted a missed call, offer accepted, BACS's done, back to boathouse, details exchanged and Max (The yard manager) very very kindly offered to lend us a road trailer to move her home!

That's where it starts...








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7 minutes ago, stumpy said:

That's a sweetie! I spent my formative years crewing Dragonflies round the cans at Waldringfield.

:) we spotted Waldringfield last year or so, certainly one of our favourite little places there! Hopefully we will get a few sails down there soon :) 

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Max at the boathouse had very kindly offered to lend us a trailer so we can get her home (sadly she doesn't come with a road trailer only a launching trailer).

We left home again at 8 am for the 2 hour drive up to burnham to collect Surprise. We arrived just after 10am, Max and her husband has already loading Surprise onto the road trailer, all secured off we went back for the 2 (more like 3 hour) drive home.

Back home she was ofloaded easily onto chocks on our own hardstanding area at home! The trailer they lent us is a funky tilting thing (I want it). Trailer reconnected back to the car off went for the 2 hour drive back!

On the way I googled the nearest pub and found the "Hero" stopped doing food at 4pm but thankfully we arrived at 3, quickly unhitched the trailer and ran to the pub (10 out of 10, brilliant food, tad pricey but worth it!).

Once refueled in the pub we threw the landing trailer on the roof of the 4x4 (To be honest it was pretty happy there!), we decided we couldn't drive back that same road again so a slow drive back via the coast road via Cromer was in order, although longer it's a nicer and recognisable route so it feels quicker!

"Surprise" is all covered up and sitting happy.

Tomorrow we will get a plan together, there's a few things we are aware will need doing but basically it will be a sympathetic restoration as I don't want to lose the dark varnish look but it will want a cover which I'll do myself, so i'll template tomorrow, it has delamination of the decks so they will need careful reguling, it has about 6 broken ribs which will want sistering (well atleast a couple) but will need some green oak for that, the transom wants proper reinforcing for an outboard as it's started to split but it's easy enough. Lots and lots of vanishing and braso'ing!




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9 hours ago, Smoggy said:

 Burn it??? I'm not into wood but that looks way to pretty, well done taking it on.


Yup I openly swore when I heard that, personally I think boat breaking and burning should be akin to murder! She's just what I want though and full of soul! The boathouse there are true custodians of these there's a yard full of them, I think they was so relived to see we had took here over too :) I just hope we can keep on top of it all.

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Sad day.

Needless to say, today was a very sad day but we didn't really want to sit in doors and watch the TV all day, not when there's a new boat outside.

First job was to unload the launching trailer from the car and then roll "Surprise" onto the trailer as she was sitting on chocks last night, thankfully that was all easier than expected and with the use of two large fenders she rolled on easily enough.

Although left over pond liner is doing well at keeping the weather off she really needs a winter cover, it's been some time since we last dabbled in covers and I've still got plenty of template material so thought first thing would be to quickly template so I can get material ordered.


Templating a cover.


I'm no expert at this, and don't aim to be, I've only done a couple of times. For template material I've got some clear tarp which is what's used, so I just laid this over the boat using squares of gaffa tape to hold down, cut roughly to size.

I'm going to do the cover an easy way (In my mind anyway) so once the template material is reasonably tight (but not too much) I simply draw around the top of the boat, I'll then sew on a skirt under that and I guestimated about 30cm should be good.

I'm going to do the cover out of lightweight pvc, there's many different fabrics, heavy weight pvc is better but I don't want it to damage the varnish work and I only have a domestic sewing machine, there is softer fabrics out there but I think lightweight pvc will do certainly as it's sheltered enough here.

I also marked on protruding bits which I'll need to sew on reinforcing patches. Once all done untaped it and laid on the ground to measure how much material will be needed.

Typically she's 1.6meters wide so the standard 1.5m fabric widths won't really work, meaning I'd need to join in the centre (which may leak) or go for 2meter wide which will be more “fun” to handle when sewing. I'll have a think...


We then stripped all the floors and any rigging, brightwork etc leaving us with an empty hull, thankfully everything came off easily enough. Sadly the ribs on the port side will need doing as the hull is distorting on the trailer under her own weight. Although there's more cracked ribs on the startboard side, I counted 17 all cracked but not sure if they all need replacing?

Finally I got the scrapper out and lightly scrapped away where the varnish was blistering, I've really only just scratched it and it will need a ton of scrapping and sanding but it feels we need to get these ribs sorted as the first step..

If anyone has any green oak to sister these ribs then please shout!
















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22 minutes ago, Gracie said:

Are you keeping her name or having a re-naming competition?  I remember it well :default_biggrin:

Sadly no renaming on her, couldn't do that to her, she's full of soul :)

We are just off to oulton broad to the chandlery to get the first tub of varnish. Jeckells as our closest chandlers isn't going to be fun!

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Last weekend

Admittedly no update last weekend, but it was a bit of a shopping weekend. We ran to our nearest chandlery which is Jeckles in Oulton Broad (I think). £40 for a pot of epifanes varnish, hmm (Foxes in Ipswich would have been cheaper) but is what it is. Sunday to be honest was a gardening day as the garden really needed some time, sadly it was a bit of cutting back dead plants from the hot weather but is what it is.


I've been messaging Janet Anne's custodian as I know they are the NBN boat builder experts and I really wanted to pick their brains! I had meant to call midweek but our little kitten went to the vets for neutering and has been stressful! We did arrange for a visit yesterday too but it finally rained last night so we put it back to today.  

Dave popped to wickes last night on the way home to grab some building bits, he's building a shed at the end of the garden for Surprise to go to, so whilst he was playing with that and trying to get a roof on the shed I thought I'd do some sanding on Surpise whilst waiting for the Janet Annes crew. Honestly after 5 odd hours all I did was scratch it!! Thankfully Janetannes crew arrived and rescued me!

Honestly really nice to see Dave and his lovely assistant again, nattered for hours and they both clearly gave me a ton of tips which I will try to go through as we do.  First job will be to replace the 5 damaged ribs on the port side (there are quite a few damaged ribs but Dave's advice to start there and see how we go). I need to do a pattern (from the starboard side) of the ribs which I'll definitely do and make a jig from that, which we will do and then back to Dave for the next steps.  I am very very much looking forward to learning this stuff though as it's something always wanted to do.  Somewhat annoyingly ( :default_wink: ) dave said we will need to remove all the varnish as he knows how picky I am about the finish and I won't be happy if it's not perfect which is certainly true, I hoped I could but certainly inside it's so blistered and it would be wrong to not have it as best as we can, so I'll try the heatgun fingers crossed! 

Will post more as we go for now, huge thanks to @JanetAnnefor stopping by and the advice and the onward help and patience :)  (She will defo attend the Woodern boat show next year in beccles though and I'll get her propped up as discussed too) :default_beerchug:

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  • 2 weeks later...

How long is this going to take?

A couple of jobs I wanted to try to tackle today, Template the ribs for replacements, Sadly my mobile was flat this morning and it wasn't the easiest thing to do so sadly didn't get any pictures but it involved; cardboard, scissors. The basic plan was roughly cut some cardboard into the hull shape to be able to get it against the beam to draw around.  Surprisingly it wasn't too difficult and mission accomplished. I will take some more pics when we get onto the next step.

Once I had calmed back down from doing that template.. Dave brought home a hot air gun from work, it was a posh yellow american one which has a battery and I guess you need a mortgage to own one.  The other dave suggested using a heat gun to remove the varnish so wanted to give it go. Good news thankfully it worked although it's only a little bit faster than scratching it with the scraper and the batteries were going flat pretty quick. I don't think it's worth getting a mortgage to buy one so I just brought a cheap plug in the wall one from amazon (I'll get a mortgage then for the electric).  But geez it's going to be a slow tasks but the wood grain underneath looks lovely so I guess eventually, if ww3 doesn't happen it would be worth it, fingers crossed.

Whilst I was moaning about not getting anywhere (To be slightly fair, I had my flu and covid jabs yesterday so my body is hurting a little today), Dave started gently peeling off the deck wood trims so we can tackle regluing some delamination of the ply decks. Sadly someone had tried before and a mixture of sealant and epoxy glue was used and different nails and screws but he did a good job and got it off.  We managed to clean up the delamination and I brought some slightly cheaper epoxy direct from a manufacture, I learned a long time ago there is nothing special about west system, so this was Epodex from Germany, seems ok, time will tell.. I also brought some 18 gauge syringes so we can get right into the ply, to be honest the plan went really well, I only bent one syringe, annoyingly we didn't quite have enough clamps and struggled slightly to clamp down so not sure how successful it will be.  I do remember that stall clamps are used on boat building so will probably grab some from toolstation.

More pictures next time...



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On 18/09/2022 at 22:44, Smoggy said:

 Burn it??? I'm not into wood but that looks way to pretty, well done taking it on.


My thoughts exactly,  she is a thing of beauty.   She has gone to a good home.      If you live near to Wells , there is a lot of these little boats and when the tide is right, off they trundle and come back before the water disappears again.

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1 hour ago, Hylander said:

My thoughts exactly,  she is a thing of beauty.   She has gone to a good home.      If you live near to Wells , there is a lot of these little boats and when the tide is right, off they trundle and come back before the water disappears again.

:) she's hard work but we will get there :)

We brought her from Burnham overy which is the next little village just over from wells and it seems to be the home base for all of these now and there is a boatyard dedicated to them.  Every year they do racing just for the clinker dinghies, we have been invited already but I think I will need plenty of practice on barton broads first, although will probably go take a look at next years race. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Phrew not that long..

I normally like going "out" saturdays as I don't leave home all week but todays weather forecast was looking nice, compared to sunday, so decided to spend on day on Surprise.

I ordered the cheapest heat gun thing from Amazon as the yellow one from daves work just wasn't worth buying, I think the one I ordered was like £15 but it arrived and seemed well up to the job. So the idea was to have a day trying not to set the boat on fire, it was a plug in the wall one and yup first go it was a lot lot better. I'm not going to check the electric smart meter though but I got about 2/3rds done of the planks inside the boat.  I must admit the wood is lovely and despite hating Dave (JanetAnne) when he said I have to do it, I'm pleased to get going, I know she will look amazing and it won't take too long I think to get this done, probably a couple weekends.  My back kills though as we can't get inside so it was all day of crooked back to get it done.. It's certainly worth it though to watch the grain of the wood reappear. The pictures don't quite show the quality of the wood there but trust me it's lovely old mahogany!

Other dave, did some gardening for me as he didnt get on with the heat gun, you needed a knack as it easily stuck back to itself.  He also tackled the road trailer we brought the other week and its coming together. I did think of moving surprise under the shed he's made but the launching trolley the boats on really isn't supporting her that well so I think we will get the trailer together and then put on her on there and then put her down the end.  He also took out the back seat so I could get the heat gun in, it took a bit of persuasion as hidden screws, but no damage and it will go back in with no problems :)  

Tomorrows weather looks wet so no work tomorrow.






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As a traditional and time served boat painter, could I please make some suggestions?

Your photos show that it is lovely mahogany (possibly Honduras) that will look gorgeous if you get right down to the bare wood before varnishing.  Varnished mahogany has a quality of changing colours and hues as you look at it from different angles, almost like the back of a swimming salmon.

Your photos show a lot of areas where there is still varnish which needs to be removed from the surface.  It is not obvious now but it will show up yellow as soon as soon as you varnish, and then it will be too late!  You need to achieve a nice even red colour to the wood, before you start sanding.

I don't know what you are scraping with but I always use a good quality three corner scraper, sharpened in the same way as a chisel.  It will need re-sharpening on an oil stone quite often.

Always do your scraping with the grain of the wood.  If you go across the grain, there will be tiny grooves left, that you can't see now, but you will as soon as you stain and varnish!  I always use a liquid red stain such as International, applied with a cloth, before varnishing.  Remember that you can only stain bare wood.  If you try to stain varnish you will end up with brown paint.

Try and take the time to polish those copper roves before you varnish. The shine will then be sealed in and she really will look like a new boat!

It's a labour of love, I'm afraid, but it's worth it!

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Thanks Guys, The idea is certainly to get all the old varnish off and I know what you mean for sure, I just got to do it.

I'm using an old proper boat scraper that was passed down from an old boat builder and does the trick, I do need to get a triangle scraper for the detailed bit but I trod on one when I was a kid and can still feel the pain whenever I look at one so I want to leave it to a bit later! Yesterday I just wanted to get as much off as possible as it was the last of summer and the rain arrived today so I'm not sure how much more is going to get done this year considering Orca is coming out next week too for work.. bloody boats!

I would love the roves to be shinning too, how do I do that? (funny I was thinking about that in care when out shopping today.. I can use polish before varnishing as the varnish wont stick then will it?

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I always suggest giving your newly prepared area a wipe over with white spirit before committing to varnish. The white spirit, whilst still wet, will show you exactly what the finished article will look like as well as showing up those inevitable missed bits.

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  • 4 months later...


Ok I can't believe it's been five months since an update. 

Unfortunately winter is a pain. Not a lot has really happened on Surprise's hull.  We did a bit of decorating in the house if anything and just hunker down!

We did grab some some odd parts of a road trailer for her and Dave did build a bit of a lean too shed up the end of the garden and has been putting that together slowly and the other weekend we swapped her onto that.. He needs to cut down the rollers and will probably do more rollers when it warms up. I'll grab some pics when the snows melted.

We have been shopping though. the suffolk jumble was just a waste of time (but it would have bugged me if we didnt go).

Last weekend I finally found an industrial walking foot sewing machine. Surprise needs a cover and probably a spare. Orca also needs some bits, so it will quickly pay for itself.


Today we finally found the time to go to a timber yard, this yard (Frank a Aldridge & Sons, nr Snetterton, Norfolk), was suggested to us by the yard when we brought Surprise. The yard is purely green oak, bit cool to see, we think we found a board and dave grab some smaller beam sized offcuts all for the price of a mcdonalds so it's worth a try. Dave needs to cut it down first and then we need to pester the other David for more advise, but at least we now have the wood!




It will probably be a couple more weeks before we do any more with the timber. 

I may measure up for the cover tomorrow though and get some fabric ordered for the cover but I may need it to warm up a bit as the kittens may make it hard to mark the fabric in doors at present.

More updates soon.

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