Early in 2019, as I took Rufus out for a sail, I began planning to take her to the Gippsland Lakes for a couple of weeks. I realised that if I wanted to visit some old haunts along the shores of Lake Victoria or the Bunga Arm, it would be easier to anchor off shore rather than run onto the beach. Pushing Rufus off was not a task I relished. So, I started to think of using a tender.

I am not into rubber duckies (hard to row/paddle if the outboard doesn’t fire) and anyway, as a member of WBA it was obvious only a wooden tender would do. Sadly Bluebelle, my Shimmy is a little large and has a rather dangerous bow for following behind Rufus. Then fate stepped in as, during a surf on the internet, I came across reference to a Chesapeake Light Craft new design called Tenderly. One look and I was hooked.

 The Tenderly was possible to build from a kit or from plans. I opted for a plans build and they were ordered and duly arrived all 10 metres of them! Fortunately, they were in 3 pieces but I still had to go through and log what plans were on each sheet. The plans come as full sized drawings and are accompanied by a comprehensive construction manual as well.

 So after my order of ply and various bits and bobs from B.C.Pacific arrived, I spent many happy hours fighting rolls of paper and wielding an awl to transfer them to the ply (see photo). This is done by pricking through the plan onto the ply and then joining the dots on the ply with a pencil. Then as the end of the year approached and I had a partially stitched dinghy together, I jetted off to the UK and Ireland with the family to meet members of Jill’s family and to spend Christmas with oTender1ld friends in Northumberland. At that stage, I was inclined to wonder what the hell I was doing building another boat!   

Well, 2020 rolled around. The legacy of the trip quickly faded as the events of this year rolled in upon us. Now in lock down I can’t think of a better way to spend the isolation time than building a boat. It was my first experience of stitch and glue. But I was surprised how well everything came together and I do enjoy wielding a fine bladed jigsaw to cut out each part.

The Tenderly has seven planks the top three of which are sort of lapstrake while the lower ones simply but join and the gaps filled with epoxy. The whole craft gets its strength from two internal layers of fibreglass cloth and one external one below the water line. Before I could start stitching the planks together, of course, much time was spent in fabricating ribs which have reinforced the shape as she was stitched together.

One of the tricky parts was drawing the planks together at the bow using stitches and making sure all the joins lined up to give a straight stem.

Other than the breast hook, the Tenderly does not use any stem timbers but a reinforcedinternal and external epoxy fillet which is reinforced with fibre glass tape.

Finally, in early December, I was able to stitch in the transom and sheer strakes and, at last, I had the complete boat shape to end the stitch part of the construction. In the photo you will notice the rope used to move and position the boat at this stage as the planks were 4mm ply and the sheer strake, 6mm ply, so it was light but very wobbly in the early stages.

In Part 2, I will cover the gluing stages.

Geoff Carroll