Inspired by the various building projects reported in Shavings, I acquired a set of plans for a CLC Skerry and a delivery of plywood as my Christmas/birthday present last year. If the whole thing went pear shaped, literally or figuratively, I hoped I could dispose of the evidence at the next council hard rubbish collection and few would be the wiser.

After some scarfing, sawing, shaping and stitching, I quite quickly had a boat shaped object, and discovered that my sense of spatial dimension, or perhaps capacity to measure and imagine, are not so great. The basic hull filled my shed and left little room to actually do any work.

I also discovered that my capacity to transfer shapes from the plans to the plywood was on a par with my spatial awareness. The joined up hull had a disconcerting amount of daylight showing. But the blurb on my epoxy container said “excellent gap filling properties” so I pushed on.

I learned the profound wisdom of John Lennon’s observation that “Life is what happens to you while you are trying to build a boat.” I have read of people completing the boat in a matter of weeks, but for me it was a six month project. With luck I could get an hour or two most days and slip out to the shed for a bit more epoxying or sanding, or searching for essential tools or pieces that I had somehow misplaced. I believe the single activity that consumed the most work time was looking for things.  Andrew Campbell kindly gifted Murph’s boat trolley (see “Free to Good Home” in this issue), which proved invaluable as I could move the boat out of the shed easily to work on it.

As with many projects, finishing seemed to take longer than everything else. There were critical close inspections by various members of the household (the cat was particularly picky) which would send me back to another round of sanding and painting. I kept in mind the maxim that if you would not notice a defect from the back of a galloping horse, then you won’t notice it when you are on the water. Eventually I gave up, and declared 'Derry the Skerry' ready to be christened with a good splash of Tullamore Dew.

Thanks to lockdown and Melbourne’s dismal weather, I have only managed to launch the boat three times so far. It is very stable, rows very nicely, and I hope when I have tweaked the balanced lug sail it will sail nicely as well. It is light, around 45 kilos, and I hope that I can work out a way to car top it, so we can take it touring with our little teardrop van. All in all, it has been a very satisfying project that has helped me through half of this year with my good spirits intact. So, now I have a good sail and oar Raid boat. When’s the Raid?

Gary Hardy