Toeval bestaat vast niet maar het toeval wil toevallig wel dat in Small Craft Advisor van deze maand de NKDE Voorjaarsbijeenkomst gast en spreker Doug Elliott het omslag artikel schrijft.
Toen het Amerikaanse blad - dat hier ten lande helaas niet te koop ligt - in de bus belandde werd het vroeg in de ochtend voor het licht op de ElectroBaD burelen doofde.
Integrale publicatie van Doug’s My Drascombe Story op het web is helaas niet mogelijk maar, na overleg met uitgever en schrijver, is daarvoor een heren oplossing gevonden.
NKDE leden kunnen een donatie overmaken aan de secretaris penningmeester de heer Te Kloese en krijgen per omgaand het complete verhaal met foto’s toegezonden. Doug’s wens is deze donaties ten goede te laten komen aan drie doelen: de reddingmaatschappij alsmede onderzoek naar hartafwijkingen en Parkinson. Het eerste doel is evident, het tweede en derde wellicht minder maar daarom niet minder nobel.
Doug’s broer John, met wie hij in de zestiger- en zeventiger jaren de legendarisch houten Drascombe bouwers The Elliott Brothers vormde overleed onverwacht aan een hartaandoening en Drascombe ontwerper John Watkinson leed lange tijd aan Parkinson voor hij door deze ziekte geveld werd.
Tijdens de NKDE Voorjaarsbijeenkomst op zaterdag 25 maart te Huizen waar Doug Elliott over die tijd, het ontwerpen, testen, ontwikkelen en bouwen van houten Drascombes verhaalt is het artikel uit Small Craft Advisor ook verkrijgbaar. Tevens zijn er reproducties van Doug en John’s foto’s uit die tijd te koop waarvan de opbrengst eveneens naar voornoemde doelen gaat.
Small Craft Advisor kunnen wij u adviseren: www.smallcraftadvisor.com.
U bent allen welkom aanstaande zaterdag, zowel bij de presentatie van Doug Elliott te 1430 in De Haven van Huizen als bij de na afloop, vanaf 1830 uur aan te richten dis in clubgebouw ‘t Vuurlopertjen van Jachthaven ‘t Huizerhoofd aan de Ambachtsweg te Huizen. Vooraf aanmelden is helaas noodzakelijk, zie voor details onder de link Agenda.
Initially, the first production "Drascombe Luggers" were built in marine plywood as inexpensive boats. The cost was under £400 - running rigging was sisal rope, the standing rigging was stranded galvanised wire, some softwoods were used for the floors and scantlings etc, the centreplate and rudder were only painted, not galvanised. Over time, owners requested more refinement and more extras, until by the time Kelly and Hall had ceased trading through financial difficulties, the boats were being built to a much higher standard. My brother John decided at this time that he would venture out and start his own business: he knew there was a great demand for the "Drascombe Lugger" and negotiated with John Watkinson to grant him an exclusive licence to build them in wood. This was welcomed and encouraged, so "John Elliott Boat Builder" was now the name of the company building the "Drascombe Lugger" a 2 man business that I was a partner in.
Right from the first boat built under his name, my brother decided he would only use top quality materials and aim for a high standard. All of the boats would only be built with top quality marine plywood, kiln dried hardwoods, stainless steel standing rigging, pre-stretched terylene halyards, nylon or terylene running rigging, galvanised rudder and centreplate, top quality fittings etc and a choice of coloured or varnished all within the basic cost, we also offered any customising desired if at all possible. The "Drascombe" name by this time had become firmly associated with quality.
The basic build method is as follows:
The hull is built from 3/8 inch / 9mm marine plywood and the frames, bulkheads, centreplate casing and rudder trunk are all made from ½ inch / 12mm marine plywood. The floors and all other wood for gunwales, frame doublers, stem laminates etc are Iroko hardwood, the decks are ¼ inch / 6mm high quality marine plywood, the masts spars (and inwale because it is important to get a fair curve at deck level) are Columbian Pine or Douglas Fir. The for'd bulkhead, midship frames, aft bulkhead, transom, centreplate case, rudder trunk and outboard motor well are all pre-cut and reinforced with hardwood or marine plywood doublers at various points and assembled prior to fastening them to the building jig.
The rudder trunk is glued and fastened to the aft bulkhead and transom along with the outboard motor well, the centreplate case is glued and fastened to the midship frames, the components are then fastened to the building jig using temporary fastenings. The hull is built upside down on the building jig. The frames are then tied together with an inwale at deck level and a hog and inner stem laminates. The fair up of the frames then takes place and the wide garboard plank is fitted. The next stage is to plane the plank land to create a joint surface for the next plank, it is vitally important that the joints are accurate, because the hull has very few fastening in it when finished, also you cannot edge set a plywood plank as you can a normal timber plank. The next plank when dry fitted is then pre-drilled to take ¼ inch bolts about every 5 or 6 inches apart, these act as a temporary clamping system, fastening the planks together until the glued joints have cured, the whole of the boat is glued construction using phenolic resin glues such as Aerodux 500 or Cascophen. The bolts are removed at a later stage. The procedure is similar for the next plank.
The hull is now built to deck level and a general fair up takes place, this is prior to fitting the keelson and outer stem laminated.
The outer stem laminates are glued together using 3inch x ½ inch coach screws with wooden pads to spread the load;
they are screwed through the pre-drilled laminates into the inner stem laminates that were fitted before any planking was added.
When the glue has fully cured, all of the bolts and coach screws are removed and hardwood dowels glued in the holes,
this gives a complete solid wood construction for all of the joints and very few fastenings in the hull at all.
The build has now reached the point at which the outside of the hull can be faired up and an almost complete finish achieved, even though the boat is only built to deck level with just 3 planks. The hull can now be released from the building jig and turned the right way up, the process to completion can begin with a clean up of the inside of the hull, cutting off all of the hardwood dowels which make the boat look like an inverted porcupine, cleaning up any glue excess and fitting the deck beam, carlands and ancillary reinforcing blocks.
The next stage is to dry fit the decks, when done, they are removed to allow painting of the bilges up to the deck level and also painting the underside of the decking, this makes for ease of working prior to the decks being glued and fasted down. When the deck is complete, the plank land for the top strake can be faired up, the knees are then fitted and the top strake followed by the transom return, the quarter knees, breasthook and the laminated hardwood gunwales. The rest of the woodwork is visible wood work and particular attention has to be paid to the detail, the decks are covered in a 16oz woven roving glass fibre cloth, this give a bit of extra stiffness to the 6mm ply decking and a reasonably non slip finish. The masts and spars are made from Columbian Pine or Douglas Fir as it is also known, a set of masts and spars comprising main mast, mizzen mast, yard and bumkin, would take about 8 hours to make from start to finish with one coat of primer varnish applied. The total build time of a boat in standard guise used to take about 240 man hours to build from start to finish, with no time for slacking. Any customising would add to the time depending upon requirements.
Building "Drascombes" was often very hard work, but also very rewarding to be able to stand back and think "I built her well": a true labour of love. Owners would often ask "How long will my boat last?" Our answer was always the same. "Given reasonable care, she will be around long after you and I have gone!" I still hold that belief.
The "Drascombe Lugger" was the first in the line, this was followed by the "Drascombe Longboat" which is essentially a stretched "Lugger", even being built on the same jig which was cut in half and a 3ft centre section added. The next boat in the line is the "Drascombe Skiff" a 14ft double ender with a standing lug main on an unstayed mast, a very simple boat and great fun to sail with no complications at all. It was at this juncture that John Watkinson decided to once again try something a little bit different, so he designed and built at Drascombe Barton a 19ft double ender he called the "Peterboat". She was intended to have a bit more performance than the "Lugger" or "Longboat" although the decking arrangement with the outboard motor well and the lapstrake hull construction definitely bore the "Drascombe" stamp, her rig was radically different and quite controversial. Initially she was rigged with a spritsail main, jib and mizzen, but this was dramatically changed and she ended up with a gunter main with a curved yard and a large foresail. A rig that produced an amazing performance, coupled with a remarkably distinctive appearance. Quite beautiful, but capable of giving a rattling good sail. On one occasion in the annual Plymouth to Newton Ferrers, Yealm Passage Race, a straight line distance of about 8 miles or so, she came in second place just a few minutes behind a Fireball, although, in fairness, there was a very heavy sea running and the Fireball had to slow down a little. Nevertheless, still a creditable showing.
Copyright December 2005
Douglas Elliott December 2005