Whilst rebuilding G & A I was also running an environmental based waste recycling company and operated two vessels on an M.O. D. Contract in Plymouth while building G & A over 6 years. During this time I sold my business, bought out my neighbour and used his truck garage and 2 metre deep pit for the fitting of the keel bolts and finishing her off under cover. Did I really want the house or was it just for G & A!
During this restoration and largely because of it, I also became a Marine Surveyor for both pleasure and commercial craft, my main subject being wooden boats. I have spent most of my years restoring and maintaining wooden boats and during this process you discover the builders and their construction methods and ways.
It is important to remember here that as these smacks were built mainly by eye, the wood scantlings and construction ideas of Aldous at Brightlingsea have been lost by the present day cheap crap construction methods. No boat offers you any heart and soul until you discover the beautiful ways of construction, the shape and feel of working with wood the way they did over a century ago. You become as one and part of that era when rebuilding such craft.
The smack centre background at Salcombe, I took this from the Pilot cutter Margurite. 1020337 shows Smacks at Brightlingsea 1952.
Smacks at Brightlingsea 1952.
Where I first saw G & A at Brightlingsea in a poor state and then searched to see who owned her.
The damage port side from sea ice I then found the then owner Malcolm Mac Gregor.
I have started to level an area back home in Devon for the keel to lay while I had decided to do a complete restoration keeping just the Elm Keel, name plate and one Sampson post.
Ready to take the Smack CK76.
Malcolm and me at the hard with G & A carefully craned onto my transport for the long haul to Devon.
A momentous moment in her life leaving Brightlingsea for the first time since her launch from Aldous Boatyard.
Arrived safely (I travelled in the truck to ensure safe transport). Down hill across our field towards my workshop at the back of where we lived.
The ballast of 2 tons pig iron ingots had been left at Brightlingsea so as not to shake fastenings on the road travel. This picture was removing the concrete that covered and mixed with rocks and gravel. The pig iron sat on top with floorboards over.
A Devon hedge had to be removed prior to craning off onto the laid levelled chocks. Where she would sit for 5 years of her restoration. The last year of her build was inside another workshop I acquired when purchasing the property next door.
After all ballast removed, it became apparent her downfall in life was the wet and acid of oak attacking the wrought iron fastenings in both deck beams and double frames. A decision was made on this restoration to use all Silicon Bronze fastenings so that she would last more than 100 years in her new life.
The rudder trunk and stern frame conditions.
General side view of the task to hand.
Water damage to deck beam, frame and beam shelf.
G & A had a forward shelter, raised forward bulwarks, no sailing rig and an engine fitted for a short while in her commercial life under Malcolm MacGregor’s ownership. This shows the stern tube and greaser which is the only proof of this change from sail to power and back to sail again.
A view of the deadwood and stern frames that suffered heavily from Gribble worm from sitting in the mud but more likely they attacked when she lay sunk for 6 years.
Typical Smack stern with her name plate that was going to be restored and refitted. It must be said that her on deck length was at 42 feet with a 14 foot bowsprit forward overhang – at total overall length therefore of 56 feet.
The rudder post had been replaced when converted back to sail and the propeller and shaft removed. The rudder blade was hollow where the aperture had been for the propeller. You can make this out on this photo.
The side view of the bow showing the failed nail fastenings of the plank ends.
iew of the stern showing general rot from rain water due to lack of protection.
Shows the Grown Oak crooks found from wind blown oak trees around various Country Estates in Devon. This side view is of the centre doubled frames and butts being replaced from the starboard side, patterns taken and copied for the port side frames. The portside was out of true either by building by eye as they were or by her condition let go at Brightlingsea.
Alternate frames being fitted across the keel after the keelson had been removed. Prior to this work all oak frames were soaked for 6 months in linseed oil to penetrate the wood surface and avoid future gribble worm attack.
The main centre section of new frames nearing completion. Held by bronze drifts not iron fastenings.
My workshop at home where I had a 6 cylinder 3 phase 50 KVA diesel generator driving a 24 “ bandsaw that cut through oak crooks like butter.
Making the bronze drifts.
Thickness of oak on the bandsaw for grown knees and deadwoods.
Centre section frames complete and primed now for the bow section with stem and apron removed.
nternal view of primed central frames.
The bow taking shape. This was a deviation from Oak as I had Iroko left over from building a Nantucket Clipper in previous years for a customer. However Oak is on top so that the internal workings are all oak. You can see the change in the lighter oak colour to the honey Iroko.
Forward single frames being fitted.
Now completed forward frames.
Internal view looking forward.
The new Keelson sawn and planed and linseed treated. Ready to install in the hull but not to fit yet.
he 24ft steam box ready for the four beam shelves to be steamed for the curves of the bow, scarfing and continuing through the stern horns.
Bronze keel bolts being made to length, each one varied, the longest at over a metre in length. I cut the threads and custom made the bolts.
Now to the stern and ensuring the boat was not twisted in the building to shape and fit the new stern post and deadwoods for the frames to complete.
Temporary deck beams holding the beam true through framing up and you will note the beam shelves are now fitted. 24 hrs of steaming the size of oak beam shelves. A jig was constructed and allowed for a 10 % spring back after unclamping. They fitted like a glove - a perfect feeling of satisfaction.
More Oak, this arrived from Barchards for the deck beams.
Deadwood in place and well oiled, ready for the stern post next.
Stern frames being fitted, to the left you can see the scarf ready for the aft beam shelf length to fit onto the stern frames once complete.
This shows the rake of the stern post.
A forward view with the rudder hangings cut out of the stern post, frames still doubled. A strong build as per original
This and the next photo * are of the spars being restored. Nothing wrong with them other than the standing rigging to replace for new and some of the running rigging at a later date. In addition all the blocks were overhauled and cleaned and re oiled. There were lots it took some 6 months of work to do.
The spars finished in their new buff and white colours and new leathers.
The spars finished in their new buff and white colours and new leathers.
The stern with beam shelves and horn timbers bolted on with last aft deck beam and oak knees fitted. Another strong build and tie into the stern post strength.
The Horn timbers deck beams finished.
Looking aft and ready to fit bulwarks and sheet fastenings, chain plates to hull and gunwale edge.
An internal view looking aft and now looking at fitting fore and aft stringers and two extra stronger stringers for the engine installation of hydraulic driving two propellers so that when sailing the rudder is not broken by a single screw propeller in the rudder blade which previously would have negatively affected the steering under sail alone.
Deck beams complete with beam shelves and mast support with hatch timbers fitted, all as original to the G & A Alduos build. No deviation from the original. View looking aft.
As before but view looking forward.
The additional reinforcing of the aft stringers.
View looking aft internally, the keelson has still to be bolted down with keel bolts.
The Larch planking, purchased from Scotland for a slower growing closer grained wood. I had it delivered to a local bandsaw company that could handle such huge trees.
My 3 phase planer/thicknesser a fantastic tool purchased from Rolls Royce in the Midlands.
All planks stacked and dried for three years. Beautiful shapes for the hull. Lengths are as 42 foot with no butts.
Its amazing how strong me and my daughter Kim must have been all handled by us with no fuss.
The deck planking of Douglas Fir machined and ready to lay fore and aft straight just as she was built
This photo shows G & A being lifted in her condition of framed up and beams bolted etc. I made a steel box frame that the crane attached to so no stress to the boat herself, as you can see by the picture.
Swinging her into position down and to slide into the garage.
We dropped her onto caterpillar skids that could take 20 tons each. One under each corner of the metal frame. It worked a treat into the garage.
Now under cover the deck plan ks go on with a thicker King plank down the centre line.
You can see the original hatch places just as the original build with offset forward hatch.
A view aft with decks on, silicon screwed and with bulwarks fitted and top capping.
View forward of the same showing the offset bowsprit and Sampson posts.