Over here in Perth we have recently launched the first of our four boats for the Naval Cadet Association.
These boats were designed by French naval architect Francois Vivier to specifications determined by senior members of the cadets to help teach the young cadets seamanship skills, particularly rowing in a group, but future boats will also to be able to sail too to teach the cadets sailing skills. The first four boats are being built for rowing only, with the hulls being built by O’Connor Wooden Boats and with and all the finishing, sanding, and painting being done by a team of volunteers.
The team has been led by Bob Mummery and consists mainly of retired navy personnel as well as assistance from two current able seamen, Matthew Cowden and Raymond Pezutti.
Bob and his team have done sterling work, especially considering that before this project none of them had worked with epoxy products, so at first there was a steep learning curve. After initial instructions on the various properties and uses of filler powders and filleting techniques they got stuck in and with typical resolve they embraced the challenge and have succeeded in making a fine job of the first boat.
I get the impression that none of them will ever view sanding and painting boats in a romantic way again.
One of the main features of this design is its minimalist approach, there is nothing in the boat that isn’t absolutely necessary which saves weight and cost as well as building time and has resulted in a boat with a very clean interior.
Launching a new boat is always an apprehensive affair, although with this boat we had yet to fit any bungs so without any through hull holes I was confident that at least she wouldn’t sink, but there is always a worry that a boat may not float on her lines or look right, but I am happy to report that she sat beautifully in the water, which really should not be any surprise as Mr Vivier has been designing boats professionally for over 30 years, and this year is also my 25th year as a professional boatbuilder so I guess it is not too much to expect that she would be okay.
After launching the boat was taken through her paces with Jim O’Neill gallantly volunteering to cox and with a mixed crew of volunteers they went through a series of rowing drills with different seating and oar positions and I am very happy to say that they are delighted with her handling, speed and stability.
This design is now available as a kit from Tony O’Connor at O’Connor Wooden Boats