The Building of the ‘Merry Rose’

At our April technical meeting, long standing member Clive Jarman addressed a very good turnout of members on the building, sailing and modifications along the way of his Ian Oughtred designed Eun Mara ketch “Merry Rose”. This is a classic amateur boat building tale – a keen and knowledgeable builder, a beautiful design and a focus that saw the boat built and a great deal of enjoyment had in quick time. Well done Clive (and Linda), she really looks like a boat should look.

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The building of “Merry Rose” commenced on 17th Nov, 2000 and she was launched in late 2002. The standard Eun Mara design is 19 feet long and has two retractable centerboards but following consultation with the designer, Clive built “Merry Rose” 10% larger and with a single central centerboard.  She is 22 feet long with a beam of 7.5 feet, and displaces about 2 tons. She is of a similar design, but larger than two other Eun Mara’s known to have been built in WA, one in Kalamunda and the other in Manjimup.

Clive came very well prepared on the night with pictures of all stages of the building process together with the drawings and some pieces of hardware to hand around such as the patterns for the various bronze components that were individually cast for the project. This provided the backdrop for Clive’s detailed and very interesting explanation of each step of the project.

 The Eun Mara design is built upside down so following construction of a building jig, the first stage is to set up MDF frames on the jig. Planking can then commence. Clive used Queensland hoop pine ply for the planking. The planking is clinker and curves in two directions so there was a need to use 1/8 inch MDF to work out plank shape, using a long batten to mark out the curve. Each plank needed two scarfs over its length and the clinker scarfed out between planks at each end. Clive hand planed each scarf on the bench and then clamped them in place on the boat to epoxy each joint. The plank ends are bronze screwed into place at the bow and stem.

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Nyata was used for the inner and outer stem, the bottom of the keel and the deadwood. Oregon was used for other framing. The inner and outer stem were laminated on the bench before being fitted to the boat at different stages of the process – the keel and inner stem prior to planking and the deadwood and outer stem later. A tongue and groove approach was used down the stem and in the deadwood components including the centrecase.

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After 3 coats of epoxy and 7 coats of paint on the bottom, the  “Merry Rose” was ready for turning over. This was achieved via an ABBA Toolbox visit on Sunday afternoon, 7th October, 2001 (See Mike Beilby’s write-up under the Library tab, Nov Dec 2001 Newsletter).

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Following the usual excitement of seeing your creation upright and looking just like the boat you knew you were building, the deck and internal framing and fitout of the interior proceeded. This included the inwales at the gunwales, main deck beams, floors and the main plywood bulkheads together with bow and stern flotation bulkheads.

Clive resolved early on to paint the inside of lockers and other inside areas as he went along including varnish where appropriate.  This was a lot easier before the cabin trunk and other areas started to close off easy access to some of the internal areas.

Next came the build up of the self draining cockpit and the anchor well and substantial nyata king post on the foredeck. The very pretty cabin trunk and sheoak bright work followed. Here Clive opted for a bigger cockpit than the Eun Mara design and hence a slightly smaller cabin.

 Clive then explained how he had devised a design to permanently accommodate the outboard motor in a boxed out section of the hull aft of the cockpit. This necessitated a small section of the deck being removable to allow the motor to be extracted if required. Clive emphasised the need for an overnight hold on proceedings following the boxing out of the motor enclosure in order to be in the appropriate mental state to cut the hole in the bottom of the boat for the outboard leg. The motor is a four stroke water cooled 8 HP twin Honda with charging capacity which unfortunately only operates at higher revs.

At this stage the remaining items required prior to fitting the deck were completed. The missen mast sits in the trunk aft and is drained. The main mast tabernacle is oregon wedged at the base so that the mast sits off the cross bolt. The bow sprit fitting is galvanized steel, painted and riveted to the stem with copper rod.

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 The deck is Burmese teak glued straight to the ply decking. Clive noted the need to wash the teak thoroughly with acetone to remove the natural oils near the surface and apply the glue quickly before the natural oil comes back to the surface. This process was

adopted for all the teak decking including the toe rails which were left with their natural timber finish and are not varnished. After gluing of the teak decking to the ply was completed, the gauged joints between the deck planks were filled with black Sikaflex which was trimmed off flush after it cured. In this case, the Sikaflex was applied directly to the teak without magnetic tape in the bottom of the gauged joint (as has also been deployed successfully by member Mike Igglesden). Both methods have proved very satisfactory in operation – the powers of Sika! The deck planks themselves were also left in their natural state, to be scrubbed from time to time. However, Clive pointed out the importance of any scrubbing of the deck being undertaken across grain in order to avoid accelerated erosion between the ‘grain’ (annular rings within the timber) which would more quickly make the deck unnecessarily rough.

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 At this stage, the main building work of the basic boat was nearing completion. Construction of a number of essential remaining components followed. The center board was built using a core of 10mm steel with over laying ply laminations, all of which was encapsulated by fibreglassing over. The rudder was also fabricated from laminated plywood. Clive made his own patterns for the very pretty oval window surrounds in the cabin trunk. These were then cast in bronze, polished and fitted with tinted polycarbonate windows.

 Internally, a chart table and a two metre long bunk each side was built in. The timber main mast was built from new oregon timber that Clive procured from Austim and an old dragon mast became the raw material for the building of the missen mast and booms. Clive shaped the hollow spars from an initial box section which was glued with no screws. Ballast in the form of six lead bars was also fitted to a recess which had been allowed in the keel. All the fittings which had in most cases been cast in bronze and the centerboard were then fitted to complete the process. Clive made all his own blocks under instruction from Robyn Hicks as per the Endeavour and the rigging is hand spliced stainless steel wire.

Another ABBA and Old Gaffers afternoon gathering provided the horsepower to transfer the completed Eun Mara ketch onto a trolley and from the trolley to new trailer which Clive had had tailor made for the boat.

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Good risk management dictated that the waterline and other crucial factors should be checked before any official launch so Clive and Linda found a quiet launching ramp up river to do a ‘pre launch’ which showed quite clearly what a superb job  Clive had done with the build.

Mary Igglesden then officiated at the official launching of “Merry Rose” from the hardstand at Rockingham in late 2002. She made a very impressive sight – just what a classic designed and meticulously built boat should look like.

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Clive and Linda subsequently trailed her to the South Australian Wooden Boat Festival where they met up with her designer, Ian Oughtred, who was similarly impressed.

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Since launching, Clive has used the boat extensively including cruising to Rottnest and Quindalup. He has found that she sails best with a reef when the wind gets above 18 knots. He has sailed in up to 30 knots with a storm jib or stay sail plus a missen or a double reefed  mainsail.

Experience over time has led Clive to make some operational modifications which he outlined to us in his presentation. He has replaced the rope main sheet horse with a bronze bar horse aft of the cockpit coaming, added a furler to the foresail and led all the halyards aft. All these additions have improved the sailability of “Merry Rose”, particularly for single handing.

This project is the essence of what traditional amateur boat building is all about and Clive’s very informative presentation was greatly enjoyed by all present. Thanks Clive.

Footnote: As indicated in the previous newsletter, “Merry Rose” has now been sold and is on her way to a new owner in Tasmania. Clive indicated at the meeting that he and Linda are taking a break from sailing to do other things. We look forward to hearing what Clive’s next interesting project will be. – Ed