by Robert B. Hale
(Cumberland, BC, Canada)
"Highland Lass" is a John Atkin "Maid of Endor" gaff sloop.
20'3" overall, 18'6" DWL, 7'8" in beam, draft 3'4" and 1100# of outside lead ballast with 400# inside for trimming. Sail area is about 355 sq. ft. with tanbark sails. There is a main, inner and outer jibs and a genoa. I am rebuilding this sloop having saved her from a derelict owner. She is planked in yellow cedar with oak frames, Douglas fir backbone and gumwood stem and sternpost structure. Decks are plywood with dynel overlay. All the structure appears satisfactory. I think the construction was faithful to the plans though there are some minor changes as each owner modifies a boat to suit their preferences. I never liked the curved bowsprit so I built a new one, 3" thick by 4" wide that is straight and vertically laminated up from fir. It is tethered to the bitts and has two bronze bolts forward tied into the breast hook. There is a bobstay and whisker stays. The engine, a MD7 Volvo Penta one-lunger, I had professionally rebuilt. It is a bit of a thumper but it works fine. When I bought the boat it had a fresh water cooling system with a clutch operated Jabsco pump for the raw water. I turfed this system as too complicated and you could not start the engine with the raw water pump engaged, hence the clutch. This is a big 'ol engine and I think it can easily deal with a raw water cooling system. It is in the shop resplendent in its new Volvo green paint. Below decks there is a galley to port and starboard, a seat on the starboard side that faces the stove, a propane camp stove with a portable bottle. There is no head but rather a bucket. Up forward are two v-berths with storage underneath. I tossed out the wood and coal stove as way too warm when lit. The mast is solid fir and well made. I built new spreaders and will make new tangs. It was rigged with 4" deadeyes and lanyards but I think this is overkill for a 20' boat. I am installing 1/2" galvanised turnbuckles. I'll recycle the socket ends that came with the rig. On deck things are quite simple. Bitts forward, halyard spider around the mast, new mast collar, wedges & boot. There is a foward hatch that I would eliminate or cover and bolt down if I was going offshore. Nice ventilation though. The cabin has two opening oval bronze ports. The companionway is standard with two washboards. The cockpit has seats port and starboard. I am rebuilding the engine control box to make it more waterproof and moving the gauges (maybe) to a more conspicuous location. I'll reposition the Whale gusher pump and replumb it. The cockpit drains could use some improvement but there isn't a lot of space. I'll install a 1 cubic foot diesel tank as that will last a season and locate the battery up forward somewhere. The compass is cabin bulkhead mounted. Gaff jaws are leather lined. All fittings are bronze or wood. I'm upping the power of the running backstays to 3:1 and building new blocks: one double sheaved the other single. The chain plates are 1/4"X2" bronze plates, very rugged and thru bolted. No winches. All in all a very nice boat and hopefully back in the water this summer, 2012. I am tempted to design and build some foldable davits that are an extension of the cockpit coamings but that is still in the noodlin' stage. A boom crutch for sure with the name carved into it. Black hull, green bottom. The decks and washboard are schooner buff. Cabin is varnished mahogany. I also have a power boat so this one will have to go on the market when it is finished. Cheers and tight sheets! Robert
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