Speaker by Various Artists

Read Post

Speaker: A Slight Diversion from Election Fever: A Brief Essay on the Lost Art of Ferrocement Boatbuilding

53 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 Newer→ Last

  • David Haywood,

    Unfortunately Harold is currently in hospital (he cracked a femur during some shenanigans after writing this guest blog and finishing his latest book), but any comments left here will be passed onto him. Hopefully he can respond to any questions.

    I can also report that Harold dislikes John Key as much as he disliked Robert Muldoon, and is greatly enjoying the news RE: Dirty Politics. It is apparently just what he suspected all along.

    You can read more about Harold here.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    One of the things that I most liked about your account, Harold, is the fact that you built a 37-foot yacht without actually having sailed before. Just as well it turned out that you liked sailing.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    My father and an enthusiastic friend built a ferro-cement dingy one afternoon on the beach at Purau.
    We dug sand to build up the shape, a board across the stern, some chicken-wire, and we mixed and scraped and smoothed cement over it. My not-perfect memory is that it cured fast enough to be moved before the tide came in. Dad fitted three boards for thwarts, and rowlocks, and we launched it.
    It floated. Even with three people aboard.
    On the other hand, it rowed very poorly, due to an unnoticed irregularity in shape. Rather than dance over, it plowed through waves, giving the uneasy feeling that the slightest bit of slop could send you to the bottom.
    And it was possibly the heaviest dinghy of its size in the world. Four adults could barely launch it.
    After a season of intermittent use, it became the basis, I believe, of someone’s mooring, which was fitting.
    I’ve never quite been able to love any ferro-cement boat since. (Apologies to Harold and Loxley, which looks lovely. I’ve fancied the H28 since a teen – Herreshoff is a legend.)

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2098 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    What a wonderful story! Thank you Harold. And get better soon!

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3890 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    What became of Loxley? Is this it, last year, about to head to Tonga?

    Enjoyable story, Harold, thanks for the diversion.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10646 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to BenWilson,

    Attachment

    What became of Loxley? Is this it, last year, about to head to Tonga?

    Answering for Harold: Well-spotted, Ben! Yes, that's Loxley! Aluminium masts instead of the oregon now, I notice. Harold told me he'd had recent reports that Loxley has been spotted in Samoa, so this all ties together now... Incidentally, Harold had plans to tour the Pacific Islands, but it never quite came to pass. Very glad that Loxley made it, at any rate.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    I’ve never quite been able to love any ferro-cement boat since. (Apologies to Harold and Loxley, which looks lovely. I’ve fancied the H28 since a teen – Herreshoff is a legend.)

    Yes, I’m a huge Herreshoff fan myself! But that certainly sounds like a very negative ferrocement experience there, Rob. I’ve seen a few ferrocement disasters myself – though also some great successes. Did you ever come across a boat called ‘Roc’ (I think), which was in one of the solo transtasman races – possibly still holding the record for slowest boat ever? That was quite an extraordinary design; what it lacked in speed it made up for in strength.

    Loxley sailed very well, as I recall, a lot stiffer than the wooden Herreschoff boat that I've sailed in.

    En passant the Neria plans included a dinghy that Herreschoff came up with to match the boat. It was rather small (Herreschoff called it a ‘pram’) but very good to row. Harold didn’t go the ferrocement route on the dighy, of course, I think it was built in kauri, which is a timber that he works with a lot.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to Lilith __,

    What a wonderful story! Thank you Harold. And get better soon!

    Thanks Lilith, will pass on your kind message...

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    Attachment

    Harold the guest blogger photographed an hour or so ago in hospital. He had a pretty awful night and is not at all looking his best. My aunt is with him (last seen launching a boat in this post).

    Incidentally neither my grandfather nor aunt have more than a few grey hairs (no dyeing, I've checked) -- a genetic freak that alas I have not inherited. Mind you, neither of them had my children.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Fooman,

    Not quite so short a blip. There was a ferrocrete hull on what seemed like permanent display in someones back yard at the top of Morley St in New Plymouth. Years of driving past it in the 80's. Grey and weathered. Then one day it was gone.

    Was it finished? How did they get it out?

    I do hope it found itself finished and in the water, enjoyed by those that made it. Just like Loxley.

    FM

    Lower Hutt • Since Dec 2009 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • Angela Hart,

    This is a great story, you are a remarkable man Harold. It speaks to kiwi ingenuity, intelligence and faith (and a wonderful family) that you completed the building of this remarkable vessel without any sailing experience. I'm sorry to hear of your accident but thank you very much for this uplifting diversion- and I'm pleased that Muldoon did you a favour in spite of himself.

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis,

    Isnt the ferro-cement still used for those floating marina pontoons. The local rowing club has one to launch their hulls into an estuary with a large tidal range. Floats just a few cm above the changing water level. Never to sail upon wine dark seas unfortunately !

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    I thought every town in NZ was required to have a ferroconcrete decoration in the shape of a boat? It certainly seemed that way to me in the 70's and 80's. Some of them launched, some of them were turned into odd-shaped sheds.

    I vaguely recall the one down the road from us being launched to some excitement, largely from my point of view that we now had a bigger bit of lawn at my friend's place. It's surprising just how big a "small" yacht is when it's in a backyard/driveway. And correspondingly, how accomodating the spouse is when her partner (it's usually her) takes over half the section for a 10 year project.

    My parents did it the easy way when they retired and bought someone else's boat. Which was a good idea, since they sold it a few years later as it turned out not to be as much fun as they'd hoped. But they did seem to enjoy having it while they did. Well, ok, he enjoyed having it, she enjoyed the occasional sail on a fine day. Much as I did :)

    Hope Harold gets better soon.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1222 posts Report Reply

  • danielpresling,

    Thank you so much for this story. I have very fond memories of my Grandfather's ferro yacht 'Shady Lady' and I've loved the feel of ferro in the water all my life.

    Get well soon Harold.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    Lovely story. I wonder if the shot of the fully rigged Loxley was taken in Mansion House Bay on Kawau? We used to go there often in the early to mid-70s. I haven't been there for more than 30 years, but that scene just looked very familiar...

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 645 posts Report Reply

  • Susan Snowdon,

    Thank you for that lovely story and family photos. Much enjoyed. Best wishes for Harold's recovery.

    Since Mar 2008 • 110 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB, in reply to stephen walker,

    I was there only a few months back, and unless there are other bays with similar mansions (none that I know of?), I will concur with your conclusion that it's Mansion House Bay on Kawau Island.

    And thanks to Harold for a great story.

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 887 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Great stuff! I collected my second Ferro cement boat from diamond habour a few years back. It was a Harley Tahitian. My other Ferro boat was also a Tahitian, but the stretched version.

    My first voyage on bourd a Ferro cement boat was almost my last. We sailed out of the manuka habour in the winter of 1977 I was wizened eleven year old. The boat Swanhilder was well known after circumnavigating the globe. After a cople of days out into the Tasman, the wind got up. Seventy knots plus for a few hours. during the night after being hove to, skipper hoped out of his bunk to descover knee deep water in the main cabin. We had been over culping water thru the night without noticing, so the boat was gradually founding. All hands on deck sorted that.

    I could yarn about boat catastrophes, but people here might start to suspect my start to misinterpret my sanity.

    Thanks for posting, Harold.

    PS: When I saw Muldoons name in the blog, I thought: Boat and Caravan Tax which led to A popular bumper sticker seen on cars read "I'd rather Be sailing, but I voted National".

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4356 posts Report Reply

  • Gregor Ronald,

    I was told that half of all ferro-cement boats ended up as swimming pools.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 102 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to stephen walker,

    I wonder if the shot of the fully rigged Loxley was taken in Mansion House Bay on Kawau?

    Yes, I can confirm that you are correct – impressive memory, sir!

    And a big thank you to everyone for their get well messages to Harold.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to Moz,

    Well, ok, he enjoyed having it, she enjoyed the occasional sail on a fine day. Much as I did :)

    I think this was rather like my grandparents' relationship RE: Loxley.

    I recall my grandmother saying -- possibly quoting a well-known adage (though not well-known to me) -- that you could replicate all the joys of sailing by deliberately giving yourself food poisoning, and then standing under a cold shower and ripping up wads of 100 pound notes.

    I have repeated her observation to several sailing sceptics who have agreed that my grandmother was a very perceptive woman.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to steven crawford,

    I collected my second Ferro cement boat from diamond habour a few years back. It was a Harley Tahitian. My other Ferro boat was also a Tahitian, but the stretched version.

    Wow, a double ferrocement owner! Presumably you liked them? I am intrigued that they do seem to have a very long life -- in contrast to some 20 year old plastic boats I've seen that are already delaminating like crazy. Do you think that maybe history has misjudged ferrocement?

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Kevin McCready,

    My knowledge of ferro boats was that some were built well and others weren't. But I too would be interested in their longevity, the factors eating them away (concrete cancer whereby the reo rusts inside and expands before breaking?) and maintenance issues. PS Russell Brown, are you a sailor, boat owner?

    Auckland • Since Jun 2013 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to David Haywood,

    Do you think that maybe history has misjudged ferrocement?

    There are problems in some of the early systems that used a lot of steel pipe framing. Hartley solved a lot of this by using truss frames. But he still had a pipe running from the tip of the bow to the stern end of the keel. When salt water gets into that pipe, you get rust, which can eventually make its way into the ballast. If the ballast is ordinary steel, it’s going to expand and that’s not good. But it’s not difficult to detect these sorts of problems. A good Ferro boat has a lot of advantages over other building systems. But it’s heavy, so it works best on big boats.

    When we where out off the west coast in the big storm, there was a lot of fork lightning. Knowing our mast was the tallest point, I asked my dad what might happen if it hit the boat. He told how he thought the lightning would earth, but might take some concrete with it. And he pointed at the rubber dingy tied to the cabin top.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4356 posts Report Reply

  • Waz Bradley,

    I had a great friend who built (by sheer force of will and tenacity) a 90' gaff rigged ferro schooner. Being a traditional rigger, with an obsession with marlingspike seamanship, I was frequently to be found aloft, splicing wires, worming, parcelling and serving over shrouds, or below decks working on bell ropes and Turks heads in crappy weather. Sadly my friend has passed on, and the schooner fell into the hands of some scurrilous owners, who lost her while smuggling drugs into NZ. RIP Capt. Pete, one of the best men I ever knew. Lonebird deserved a better fate, as did you.

    Wanaka • Since Sep 2014 • 1 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.