Fitting Out

The hull construction complete, Greg Powesland took over with a small team of craftsmen. The first job was to rake the life caulk out of the deck seams and repair them. The counter chock was built and weeks were spent fairing in covering boards, rails and bulwarks and generally ‘tuning up’ every detail of the hull.

In order to produce authentic fittings, it was necessary to make wooden models or patterns of each item of metalwork requiring extensive study from early books and photographs. David Lodge, who had recently joined the team in possession of a plumber’s training from Harland & Wolfe, became invaluable in making all manner of copper and lead fittings by hand. He even made new flukes for the bower anchor, which was fished from the River Tamar by the Boatman Pub, Saltash, and sold for a song to grace Marigold’s bow.Patrick Elliot and Tony Daniels fitted the capstan, mainsheet buffer, runner plates and bollards, each carefully bedded with white lead and bolted down with bronze. A close look at early photographs showed Marigold to be unusual for her size in carrying only two shrouds on each side, with turnbuckles instead of deadeyes. The chain-plates were set close together only about 2ft (0.61m) apart and quite far forward, allowing, the boom maximum room to swing out when the boat is running. The runners were therefore, extremely important in keeping the jib and staysail luffs taught while not overstraining the shrouds.

The capstan fitted to Marigold had a chain gypsy for the 9/16in (14mm) chain, handles. Pawls in the base allow the barrel to turn in either direction if required while laying out chain. The original capstan, which this one replaced in the 1930s, simply had a barrel around which three turns of chain were wound. The chain was then led to the chain-pipe by movable vertical rollers. A great event in 1983 was finding the bronze top to the capstan, which had been buried under the mud in the bilge!

The remains of the original foredeck gave the necessary clues for rebuilding the 5 x 4in (127 x 101mm) bowsprit bits, which bolted to the deck-beams and were morticed through the deck where they were heavily braced by a pair of grown oak knees unusually leading aft. The rudder was mounted and the last of a dozen coats of glistening raven black paint were applied to the topsides and the protective roof structure dismantled. Thoughts turned to launching.

Various methods were considered, including winching her into the river with tractors, a railway crane from the viaduct, an army helicopter, a floating crane or laying the hull on its side and skidding it into the mud. Eventually it was decided to bring the water to the boat! A JCB was hired to dig a 10-foot (2.74m) V-channel from the estuary to the stern of the boat and a 70-ton mobile crane miraculously negotiated the narrow Cornish lanes to reach the site.

At 6:2Opm on 7 April 1993, the 32 ton hull floated free at the top of a spring tide, and just managed to scrape and nudge out into the stream of the River Lynher. Marigold’s one concession to modernity had been the hidden instalment of a small post office van-sized engine. Thus she was able to manoeuvre down the river to Queen Anne’s Battery in Plymouth under her own power, with all her spars lashed on deck.

Mr Allan was keen to have the yacht ready to sail for Cowes on 25 July. There was no time to spare! A sail and rigging plan has been drawn up and the wire rope splicing was under way with Nick Cork. The mast was stepped on 10 May and a break in the weather allowed 12 coats of stain varnish to be applied to all the spars.

From 14 June to 11 July work concentrated on making the blocks, the patterns having been made in bronze by Wessex Castings of Southampton. Leather-worker Robin Snelson neatly sewed up the gaff saddle and traveller while Jason Gouldstone volunteered his skills in the rigging department. James Lawrence came and measured up for the sails, bringing with him 83-year-old Jack Cook, who had sailed before the mast on Moonbeam during the 1920s. He brought valuable practical information, recalling that ironwork on yachts of that era were always painted dark green or brown and that all servings on the standing rigging were varnished to protect the sails from tar.

As Marigold’s sails were not going to be ready for that season, James loaned a suit from the now-restored Sunbeam, somewhat smaller but perhaps sensible for a shakedown cruise.

With one week to go, all hands turned to making up the running rigging. Finally the sails were bent on and Marigold sped off across Lyme Bay with a good Force 6 behind her outpacing two large Bermudan-rigged yachts that could not believe we were just sailing. Hats off to Mr CE Nicholson!

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