Building a Cogboat for Amy

In the autumn of 1991 Dave Robinson’s lawn became a boatbuilder’s yard. Cyril had started to build a cogboat, helped by Charlie and Peter. He made and set up an oak stempost, keel and transom (with removable shaping frames), upside down on the grass.

A large stack of larch planks were delivered, Cyril made a steam chest to help bend the planks to shape (from which a small grey cat had to be turfed out before each use). The planks were chosen, measured, cut and planed in mirrored pairs, then steamed until pliant. Once ready there would be a great rush by all three of them to clamp a plank in place ready for “nailing” which actually meant knocking square copper nails through pre-drilled holes, slipping a copper washer or “rove” over the point, cutting off the end of the nail and hammering it flat over the rove, rivet-like, holding the nail head in place with a “dolly”.

Each overlapping plank is riveted to the previous one at three to four inch intervals and nailed to the stempost and transom at each end, this is known as clinker-building.

When the planking was completed the shell was turned the right-way-up and a few oak ribs were steamed and fitted before carrying it across the road and derricking it aboard Amy Howson.

In the hold, set on its keel on the keelson, and chocked upright. The interior was black varnished ready for the remainder of the ribs, knees and other strengthening pieces to be fitted, followed by thwarts (seat boards), bottom planks (duck boards) and a semi-circular notch to the top middle of the transom for the all important sculling oar. Charlie painted the cogboat in traditional colours to finish it off. Then on Tuesday 25 February Cyril and Charlie derricked it out of the hold and lowered it into the water. Cyril was cajoled by the gathering spectators, into climbing down into the cogboat and sculling up the haven and back.

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