A Boat named Sarum

sarum-boatI had the most amazing stroke of luck today, that of finding a dinghy hull for only fifty euros – and close to my home. It and several others are being sold by an association specialising in helping young people through sports, activities and constructive work. There were some six boats in this pitiful state, left out in a field and deprived of their rigs through a fire in the club house where the masts, booms, sails, rudders, ropes, etc. were kept. Only the hulls survived because they were outside.

I went to fetch the hull this morning. The boat is a Zef dinghy, a popular make in France that democratised sailing in the same way as the Mirror did in England. Some French enthusiasts have a site on Dériveur Zef. Designed by Michel Nivelt and made of fibreglass, it has a hinged centreboard, which is much better for if I touch bottom. The centreboard hinges back instead of breaking off as can happen with a daggerboard. On Sophia, my old boat, I have had a few near misses and low-speed scrapes – but no damage. The length is twelve feet and the beam is generous at five feet, making for a very stable boat. There is lots of room for stowing gear, making this a better cruising boat than my Tabur 320. The freeboard is generous and the bow rides high in the chop. Some fifteen thousand of these boats were built from 1960 until the 1980’s. There were three versions of which mine is the most recent, numbered 17903 and built in 1976.

All I have is the hull and the centreboard. The hull is in good condition, with two professional repairs. The original rudder perished in the fire, so I will have to find a replacement. I intend to rig Sarum, as I have decided to name her, with the Mirror rig of Sophia, and I have a spare set of rigging for the old boat. I will be keeping both boats, since Sophia is much lighter and more appropriate for certain conditions. She will be kept as a light weather boat, whereas Sarum will be more seaworthy in a swell and chop and will have less sail than what she was originally designed for. It suits me, as a cruising boat needs to be capable of being safely handled in a stiff breeze and reefed as necessary.

There is plenty of work for the rest of autumn and this winter. The mast step needs to be adapted, the attaching points for the standing rigging need a good look. The transom needs rebuilding with marine plywood plate and the pintles put in the right places for the future rudder. This boat is designed to take a very small outboard engine (2hp). The Seagull is said to be very reliable even though the design is old. I don’t expect her to be a fast or sporty boat? The Zef is a plodder, a cruising boat. I intend to give Sarum a good lick of paint next spring. The obvious colour is Sarum blue (hull above the waterline, white for below the waterline the decks and inside the cockpit. I hope to find a flag of Our Lady of Salisbury Cathedral to run up to the masthead with the French flag and the Red Ensign of my own country.

I will take Sarum to the Semaine du Golfe instead of Sophia, though I might take both boats if a friend would like to come and sail with us. Sarum needs a lot of work, and I am sure she will be a proud little vessel when I bless her just before launching at the beginning of next season.

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4 Responses to A Boat named Sarum

  1. ed pacht says:

    I know less than nothing about sailing, i.e. I know very little and most of that (I’m sure) is false. That said, I love your posts about sailing, and especially love how, between the lines, they give me a fuller idea of who you are as a man and a Christian and a priest. Something about it truly inspires me. Congratulations on your new craft. May your days with Sarum (and with Sophia) be truly blest.

    • Many thanks, Ed, for the kind words. I have been running this blog now for quite a long time, and another blog prior to that in more spiritually stressing circumstances. Part of running a blog is expressing oneself which is both good for one’s own self-knowledge and frankness with others. Like you, I was born in a pre-internet era, and it is against my nature to construct a fictitious personality or hide behind anonymity. I therefore write postings about sailing and other things I love doing, which sets my spiritual aspirations and religion into context.

      Once I get Sarum into shape with her new rudder and rig, I’ll post something on the blessing and first launch under my ownership.

  2. Juan de la Fuente says:

    What cracking news Anthony! Tons of fun ahead!! I think blue Enterprise dinghy sails would actually fit Sarum beautifully.

    Poor Sophia! Will she ever sail again?

    Congratulations, une superbe affaire!

    • Sarum will need more sail to have something like the original. The idea would be Zef sails, and build the mast, yard and boom to suit. It depends on availability and cost.

      Sophia is in the back yard under a tarpaulin, and I have borrowed her rig for Sarum. I have spare sails and spars for Sophia, and she will get her own rig next year. I will certainly find there there are circumstances where I can launch Sophia but not Sarum. Sarum is built in polyester, so she cannot be dragged on shingles or anything other than sand. Sophia will also be useful when a friend wants to come sailing who doesn’t have his own boat.

      I am making Sarum‘s rudder (existing blade) with a head of 15mm ply and oak. A friend gave me some old bits and pieces for the rudder. She is now equipped with deck cleats, rowlocks and standing rigging points. I find that a small repair is needed on the top of the centreboard well.

      I may sail Sarum in November if the weather improves.

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