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Building two Gaffling 4.1s

East Coast Gaffers decided to build not one but two of the OGA dinghy to become known as the ‘Gaffling 4.1’.

On 28 January, 2020 two dinghy kits were picked up from Demon Yachts in Aldeburgh on the way home from Sizewell. The first problem was to load the trailer with what turned out to be two entire kits in individual parts. I was expecting several complete but nearly cut out sheets of ply. An hour or more later the kits were on their way home, one to Barham near Claydon and the other to Mistley near Manningtree to the workshops of East Coast Gaffers Pete (the Glass) and Pete (the Knife). 

We had some ‘dimensional differences’ to overcome as we realised the kits were very slightly different but hey ho we carried on with some constructive feedback to the cutters. Having produced our own ‘Haynes style’ manual based on the information on the website (thanks to Tony Kiddle’s postings) we had the same set of instructions sufficient to make a start. There is the sailing adage ‘two boats going in the same direction is a race’ but we keep saying this IS NOT ONE!! (don’t we Pete?).

15 March, floor slats glued in and the whole boat sanded inside ready for the ‘Flow coat’. That was applied on 20 March. Its quite amazing how the boat changes so quickly. Sadly with the Covid19 virus spreading and social distancing being important group work has had to stop. Clare, Will and I turned the boat over ready to prepare the outside. A little more sanding and filling to fair up the odd imperfections and then a two pack primer undercoat was applied with a roller. It just needs the top coat now. It seems that blue is a popular colour. The spars are shaped up and varnished waiting for the fittings. The sails have been ordered from Jeckells and we are waiting to hear when they may be ready for collection/delivery. The progress on the OGA dinghies is semi stalled due to lockdown, but we are looking for the best way to use them in the future. 

Great progress has been made with help from other interested members who, like us carefully held their hands up at the 2019 AGM. Building the dinghies is a very social activity as we found out the very first weekend at work! By May, 2020 the Suffolk OGA Dinghy was making great progress. It has been really good to see members come along and help out with all aspects of the building. Thanks must go to Rod Daniels, John Warren, Robert and Lorna Hill and Yvonne who have come to help during the day and in the evenings. Over the past week the decks have been fitted along with the centreboard case. The gunwales knees and breast hook have been fitted. There is still a lot to do, floor battens, rudder blade and stock, centreplate not forgetting the spars which are roughed out. There is a lot of preparation for finishing the inside of the boat, lots and lots of sanding and tidying up the edges. Then turn over and prepare the outside for painting.

We need to have a maintainance schedule, and would expect that people who use the dinghies would help with their upkeep. We would love it if they could be kept in places where young people could have access to them to learn that sailing a gaffer is fun! All these organisational details will be key to making the best use of the east coast OGA investment in the dinghy initiative. At some point we hope to have a launch party, but planning events is very difficult this year!

Report compiled by Pete Thomas and Pete Elliston