Ubique's bowsprit under 'old-school' construction at Denman Marine

As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, Ubi was scheduled to get a new bowsprit.
This was an attempt to nullify the excess weather helm the boat was encountering under full canvas (if you were to ask me).

If you ask my better half, Meesh would say that I've got bowsprit-envy, and I have felt inadequate because of it.
The truth is likely somewhere in between, as I always thought the boat didn't look right with the shorter 'sprit.

Watching the great guys at Denman Marine (hey Matt and Andrew!!) tackle the project was interesting. They were incredibly respectful of the boat and spent time measuring carefully and consulting with me as to the dimensions, shaping and finishing.

However I think we were all very surprised when the beautiful laminated blank was first introduced back on board for size:

Ubique's new gargantuan bowsprit blank being tested for size. No one could believe it was correct! Photo: Andrew Denman

Extending a metre longer than her previous appendage, the new bowsprit looked insane. Careful checks on my measurements showed they were correct. Taleisin being 29' 6" had an 8' 6" bowsprit, so Ubique being roughly 8% longer (at 31' 8") had her's extended a further 8% at 9' 3". Larry talks at length in Capable Cruiser about bowsprits, and explains the connection with J-measurements, bowsprits and weather helm (it's well worth reading if you're a boat geek!!).

The initial CAD drawing I did for Andrew's team to start constructing the bowsprit

The Denman Boys and I debated the previous mating with the gammon iron, which had seemed to reduce the depth of the bowsprit unnecessarily by about 1". A template was knocked up (to minimise any feathering of the final finished product), and true to form when it was installed, the bowsprit slipped perfectly into the gammon iron with no shaving necessary.

Ubique's gammon iron was wedge shaped to obviously help lock the spar under the compression effect of the rigging

Note the tiny difference in depth of the bowsprit (between the back and front of the gammon iron) caused by the wedge effect of the bronze fitting

Construction was from a stunning Oregon Spruce lamination, glued up right here in Tassie, and finished to a very high standard with marine paint and varnish. Originally the shaping was to be from square, to octagon, through to whatever the name you give to a 16-sided shape (a 16-a-gon?) - actually it's a hexadecagon. Taking advice from Andrew, we settled on a square to octagon, and as you can see from the image below, it looks rather elegant!!

I think I can speak for everyone involved when I say that once the spar was painted, rigged and installed, the previously insane length looked positively well proportioned - which was a massive relief!!

What a great finish of varnish and 2-pack!!

After getting the rigging back on, and everything laced back up, we took Ubi out for a sail.

I'm pleased to say that it did make a difference, with Ubi now happily tracking close hauled by herself in about 15 knots of wind. However there are still remnants of weather helm under blowy conditions 25+ knots. I'll have to ask around as to how I cure this last 'infection'.

Here's an image shot of Ubi with her new bowsprit, looking glorious under sail.

Thanks to Val, the owner of Aziza (Ubique's sister ship) for this great image of Ubique underway with the new bowsprit

My thanks to Andrew, Matt and the team at Denman Marine for all their great work. Highly recommended!!


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