I started my National Twelve sailing in an old Mk. 8 called
Tiger Mouse, which served its purpose of teaching me to sail
and introduce. me to Twelves. As time passed I thought I wanted
to take racing seriously and I wanted a faster boat. As I was
penniless anyway I didn't think of new or nearly new boats at
a11, instead I concentrated on a dilapidated Mk lla which was
slowly rotting, in the dinghy park. This was aptly called Bits
& Pieces. A few pounds spent and a lot of elbow grease (I
still have no finger prints from the sandpaper) and two months
later, a sparkling "new" boat appeared on the scene
At this time (late 1975) the fleet seemed to be full of fast
newer designs such as Warlocks" Jackpots, Whispers and China
Dolls. Then to my horror a Paper Dart arrived and that then settled
it for me I had to have a new boat ! Now, how to go about acquiring
a "new" boat ? Over the Winter series my speed in the
Mk lla improved, but not enough for me, So a close study of the
boats on the, market led me to one conclusion. They were all
very expensive; well to me at 16 it seemed so. When I first mentioned
my idea of building a boat from scratch the only reaction from
my 6th form mates was one of disbelief which turned into a huge
joke. After going to the Dinghy Exhibition at Picketts Lock in
March I came away with a definite idea of what sort of boat I
wanted and I settled on the Havoc design by Keith Callaghan.
The: plans were purchased and royalty paid after the Dinghy Show
and I came home quite pleased with myself. So came the question
of finance. The Mk IIa was sold and so I at least had the money
to start. I would worry about the rest later.And so to the building.
The frames and subframe were knocked up out of some old floor
boards, which were ideal for the job. Then came the glorious
summer and all that hot weather. I was getting slightly tired
of not getting anywhere with my boat (meaning it wasn't finished)
so I went down to the sailing club where someone offered to lend
me their boat for the Summer while they pushed off to the South
of France. I took him up on his kind offer and so no building
was done. Shame on me !
When the Summer ended and building commenced things got a move
and with the help and nagging of a club mate who had built his
previous two Twelves himself. With his help the garboards were,
fixed in a weekend and in the following weekend another two planks.
Then he left it up to me and in three more weeks the whole boat
was planked up with the keel also attached. I used stringers
in the construction of my boat, on the advice of the designer
and various other people but although the, weight was increased
the shell is extremely tough and with 4" gussets in the
bow on each pair of stringers and a solid stem, heaven help anyone
on the receiving end ! I used 4 sheets of 8' x 4' and found this
was just enough to plank up the hull, make 2 centreplate case
sides and also a bow tank/bulkhead.
I became a very good scrounger whilst building my boat as I used
to poke my nose in all the local woodyards and rummage through
their scrapboxes. At one particular yard I was such a familiar
sight that the guard dog bounded up to me with his stick, which
was usually teak or oak or some similar expensive hardwood (the
dog had good taste !). Once I had made up my mind on building
a boat and all the leg pulling was obviously taking no effect,
people's opinions changed. Most surprising, to me, was the amount
of help offered from all directions.
The interior of the hull is quite clean by comparison with some
boats. The case has a 22'' wide stiffener around the top and
also down the back to the hog. There are also pads glued to the
sides of the ply case for the bolt. I used 4mm 4 ply for the
decks with Sapele striped finish. An 8 x 5 was ample for my boat
which has a vast foredeck and very crescent shaped side decks.
Once the decks were finished I was forced to stop the rest of
the procedure to get my boat afloat by the dreaded "A"
levels. I didn't really time it too badly as I finished the decks
around April-May and took my exams in mid-June, But I think it
was more luck than judgment.
I worked it so that I had six weeks at home between leaving,
school and starting work. In the end this proved only just sufficient
as the boat was afloat the weekend prior to starting work and
this was working nonstop. The painting took up three weeks in
the best painting weather I have experienced-I have a nice tan
to prove it-although it was backbreaking work. The boat was measured
at the nearby Up River Y.C, and it was trailed back to Broxbourne
at 1.30 in the morning in a thunderstorm. A night I know I shan't
forget for a long time.
Now the boat is afloat and it is very quick, although I still
haven't had a true, plane! Perhaps it's me but when a gale comes
the bows may come out ! But the boat goes fast and results to
date (since launching it in August) indicate that the Paper Darts
and such are not invincible after all ! So I am pleased with
the boat's performance. The next step would seem to be designing
my own boat and 1 would like to desig, one on lines similar to
the Havoc but perhaps in 7 plank clinker. A step backwards ?
I think not, as 1, personally, think the boat looks a lot more
like a boat in clinker fashion. But for now I am satisfied with
what I have and so until I suddenly become rich or my boat is
sold or falls apart I shall continue to campaign my Havoc.
P.S.-A word of advice to any "would-be" 17 year-old
beat builders. Read the title of this article and think twice
about building yourself, after all people at that age have, many
more things to spend their money on outside boats, sails and
This may seem like adverse Class policy in the Twelve fleet but
to the individual concerned it may mean the difference between
being broke for the duration of the time building until the boat
hits the water or being content with your clapped out Mk, 12
or Lucky Number, etc.