Mildred - a sturdy pram dinghy
Hull build - Winter 1990/91
Mildred is closely based on a design by Ian Nicholson, from his book "Build a Simple Dinghy". The changes were mainly to size - the finished boat had go down the internal curved stair in our flat! Mildred is named after my mother - who really wasn't very keen on small boats!
Construction is traditional, on a solid building base. I used a frame that's normally storage shelves, but enabled me to get all round the construction at a reasonable height. Construction is wood-epoxy but also with brass screws. The screws are definitely overkill, and simply add to the weight! Here are the sturdy internal frames before adding the ply skin.
After fitting and glueing (and screwing!) the topsides and bottom, the boat is detached from the building base, turned over, and the frame extensions sawn off. Internal fittings like the dagger board case were then added, even though the boat wouldn't be sailed for some time.
Here's Mildred in the dining room, after being taken down the stairs without mishap. Everyone said I'd never manage it, but of course at an early stage of making the drawings I'd built a full-size frame mock-up and shown that it could actually be manoeuvred aroud the banister.
On the water at last! - a sunny day on Loch Lomond. We actually launched for the first time there, but on a rather rough day - yes, the children got wet. It never put them off though and they were great enthusiasts of "Swallows and Amazons" for a long time. Incidentally, Mildred rows beautifully - there's a short keel near the stern that keeps her running very straight.
Sail and spars - Winter 1991/92
Here is Mildred at Coniston Water, looking very smart. The spars were laminated and hand rounded, and the sail hand made (yes, hand stitched!), in heavy polyester - lovely tan colour. I learned how to use a sailmaker's palm, and spent many a happy evening sitting on the floor stitching - it was a good way to relax at a time that was a bit stressful at work. Blocks etc. were all picked up cheaply at boat shows - rather heavy for the size of boat, but again, sturdy! The rudder is made of a piece of oak from my gradmother's wardrobe ... other pieces had been used for building a harp!
Details of the rigging and such here. Nice big bow buoyancy bag, and there's another under the stern seat. The dagger baord is lying on the main thwart, and its slot is visible in the central thwart. The rigging is taken down to cleats at the mast foot; no stays needed, the mast is short and strong. A traditional standing lug rig is used, and works very well.
Here's a detail of the rudder assembly. The stock is two strong sides of ply (laminated, giving six laminations) and the rudder and tiller both oak (grandmother's wardrobe). Stainless steel pintles and gudgeons were bought - unlike the much simpler technology used for Aoraki. The "handles" that the main sheet and block are fastened to are designed to hold good-sized bottles for picnics!
Finally, here we are sailing in true Ransome country, round the back of Belle Isle. There used to be (probably still is) a good launching place at Harrowslack, where for a payment of a small fee to the Park Ranger you could launch a sailing dinghy. Great fun to sail on the open lake in such a tiny boat, and to sail around Belle Isle and see "Rio" and the Hen and Chicken rocks out of the stories, and be bounced about on the wake of the Lake steamers. There would also usually be old steam cruisers chugging about the Lake, just like the one the Blacketts owned.