Tammie Norrie click here to read or make an observation about this  article
By Phillip Hirst - Woodbridge, Tasmania - Australia

This project started from the necessity of replacing our tender, a 10’ inflatable with an 8hp outboard. This inflatable had served us well for the six years or so that we had lived aboard our 45’ yacht, mainly in subtropical Australian coastal waters. When we crossed Bass Strait and came to Tasmania, situated in the Roaring Forties, we realised our needs had changed somewhat.

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Naked moulds

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Inflatables have all sorts of advantages in certain conditions. They are incredibly stable, have good load carrying capacity and are soft and squishy in a topside-paint friendly sort of way. Ever had a non-inflatable tender wander underneath your quarter on a calm night (for night read 0200hrs) and start hammering through your paint/gelcoat/hull in an amusing way? We had an aluminium dinghy for a while that would often do just that. My how we would laugh at its nocturnal antics. Actually I would laugh (in a hysterical, borderline psychotic fashion). My wife will apparently sleep through hull- hammering/anchor-dragging /rain-coming-through-open-hatch type noises without so much as changing the tone of her fake sounding snores.

Cubist transom

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Like any sort of tender, they also have their disadvantages. Probably their worst is the way they behave when oars are attached and rowing is attempted. They are also wet. That’s okay in tropical Queensland where getting wet is no big deal, but having the moisture content of your clothing increased beyond certain levels in Tasmania is a great way to discover the wonderful world of hypothermia.

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All planked up

My wife and I discussed this with a friend of ours, (Russell Streckfuss, owner of Storm Bay Sails) who also cruised down this way from lower latitudes, and we came up with certain desirable characteristics. It had to be stable enough to not immediately eject an inexperienced visitor. It needed to be big enough to carry 4 jerry cans of diesel, 2 jerry cans of water, a pile of groceries, two adults and a child plus at least 1 carton of beer and an unspecified quantity of red wine. If there wasn’t room for the beer then of course the child could be offloaded, but we regarded that as an undesirable outcome and to be avoided where possible. It had to have a reasonable amount of freeboard to keep our families dry-ish in naughty weather conditions.

If it could be fitted with a sailing rig then that would be a bonus. Above all it had to row well and have two rowing positions. Russell and I thought it would be criminal to deprive our spouses of the joy of rowing. Indeed they had often been heard to lament their inability to help with the rowing chores in a bracing Roaring Forties gale. The lamentation was usually muffled by the tarpaulin she was sheltering under, but heartfelt and sincere none the less.

It made it through the workshop door without surgery

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After months of Internet surfing, we found the “Tammie Norrie”, an Iain Oughtred design, which appeared to meet most requirements. At 13’ 6” long and 4’ 5.5” beam it wouldn’t fit on our deck easily but it was so bloody gorgeous I couldn’t resist.

The plans arrived in July 2005 and I started not long after, so you can see I am not a fast worker, or a very good one for that matter. The construction is in clinker plywood (glued lapstrake), which we felt would be strong but light enough for one of us to drag up a beach above the high water mark. As death is nature’s way of telling you to take it easy, chest pains when dragging your dinghy through the sand may mean it’s a wee bit on the chunky side.

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Ready to Rock

If anyone is considering building one of Oughtreds’ designs, I heartily recommend that they buy (or borrow from the library as I did) his Clinker Plywood Boatbuilding Manual. It takes you through everything step by step and allows even wood-butchers like me to achieve a reasonable result.

The basic method consists of gluing plywood planks together over moulds using epoxy. The planks are held together until curing is finished, leaving no fasteners in the hull. Clamps of various types can be used but I used screws and backed them out and filled the little holes after.

Launching day

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The planking material is Gaboon ply, but I tried to use Tasmanian native timbers where I could, especially if I could recycle scrap. The transom and gunwales are made of Huon Pine, a species found only in Tasmania and highly prized in boat building. It is extremely durable due to the high oil content. A tree 100’ tall may take 1000 years to grow. There are virtually no Huon trees felled these days, most timber coming from dead trees recovered from the west coast wilderness areas. It is very tightly controlled.

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She rows nicely

I used epoxy throughout. By throughout I mean in my hair, on the floor and my best jeans which I forgot to get changed out of. My impressive boat building skills required me to use bucket-loads of filler in most joints, as whole families of rodents could live in some of the gaps. Even so it still only weighs about 65kg. I painted everything but the gunwales, the stern sheets, the transom and the floorboards. These bits I oiled with linseed oil, gum turpentine and terrabine. I hate scraping varnish, so I will just rub an oil soaked rag over the shiny bits when it needs it. I Dynel sheathed her below the waterline for when she is dragged up stony, oyster covered beaches etc.

kinda sexy

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We finally launched her not long ago, and we were not disappointed. She rows beautifully without sacrificing much stability and the water stayed on the outside of the hull where I prefer it. She looks kinda sexy too. I am still working on the spars for the balanced lug rig at the moment, so I will take some more photos when I’m done with that.