A Morbic in Scotland

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A Morbic in Scotland

David Atkinson
A trip to gather ideas

I had reached the stage in my build where I had turned the hull for the first time and now had to make choices as to how to fit the internals. I had scoured the forum and internet to see what others had done to help me, there was a lot of good ideas and I thought the best way to help me reach a decision was to try and see a good selection of boats and more importantly to meet other owners to hear their thoughts.

To this end I contacted several owners by email through the forum and was able to set up a trip to meet them driving from Scotland to the Chichester area with a few stops on the way. Thanks to Paul W for helping me with this planning.

First of all, I would like to thank all those I met for generously sharing their time and advice. I rapidly came to the conclusion that all Morbic owners are nice people. The icing on the cake for me was the opportunity to sail with Graham on Sistership in Chichester harbour. A great opportunity and one that thankfully confirmed that I had started to build the correct dinghy.

During my trip I saw 8 dinghies (or 8 1/4 if you include Mike’s quarter scale model!), Aura, Bodicca, Half-moon, Proteus, Sistership and Swefn with a further 2 still being built. There was a mix of builds, one professional build, several using Alec Jordan’s kit, one using CNC’d parts and one hand made but in all cases the standard of build and finish was very high. All a real credit to their builder s and the many hours they must have spent building their boats.

There was a fair range between those that had been built 100% to plan and those who had been modified to suit the owner’s interests and requirements.

The only common issues that were raised were the construction of the rudder and the boom jaw. There have been reports of problems with the strength of the rudder cheek fixings and most people have added bolts or screws to reinforce the assembly.

I don’t think I saw any examples where the boom jaw had been used and a rope loop or bleater was used in its place.

There was a consensus that the buoyancy chambers should not be filled with foam, and some people used empty bottles or plastic balls in the chambers in case the chamber was ruptured.

There wasn’t strong support for the fixed foot rests and these were absent or replaced by a removable foot rest. Only one person had made a set of oars to Vivier’s design and several people commented that their oars were a bit short but that storing and handling longer oars were difficult. Again most people had used oarlocks rather than thole pins.

One development in some of the boats was the addition of an extra floor locker, originating on Port-na-Storm’s Sistership. These give extra stowage and an alternative lower seat to the forward thwart.  

Of the 8 dinghies I saw the majority (6) were built for lug sail with only two built to allow sailing as a sloop or lug.

I saw a few variations in rigging with one boat using a rope traveller and the rest using a block on the centre board case for the main sheet. Some people had added lazyjacks and I saw how these made things easier when raising and lowering the main sail.

Again with finishing there were differing views on the use of two part finishes, which were felt to provide a hard finish better able to stand up to day to day knocks but were more difficult to touch up in case of damage. Several people advocated the use of oil rather than varnish for the brightwork.

Finally there was a multitude of small details that people had adopted including, adding floorboards (a lot of work to add and presented a snagging point for the main sheet), slats on the seating (look good but again a lot of work with cushions an alternative idea), small scuppers at the aft corners above the seating to drain water that collects there, additional tie off points for fenders etc.

In conclusion, my thoughts are to finish my Morbic as a balanced lug for simplicity, I will install the forward thwart as the design but fix it with screws in case I decide to change the layout in the future. I am actively considering using an open mast partner (as in the sloop design) to make it easier to raise and lower the mast. There are also several detailed ideas I saw that I may incorporate depending on how time and motivation go.

I had a very enjoyable time meeting and discussing things with all the people I met and thanks to them again.