Yesterday we picked up our first Merlin, 2926 Tobacco Road, a Smokers Satisfaction. We've been on the lookout for one for a while so were very excited to enjoy a lovely sunny windless day to figure out all the rigging today! We are Edinburgh based but plan to sail her in North Wales throughout the summer.
My partner comes from Laser sailing and I race keelboats, so we've figured out most things but have a few questions - thanks in advance for any tips or guidance.
- The starboard gunwale marple trim from the shroud back needs replaced, and whilst the gunwale is sound, it has seen better days so we'd like to get this sorted too. Can anyone recommend a carpenter/boat builder that would do this work, preferably in the North West of England or North Wales?
- The jib seems reasonably recent but has no measurements or date - do we need to have it measured? We'll be racing at a small club against a variety of other dinghies on PY.
- The main is from 1980 and is probably OK for messing around but we'll need to upgrade. I see that a lot of the sails for sale are the more recent designs which don't seem to be recommended for a boat this age. Does anyone know of a suitable 2nd hand main in good condition for sale? What should I be looking out for when searching?
- Pole down haul (snodger?) - should this be adjustable? It's currently set up fixed but I'm struggling to see how you can control pole end height this way?
- Is there a modern alternative to split pins for attaching shrouds etc? They are a pain!
We received a fantastic pack of information from the previous owner but if anyone has any other information or history about the boat we'd love to hear it.
Ah yes, split pin/rings, frosty fingers and bad eye-sight; what a joy! I'd love to hear of an easy solution too.
Why not download a membership form and join the class, you get loads of magazines with interesting articles
Form(s) all filled out and ready for the post tomorrow :)
This was my boat for many years and sailing on the Thames it was very competetive, even with the 1980 Mainsail.
Yes the jib is newish but I have to admit that it was never officially measured. At the time I was a measurer so I know it measures but I never got round to finding another measurer.
The gunwalls are in fact Sycamore and those that have been replaced were either done by me or by Laurie Smart in Hayward Heath. I know there was a bit still to do and also a length of side deck.
If you would like to discuss any detail, my e-mail addre is [email protected]
Another point - You will find that the mast is taller than the current thinking and the boom shorter so you will find that most second hand sails will not fit. You could obtain a longer boom and limit the hoist of the sail to make modern sails fit.
Tobacco Road was built for my brother John Harris by Spud Rowsell in 1975. She was probably the best boat of the several that John owned.
There's no doubt that 'Tobacco Road' sailed by John and David Wooton was the fastest boat at the 1975 Championship at Weymouth. They were disqualified in the first race for being over the start line early but all they had to do in the last race was to finish no worse than 16th to win the Championship. I was there watching in the press boat and knew from the start of the race that they had been over the line again under the one minute rule. They were the 3rd boat across the finish line but did not receive a finish signal.
There was a rumour that Dave Wooton never talked to John again and after nearly 40 years it still upsets John to think about it. And me too!
Hey Chris, fancy keeping that Merlin up here instead? I've just refurbished my Smokers Satisfaction and we are getting a Scottish Merlin Series together. The events are going to be in lots of scenic locations around Scotland if you are interested, be great to have another boat join the fun. I'm based in Edinburgh too, although the boat will be at Largs most of the time. If you wanted a boat-builder up here, John Hill at Fairlie does excellent work, as do Fairlie boatbuilders. It's not a tricky job you describe either so if you wanted to tackle it yourself but need some guidance then I'm happy to help!
As Robert has implied, 'Tobacco Road' in the hands of John Harris and Dave Wooton was one of the fastest Smokers Satisfactions - and as the Smokers is generally reckoned to be the most successful design of the 1970s, that is saying a lot. Look after her, Chris - you have a great boat there.
Bob - Thankyou for the information on the repairs, sails and rigging - i will drop you an email with a few questions shortly if you don't mind.
Robert, Keith - Thank you for the fascinating history of the boat - great to know that she was (and still is) a fast boat. We are currently investigating boat builders to get her gunwales and trim sorted along with a few other bits and pieces to get her back in top shape. We are also looking at rigging options but at this stage we are inclined to keep her fairly standard and if we can't find a suitable 2nd hand main we'll probably have one made.
It is quite tempting to modernise the rig as I imagine this will make her somewhat of a bandit on PY handicap with the hull age correction? Does the age correction still applying major modifications like this?
Andy - Thank you for the recommendations on boat builders - if we can't find anyone in the North West (where she is currently residing in my mother in laws garage) - then we will bring her up to Fairlie. Alas time (busy keelboat schedule at Port Edgar) and lack of storage up here means that we'll likely keep her tucked up dry in Wales for summer use only but it'll keep an eye on the dates and try and get across to one of your events if I can. I just read your website with photos of your Smokers - she looks absolutely fantastic!
Depending on where you are Tim Harper is a boat builder based in the NW of some repute. Though mostly associated with GP14s rather than Merlins he did a cracking job replacing the gunwhales on my fathers GP after it was blown off its trailer at Southport. I'm sure this would be a very straight forward job for him.
Looks like Tim Harper is 10 mins from the boats current location - will give him a ring tomorrow. Thanks Mark!
Please e-mail me with as many questions as you like.
With regard upgrading the rig you might be interested in my son Jeremy's work on another Smokers that was once mine.
>- Is there a modern alternative to split pins for attaching shrouds etc? They are a pain!
JT and I are using T-terminals at BOTH ends of the shrouds this year: they work a treat. I'll try to remember to take a picture this weekend and post it here.
Tese work very well indeed and even stand being used to join runners which flop around a lot.