Drascombe Dabber Modifications

by Steve Shone - Dabber "Missee Lee"

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Now, I don’t claim to be an expert sailor or boat designer, and I certainly wouldn’t want to take anything away from the many other owners who, in typical Drascombe manner, have tweaked their craft. In fact my sailing was learned by trial and error many years ago in Graduate dinghy. After a dalliance with a fishing boat based on the design of the traditional Yorkshire coble, I soon hankered after a craft that would combine both pastimes and provide a day out that included the best of both worlds.

An article in, I think, an early issue of Classic Boat brought the Drascombe range to may attention and I was smitten. At that time finances enforced a degree of patience. Eventually the glorious day arrived and the only choice was ‘which model’. The Lugger had the reputation for seaworthiness, but that strange rudder didn’t hold many attractions when it came to beach launches and recovery. I had visions of being stranded at a jaunty angle whilst the tide rolled in.

In the end, the Dabber fitted the bill. Large enough for a small family when the need arose, but small enough to handle single handed both on and off the water.A centreboard case was just something to put up with. Had I seen the Scaffie that appeared for sale locally just a week after travelling down to Essex from East Yorkshire for the Dabber, things may well have been different. Misseelee eventually filled a space in the garage – she deserved it after being kept on a mooring. Elbow grease, T-cut and plenty of teak oil have restored her to not far from new condition.

It didn’t take long to find the forestay an irritation when it came to tacking in light winds. I’m sure that I’m not alone in that either. Similarly, the rope horse and its propensity for allowing the block to rattle against the motor was yet another small piece of grit in the Nivea of life.

So began a sequence of fettling that may prove of interest to others.

Bobstay

Bowsprit and bobstayThe solution to the forestay problem seemed to have been incorporated into the original design, but not completed. Fitting a bobstay to the bowsprit, anchoring it at the stem hoop was straightforward enough. I went for a stainless steel wire with a bottle screw fitting to allow for accurate tensioning. I know there are people out there that will hold their hands up in horror at the use of a bottlescrew, but there really is no need to get it tight. Just enough to hold the sprit against upward pressure. My first idea was to simply drill the bowsprit and fit eyebolts. I was advised against this by the rigger at the local chandlery, as it would encourage the wood to split along the grain under tension. So a rather nice end cap was welded up in stainless steel and lugs affixed. I think the result is rather fetching and at just £20, I felt it was worth it. this brought the total so far with the bobstay to just under £50.

 

Bobstay hull fittingThe picture really shows the mark 1 version of the rig, with the original forestay secured by a longer lanyard to the end cap. I was reluctant to remove the original forestay until I knew everything worked as it should. Needless to say, it did, so in due course the forestay was removed and furling gear installed, tensioned by a double block and pulley at the masthead. Having the ability to kill the jib in an instant is a revelation and I would heartily recommend the arrangement.

 

 

One aspect of fitting a bobstay is that instead of the rear end of the bowsprit pressing down into its mounting on the mast step, it is now pushed backwards towards the mast. As the original mounting block was not designed to cope with this, I fitted an additional block behind it to bear any forces in that direction. Having sailed in some heavy conditions it has shown no signs of being likely to fail.

From a purely aesthetic point of view, I also think that the new rig looks more attractive and ‘finished off’.

 

Jib setWhilst on the subject of rigging, another simple and free mod was to rotate the mast through 90 degrees so that the gaff pulled up to the sheave more easily. Not many people move the gaff from one side of the mast to the other when tacking anyway. Apart from allowing a more tidy set of sail when it’s downwind of the mast, there seems to be little difference in the efficiency of the sail.

 

 

 

 

 

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