Phill Watkin's Facebook page, The Adventures of Boaty Mcboat Face attracted attention from Hartley sailors across Australia and New Zealand as he chronicled the construction of his brand new wooden Hartley TS16 partly through the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. We took the opportunity to ask him about it and he kindly gave permission for us to reproduce some of his photos. Hopefully this will provide some inspiration to those interested in furthering this wonderful class and it's history.
Phill lives in New Zealand's North Island, near Auckland. This interview was conducted in July 2021.
What is your background?
I trained as a boatbuilder straight out of school and spent a lot of time racing around the buoys on other people's keelboats. Later in life I tired of the amount of dust and sticky stuff and moved off in a different direction and started working in sales and consulting in the construction industry, where I've pretty much stayed.
Why did you choose to build a Hartley TS16?
I really wanted to build a boat again - I'd been out of the game for more than I was in it and have always enjoyed playing around with bits and pieces on boats. I had most recently been sailing an 11 foot Frostbite which I'd fully gutted and changed to a centreboard from a plate. The main issue with that was that I ran out of things I could realistically do to it and racing an underpowered 11 footer against guys 40kg lighter got a bit boring unless it blew.
There were plenty of boats that could be built of plans but I'd always liked the style and shape of the TS16, and being that it could class race and had an active association and owners who didn't mind being asked stupid questions was a big plus.
How long did it take?
Plans were ordered in November 2018 with the first frames put down around March 2019. Launch was May 2021, so the actual build was a bit over 2 years with some not too big breaks in the middle. We had a 7 week wait for a trailer to turn up
Did you have any helpers?
My youngest son helped out with all the machining of timber (he learned heaps) and with a lot of the bits along the way.
What were the high and low points?
No real low points. The best bits were rolling her over and getting the deck underway so it started to look like a TS16. The painting and Rudder were lockdown projects which is why the rudder will be a bit heavy as I only had left over Macrocarpa to make the blank
How is she to sail?
She goes well and goes where you want her to. The hull is easy to get started underway and keep moving. She currently has no tune on the rig other than the rake we set up when the mast was first stepped, and suffers from a bit of weather helm but that should be sorted once I work out the best setup . We are running a set of borrowed Doyle Stratis ICE sails made by a fellow Hartley owner, which seem to give the best response and set easily. We still have to weigh Baloo as I think we will be sitting under minimum as she is at the moment.
He decided to name her 'Baloo' after Rudyard Kipling's character in The Jungle Book. Baloo was Mowgli's teacher and the boat was a way to teach not only me but my kids skills in making and sailing the boat.
What advice would you give to others thinking about building a Hartley?
Follow the plans - they go together well especially seeing they were designed well before computers and CAD cutters. Also make sure you can google how to convert imperial measurements to metric as the plans are the original 1958 version.