Monday, 1 October 2012

Westerly Nomad (2)

Rig and Rudder

Well there seems to be quite a bit of support for the idea of purchasing a Westerly Nomad and this one seems to tick a significant number of boxes (although a few boxes remain unticked and there are still a few unanswered questions) Maybe someone can offer suggestions.

Firstly, the boat is ‘sound’ to the best of my knowledge. I undertook a boat surveying course last year organised by the International Institute of Marine Surveyors and seriously considered taking it up as a part-time retirement activity. Unfortunately, the cost of professional indemnity insurance for a rookie surveyor is such that I would have had to work full time to cover the fees, and that would have put me back to the 9-5 routine I was trying to avoid – so it didn’t happen. I do feel qualified to survey a small boat however, so I’m satisfied she is sound and, if I get it wrong, well, I can blame the surveyor but I can’t sue him.

She certainly fits the bill for shallow draft and as a triple keeled vessel, she’ll take the ground without falling over – so she’s good for estuary and canal. Previous Nomad owners have crossed the Atlantic and everyone tells me she is a good sea boat although she is slow. Cabin accommodation is likened to that of a 26 or 27footer, so she’ll be comfortable for two.

The Nomad is essentially a modified Westerly 22 and the Westerly 22 was Günter rigged – so maybe (and this needs further research) just maybe I could rig this Nomad as a Günter. The question is whether in developing the Nomad  from the 22, the designer moved the chain plates for the shrouds - I don’t know. Why does this matter?  Well, there can be no backstays with a Gunter rig so the responsibility for stopping the mast falling forward rests with the shrouds, attaching them as far aft as possible. The Nomad was always produced as a Bermudan sloop with backstays – so did Rayner move the shroud fitments forward when he added the chain plates on the transom? Interestingly enough, the Nomad has twin forestays, one of which sits inboard and attaches to the mast at two thirds the height of the mast – pretty much where the forestay on a Günter rigged vessel would have been. This seems a little like over-egging the pudding (as we say in Yorkshire) So, did Rayner simply add a mast headed forestay and backstays to the existing Gunter rig arrangement to accommodate Bermudan, or did he alter the location of the lateral stays as well? If the answer is the former, then I could perhaps consider conversion to Gunter. Either way this isn’t top of my list of priorities – it would be nice to do – if and when all the other issues have been dealt with.

At the moment I am more concerned with another modification which has been made to this particular Nomad. The rudder has been changed and moved to the transom and the space saved in the cockpit has been used to create an outboard well. Now this is both exciting and worrying. The new rudder looks strong enough and her fittings seem robust. The outboard well seems to be well-made and strong. If this modification works it frees up inboard engine space and makes for a cheaper and easier to maintain power source. The rudder however, is in a new location and is more exposed. Allain, a professional boat builder and sailor suggests that the new location for the rudder should improve performance over the original design and that if I am worried I can protect it and strengthen it by fitting an iron bar between from the bottom of the rudder and the bottom of the keel. A job, I might consider after a season’s use when I have got the measure of how she performs. 

With these modifications there is no question of bringing the boat back to her 'factory setting' so I certainly won't be 'restoring' a Westerly Nomad, instead I will be 'renewing and updating' a modified version. This isn't a problem for me, in that I always wanted to end up with something more comfortable that the rather austere vessels typical of 1960's GRP. 

So, you can guess my interest in this Nomad is more than casual. I know this boat will be in my price range (because they all are) but a price has to be negotiated and my concern is to achieve a fair settlement neither feeling ripped-off nor feeling that I have ripped anyone else off. I’m into Simple Sailing and Low Cost Cruising but I don’t want to achieve this at anyone else’s expense (unless they are a banker of course – they seem to be able to look after themselves well enough!). Now, these boats are old and so relatively cheap in the UK but rare in France so lets see what happens.