The George Blog – Design 140 – Deben 5-tonner & Comments

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Design 140 – Deben 5-tonner

My father commissioned W. M. Blake to design the original Deben 4-tonner and then the larger Deben 6-tonner. Both were great little boats; the 4-tonner was much more popular than the 6-tonner (we built about 40 of the former; only two of the latter), but in fact the 6-tonner was also a very nice sailboat.

Now the Deben 4-tonner had its quirks – too much weather helm being perhaps the most noticeable – but it is one of those wonderful boats in which you can have absolute confidence. "She'll never drown you" was the old way of putting it. It seems as if the boat is working for you; doing her best for you under even under the worst of circumstances. 'Landfall', our (much larger) family boat was another in the same mould; sea-kindly, co-operative and friendly.

In designing the Deben 5-tonner, I had no hesitation in basing her on Blake's original designs for my father. I have so many more design tools at my disposal that Blake ever did, it would be pretty sad if I couldn't replicate the same good qualities and fix some of the oddities and quirks. So I hope I have done that.

The original drawings that I did for the Deben 5-tonner were for traditional carvel construction on steam-bent timbers. When I started work at the boatyard, this was the way we built boats - and during my first ten years, we probably built twenty or more boats from 25' to 50' in this way. So my formative years (in boatbuilding terms at least!) are in this form of construction, which has now largely disappeared.

I am getting lots of enquiries as to when the Deben 5-tonner plans will be done. Well, the original plans can easily be made available and I will be starting to publish them during the next week or so as a free project, with very simple accompanying building notes.

The conversion to more modern cold-moulded wood-epoxy construction will take a little longer – I am not a fast designer. But again, they will be issued as free downloads.

Why free? Well, the nice thing about owning the intellectual rights to one's own designs is that you can do what you like with them. So no special reason really; in memory of my father perhaps ......

He was an absolute sod to work for sometimes, but, looking back, rarely unfair.


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