Drascombe Dabber VICTORY

14 Nov 17:

The Drascombe Dabber is a great little family sailboat, easily powered by sail, oar or small kicker. The balanced lug yawl carries 118 square feet of sail, distributed over a jib, balanced lug main and self tacking mizzen, further increasing the versatility of the boat.

(Image: Sailboatdata)

(Image: Sailboatdata)

15 Nov 17:

Pretty little boats. We picked on up recently, Hull Number 530, built in 1979 by Honnor Marine in Devon, England. Known to look better than this.

Very popular boats to date, over 900 produced and they are still being built by Sharon and Simon at Churchouse Boats.

(Image Credit: Honnor Marine Drascombe Flotilla Brochure)

(Image Credit: Honnor Marine Drascombe Flotilla Brochure)

Jib and mizzen. Missing the main.

16 Nov 17:

Removed non standard plywood floor that covered mast step and centreplate eyebolt. Took her to carwash, put on HazMat suit, vacuumed out leaves and acorns, then spent $70 giving her a fresh water rinse. Hey, there's a boat under there, in pretty decent shape.

Measured some cleats to order the right size line for centerplate uphaul, jib sheets, mizzen sheet, mainsheet etc...kind of reverse engineering. R&W Ropes was kind enough to send me marked samples of New England Rope Vintage a while back, so that helped take out the guesswork.

17 Nov 17:

Stepped the main and mizzen mast, they are in good enough shape to be saved. Stays are in good shape as well as the halyards.

Picked up some cumaru (Peruvian teak) for the floor, started cutting out new floorboards.

18 Nov 17:

Skipper and Capn Jack inspecting my work. Capn Jack has wanted a Dabber since 1979, coincidence that VICTORY is a 1979?

20 Nov 17:

Worked on the floor boards for the Dabber. Laid the boards inside the boat upside down, on opposite side of where they will fit when finished. Set the spacing and attached cleats to hold the boards together with silicone bronze screws.

We found a used main and it arrived in the mail today.

Jib halyard on portside pin, main downhaul in the middle that cleats underneath the thwart in a jam cleat, and main halyard on the starboard pin.

Yard is tied about 3 grommets up.

26 Nov 17:

Rigged the centreplate uphaul with New England Rope Vintage and Tufnol blocks, purchased from R&W Rope.

Reattached the bilge rubbers.

27 Nov 17:

Test fit for our Suzuki 4 stroke 2 1/2 hp. As configured the motor will not tilt up enough to engage the uplatch. We may just add a line and tie it to the ubolt on the inner transom if we need to raise it, or cut the new outboard pad just a bit lower.

28 Nov 17:

Dropped VICTORY in the bay for a leak test and yes there were leaks. The water was coming in through the holes where screws go through the hull to hold on the bilge rubbers. So we pulled the boat back out, then used the tilt trailer to place the boat in the yard.

Once the boat was on the grass we careened it by pulling the main halyard, which is attached to the top of the mast. One person was able to pull it over and another tied some lines to a large pine tree and the carriage house pergola.

The centreplate looks almost new.

Small area of rot on the keel.

Removed the bilge rubbers, they pried off easily with a tiger paw pry bar. The screws were very corroded and had lost their grip.

Sanded the portside hull with 60 grit on a random orbital sander. The bottom paint and some flaky paint came off easily.

29 Nov 17:

Filled the old bilge rubber screw holes with TotalBoat THIXO. We will drill through that to make the right size not leaky hole when we reinstall the rubbers.

Thought I found another hole to be filled but it turned out to be the mizzen mast step drain hole.

30 Nov 17:

Rolled and tipped a coat of Pettit EZPrime on the garboard, let it dry 4 hours the applied second coat. We hope to get the bottoM painted and dry a few days while the trailer is being repaired at Eddie English Boat Trailer.

01 Dec 17:

Rolled and tipped the first coat of Pettit Easypoxy Blue Ice on the garboard.

Painted the bilge. Skipper started removing more grime with Tilex, it worked great. She got the port side cleaned up.

Removed rotten section of the keel rub strip, about 12 inches.

Cut new section from teak and fastened with TotalBoat THIXO.

02 Dec 17:

Tongue was a little bent! Eddie English and crew got the trailer road ready again, added 6 inches to the new tongue, put on new axle, springs and upgraded tires. Also got the new lights that I put on working, I learned that tilt trailers sometimes need a jumper ground wire to best ground the tongue to the main frame. Otherwise the ground tries to go through the rusty tilt bolt.

Sanded the keel rub strip with 60 grit on the belt sander then 120 on the random orbital sander.

Second coat of Pettit Easypoxy Blue Ice.

Cut a new outboard mount from cumaru, fastened it with marine stainless bolts, washers and stop nuts.

The centreplate!

04 Dec 17:

Bottom repairs are finished and trailer is back from rehab, loaded the 550 pound boat with ease.

New tilt latch and safety chain.

The boat is balanced great, just need to adjust the keel rollers.

Went to buy a piece of 1/4 inch marine grade fir plywood to laminate a new transom cap. The first piece they pulled was cupped and they were going to put it aside. I told them it looked perfect for what we needed and sure enough it has a perfect curve to match the transom top.

The boat and trailer have not needed chocks for a long time.

05 Dec 17:

VICTORY enjoyed camping out on the work deck, under cover of a tarp. Much better than uncovered under a tree.

Part of the transom cap flange was gone, probably damaged when the original cap was removed years ago. Those holes in the flange are for screws to hold the cap in place. In this photo we have smoothed and beveled out the fiberglass around the repair area with 60 grit on a dual action sander to get a nice clean surface for epoxy and glass. Multiple layers of 4 oz fiberglass strips were used to fill the void, wet with TotalBoat High Performance epoxy and THIXO. Another strip wrapped the adjacent flange, then plastic sheet was applied, wood strips to hold the repair to shape the patch and finally clamps to hold the patch while the epoxy dried.

Multiple layers of 4 oz fiberglass strips were used to rebuild the transom cap flange, wet with TotalBoat High Performance epoxy and THIXO. Another strip wrapped the adjacent flange, then plastic sheet was applied, wood strips to hold the repair to shape the patch and finally clamps to hold the patch while the epoxy dried. We also filled the old screw holes and splits in the gunwale with THIXO. In other news the planer in the background was used to plane a piece of teak down to 1/4 inch, to be the top layer on the cap.

Traced the aft curve of the transom cap on the boat, then used the old cap to get the fore-aft measurement. Cut the profile with a DeWALT jigsaw.

Sanded the aft end and sides of the cap to fit with 60 grit on a belt sander.

Once the aft curve was defined we moved it 8 inches forward to get the foward curve. Also marked the approximate location of the mizzen mast partner.

The transom cap will be 3/4 inches thick, two 1/4 inch layers of fir plywood and a top layer of teak. the teak cap had to be cut from two pieces.

Transom cap layers epoxied with TotalBoat THIXO, clamped to the boat to form the proper curve.

There's a Drascombe Dabber transom cap under there somewhere, two 1/4 inch layers of marine grade fir plywood capped with a top layer of teak. Glued together with TotalBoat THIXO. I had to piece together the teak, those fore and aft strips are clamping down the seam between the two pieces, with plastic sheet underneath to keep the from becoming part of the boat.

Cut pieces of teak for a new forward seat and edge glued them with TotalBoat THIXO. The seat is removable and is placed just forward of the centerboard to be a rowing station.

VICTORY liked sleeping on the work deck that she asked to bunk inside with ZIP and WINNIE, raining outside.

07 Dec 17:

Took some of the clamps and plastic off of the new teansom cap, it looks great and is ready for sanding and final fitting. Skipper suggested we keep the clamps on until it is attached to prevent springback as it finishes drying. The fir plywood already had a curve to it but the cumaru teak strips did not, so they might try to straighten out a bit when unclamped.

13 Dec 17:

Repaired broken fiberglass on the transom cap flange with TotalBoat THIXO.

14 Dec 17:

Trimmed the middle cleat to clear the centreplate case flange with a circular saw.

Cut the forward seat to width and beveled the edges to fit with a circular saw.

Trimmed the transom cap to fit with a belt sander, 60 grit and a random orbital sander.

Float test, small leak forward of the keel strip, appears to be coming from a stem strip screw hole.

Cut handles for the floorboards, centered them so the floorboard would be balanced when we have to carry them.

Marked a hole big enough for 4 fingers wearing a glove. Drilled pilot hole for the jigsaw blade.

Cut the hole with a jigsaw.

Made a pattern to send to a friend.

We think this is where the stem leak is....seeing as it fell out on its own...

We could see where the threads on the old fastener were corroded and the old sealant had failed. This was the wrong kind of replacement fastener, it was a stainless machine screw and had fine threads vs the coarser threads of a wood screw.

Repaired the enlarged fastener hole with Pettit Flexpoxy.

Inserted a new #8 silicone bronze screw to dry in place.

18 Dec 17:

Float Test 2 for the Dabber identified a leak up in the stem area. Skipper spotted a loose screw after we pulled the boat out.

Repaired the hole in the stem with Pettit Flexpoxy and put in a new #8 screw. Used the screw driver to hold the screw in place while the epoxy cured.

Float Test 3, the stem leak is fixed but now we noticed 3 very small leaks, 2 coming from keel screws and one at the drain plug. Tightened one screw to stop one leak. Removed a sheared keel strip screw, sealed up the hole with Flexpoxy and put in new screw. Resealed drain plug with Flexpoxy as well.

10 Jan 18:

The Drascombe Dabber has a neat rudder head with a notch that the tiller just slips over. From the Drascombe Owner's Handbook description "Ship the rudder in shallow water and fix the tiller by holding the thin end high in the air while passing it down over the rudder head until it engages with the notch in the rudder. You may then raise the tiller a considerable distance before it comes clear of the circular arc on the rudder and hence in danger of coming off." In addition to having to raise the tiller a considerable distance before it comes off, a length of the mainsheet horse (the length of line across the transom on which the lower block runs) is adjusted to give it about a foot of slack over the top of the tiller, which acts as a tiller bridle.

The rudder that came with VICTORY (shown below) is not the stock rudder, it is a homemade variant. It is also constructed of plywood that is not marine grade and has serious rot and delamination. The top shape is similar to the stock rudder but the blade area appears to have been enlarged, extending below the keel and aft a bit further. We question if the enlargement was necessary, as Watkinson designed the Dabber waterline to be double ended and the hull is designed for inshore fishing from tidal beaches. From the sales brochcure, "Her well-veed after sections give responsive steering and ease of handling even at lower speeds. The built in "bustle" pushes the stern wave aft where it keeps the shallow rudder well centered."

We need to make a new rudder to replace the rotting plywood rudder, and in the process we want to make a pattern of the rudder head so we can use it for other future rudders. Here is the start of the pattern, copied from the old rudder head. We need to trim it a little at a time to get the proper clearance and angle for the tiller.

In the meantime we are trying to get measurements of a stock rudder.

16 Jan 18:

VICTORY did not come with a bowsprit, so we made one out of spruce. Found the measurements for the aft end notchfirst, it is a little wider than the stem hole.

I cut a 72 inch blank, it's ready to have the edges eased. I shaped the spar to 8 sided firts where I could on the table saw, then 60 grit on a belt sander, 120 grit on a disc sander then hand sanded, Rough shape first, got the stem fit then did the final sanding.

Shaping the bowsprit pattern for where it goes through the stem (right) and notches into the aft stop (center). Tuned up the cut with my new Stanley 12-101 finger plane, it works great.

The bowsprit ia about a 1/4 inch wider at the aft stop than where it goes through the stem, so we'll get to taper it at one point.

Stem port profile.

I marked the stem face line so I know where I can start tapering the oval forward to a circle on tip.

Used the Lugger bumpkin to get some ideas on shaping the bowsprit, they we built by Honnor Marine within a year of each other. We marked the taper where it will start at a circle on the tip and flow into an oblong shap by the stem.

Once the rectangular blank was cut, we made it 8 sided on the table saw where we could, then belt sanded with 60 grit to 16 sided, then tuned it a bit more with 120 grit on a disc sander and finished it off with 120 grit by hand. The Dabber jib is set off of a bowsprit that extends about 3 feet off the bow. That'll take a little getting used to, I almost clocked myself on it as soon as I installed it. ZIP wants one now...

The jibstay loops over the end of the bowsprit, I'll have to add some chocks to keep it from sliding aft.

I'm happy with that.

Removable. Might have to for launch, I'm not sure if it will clear the tow vehicle.

Wow the spruce didn't darken at all with the first coat of varnish! I'll see of the Skipper likes the lighter wood, otherwise we'll put some mahogany stain on it to make it dark like the spar that is way back in the corner.

The spar off the stern that leads the mizzen sheet is called a bumpkin. I made a little pattern piece to get the shape of the hole in the transom.

Fun day!

...to be continued...

Stay tuned...

Churchouse Boats - New Luggers, Dabbers and more
Drascombe Association - Low dues, quarterly newsletter, nice sticker, a Forum and great people
Drascombe facebook page
Sailboat Data Dabber


  1. Re: Capt Jack wanting one of these since '79, & this one built in '79:

    "Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous."
    -Albert Einstein

  2. Try a Topsail Halyard Hitch on the gaff https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xR3wMzsJn8o

    I have used it for 44 years on my Drascombe Lugger Muckle Flugga - it is very secure and snugs up nicely to the mast.

    1. Thanks John, we'll give it a shot, looks like a good knot.

  3. Beautful boat. Good job restoring her.

    1. Thanks Rik, they were made to last, we have a lot of quality material to work with.