“Edna,” my Hebridean wind-vane build, is finished.

Away from the boat, it’s been an unreasonably-busy fortnight of perpetual motion and some dark moments. It’s been difficult to feel happy, at times.
But there is some good news…
The construction of my Hebridean wind vane is now finished. Yay!
But I haven’t had time to test it yet. It’s sat in Emmelène’s cabin… I ran out of time aboard and literally just had time to bolt my mount onto the stern before heading back into the city. Here are some photos taken during the last week of the build.
Let’s start with the turret, which is going to support the vane; and it will swivel and lock, according to which course I chose to sail:


I also bolted-on the fittings to the pendulum (which is the piece of oak that goes into the water and is shaped like a wing / rudder)

Then it was time to set the whole thing up on the Workmate to see if it would “steer”. There was almost no wind in the garden, so initial performance was lacklustre. As you can see, the pendulum is much too long at this stage, because I had no idea yet where the waterline would be, so had to postpone the cutting.

Furthermore, there’s a bolt inside the turret, the head of which will need filing down to avoid snagging the push-rod. But these are all tasks to do later.

My first impressions are that the vane (that blows in the wind) may be a little too heavy. The counterweight-balance instructions I found difficult to understand and it may be that I have not set up the adjustable weights correctly, despite having taken care to make them exactly the right weight.


In my haste, alone on board Emmelène, to draw a transom template, I had measured slightly inaccurately and Dad once again came to my aid in order to rectify my mistake.



My mental fragility seemed to be getting the better of me. I blamed myself for such slow progress, and having to re-do work. I’m very grateful to Dad because I was a bit dispirited on that day and he cheerfully showed me that I was nearly finished on the project.



And when the time came to fit my transom-mount, he taught me how to use a 90-degree chuck, because the pushpit-rail fouled my standard drill. You can tell that his cheerful demeanour was infectious!


Then it was time to shorten the length of the pendulum and we measured down from the waterline (twice, “to be sure, to be sure, to be sure!”) and then made the cut, using a Japanese saw.


A chiseling competition followed (won by Dad) – we each amended one of the two support strips that strengthen the pendulum on its hinges.


Then I painted the cut on the pendulum and the whole assembly went into the car boot for the final time, for delivery to Emmelène. The build is done! At last, I can actually say I’ve completed something.

On board, I had some Deks Olje (Nordic wood preserver), which made an excellent finish on the transom-mount. This stuff isn’t varnish – more a kind of “soak-in” treatment and you brush as many coats into the wood as you like; as the more it impregnates, the better. I’m not sure where to buy it because this particular tin came second-hand from a boat jumble. It does a nice-looking job, when you contrast it to the raw wood:

Inserting the trunk into the transom-mount was a bit tricky because I hadn’t correctly understood the drawing in the plans. It fouled the trunk, at first. Dad made me a polypropylene washer, on his lathe, and I dry-fitted the assembly using a drill through the pivot, in place of a split-pin, of which I had none aboard. Yes, the drill did inevitably drop out, into the soft, low-tide mud! Lucky the stern ladder was there – I managed to retrieve it.


So, in the next post, I’ll tell you how “Hebridean Edna” performs on her initial sea-trials.
Meanwhile, Dad has been rigging his Wayfarer dinghy with a view to launching soon. Here he is, contemplating the fruits of his labour.


Remember my folding bike? When not being ridden, it stows away, in its bag, in Emmelène’s head / cupboard beautifully.

In a bid to reduce chafe around my “boom” (on a junk, the boom is nothing more than the bottom batten), I used the materials available aboard to good effect: a bit of surplus plastic tube from the cockpit drains and some cable-ties managed to cut down the squeaks.

It’s true that it’s a bit lonely sometimes, living on Emmelène. On a social note, I visited my friends from NHYC in Sandbanks, who were on a weekend cruise to Yarmouth. We enjoyed a cuppa with Peter and Heather in the capacious cockpit aboard Karenzi.

Company being important whilst afloat, I took my parents for a quick day-sail before I hopped on the train back to the metropolis. And a very enjoyable sail it was, too, despite light airs.

To conclude, this rather meandering post is to say that time ran out once again, and “real-life” called me back before I could actually try my self-steering system. It’s dawning on me that I’m just going to have to sail away, next time, undertaking the sea-trials as I go. My personality isn’t organised enough to ever be “ready”. I’ll never be “ready” to go.
So, sail away I must, and soon.



4 thoughts on ““Edna,” my Hebridean wind-vane build, is finished.

  1. Nice one Chris. Edna’s looking good. I also await the sea trials with interest!
    Also nice to see your dad also uses a metalworking vice to hold wood! 🙂


    1. Thanks Tony, Dad says to tell you that his metalwork vice has “polished jaws” which apparently makes a difference when gripping wood, and it doesn’t mark the surface. I’m updating this blog soon with news of Edna the Hebridean’s test-session. Meanwhile, having just got back from my little cruise, time for me to catch up on your SVTapatya videos and blog!


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