Minnie Moltok goes all the way around the island. An adventure from Denmark
Page 1 The boat.
Minnie Moltok eager to be off. Mast in forward position. Livø in background.
Minnie Moltok is a Mirror design dinghy, 3.3 metres short, 1.4 metres in the beam, with a hull weight of just 45 kilos (10′ 10″x 4′ 7″x100 lb). Her sail area is 4.5 m_ in the main and 1.9 m_ in the jib (49 ft_ and 20 ft_). The sails are very red. She has a pram bow and daggerboard and carries a gunter-rig. The main is loose footed. The hull material is 5 mm ply, stitched and glassfibre-taped using polyester resin. She was bought as a tender for a larger boat and as a learning-dinghy for the children, as they were then. Polyester resin does not bind so well to wood as epoxy resin, so when the glass-tape eventually began to lift (the dinghy had suffered a traumatic winter before our time), it seemed that a complete re-taping, using epoxy, and epoxying of the whole hull was the thing to do, along with various other strengthenings and improvements. The hull is varnished within and painted blue without. This particular Rome was not built in a day. My sailing-daughter has inherited the face-lifted dinghy.
Minnie Moltok seen from above (the mast is in fact straight). Below, some people are enthusiastic about traditional, flat-bottomed boats, built of old shuttering-boards held together with three-inch nails, like the one between Minnie and the bridge, but give us a Mirror II every time.
Minnie has some extra gear which does not necessarily make her faster but makes her a better cruising boat. (In some of these pictures, some of this gear has not yet been attached.) She has a couple of extra blocks, or even three or four. To hold the gaff to the mast when the main is reefed, there is a rope parrel, running from a point beside the halyard’s attachment to the gaff, round the mast, through a block on the other side of the gaff and down to a cleat by the mastfoot. A Block is fitted to the nock of the gaff, from which to hang an extra mainsail. From the mast-top a line goes down to the end of the boom, back to the mast-top, through a block and down to a cleat at the mast-foot, forming a double topping-lift, so the gaff lies nicely on top of the boom, when lowered. A rolling of the sail, a little string, and a pull on the topping lift and Minnie is uncluttered, giving space for rowing, tai chi, or musical-chairs.
Her mainsheet no longer comes from a hole in one side of the transom, up through a deadeye on the boom-nock and down through a deadeye on the other side of the transom, as in the standard boat, but runs from a block on a rope horse through a ratchet-block on the boom-nock and down through the block on the horse. We like to be symmetrical, among other things. Both main- and jib-sheet are cleated with primitive wooden cleats, a single with turning-horn low on the back of the daggerboard-case for the main and a double, higher up above this, for the jib.The original way to adjust the daggerboard is with the help of a piece of shock-cord, but Minnie likes to have a wedge fitted to the shock-cord so her board can be securely held right up, when beaching, etc. The jib has a downhaul, for those occasions when it has to come down now. This is of great use when approaching the shore, where things sometimes happen very quickly, particularly when closehauled. The crew prefers to have dry feet in cold weather. The Mirror has two mast positions. The forward position enables the boat to balance without the jib, so beginners only have one piece of string to worry about. Minnie Moltok uses this mast position together with a bowsprit, from which the jib, and in former times a jenniker, is flown when carrying more than two adults. The balance isn’t perfect, but when we huddle together for warmth when beating, the balance is improved. The forward position makes running more comfortable, too.
The Mirror was designed by Jack Holt and TV do-it-yourself expert Barry Bucknell in 1962. It employed a novel construction method where sheets of marine plywood are held together with copper stitching and fibreglass tape. This is called tack and tapeor stitch and glue construction. Buoyancy is provided by four independent integral chambers rather than by bags. It was originally designed to be built with simple tools and little experience, and this meant that the design was quite simple. For example, the characteristic ‘pram’ front reduces the need for the more complicated curved wooden panels and joinery needed for a pointed bow, and a daggerboard is used instead of a hinged centreboard. The result is a robust, versatile and fairly light boat that can be easily maintained and repaired, and can also be launched into the water very quickly from storage or transport. Although most experienced sailors would carry a paddle rather than oars, if necessary it rows well. If the transom is strengthened, an outboard motor can be used for propulsion.
The original rig was a Gunter Rig, but in 2006 the class rules were changed to allow a single mast and an alloy boom. Although a Bermudan sloop rig has now been introduced for the Mirror, the original Gunter rig (with a gaff that effectively doubles the height of the mast) meant that all the spars could be packed inside the hull for easy storage or transportation. This same space saving is still available with the Bermudan rig by using an optional two-piece aluminium mast. Mirrors can be sailed without a jibby moving the mast into an optional forward step and moving the shroud attachment points forward. However, in this configuration it can be difficult to tack, so it would mainly be used to de-power the boat for beginners. Most single handers retain the mast in the standard position and handle the jib as well: because of the Mirror’s small size, this is quite manageable.