The Naiad Voyages

Mark Austen

2016.05.22 - Trying to Save Money

Rebuilding even such a small boat as Naiad is expensive and so I try to save money where I can. Mostly this involves searching for serviceable second-hand equipment instead of buying new but occasionally this means making something instead of buying it.

I am going to use mast hoops on Naiad, mainly because I like them. I have used various forms of attaching the main sail to the mast but I just like hoops. There trouble is that because they are hand made there are also quite expensive. There’s a great video on the Classic Yacht.TV web site that shows just how these are made and you can see why the are not cheap. The four 5” diameter Ash hoops that I’d need for Naiad cost around £120 not including delivery.

I was reading around on various wooden boat forums and one author suggested that mast hoops could be made of willow. This was interesting since we have a stack of Willow wands in the work room that I bought for Tina a few years ago as a (requested) birthday present.

So I decided that I would try this and, having selected my wands, I put them in the bath with some water to soak. I used the peeled willow, that is with the bark removed, so the soaking only took a few hours instead of a few days.

Two of the pliable wands were twisted together to form a hoop of about the correct diameter and tied up to keep the wood tightly packed while the wands dried. I wrapped some wet canvas around one of them to see how they looked and the answer is not bad. I’ll need to soak some smaller wands to use as packing material so that the hoop is more rounded instead of obviously twisted and I’ll also cover the hoops in fairly thick leather after shrinking the canvas around the hoops, but I think that they will do the trick. The cost? Well hard to say since I had all the bits already, but at least I’ll not have paid out any more.

The stacks of Willow wands in our work room.


Four twisted hoops soaking in the bath.


The four hoops tied and drying.