The Naiad Voyages

Mark Austen

2016.07.26 - Milk Crates and a New Pole

In Shoal Waters Charles Stock used a milk crate to hold some of his provisions, to use as a rest for a table top and also as part of the bunk on the port side. The bunk cushion rested on the table top which rested on the milk create. Most surprisingly, since milk bottles went out of style years ago, I managed to find an 8 1/2" high crate that is pretty much exactly the same as the one that Charles used. It arrived this morning. Well, I say 'it', in fact 'they' arrived this morning as I couldn't buy just one, I had to buy six! Two I will keep, one for Naiad and one spare, two I have used in the larder and the others remaining two I will either find a use for or sell on eBay. Anyone need a milk crate? I've got some going spare.

Needless to say I went to the workshop create in hand as soon as it was lunchtime to 'check the fit'.

And the result is about as perfect as I am going to get. It will need a small piece of wood under the edge by the centreboard case to make it completely level but it fits and that is the main thing.


I'm working from photos of Shoal Waters that Charles published as well as the descriptions in both his books and from what I remember of the boat, but it is pretty much guesswork in a lot of places. But this is confirmation that I'm proceeding along the right lines.

And what's this about a new pole?

I bought three 2" x 9' 11" Bamboo poles last year, one for the topsail yard, one for the quant and one spare. It turns out that using Bamboo for a quant is not a good idea at all. The problem, so I'm told, is that most woods split when they break under longitudinal pressure and especially Bamboo. Imagine this. You are pushing the boat along with the end of the pole to your shoulder when it breaks. If the pole splits you are likely to get sharp pieces of wood puncturing your shoulder joint and possibly causing considerable damage. With Bamboo these splinters could be long, thin and splay out meaning the eyes and face could also be in danger.

Some woods do not exhibit this behaviour and one is Ash which is pretty much why it is used for handles of just about everything. Ash, when it breaks, just snaps which at worst means that you fall in. So I have ordered an Ash pole designed for using canal boats along. It's little more expensive than the Bamboo pole but my face, ugly as it is, is worth the extra cost.

As for the two spare Bamboo poles, well they will remain as spares in case the topsail yard ever breaks. I might even contemplate using one as a square sail yard.


The milk crate in the position in which it will rest. Not a bad fit at all.