Although I've been around boats all my life, I can truly confess that I learn new words all the time. When I met La Belle Vie, I had opened up a new dictionary of words about the Cape Dory. Hull keel is one of those terms that distinctly fits the Cape Dories. A keel, which provides the stability of a sailboat is enlarged so that the entire hull takes the duty of the keel, and thus, becomes a hull-keel. I'd seen this sort of keel before but since I didn't own a hull-keel vessel, I didn't stop to ask the purpose of it. The benefit of the hull-keel vessel is stability in the wind and waves and the capability of the sailboat to track a course. The entire vessel is a keel. Once she is set in a direction it is very difficult to change her mind unless you fiddle with the "tiller." Well, the tiller, yes, another word for the helm. And the Cape Dory invited me to discover another term in the course of her rehab; the Taff-Rail.
You can read all about the definition of a taff-rail on Wikipedia ( http://www.thefreedictionary.com/taffrail ) and it is worth the read. But the definition of the taff-rail took on new meaning for me when I began to talk to a friend about reconstructing one to its original specifications.
So I looked at this tattered taff-rail and scratched my head in wonder. I began to research how and by whom this taff-rail could be produced. I happened upon a Craftsman who had had some experience around boats but who also understood wood, joints, strengths, and was ready to take on the challenge.
My craftsman met the taff-rail one day while La Belle Vie was "on the hard." Another sailor's term for being out of the water. He looked at the transom with its variety of curves and then looked at the tattered taff-rail with its years of putty, scraping, and life aboard, and mused a bit. He announced that the project was rather simple yet sophisticated.
You see, the taff-rail is designed to finish off the transom on the vessel as the last thing you see on her. Yet her beauty of construction reveals a strength produced by her joinery. The scarf joint is designed to join two pieces of wood in a manner which produces a strength greater than were it only one piece of wood. By the grain of the teak meeting in such a joint, the scarf then provides the taff-rail the ability to resist tension and compression plus creates a sort of locking of the two pieces of wood. My craftsman was talking to me in post-graduate language about wood. My sailor brain was awash in technicalities that I would have never realized were taking place on my little vessel.
After a few weeks, he brought the new taff-rail to the Dory. Remarkable. Not only was the product identical in every aspect, but he had remanufactured a taff-rail more beautiful than it's original.