Building the Bouchie Dory Part 30 – Inwales and Outwales

Let’s talk about traditions. British and North American. Maybe that’s not quite the right term. Instead of tradition let’s call it frequently applied practices because traditions are mostly actions repeated in the absence of logic or reason. The story of the traditional family practice of cooking the Thanksgiving turkey with an inch carved off of each side is a perfect example. The family tradition was passed to daughter and onward to grand daughter who after cooking it that way for many years finally asked her grandmother why they did that. The Grandmother said “I have no idea why you are doing that but my roasting pan was always too small for the bird.”
First let me point out that I use the terms outwale and rubrail interchangably. Inwales are always inwales unless my old boss is in the room in which they become listing-strips. If there is a British shipwright in the room as well you only whisper that word and glance over at him sheepish like because listing-strips which are probably also wale-strakes are defiantly a different “wale” that is alway on the outside of the boat and applied exactly where the boat would “list” when run up on a tidal beach. I make a point of not pointing that out to my old boss for fear of a corking mallet driven smartly upside the head.
In my parlance, you put inwales and outwales together with some bits of boat in between and you get “gunnels” which are only distinguished from “gun-wales” by the absence of guns. Of course Ya’ll down State-side might feel constitutionally obligated to include the guns in yours.
In Britain, the tradition in small boat construction is to run inwales from stem to transom, using blocking at either end to fill in where ribs leave off. Breasthook and quarter knees applied inside of them and fasteners run through the lot to tie it all together.
Outwales or rubrails are either applied at the sheer line, or if the gunnels are to be capped off, placed at the bottom of the sheer strake. I assume the though is that the cap provided the required protection and I expect, the reason for capping is due to the use of fishing nets. I suppose they might hang up on a sheer mounted rubrail. Placing it lower provided the protection required for docking and rafting up without fouling the nets. The Brits never put them both above and below the sheer-strake.
In North America it seems we more often install the breasthook and quarter-knees before the inwales. They get a recess worked into them that the inwales lay into for fastening together. So they make up the blocking that the Brits install separately and reduce the length of the fastening that is required to tie it all together.
Outwales are sometimes applied on their own but sometimes a second smaller rubrail is added to the lower edge of the sheer strake. Ironically I believe most builder choose to add this extra rubrail detail in order to make the boat look more British.
I once discussed all this with Paul Gartside who being British himself was firmly positioned in the British tradition while I nodded, deferred to his experience and expertise but secretly thought, “This isn’t Britain bub. This is the wild west where the only tradition is to stay sharp, keep your tobacco dry and duck when you hear a loud bang.”