Slow learners

When Bruce Askew designed a new ballast to replace the cast-iron ugliness that had been fixed to Rogue’s keel since 1914 or thereabouts, he calculated it should weigh 1900 kgs and contribute a 29 per cent improvement in her tenderness.

The New Zealand Yachtsman‘s 1937 profile of prominent Wellington sailor, R G Millman, said he had found Rogue “lying on her side with the lead removed from her keel, such metal a short time before being in urgent demand for munition purposes” and Mr Millman had replaced her ballast to get her sailing again. Quite when that was is unclear: prior to WWI, Rogue (then renamed Muritai) was owned by G Bothamley, who returned her to her Wellington importer, R C Renner (one paper says for safekeeping; another says Renner chartered Muritai from Bothamley for the season), when Bothamley went to England in 1912. Was it then she lost her lead ballast? Newspapers reported Mrs Millman sailed Muritai in the January 1914 RPNYC Ladies’ Race. But Bothamley was back in Wellington as RPNYC Commodore by 1915.

Unfortunately, when cast in 2021, the new lead ballast came in at 1450 kgs. At her initial splash last month, careful distribution of stout personnel on deck identified a further 750-800 kgs of ballast was required, of which at least 200 kgs should be further forward. The additional ballast now has been designed: some 260 kgs in forward extension, and two 254 kg bulbs affixed low to either side, of the current new ballast and substituting for the bottom end of the stem. Forms have been made accordingly, and sent off to the foundry for casting.

Looking back at the historical record, contemporaneous reports of Rogue’s initial 1892 launch observed she “sailed remarkably well, notwithstanding that she was very lightly ballasted”, and “behaved very well and appeared to be pretty fast. If anything she is a little light”. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

So what was Rogue’s initial ballast? In 1912, the New Zealand Yachtsman reported she was received in Wellington (in 1900) “carrying 2½ tons of lead, 1¾ on her keel and 15 cwt inside”. The internal ballast, sitting among the floors on top of the keel, must have been carried very high. The New Zealand Yachtsman also reported, on arrival in Wellington, Rogue had two 5 cwt external lead bulbs added low on her keel. Presumably that was in substitution for the internal ballast.

An imperial ton is 1016 kgs. A cwt is 51 kgs. So Rogue’s supplemented 1900s ballast would have been a little under 2290 kgs. And her 2022 ballast will come in about 2220 kgs (including two external bulbs of about 5cwt each). Talk about painstaking, if inadvertent, historical accuracy.

Stem cut back forward of ballast for supplementation.
Floor and stem bolts conveniently exactly in the right spot to use as keel bolts for new ballast.