This is the story of one man and his boat. It all started when I used my Tesco Clubcard points to go on an RYA sailing course at Bala lake in North Wales in September 2009. I wanted to learn to sail properly for years but had never got around to doing it. I did the RYA level 2 course and learnt to sail in an RS Q’BA making use of the Jib on the second day. I really enjoyed the experience so decided to buy a boat of my own.
Roll forward approximately 2 days when my wife rings me whilst I was in Leeds (we live in Crewe) to say that she had more or less bought a Laser 2 Regatta dinghy from near Solihull and I had to get home to come help collect it. Being several months pregnant at the time didn’t put her in the best position for moving boats around so I got the next train home and a few hours later found myself collecting a boat trailer from a friend and heading down the M6 at huge speed (60 mph!). We decided to take the central Birmingham road instead of the M42. That was mistake number 1. For the next hour we sat in rush hour traffic (or so it seemed) to go the final three miles to the place the boat was being kept.
We arrived at a sea scouts base and were directed towards a boat with half of the parts missing on a trolley with a flat tyre. It wasn’t looking good but immediately all I saw in my head was myself sailing my very own boat just as I was learning to do a couple of days beforehand. Luckily my wife is a little less easily swayed that myself but for £170 who can argue? We were shown another Laser 2 he had in bits and were allowed to remove any parts we thought we needed. I ended up with a spare clamcleat and another Mast step. I even had the blisters to prove it. Sadly there was no daggerboard or rudder to speak of and, at the time (!!), I didn’t realise how much these parts cost. We handed over the cash and shoehorned the boat (and assorted bits) onto the home made trailer and proceeded to the nearest McDonalds (a tradition of ours whereby we have a McDonalds each time we buy something like a house, car or indeed boat). On the way out we decided to take the M42 and were rewarded with no traffic and a lovely drive back to Crewe. Mistake number two was not considering where we might store the boat in the short term as we live in a terraced house with no garage or parking! Luckily a friend who lives nearby lives in a much nicer house with a drive and place to store said boat.
In effect we were left with a Laser 2 dinghy, a mast, a launching trolley and a few basic cleats. The following is the list of things I had left to buy to get the thing on the water and their retail costs.
- £250.00 – Rudder
- £80.00 – Tiller & extension
- £270.00 – Dagger board
- £60.00 – Central main sheet block
- £80.00 – ALL the rope for the boat
- £50.00 – Sail Battens
- £50.00 – Kicking Strap (Kicker)
- £50.00 – Assorted bits including various shackles, cleats, blocks, vernier shroud adjusters and a bung!
There lied the enormity of my task. At the time of writing (Mid November 2009) I have just taken delivery of my final piece to the very large and expensive puzzle, the dagger board.
Over the last two months I have been frantically scanning sailing websites, forums, friends minds and of course eBay. the following details for those people who might be in a similar situation what I found and how I managed to get the boat together as cheaply as possible.
As soon as we got the boat to Manley Mere, it’s next resting place, I created the above list. Once I had finished weeping I got the parts catalogued and got on the internet.
Firstly a few things about the Laser 2 you might not have known.
- Laser 2 is a closed class meaning that in order to race them the parts must be official Laser stock and therefore confirm to strict size, material and weight constraints. If you want to get your boat together on a budget then ignore this rule except to assume that parts will NOT be readily available and those that are will NOT be cheap (as above demonstrates)
- Laser 2 is no longer made. This, once again, reflects the fact that parts will be scarce although does give you an idea that at boat jumbles and sailing clubs there might be a few rotting that you could ask about buying.
- Laser 2 was superseded by the Laser 3000. This is in effect good news because many of the parts were used in the new boat. Take, for example, the dagger board which was not changed from from the Laser 2 spec and will therefore fit your boat if you need one.
- Laser 2 has an American counterpart. This means that parts for the boat might be available in the states although steer clear of the sails because they are, according to the head of the North American Laser 2 Class Association, not a good quality as those in the UK.
- Laser Performance Europe has abandoned the boat as far as I can tell and have handed over the rights to sell parts for the UK to a company called Northampton Sailboats (http://www.sailboats.co.uk). The staff are friendly and helpful although stock parts at prices which, in my opinion, should only be considered as a last resort. I had to get my Kicker from them for £45.00 plus postage but the more able among you might be able to fabricate one just as easily!
So where did I get my parts from?
After a few days of scouring the internet I decided to bite the bullet and get my wallet out. After the cobwebs had settled I got in touch with several sellers on websites like eBay and Boatsandoutboards.com where you will find plenty of boat parts but not so much Laser 2.
Cost so far: £170.00
I did several hundred Google searches and enquired about some rope to Joe at ropeloft. I rung Joe and within an hour of being on the phone we hatched a plan and created a list of what I needed. This was fairly good seeing as I had no idea what I needed except to describe to him what I did have (which was not a lot!). In the next few days arrived a huge bundle of high quality rope to do everything for the boat I needed including a few bundled offcuts. The grand total was £40.00 all in and the best thing was I actually received the goods before I paid. In my book that does show a very trusting and kind person indeed! I would recommend not using the website as at the time I found it hard to navigate to the extent I got bored and rung him. I would really recommend picking up the phone with any transaction beforehand because the people on the other end are usually really friendly and able to help and in my case it paid off because I got exactly what I needed with zero effort and minimal cost.
Cost so far: £210.00
Next on the list was a few bits and pieces such as a bung, kicker, vernier shroud adjusters and a back to back swivel block for the horse. Sadly for these I went to http://www.sailboats.co.uk because they are generally low cost items I needed and I thought best to get official parts. Of course I got the kicker from them because of my lack of knowledge of the part and lack of patience in making one. This is something which, next time, I would do myself!
Cost so far: £270.00
I contacted Tony at Sailsport Marine (http://sail-sport.com) for sail battens and some other bits. I rung up once again to make sure they would fit and was pointed in the direction of a ‘Training Batten Set’ which were half the cost and arrived very quickly. I also ordered an assortment of stainless screws and some plastic balls to go on the end of some of the ropes to act as shackles. They work a treat and were relatively cheap! I also ordered a center main sheet block from them which, although is a little small, does the trick beautifully.
Cost so far: £320.00
Being a bit sad I set up a saved search on eBay for the term ‘Laser 2′ and ‘Laser 2 Regatta’. Checking it daily got me a great bargain in a rudder and stock for £140.00.
Cost so far: £460.00
I then needed a tiller and extension of which the ‘official’ site were selling for around £75-80. I decided to keep trying eBay and a few days later my endurance paid off and I got a Laser 1 carbon tiller and extension for £40.00. A word of warning here though. Although the Laser 1 tiller will fit the Laser 2 stock you may need to ‘help’ the thing into the stock the first time. I used sand paper and furniture polish to do it and then drilled a new hole for the pin to go through but it works really well indeed! Don’t be shy to modify some bits like tillers because it’s very rewarding and brings the cost down no end.
Cost so far: £500.00
Finally I needed the most expensive piece of them all, the dagger board. This part alone would have cost me nearly £300.00 if it wasn’t for me being so stubborn. I scoured Google and asked tens of questions on wanted sites and forums. I kept an eye on eBay but even on there they have cottoned onto the sheer cost of these things. I got to the stage where i was going to ‘borrow’ one from another boat at the place I keep mine and fabricate something crudely out of plywood just to get me on the water. This was not necessary in the end as one of my many requests came back with a positive where someone had an old Laser 3000 board lying around and would sell it to me for £110.00. Thanks to the guys at Sailboat Spares (http://www.sailboatspares.com) I now have the final piece of the puzzle and can now write this post and tot up the overall cost.
Cost so far: £610.00
Notice I used ‘cost so far’ at this final stage. So far I have not yet sailed it so don’t know if there is anything I have forgotten and also there is no spinnaker set up on the boat. Although I am not proficient enough to even consider using one yet it’s on the shopping list definitely! The boat also has provision for trapeze wires so I need to get hold of a harness however it’s not a priority!
Update: Sailed it few times now… bought a cover for it. It’s a great boat that goes well. My only advice it to make sure you either know how to sail properly or have a second person to be in the boat with you. Single handing this boat with a couple of months experience is not a good idea
There are a fair few good sites out there about the Laser 2 however be aware that some of them are american and when you are looking for parts are not relevant really. There are a couple of good forums around but are not very active so the best places to look for parts and advice is around the boatyards that have them. Get down to the local sailing club and see if you can get talking to the people that have them because they are far more likely, like me, to have a few contacts for various parts.
I would be interested to hear from anyone who has been/is working on a Laser 2 and wants to share their own sources of parts and knowledge.