BBA students build a Don Kurlyko Alaska beach cruiser

These photos are of an 18ft Alaska beach cruiser designed by Don Kurlyko and built by students – now graduates – of the Boat Building Academy’s 38-week long course, Reuben Thompson and Tony Corke.

The photos were taken by Jenny Steer, Becky Joseph and Liz Griffiths.

Reuben first saw this design at the Beale Park Boat Show where he entered a small sailing boat he’d designed in the Amateur Boat Building Competition.

He fell in love with the Alaska beach cruiser’s shape and efficient sail design, and when asked if he’d like to build a boat at the Academy, he jumped at the opportunity to build one for himself.

It is strip-planked in western red cedar, and has two masts and a yawl rig. Just two adjustments were made to the original design, which is based on the American Whitehall skiff: instead of building internal frames the boat was fibre-glassed inside and out to provide more internal space (the fibreglass providing the strength the frames would have), and extra water-tight compartments were added to prevent the boat from sinking should it capsize.

A week’s work experience with Thames boatbuilders Henwood and Dean convinced Reuben that boat building was the career for him, and he decided to join the Academy for ‘some advice on how to get there’.

A keen sailor, he taught sailing at Frampton Sailing Club and became involved in teaching at the Lyme Regis Club while on the course.

Tony worked as an activity instructor and group leader at PGL Travel in Wiltshire before attending the Academy.

With a passion for kayaking and working towards a two star canoe and kayak qualification with the British Canoe Union, he also built a modern skin on frame kayak while on the course. Tony found the design for kayak on the website Yostwerks.

Its frames were made of marine ply and western red cedar was used for the stringers.

The kayak’s coating was made of Dacron, a layer of glass fibre and epoxy.

Reuben is now working at Cockwells in Falmouth and Tony at  Mussett Engineering  in Norfolk where he’ll use his new composite skills working with F1 racing cars rather than boats.

Reuben looks forward to exploring the creeks in his beach cruiser and once it is complete, Tony plans to paddle his kayak on the Norfolk Broads.

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