Category Archives: Boatbuilders and restorers

Professional and amateur boat builders and restorers

20ft clinker motor launch up for sale

Boatbuilder Nick Smith is selling this 20ft motor launch, Bamboo Viper, which he built for himself in 2004, on eBay.

Nick served a four-year traditional boatbuilding apprenticeship at Edgar Cove Ltd, Salcombe, Devon, 1976 to 1980, and has been building and restoring wooden boats ever since. He says his boats all show a distinctive Salcombe influence.

The boat is in top condition, as he has spent six weeks refurbishing her earlier this year, including taking the engine out. She’s been on his mooring at Christchurch for the last two months, with the cover on, when not in use.

She is fitted with a 15 hp Yanmar 2YM twin diesel inboard, and the price includes a purpose built galvanised and braked road trailer.

Herreshof – an introduction


There aren’t too many Herreshoff boats to be found today around the UK – though there’s one local to where I sail – but I think he’s well worth reading about, and this article provides an introduction.

‘Herreshof… is recognized as the most influential American yacht builder who ever lived. For nearly three decades his boats dominated the America’s Cup race, and today the hundreds of his boats that remain are regarded as marvels of design and engineering.

‘Born in Bristol [USA] in 1848 to a boat-building family… Herreshoff enrolled at MIT in 1866, excited about the potential of marine steam engineering to create high-performance boats… Herreshoff had a few notable successes harnessing this new form of power. He designed the first steam-powered fishing boat and the first steam-powered spar torpedo boat. The latter was just fast enough to inflict a crude form of violence. “You ran up, jammed the torpedo into the boat, smashed it into reverse, and got out as fast as you could… ”

‘Herreshoff’s greatest success — and the place where his genius really shined — was in yacht design. Between 1893 and 1920 his boats won the America’s Cup six times with names like Vigilant, Defiance, and Resolute.

‘In 1876 he introduced multi-hulled boats to yacht racing when his catamaran Amaryllis won the New York Centennial Regatta in a walk. “He trounces everyone… His boat was going 19- to 20 miles an hour, and most yachts were going 8 to 10 miles per hour…. despite his convincing win, Herreshoff did not take home the trophy. “Shortly thereafter they disqualified him”‘

Read the article here, here, here, here and here.

1885 classic Mary, ex-Vanity, needs someone to save her!


Boatbuilder Mark Rolt of Bristol Classic Boat Company has written to say that the 1885-built 60ft classic yacht Mary, ex-Vanity, is in urgent need of re-housing and restoration – for otherwise she is certain to be cut up within the next few weeks. The photos above show her in her heyday, and now.

She is one of three similar yachts remaining, the other two of which are Partridge, and Marigold, both of which have been restored and are racing in the Mediterranean. It’s Mark’s firm hope that someone will feel it is time to rescue this astonishing boat from certain destruction.

She was built as Mary at William Black’s in Southampton, Dan Hatcher’s old yard, in 1885 and 1886, for Sir William Romilly, who was later Attorney General, who gave it as a 21st birthday present to his son John Gaspard le Marchant Romilly, (who was usually called Cosmo). She cost 1300 guineas.

Built to Lloyds A1 100 18+ spec, the highest possible at that time, her timber was seasoned for at least 18 years.

She was coppered and was pitch pine below the water and teak above on doubled 4×4 oak frames. She raced very successfully under the Class C category, but the rules were changed in, I think, 1892, at which point she became a cruising yacht.

At present she is in a derelict hauling yard, next door to Mark’s boatyard, where she has been since about 1989, when she was sold at auction by Sotherby’s, and delivered from Canvey Island to Bristol for storage, while the owner decided what to do. He then sold it to my colleague and friend, the late Brian Cumby, who then offered her to Mark.

Mark says that she will need a major rebuild. He’s proposing to sell her for a penny to anyone willing to have us restore her, and reckons that bringing her back to her former glory would cost in the region of £1,250,000-1,500,000.

He believes passionately in preserving boats of this kind and is very, very keen to have the opportunity, not only to restore Mary
but also to train apprentices in the craft of shipwrighting through dismantling and restoring the magnificent old boat. As he says, everyone involved, young and old, can learn old tricks and methods, some of which may have died with the shipwright who performed them.

As Mark says, please forward this post on to any one that you know who may be fired-up by the idea of owning and sailing one of Britain’s first class Victorian yachts, privately or corporately.