Category Archives: Boatbuilders and restorers

Professional and amateur boat builders and restorers

Sailing to the Longships Lighthouse in a 14ft traditional dinghy

Multiple award winning boatbuilder and designer and all-round interesting bloke Will Stirling is continuing his campaign to visit dramatic lighthouses using a traditional 14ft dinghy built by Stirling and Son - most recently with a trip to the Longships Lighthouse, built on group of rocks a couple of miles west of the notorious point of Land’s End.

With this August’s weather, I think he’s done well to find a window in the weather!

Here’s his story about the expedition:

‘The original plan was to sail from Sennen Cove just North of Land’s End down to the Wolf Lighthouse, back around the Longships Lighthouse and return to Sennen Cove.

‘I set off early from Plymouth to avoid any traffic. On the way down the A30 the windmills were gently turning. From high land the Isles of Scilly and the Wolf were in clear view. Light winds and good visibility augured well.

‘I arrived in good time at Land’s End and twisted my way down the lane into Sennen Cove. The tiny old harbour was very pretty. I backed the dinghy down a very steep granite slipway overlooked by a mighty lifeboat station.

‘Reversing on the sand was easy and the dinghy was soon afloat and anchored off - but driving forward on the sand was not easy and the van soon became bogged down. Two fisherman were watching and no doubt the odd curtain was twitching. I am used to feeling stupid.

‘There was the predictable sucking through teeth about the difficulties of recovering the van and when it would be possible to do so later in the day. No doubt King Cnut sat in his throne on the beach to demonstrate that the tide could not be defied, with a pair of stout thurls on hand to lug the throne up the beach when the old king’s toes started to get wet. I could see that the van would be a little more difficult to recover.

‘However, having played the lead role in many acts of foolishness I am pretty philosophical; things tend to get sorted out.

‘I had some time in hand in relation to the tide, so I prepared the dinghy, hauled the trailer up the beach and bought a parking ticket. By the time I was back the fishermen had rigged a warp around a turning block and back to the harbour-head capstan. We dragged the van up the beach, and with an extra burst of speed managed to claw up the slipway.

‘I didn’t bother to contemplate dinghy recovery at this stage, but gave the kind fishermen my thanks and some chocolate and set off.

‘Soon afterwards, I returned having realised I had forgotten the VHF and then pulled the zip off the drysuit. The zip was unrepairable but the VHF was now on board.

‘The trip was still within the tidal constraints for doubling the Wolf; however, the wind was very light and I began to doubt that I would reach the Wolf before the tide turned. I decided to sail to the Longship’s first and see if the wind would fill in away from the land or come up as time passed.

‘I sailed just South of the Shark’s Fin, a nasty rock to the North of the Longships, and despite the calm weather there were tidal overfalls. Strangely, the wind seemed to increase in each of the overfalls as the dinghy sailed through them quite fast.

‘Turning South and to seaward of the Longships I could see an alarming line of broken water to the West, indicating further overfalls. As the tide was pushing East, I had to hope I wouldn’t be sucked into them.

‘When I successfully got to the Longships, it seemed calm enough to consider a landing. I sailed among the rocks to the south of the lighthouse and anchored in a little cove where there were seals.

‘The dry suit was broken so I swam five metres to the shore in underpants and took some photos – very aware that if the main sheet did wind itself around the tiller and become jammed, trip the anchor and sail the dinghy out of the cove, massive embarrassment awaited. I didn’t waste any time ashore and took care to ensure I was always within a few seconds of regaining the dinghy.

‘In the second trip ashore to a small off lying rock the dinghy began to drag. I quickly clambered back aboard and sailed into deeper water away from the rocks before sorting everything out on board.

‘It was now 1130 with one hour until the tidal gate for arriving at the Wolf, which was 8 miles away to the South. The wind itself was now a steady F3 from the N. Ideal conditions for getting to the Wolf; not good conditions for getting back, particularly if the wind increased. I decided that it was not wise to attempt the Wolf with only an hour of tide, adverse wind for the return journey and a broken dry suit which made me vulnerable to offshore capsize. I was already quite cold after my swim.

‘I sailed back towards Sennen, through the overfalls just North of Kettle Rock and into the little harbour.

‘Charles Bush (the director of Mayflower Marina which is right next to our yard in Plymouth) happened to be standing on the beach with his family. He had been out catching turbot for supper.

‘With a bit of Norwegian steam we dragged the dinghy up the beach and hitched her onto the van at the very bottom of the granite slipway. Charles’ family pushed, his son sat on the bonnet to give the wheels traction and with much revving the whole rig reached the tarmac at the top of the slip. One cream tea later at the Bush’s cottage over looking the cove and some local advice about a better launching spot for the next Wolf attempt concluded a very pleasant Longship’s circumnavigation.

‘Best wishes, Will’

Stirling and Son offers traditional yacht building and wooden boat repair and is based at the historic No 1 Covered Slip at Devonport. Also, follow the Stirling and Son Facebook page for news, some wonderful boats and great photos.

 

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.

The Purifier Yacht and Dinghy Company dinghy demo

Working in the Faversham Creek Trust’s Purifier Building, our pal Alan Thorne is making and selling two dinghies designed by Graham Byrnes of B&B Yacht Designs.

One of the dinghies made by Alan’s The Purifier Yacht and Dinghy Company is sweet little sharp-nosed job that sails and tows well, and divides in two and nests one half inside the other so that it can be stowed on board a larger yacht or transported easily. The other is a little pram tender that can sail, row and motor with an outboard. Why not take a look…

Nick Smith motor launch Mona Louise emerges glistening into the light

The pretty 16ft West Country-style motor launch Mona Louise has emerged from Salcombe-trained traditional boat builder Nick Smith’s workshop.

Intheboatshed.net has been following her progress  as she’s been built over the past few weeks.

He hasn’t got much more to say just now – after 1088 man-hours working on one boat and especially all that varnishing I’d guess he’s likely been near speechless for the last couple of daysHowever, Mona Louise will be on show at Wooden Boatbuilders Trade Association stand at the the Southampton International Boat Show, and no doubt he will be very pleased to talk with anyone interested in discussing the boat.

Fabian Bush builds a François Vivier Aber dinghy

I’ve just remembered that I haven’t yet shared these photos to share of Lodestar publisher Richard Wynne’s new sail and oar dinghy – so here they are.

It’s an example of the very appealing François Vivier-designed Aber built for Richard at Rowhedge  by Fabian Bush, who showed it at the Beale Park show last month.

Naturally, there was a bit of a party in and around Fabian’s yard on when she emerged into the light. Richard’s delighted with the boat I gather – that day he and Fabian took the little boat for a sail out past Mersea, and found that it both sails and rows like a dream. (It has two rowing positions.)

It’s striking to think that François designed this elegant and well developed looking boat as long ago as 1985.

There are more photos of examples of Abers built around the world here.

Michael Maloney’s film: The Apprentice – Making Life Work

Faversham film-maker Michael Maloney is passionate about the value of apprenticeships to young people, and believes they are vital to the economic and social future of Britain.

He points out that about a million of our young people are currently unemployed – a point that which contrasts sharply with the some of the claims we hear about the healthy state of our economy.

I particularly like the quotation from Griff Rhys-Jones visit to Faversham Creek Trust’s apprenticeships project at the Purifier Building in Faversham last year: ‘The reward is in what you do.

(It had better be – in the same short speech he also revealed that the boat cost him £70 to buy, that he had spent a further £500,000 on her over the next ten years – and that on putting it on the market more recently had been offered how much? You’ve guessed it – £70,000.)

This Youtube is a trailer for a longer and more in-depth film that Michael is making on the subject of apprenticeships.

Read more about Michael’s project here: http://www.cwideprods.co.uk/the-apprentice/

Ruel Parker writes about the Chesapeake Bay brogans

Brogan lines

I hadn’t heard about the log-built Chesapeake Bay brogan before, but I’m very struck by their beautiful lines and proportions. Of course I realise that the low sheerline isn’t there to make the boat attractive but to enable the oyster fishermen to reach the water to do their work, but still…

Read all about them in traditional boat author, historian, designer and boatbuilder Reuel Parker’s article on the Woodenboat magazine website. Here’s a sample:

‘I learned about brogans from MV Brewerton’s excellent book Chesapeake Bay Log Canoes and Bugeyes. While bugeyes were large—up to 80? on deck — the brogans were small — around 30? to 35? on deck. I wanted to design a modern version of the brogan—adapted for cold-molded construction for shoal-draft cruising — but didn’t get around to doing it until December of 2011.

Brogans were double-ended, beamy, of moderate displacement, and shoal-bodied with centerboards. They carried free-standing masts, very raked, with the mizzen raked markedly more than the main.

‘The only lines drawing I have ever found for a brogan came from Brewerton’s book (shown below). They show a very lovely, nearly symmetrical, easily-driven double-ended hull of excellent proportions.’