Category Archives: Modern boatbuilding

Modern and plywood boatbuilding and plans

First time boatbuilder Andrew Bartlett builds a John Milgate Duck Punt

Down on our South Coast, Andrew Bartlett has built a Duck Punt to designer John Milgate’s plans, and is delighted with it! Here’s what he says – and there’s also a short video at the bottom of this post.

I find myself very drawn to these little boats, not least because they appeal to my sense that boating and sailing should be made affordable and available to all. However, I do worry that you often seen them without buoyancy bags or built-in buoyancy, and I fear for the lone Duck Punt sailor who gets into trouble. On the other hand, these boats happily sail in water that even a small person could happily stand up in. Wear your buoyancy aids and stay safe folks…

Anyway, following that moment of worry, here’s what Andrew has to say:

‘During the dark winter months I was viewing some of my favourite sailing websites and forums, was much taken with Dylan Winter’s description of his Duck Punt build and the pleasure he derived from sailing it. I found his enthusiasm persuasive even to the extent of building one myself while having no confidence at all in my competence to do so.

‘I watched the videos and blogs of Dylan Winter, Rusty Knorr and Stan Richards through Gavin Atkin’s fine website Intheboatshed. I referred also to the latter’s helpful book Ultrasimple Boatbuilding. I also received very helpful advice from John Milgate whose plans and building tips proved invaluable.

‘My build wasn’t a light one. It needs two able people to lift it. I decided to follow the more traditional (but heavier) method of building because I would be using it in the creeks of Chichester Harbour, which has soft landfalls but also some sharp flint stony ones, which I felt could damage a lighter build.

‘I do however appreciate the benefits of a lighter build so I am keeping the jig and frames in case I ever feel the urge to make one.

‘I used 9mm exterior plywood for the bottom and 5mm for the topsides and included a second topside as per the plans but the second topside plank was also 9mm. I used some mahogany recycled from an old chest of drawers at the bow and the actual pattern of the bow and stern was the best I could manage according to my meagre skills as best I could.

‘I am thrilled at producing a craft that is watertight and appears to row, paddle and sail rather well. I am still in the early stages of getting used to sailing using an oar rather than a rudder.

‘I have called the boat DP2, as I found an abandoned duck punt in the mud in Chichester Harbour when I was 16 and had a lot of fun with it, before it ended up as a drinking trough on my family’s farm.’

John Milgate’s plans are available from Dylan Winter’s Keep Turning Left website.

PS – In the last couple of weeks Dylan (mentioned above) has enjoyed and endured the best and worst sails of his life… read his weblog here.

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…

Boat Building Academy students build a Selway Fisher sailing dinghy

Boat Building Academy student James Dickson built this pea green Selway-Fisher designed sailing dinghy together with another student Simon Swindells while on the BBA’s long course starting in September last year.

The photos are by Janine Cashin, Paul Dyer, Becky Joseph and Jenny Steer.

The 12ft6in Selway-Fisher Northumbrian Coble was built using glued clinker construction and is planked in Robbins Elite marine ply. All other solid timber parts are made of iroko apart from the spars, which are made of sitka spruce.

James, who was previously a partner in a prominent Scottish law firm, is from a long line of Eyemouth fishermen, and chose the Selway-Fisher design because it allowed him to build a boat in a modern way, but reminded him of a traditional coble.

Simon from London, has worked in sales for the last 20 years but tired by being ‘only being as good as your last month’, joined the Academy to start a new practical career.

The coble has been named Star of Hope after a fishing boat James’ family owned in the 50′s and 60′s, and which he believes is currently being used as a sailing charter in Rostock on the Baltic.

The newest Star of Hope capsized fully three times on launch day, ducking James and crew - though when they rowed themselves back to harbour they reported that this had more to do with human error than the weather or the boat .

Neither James nor Simon have yet decided what they’ll do next, but are exploring different opportunities in woodworking and boat building. Meanwhile, Star of Hope is to be used as often as possible for fun with family and friends.

BBA students build a new design composite sailing canoe

Boat Building Academy students Richard Lyford from Portland and Steve Roberts built and launched a newly designed 14ft 5in composite sailing canoe as part of a 38-week boatbuilding course. The photos are by Janine Cashin, Liz Griffiths, Becky Joseph, John  Pritchard, Grant Morris and Jenny Steer.

Richard took a career break to attend the course.

Richard believes that with interest in the Victorian idea of sailing canoes is growing in the UK and that we’re on the way to a real revival. So he worked with sailing canoe specialist company Solway Dory to develop and design a new light-weight composite sailing canoe and built a prototype as part of his course.

Water sports enthusiast Steve joined the course from a career in the Royal Navy where here worked as a mine clearance diver.

The two created a tulip-wood hull plug, which was then glass and epoxied to create the mould, which was lifted off the plug, polished and used to create the canoe.

Rock Pipit can be paddled or sailed, and has an unstayed Bermuda rig, which Richard argues is simple to rig and easy to reef.

She looked elegant in white and royal blue, so much so that BBA technician Steve Hewins, a man who has seen countless boats, watched her go out and said ‘One day I’m going to have one of those… ‘

Richard returns to his job as a Submarine Systems Engineer in July. Steve has already started work at Compass Tenders, Port Hamble, building bespoke tenders for superyachts.

The Rock Pipit design will become part of the Solway Dory range. If you are on the Devon or Cornwall coast or estuaries look out for Richard, who intends to use his new sailing canoe as often as possible.

Veler El•La’s sailing Ella skiff starts her summer adventure for 2014

Veler El•la is a community  group on Facebook based in Barcelona who built an example of the sailing version of of my Ella skiffs, and now sail it in stages along the coast of Taragonna. This week they even called for folks to put their hand up to sail her for a day – hopefully I got that right as I don’t speak that language and we can’t trust the online translators!

Here are some photos of what I take to be the first leg of this year’s voyage, mixed in with some great harbour shots from her launch last year. Thanks for the photos folks!

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.

Chris Perkins’ photos from the Beale Park Boat and Outdoor Show

I’m most grateful to Chris Perkins for giving me permission to raid his impressive collection of photos from this year’s Beale Park Boat and Outdoor Show.

Chris is a lovely, meticulous photographer, and seems to have the knack of being unobtrusive when he’s shooting – no-one in his shots seems to pose for the camera! See his full collection at Flickr but please don’t use them without his permission!

From the top left they show three Watercraft magazine Amateur Boat Building Awards entries:

  • Agape a Nottage 12 designed by Fabian Bush and beautifully traditionally built by Richard Harvey (three photos)
  • Curlew, a Nick Smith-designed traditional launch built in the traditional way by Richard Pease (two photos)
  • Strummer, an Iain Oughtred-designed Ness Yawl built in clinker ply by Ian Prior
  • Polly, an Iain Oughtred designed Swampscott dory built in the traditional way by John Kingston (three pics – and isn’t she gorgeous!)

There’s also a general shot of the competition entries.

Also we have a currach (two pics); a Thames skiff set up for camping (two photos), the Old Gaffers Association menagerie of small boats on show, an oldish ply-looking river launch; Moiety, built by Nick Smith, a bit of repair work going on outside the International Boatbuilding Training College stand (principal Nat is wearing the black hat); Kipperman Mike Smylie playing the kipper xylophone (black hats are in fashion, gentlemen); and some typical scenes on the water at Beale Park (six photos).