Category Archives: Modern boatbuilding

Modern and plywood boatbuilding and plans

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).

Nutty Slack, the Broads policeman’s water bike

nutty slack boat bike

Nutty Slack is a boat bike that has been given to the wonderful Museum of the Broads at Stalham – the folks there are debating how to restore the bike to its former glory. Apparently, there are reasons for thinking it should be painted in spots!

She was owned by a local policeman who mainly used to use her for collecting his newspapers, but she also used for retrieving dead animals from the river, and occasionally, it’s said, dead human bodies…

My thanks to MOTB’s Caroline Male for sending over the fabulous photo!

A great piece about the evolution of racing dinghy design

Post war dinghy development article

This article by David Henshal about post-War racing dinghy development is well worth reading, and can be seen on the Yachts and Yachting website.

‘One of the most notable changes that have taken place in the sport of dinghy racing in the last 40 or so years has been the impact of the spreadsheet and ‘business model’. Until then, much of the development within the sport had taken place within what could best be described as a ‘cottage industry’. Though this may have looked disorganised and unstructured, the old ways of working did have one key advantage over today’s production lines, as many of the great thinkers and ‘do-ers’ of the day all knew each other well. This friendship allowed for an unprecedented level of interaction and cross fertilisation of ideas that helped drive the ‘big-bang’ of expansion in the sport in the 1950s through to the end of the 1970s. This sharing of ideas can be seen very clearly in the lives of three of our great innovators, people who could almost be described as the ‘Three Wise Men’ of British dinghy sailing… ‘

 My thanks to Australian boat designer Mik Storer of Storer Boat Plans in Wood and Plywood for spotting this one.

 

Tod Kerr dips his small Cinderella open canoe built from free plans

Tod Kerr hadn’t quite finished building his Cinderella canoe when he put it in the water for the first time – but he seems pretty pleased with it. Take a look at his weblog account to see what he has to say.

Free plans are available from this page.

The Cinderella is an unconventional stitch and glue design that’s very easy and quick to build using a method that works at this small size – there are no real frames or a proper strongback, just (using the plans in Ultrasimple Boatbuilding) three T-shaped temporary frames – though the boat can also be built using just one T, as outlined in the online plans.

Tod went with the book as you’ll see from his photos, has clearly done a good job (well done Tod!) and reports that Cinderella is ‘really light, very maneuverable, easy to paddle and fast’. 

With these characteristics she’s also tippier than larger commercial open canoes with wide flat bottoms, and Tod has learned that trying to sit up too high can be a bit wobbly…

I predict that he’ll find his best seating position and be very happy balancing the little boat – but I also think he’ll likely find he enjoys uses his Cinderella in the sheltered waters she was designed for, rather than far from shore on the sea.