Category Archives: Motor yachts and boats

Handsome 16ft Nick Smith West Country motor launch for sale

Louise is for sale - she’s one of Salcombe-trained traditional boat builder Nick Smith’s traditional motor launches, and is fitted with an 11hp Vetus.

She’s four years old but has only been used for two seasons, and Nick says she’s immacculate and effectively as new. She’s lying in Devon and I think she would be a great boat for families, for picnicking, fishing, watching wildlife and so on.

If you’re interested, ring Nick on 07827 644223.

Nick Smith’s boats at this year’s Beale Park Boat and Outdoor Show

Salcombe-trained traditional boat builder Nick Smith has sent over a few photographs of two of his West Country style motor launches that he built, and one constructed to his lines that appeared at this year’s Beale Park Boat and Outdoor Show.

The collection above are of Moiety (1992, finished bright) and Puffin (2008, steam launch with a white hull), which were brought to the show by their owners.

Also, Richard Pease, who took early retirement to build boats exhibited his 17ft 6in larch motor launch built to my lines plans as used for Moiety in the amateur boatbuilders competition – and won the ‘Most professional home build’ with his boat Curlew.

Nick points out that the photo shows clearly that Richard’s sheer and fit out are quite different to his own.

Thanks Nick, and congratulations Richard!

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Nick Smith makes more progress on his latest 16ft West Country style clinker motor launch

Salcombe-trained traditional boat builder Nick Smith has sent over more photos of his progress on his increasingly pretty current project, a 16ft clinker motor launch named Mona Louise. Here’s what he says:

‘The sole boards are finished and are now being coated up, Douglas fir with grey Danboline paint. Aft locker shelves have been fitted, and as you see old style bow sheet inside the for’ard locker. It’s NOT plywood but khaya planks and ledges copper nailed, and then on the underside is ‘layed over’ (this is Devon-speak – it’s also colloquially known as ‘clenched’ in some places) .

‘I collected the custom-made stainless skeg this morning, so fitted that. It takes the bottom rudder hanging in way of the propeller thrust, and also allows any submerged rope to run past the keel and not get snagged on the prop - that’s the theory anyway.

‘Then I fitted the top pintle , dropped-in the rudder straps and offered up my standard rudder template and transferred the information from boat to template.

‘Then I faked up the tiller length and position too. Happy with that, I machined up the sapele for the blade and cheeks, lined out the blade and glued it up. Tomorrow I’ll release it, work it up, fit the straps and cheeks and start the tiller.

‘The khaya engine box sides have been glued up , so that’s another imminent job too. I’ve also fitted the exhaust and waterlock, and the control cables and built the gear lever panel.

‘After that, the next task is to remove all bits so that I can access the painting of the bilge and varnishing of the inside. The side benches are fitted and will be removed for varnishing also.

‘I’ll remove the bracing this week and cut off the ears on the transom, so that I can then fit the rubbing strakes and whiskers, screw on the keel band and the stem band.

‘The fuel tank is yet to go in, but the sea cock is done.

‘On other jobs; the forward davit lifting eye and strut are yet tio be fitted as is the foredeck cleat and fairleads, the float pump and all wiring, battery box, and another five coats of varnish! It won’t take five minutes… ‘

For more posts relating to Nick Smith’s boat building work, click here.

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Matthew Atkin photographs the working boats of Thailand

My globe-trotting photography enthusiast brother Matthew Atkin visited Thailand recently and came back with hundreds of shots of fishing and pleasure boats (the pleasure boats are the ones that have something to protect tourists from the sun).

This collection , which is just a sample, includes many of the famous colourful long-tailed boats, as well as little paddlers, and some other activities associated with fishing.

I must say that long-tailed engine arrangement continues to seem pretty scary, at least to me. All that weight high up is one thing that no boater will warm to, but another is the wide sweep of that propeller on the end of that long shaft.

Imagine how it could be in a man-overboard situation – or just with a number of boats at close quarters.

Thanks Matt! For more of my bruv’s  fabulous photos, click here.

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How to fit gunwale cappings; Nick Smith fits them to the motor launch Mona Louise

Boat builder Nick Smith took these photos as he fitted the gunwale cappings onto Mona Louise, the new West Country-style motor launch he is building for a client. For an earlier post on this topic click here, and to  see his website or contact him, click here.

Here’s what he says:

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‘I fit the aft ones first, and scarph joint them so that scarph is ‘trailing’ – back in the day before good glues were available, if the edge of the scarph lifted it would not snag on ropes or lines running back along the side of the boat.

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‘Cutting the scarph joint on the bench, I use a lip scarph for certain structural members, while planking, oars and other spars especially those that have circular or oval sections use feather-edge scarphs.

‘I make them using a combination of paring chisels, block plane, rabbet plane and, more recently, a sanding block made of plywood with 60 or 80 grit glued with spray contact adhesive – using that to finish off gets right up to the lip, sands flat and roughs up the surface to key the glue.

‘I use epoxy resin to glue most things where glueing is appropriate – I have been using it since the mid eighties with great success and so I am sticking with it. [Yes, we noticed what you did there! - Ed]

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‘Years ago when using less resorcinol glues, the capping would also be nailed down with small copper boat nails, the head would be ‘bradded’ to make it smaller, that is flattened on an iron (or dolly) held in the vice and hit with a hammer, then when nailed it was punched-in below the surface of the wood and stopped in with putty. It was a nasty sort of process, and so instead I began to use 6 gauge screws with the heads countersunk and plugged using a dowel or a pellet. But now I use the epoxy glue only – the result is strong, there are no fixings involved and the work looks clean and neat.

‘See the transverse clamps, holding blocks with parcel tape on them (non stick) to keep the inside edge of the capping flush with the inside edge of the gun’l. I bevelled the inside edge of the capping in advance; the bevel changes throughout its length.

‘I have also as you can see masked the top edge of the gun’l and topstrake so any glue drips are not on the varnish. It’s a lot of fuss, fiddle and time for a relatively small piece of wood, but it has to be right. The outside edge will be trimmed off with a block plane when the glue has cured.

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‘Taking the bevel off the gun’l and offering it up to the capping, then the capping is held in the vice and appropriate amount of wood shaved off with a sharp block plane. It’s partly by geometry and partly by eye.

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‘A neat way of transferring the topstrake edge to the top of the capping.

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‘Port and starboard cappings glued down; you can never have too many clamps in boat building. Tomorrow when the glue has cured I can release the clamps, trim up the edges and scarph and fit the forward pieces.

‘The increase in gun’l stiffness after fitting the cappings is marked – it’s like a rigid box section all the way around the sheer. I have also glued douglas fir packing chocks between each frame sandwiched between the topstrake and gun’l for extra strength, as the launch is to be a davit tender and will spend time slung over the side of the ship in choppy weather and otherwise stowed on chocks on deck.

‘These boats are labour intensive to build as we know, and as you can see. The working time for one of my sixteen footers is 660 man hours and for a twenty footer 880 man hours. But I love the work.’

Well, that’s good to hear. Thanks for an interesting post Nick!

Launch day inches closer for the restored motor launch Mary


Ben Wales has written with news of the progress of his restoration of the 18ft motor launch Mary.

The clinker built little boat was used by the smart Royal Lymington Yacht Club, and was also used in Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of the British Army from Dunkirk.

Ben reminds me that we’ve been following his project for four years now! Good for him – it’s great to see that his persistence is now so close to paying off.

Here’s what Ben says:

‘We had to take down the tent cover over the winter as it almost got destroyed by the storms in December and January.

‘While the main work was on hold we did a test engine line up, as I will need to make a new forward engine mount support bracket.

‘In March we set up the tent cover and began to lay the new solid timber forward deck in pitch pine – the planks are fitted tight and screwed down with A4 stainless screws finished with a dowel.

The deck will be sanded, caulked and varnished, and replaced with bronze deck fittings.

Work has now began on the aft deck; the steering blocks for the steering cables have been fitted and a fuel tank installed – this has to be done before the deck can be laid.

‘I hope to have a progress report later next month for you – and maybe Mary will be ready for a summer launch.

‘Regards, Ben’

Thanks Ben! It would be great to see Mary afloat and glistening with varnish in the coming weeks.

Dunkirk Little Ships gather at Chatham and around the Thames Estuary

Medway Bradwell Brightlingsea Pyefleet trip 5

The Dunkirk Little Ships were gathering this weekend for their rally at Chatham, and their planned trip to Ostende voor Anker in a day or two’s time.

They made a fine sight this weekend in the River Medway, at Chatham and off Brightlingsea.

Read about the Little Ships and the amazing Operation Dynamo here.

PS – The Manston campaigners are asking everyone interested in World War II to sign their petition calling for the airport to be compulsorily purchased rather than turned into a large housing estate.