Category Archives: Small boats

The scarcely possible Balmain Bug

Some astonishing Australians in a remarkably impractical boat. For more information about the history of this kind of craft, there’s a Yachting World article to read. My thanks to designer and sailmaker Michael Storer for the tip. See his boat plans website and Facebook page.


Schoolchildren build two Julie skiffs at Faversham

A group of lucky schoolchildren have built two 16ft Julie skiffs at a Faversham Creek Trust boatcamp led by local boatbuilder Alan Thorne and assistant Malcolm Hazleton at the trust’s Purifier building.

The skiffs are to be launched at the town’s nautical festival around mid-day on the 23rd July. Naturally, Julie and I plan to be there!

See the free boat plans page in the tabs above to download the drawings etc to build this lightweight plywood flat bottomed skiff and two shorter versions at 14 and 12ft.

When I called by on Friday afternoon I met a small crowd of enthusiastic, engaged kids and a clutch of happy parents – and two cool looking boats, Santa Crews and Stormy.  Alan and Malcolm had done a good job, and the FCT’s boatcamp had been a success.

‘Have you had a good time?’ I asked.

‘Yes,’ the kids called back.

‘Would you do it again?’

‘Yes,’ they chorused.

A mother turned to me and said ‘My son’s always been a maker and now he’s decided he wants to be a boatbuilder.’

I think she must have been reasonably happy with the idea, as she did not add ‘but I think he should have a proper job as well’.

The following shots are Malcolm’s. Thanks fella!

The boats of Sri Lanka with Stephanie Boucher and Alex Bienfiat

My friends Stephanie Boucher and her husband Alex Bienfait recently took a sabbatical of a few months in Sri Lanka. I gather the trip was both stunning and an education.

Anyway, they and came back with these photos, for which many thanks!

Stephanie works with websites for a living, and so naturally kept an excellent weblog of the trip. I should also explain that Alex is a Church of England parish priest, and I think took many if not all of the shots.

I’ve paraphrased some of Stephanie’s notes:

The cross on the fishing boat is interesting. It seems that when Christian missionaries came to Sri Lanka with the colonial powers one group that was particularly receptive was the fishing communities. This was particularly the case on the West coast of Sri Lanka: ideally Buddhists do not kill any living creature, but in this otherwise largely Buddhist culture fish is extremely popular, nevertheless. Fishermen often felt they were outcasts from the general community, and found a new sense of identity and self worth as Christians.

The fishing boats at Trincomalee were mostly of these boats were of fibreglass construction, much like those they to others photographed in the west and south of the island. But at Trincomalee they also saw a number of log canoes hewn from of a single tree. Stephanie, who has attempted to carve wooden spoons and other tools, greatly appreciated the skills required to get the thickness and shape correct for these boats. Some had subsequently been patched with a fibre glass lining, and also on the outside in various ways.

The final shots of outrigger canoes are from the former Dutch colonial capital of Galle. The stall with fish for sale, shows the is also picture with fish for sale, showing the boats are still very much in use.