Category Archives: Techniques

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.

BBA students build 12ft Paul Gartside traditional style clinker dinghy

The Boat Building Academy celebrated the launch of six boats and seventeen new boat builders at Lyme a few weeks ago.

The boats were built by the BBA’s class of September 2013, who had completed its 38-week course. Although new to woodworking and boat building, the students built six boats and a paddle board using modern and traditional methods, completing every step from lofting board to launch in just nine months.

Some three hundred well-wishers gathered in the sunshine to celebrate the students’ achievements and give a resounding cheer as the champagne popped and each boat went into the water.

First in was the 12ft traditional clinker dinghy above, built by David Rainbow and Adam Smith to Paul Gartside’s 2001 design, #130 design, and planked in west African mahogany on oak ribs and backbone. (The photos are by Liz Griffiths, Becky Joseph, Jenny Steer, and John Pritchard.)

David, from Middlesex, worked at Heathrow Airport for 20 years in a variety of roles, most recently as baggage operational assurance manager, and first came to the BBA to do a three-day introductory course, and then decided it was time for a change of career and booked a place on the 38-week course last year.

David chose to build this row and sail boat as he felt the traditional clinker method would make a good test of skills, and felt the style and size of this particular Paul Gartside design was just right for him.

He made a couple of changes to the original design – he planked it in West African mahogany rather than western red cedar for aesthetic reasons, and chose a boomless standing lug rig designed by Paul Gartside specifically for David’s boat, rather than the original boomed rig.

Named Enfys – the Welsh word for ‘rainbow’ after David’s surname and his wife’s welsh roots – the boat is to be sailed on a lake at Hillingdon Outdoor Activity Centre, which is close to where David lives.

Adam Smith, originally from Canada, was David’s main build partner.

He was working with computers, but built a Selway Fisher dinghy in his spare time and enjoyed the process so much he decided to train for a new career. Adam made the most of the academy’s facilities and in his spare time on the course he made a cabinet, trestle table and chest. His latest spare-time project now that the course has finished is a strip-planked canoe.

Both David and Adam are start work in jobs on the Thames after a short break.

Tilman medal winner Alasdair Flint and business partner Gerry Jeatt rescue historic London chandlers Arthur Beale

Arthur Beale shop

Arthur Beale old shelves

High latitudes Vertue sailor Alasdair Flint and business partner Gerry Jeatt have given up their summer sailing in order to breathe new life into the centuries-old Shaftsbury Avenue yacht chandlers Arthur Beale.

(If you don’t know London, Shaftsbury Avenue is at the heart of London’s theatreland.  See the location here. )

In 2011 Alasdair sailed his Vertue, Sumara, together with Tim Loftus sailing his yacht Thembito Jan Mayen Island, a fascinating volcanic outpost of Norway, and climbed the volcano Beerenberg. Read about that trip here.

For that trip they won the Bill Tilman medal, a Royal Cruising Club honour in memory of mountaineer and Arctic explorer Bill Tilman.

Here’s what Alasdair has to say about his new adventure:

My summer sailing has been curtailed after a friend and I decided I to try to salvage an historic nautical relic which was about to hit the rocks.

Mind you, this was no feat of daring-do in the surf – our nautical relic was Arthur Beale, a 400 year old ships chandlers in Shaftesbury Avenue, London and the rocks were the nasty liquidators. I had got wind that this national maritime monument was not doing too well and so I wrote to them to see if there was anything we could do to help.

As it happened the letter arrived at a critical moment and the manager said that we would need to act fast! Neither myself or my partner in crime Gerry Jeatt had any intention of acquiring an ancient chandlers’ shop, especially as we were both busy on other projects, but if we did nothing then the wonderful shop would have definitely closed within weeks – and another Starbucks Coffee Shop would have been added to the map.

Against all advice we decided to plough in our savings and see what we could do to save the company.

We paid off all the suppliers, the tax and VAT and started to restock. Soon it was time to find out what exactly we had acquired! The stock was quite amazing, chests full of galvanised rowlock sockets, bronze pulley castings, ancient flags, patented Arthur Beale blocks and even holy stones. Old hand written ledgers showed sales to Arctic Expeditions and Everest Climbs. All fascinating stuff.

The history of the company isn’t very clear but we are endeavouring to piece things together. Our understanding is that the company started trading as John Buckingham Ropemakers on the banks of the River Fleet about four hundred years ago. They moved to the current premises about 125 years ago. Rope is the core activity of the company and Arthur Beale used to make a rope called “Alpine
Club Rope” which was the preferred rope of climbers worldwide. We still have the original test certificates and telegrams demanding that the rope be sent on the next steamer to Greenland.

Arthur Beale also supplied ice axes, climbing slings, and rucksacks.

In the 1930s the company was booming. Their catalogue shows a huge range of yacht stoves and they even had a department providing flags and decorations for civic ceremonies. They also supplied many theatres and film companies. We have found half guinea gift tokens and the old printing blocks for all their advertisements.

In recent times sales had declined. Arthur Beale had no website and no advertising. They wouldn’t post out goods or take payment over the phone, and even closed at lunchtime on Saturday.

We needed to make urgent changes to enable the company to survive.

So what can you expect from Arthur Beale’s in the future? I own a varnished wooden yacht and have a penchant for sailing into the Arctic. So you can perhaps imagine the kind of things we will be stocking – good quality varnishes and paints, tough practical kit that will also look right on classic craft, heavy weather clothing, interesting books and unusual tools and equipment. The old drawers full of intriguing fixtures and fittings will remain but there will also be attractive display boards so you can actually see what is in the drawers!

We won’t make much money selling caulking cotton, copper tacks and tarred marline on Shaftesbury Avenue but we will sell these things  nevertheless.

Gerry is an IT expert and we already have a smart new website
www.arthurbeale.co.uk and we will be introducing on-line sales in the near future. We are going to have regular evening talks with our first one being – Learn to Splice at 1845 on 10th July. Other scheduled dates are Varnishing tips and demonstrations 4th September  and Sailing to Arctic Jan Mayen and climbing Beerenberg on the 9th October. See the website for details.

Outside the shop you will now find the Thames Shipping Forecast and high water times for London Bridge. Inside we are busy renovating upstairs to make way for all the new stock. The shop is now open until 2000 on Thursday Friday and Saturday.

We have a long way to go before all the work will be finished but every week more stock arrives and by the autumn we reckon we will have a shop to be proud of. We would love to see you there!

Alasdair Flint maintains his own weblog Sumara of Weymouth.

Scottish Traditional Boat Festival to see launch of youth training boatshed project

The boatshed, and photos from previous Scottish Traditional Boat Festivals at Portsoy

This year’s Scottish Traditional Boat Festival at Portsoy is to see the launch of a project to create a new home for Portsoy Organisation for Restoration and Training (PORT), an organisation that teaches youngsters traditional boat building and restoration skills.

PORT is to refurbish Portsoy’s 18th century boatshed, currently a derelict harbour building, and turn it into a community centre to teaches traditional skills and boat restoration.

The foundation stone for the revamped shed is to be laid during the annual festival, which takes place this coming weekend.

Festival vice chairman and PORT founder James Crombie says that in teaching traditional skills to young people PORT provides a bridge between the old and the new, and that the festival provides a particularly good platform for the launch of the project, not least because it includes the inaugural North Sea Ring meeting, which sees countries from around the North Sea come together to share maritime traditions.

The rebuilt boatshed will give the local community a spacious workshop that will allow work on boats to be undertaken in full view of the public.

The PORT training programme takes participants from the initial stages of boat building right through to learning to sail the boats they have helped to create – which no doubt brings something special to the trainees.

As well as providing an outlet for training and restoration it is hoped that the boatshed will become an attraction for visitors to the area.

PORT was given the boatshed by the Portsoy Maritime Heritage Society in 2009; the renovation is a £420,000 project funded by Aberdeenshire Council, CARS (a collaboration between Aberdeenshire Council and Historic Scotland) and AEFF Axis 4 funding.

 

IMG_3115 equipment

Sailing barge equipment on board Pudge, summer 2014

I was lucky enough this weekend to be able to go sailing aboard Pudge, one of two sailing barges (and one lighter) owned, maintained and chartered by the Thames Sailing Barge Trust. (Also see the TSBT’s Facebook page.)

I must say we had a fabulous day – I thoroughly recommend a trip on one of these boats. I’m also mightily impressed by the gear, which is effective and often ingenious in its working and in its simplicity, and by the barge sailors of the past, who managed these boats with a crew of just two.

Those folks were clearly very tough, and more than a bit clever with it.

The event was the Blackwater Match – an annual race for barges and smacks, so I’ll post a further collection of boats and the Blackwater itself tomorrow.

Boat Building Academy students launch their boats in broad sunshine – and entertaining winds

Brilliant sun shone on the Boat Building Academy’s  Class of September 2013 big launch day at Lyme Regis’s harbour last week.

The students launched six boats and a paddle board built as part of their 38-week course, while a crowd of around three hundred including previous graduates, students’ families and friends, boating enthusiasts and other well-wishers gathered at the harbour.

The boats entered the water following a few words from BBA director Tim Gedge and Lyme Regis’s Mayor, Sally Holman.

Champagne corks popped as the students launched their boats, which were:

  • a 12ft traditional clinker dinghy designed by Paul Gartside
  • a Selway Fisher-designed 12ft 6in Northumbrian Coble
  • a 14ft 6in Rock Pipet composite sailing canoe designed by Richard Lyford in partnership with Solway Dory
  • a Don Kurylko-designed 18ft 1in Alaska  yawl-rigged beach cruiser
  • a Richard Dongray-designed 20ft Golant Ketch with cabin and twin masts
  • a 16ft  F16 composite-built catamaran
  • 14ft paddle board designed by Chesapeake Light Craft

A brisk breeze meant that sailing was a little challenging, I’m told, although a ducking that the Northumbrian Coble sailors received seems to have owed more to human error than to the wind or the boat.

The graduating students joined the course from the UK, Jersey and Norway. Their backgrounds are equally diverse. Some start work almost as soon as the course ends:

  • Reuben Thompson is going to Cockwells
  • Tony Corke is going to Mussett Engineering in Norfolk
  • David Rotheram returns to Liverpool after a career away from home in the RAF, to work for Douglas Marine Ltd
  • Richard Lyford’s sailing canoe will become part of the Solway Dory range when Richard returns to designing submarine systems
  • Keith McIlwain, who built the Golant Ketch, will return to Bristol where he will soon start his own boat building/restoration/repair business, Daydream Boats

Student Ask Serck-Hanssen is to go to Brunel University to study engineering.

More information about the students who make up the Class of September 2013 can be found here, while photographic diaries of the build of the boat projects can be found here.