Category Archives: wooden boat

The Salcombe lifeboat disaster of 1916

‘On Friday, October 27th 1916, an appalling calamity befell the South Devon port of Salcombe. the lifeboat (the William and Emma) had been called out about six o’clock in the morning to render assistance to the schooner Western Lass, which was reported to be wrecked on Meg Rock, near Prawle Point.

‘In spite of the furious gale that was raging and the tempestuous breakers on Salcombe Bar, the gallant crew of fifteen succeeded in getting out to sea, and in reaching the vessel that was in distress; then, finding that the schooner’s crew had been rescued by the rocket apparatus of Prawle, and that no further help was needed, they started on their return voyage, but in crossing the bar their little craft capsized, and all but two of their number were drowned. Most of them were married men, who leave not only their widows, but also twelve very young children to mourn their loss.’

Read more about this terrible loss that befell the community of Salcombe in the midst of another, the Great War, here, here and here.

Here are some of the graves and centenary commemoration plaques in Salcombe’s graveyard.

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.

This Bridlington-built rowing boat is beautiful – but the owner needs help

This lovely rowing boat built by P Siddall of Bridlington – but its Dutch owner, Ton Jansse, is in need of knowledge and advice on how best to proceed. He has already asked how to replace the missing bits of strake, how the interior should be laid out, what kind of paint to use and what colours would have been used originally.

He’s clearly the kind of chap who wants to do it the right way.

If anyone can fill in some of the gaps in terms of paint and colours, interior and so on – and if anyone has photos of similar boats, please let me know at gmatkin@gmail.com, as usual.

But perhaps the biggest question, I think, is the one about how to obtain the necessary boatbuilding skills. Short of going on a course (desirable, probably, but not always practical), what do readers think an amateur’s best sources are these days?