Category Archives: Working boats

Bantry Bay yoles and the Atlantic Challenge

ATLANTIC CHALLENGE TEASER from Betel Studio on Vimeo.

Thanks to legendary boat designer François Vivier for spotting this one!

Every two year Atlantic Challenge International sponsors a friendly contest of seamanship in Bantry Bay gigs. They are held in a different host country each time. The events began in 1986, when gigs from France and the USA competed under the Statue of Liberty – now 12 nations and involved and 55 Bantry Bay gigs have been built worldwide.

The gigs are wooden replicas of late 18th century longboats, and are modelled after an existing original gig left behind in Bantry Bay Ireland by the invading French fleet of 1796,. The boats are said to have exhilarating performance.

Read more here: Atlanticchallenge.org.

Fishing smacks racing in strong winds at Mersea Week 2014

My thanks to Paul Mullings for finding this one!

PS – here’s another video of sailing in a nearby spot in Duck Punts earlier this year.

Nick Smith Clovelly picarooner hull for sale

West Country boatbuilder Nick Smith tells me that this carvel-built Clovelly picarooner hull constructed last year is for sale. Here’s the story from Nick:

‘I planked and framed this carvel hull a year ago, for a customer who changed his mind. It’s 3/4 inch Douglas fir on New Forest oak, and all copper fastened of course.

I took the sections and dimensions off an existing Clovelly picarooner, name and builder unknown. But she was a sweet shape and fair too. I had thought I would have to loft the hull fully, but on looking at the body sections I took off the old hull and the fairness of the original I realised it wasn’t necessary - she was built fair and hadn’t gone out of shape either.

That was born out when I turned the hull down side up, and found I did not need to ‘scuff off’ the planking.

I used a traditional belt sander sparingly then went all over with an orbital sander and 80 grit - there was no need to longboard it to fair it, which was very pleasing.

The original picarooners were, as I understand it, lost ship’s boats that arrived here with the Spanish square-rigged ships of the Armada. That fleet was chased around the unhospitable British coastline, anticlockwise, and most foundering on unknown rocks with an onshore blow.

Some got as far as the North Devon coast only to be wrecked and their tenders washed up near Clovelly, the locals of course picked them up, used and found them to be quick under lugs’l and used them to catch the silver darlings (herring), and quick to sail back to port loaded to the risers in fish, ready to be unloaded and quickly sailed back out.

Picarooner, as far as I can ascertain, is a corruption of a Spanish word meaning ‘sea chaser’ or ‘sea robber’.

The inside of the hull had three coats of marine grey primer, and the outside ditto under the waterline, while the topsides are up to two coats of the undercoat stage.

I would give the topsides two coats of enamel for launch, use her for a season then sand and recoat. Needs to settle in.

The hull is perfect for a 10 to 15hp diesel inboard, tiller steering, three athwartship seats and basic fit out. It could even carry a loose-footed tan lugs’l too !

The hull is heavily built, stable and suitable for fishing, picknicking and general messing about.

If you are interested in buying the hull please ring me and ask, and even come and have a look and a yarn, the boat is under a tarp at my workshop, which is near Ringwood Dorset.

If you’re interested in the boat, Nick’s can be reached on  07827644223, or via the email address on his website.

First time boatbuilder Andrew Bartlett builds a John Milgate Duck Punt

Down on our South Coast, Andrew Bartlett has built a Duck Punt to designer John Milgate’s plans, and is delighted with it! Here’s what he says – and there’s also a short video at the bottom of this post.

I find myself very drawn to these little boats, not least because they appeal to my sense that boating and sailing should be made affordable and available to all. However, I do worry that you often seen them without buoyancy bags or built-in buoyancy, and I fear for the lone Duck Punt sailor who gets into trouble. On the other hand, these boats happily sail in water that even a small person could happily stand up in. Wear your buoyancy aids and stay safe folks…

Anyway, following that moment of worry, here’s what Andrew has to say:

‘During the dark winter months I was viewing some of my favourite sailing websites and forums, was much taken with Dylan Winter’s description of his Duck Punt build and the pleasure he derived from sailing it. I found his enthusiasm persuasive even to the extent of building one myself while having no confidence at all in my competence to do so.

‘I watched the videos and blogs of Dylan Winter, Rusty Knorr and Stan Richards through Gavin Atkin’s fine website Intheboatshed. I referred also to the latter’s helpful book Ultrasimple Boatbuilding. I also received very helpful advice from John Milgate whose plans and building tips proved invaluable.

‘My build wasn’t a light one. It needs two able people to lift it. I decided to follow the more traditional (but heavier) method of building because I would be using it in the creeks of Chichester Harbour, which has soft landfalls but also some sharp flint stony ones, which I felt could damage a lighter build.

‘I do however appreciate the benefits of a lighter build so I am keeping the jig and frames in case I ever feel the urge to make one.

‘I used 9mm exterior plywood for the bottom and 5mm for the topsides and included a second topside as per the plans but the second topside plank was also 9mm. I used some mahogany recycled from an old chest of drawers at the bow and the actual pattern of the bow and stern was the best I could manage according to my meagre skills as best I could.

‘I am thrilled at producing a craft that is watertight and appears to row, paddle and sail rather well. I am still in the early stages of getting used to sailing using an oar rather than a rudder.

‘I have called the boat DP2, as I found an abandoned duck punt in the mud in Chichester Harbour when I was 16 and had a lot of fun with it, before it ended up as a drinking trough on my family’s farm.’

John Milgate’s plans are available from Dylan Winter’s Keep Turning Left website.

PS – In the last couple of weeks Dylan (mentioned above) has enjoyed and endured the best and worst sails of his life… read his weblog here.

Volta Mallorca – campaigner Giacomo de Stefano to circumnavigate Mallorca by llaut

Volta Mallorca is a campaigning circumnavigation of Mallorca in a beautiful engineless traditional wooden llaut, Nova Catalina, by tireless campaigner Giacomo die Stefano and friends.

They aim to raise awareness about water-related issues, and to learn about and share the potential for sustainable projects.

Giacomo and his pals set off on their sail- and oar-powered expedition on the 27th; in the meantime, here are some photos from a trial sail last year.

Ruel Parker writes about the Chesapeake Bay brogans

Brogan lines

I hadn’t heard about the log-built Chesapeake Bay brogan before, but I’m very struck by their beautiful lines and proportions. Of course I realise that the low sheerline isn’t there to make the boat attractive but to enable the oyster fishermen to reach the water to do their work, but still…

Read all about them in traditional boat author, historian, designer and boatbuilder Reuel Parker’s article on the Woodenboat magazine website. Here’s a sample:

‘I learned about brogans from MV Brewerton’s excellent book Chesapeake Bay Log Canoes and Bugeyes. While bugeyes were large—up to 80? on deck — the brogans were small — around 30? to 35? on deck. I wanted to design a modern version of the brogan—adapted for cold-molded construction for shoal-draft cruising — but didn’t get around to doing it until December of 2011.

Brogans were double-ended, beamy, of moderate displacement, and shoal-bodied with centerboards. They carried free-standing masts, very raked, with the mizzen raked markedly more than the main.

‘The only lines drawing I have ever found for a brogan came from Brewerton’s book (shown below). They show a very lovely, nearly symmetrical, easily-driven double-ended hull of excellent proportions.’