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Small sailing cruiser modelled on a Zuiderzee fishing boat

Dutch sailmaker and weblogger Frank van Zoest (see earlier posts) has sent over this rather fetching photo. Here’s what he says:

Hi Gavin,

This picture was sent by an friendly customer. The boat isbased on a fishing boat from the Zuiderzee, the Staverse Jol. It was built by Bart Jan Bats, who also builds the BJ 17, a fine lugger designed by Nigel Irens.

The customer wanted an uncluttered interior with no frames, so the boat is built with foam, glass epoxy, and the planking is oak veneer.

The builder went far into details, and even used endgrain veneer for the top of the stemhead.

The mast is carbon so the owner can easily take off the rig and use her as a motor launch.

The magazine Spiegel der Zeilvaart ran a long article about her and published a photo of her on its cover.

Thanks Frank!

The Wreck of the SS London

Simon Wills has written to say that he has just published a book about the SS London disaster of January 1866, a very famous disaster of its time. It’s one that is sometimes said to have added to the pressure to make sbhips safer, and which led to the introduction of the Plimsoll Line.

Here’s a relevant paragraph from Simon’s book:

‘The initial public reaction to the loss of the robust and modern SS London was an understandable grief, but mixed with disbelief. How could this possibly have happened to a luxury liner so close to home? The number of dead was uncertain and quoted figures initially varied widely. In fact, at least 243 people had died – 167 passengers and 76 crew – although the precise figure may never be known. Even the press struggled to break the news… The reaction to the loss of the SS London washed over the country like a huge melancholy wave – incredulity, personal grief, lessons in faith, national sorrow, a charitable fund, memorabilia, poetry, sermons, criticisms, and messages in bottles.’

Simon adds that one of the more poignant things about the disaster was that desperate passengers who knew they were going to die put messages to their loved ones in bottles, which were washed ashore and then found…

It’s interesting to compare how people reacted to a national disaster in Victorian times – nobody sued over the London, for example, and people were keen to buy SS London disaster commemorative mugs! We do things differently these days…

Of course the disaster was now almost exactly 150 years ago… Apart from Sam’s book I wonder whether it will be marked in any way?

Readers may remember that some time ago I learned Sam Larner’s version of a broadside ballad written about the disaster.

PS – Nigel S  has pointed out that astonishing Dundee poet William Topaz McGonagall wrote one of his legendary doggerel ballads about the disaster. It’s well worth checking out – and it comes with some interesting details…

BBA students build a Iain Oughtred Guillemot

The Boat Building Academy autumn student launch marking the end of the BBA’s 38-week long course this year took place just two days after much of the south-west of England had been battered by winds and a month’s worth of rain.

But still the sun rose, the winds tempered, and the folks gathered to celebrate the students’ achievements, and to mark the Academy’s 20th boat launch. They seem to be lucky with the weather, the BBA.

The eight students came from a range of nationalities, backgrounds and ages from 18 to 60.

On each course a range of boats are built using a number of construction techniques in order to give students the biggest breadth of knowledge and hands-on experience possible.

This year, the first boat into the water was an Iain Oughtred Guillemot built by students Harry Evans, Toby Whillock and Connor Pannell with contributions from the rest of the group.

The boat, named The Last Leg  is cold moulded, with a strong and light monocoque structure.  The lightweight laminated transverse floors, which are thin and low profile, serve a double purpose as structural support and bearers for the sole boards.

Often in a traditional boat the thwart riser is one continuous longitudinal structural member that gets steamed in, but on Harry’s boat the thwarts sit on single shorter pieces of timber.

In the area of the gunwhales, the boat’s sheerstrake was vacuum bagged in place to ensure good and consistent cramping pressure on the veneer while the glue cured.

The gunwhale follows the style of traditionally built clinker built boats, but with blocks in place of the timber ends to reinforce as well as add an aesthetic appeal. This was achieved by gluing blocks to the inside of the planking at the sheerline.  The blocks hold the inwhale off of the planking adding structural strength to the gunwhale, an area of the boat which will see plenty of knocks and wear over its lifetime.

The hull was a brilliant red,  painted around the transom taking in the plank ends.  The thwarts and stern sheets are oak.  Sole-boards are Douglas fir and the mast and spars spruce.

The dinghy is same design, but very different both in construction and look to the clinker-built Guillemot student Regina Frei built during the September 2015 course.

Harry left school at 16 knowing he wanted to work with his hands but not knowing in which industry. He worked for a time for Permateek, a Poole Company specialising in synthetic boat decking and teak removal, and during this time realised he wanted to work in boat building – but his progress was stopped in its tracks by a serious motorbike accident in 2014, in which he sustained a bad leg injury.

Although he has now completed the course, he has to undergo more leg operations before he can properly start his career.

Toby is a scientist and former Chartered Engineer, with experience in the mining, steel, and offshore industries.  Toby wants to leave the laboratory behind him and head to a boatyard.  Connor, who had originally thought he would become and engineer, begins work for Spirit Yachts in February.

Old boats, traditional boats, boat building, restoration, the sea and the North Kent Coast – Gavin Atkin's weblog