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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?

The Fishing and Heritage Museum, Folkestone

We dropped into the Fishing and Heritage Museum at Folkestone at the weekend – it’s crammed with interesting objects such as boat models – but the best things the little museum has is a fine set of old photographs, and helpful volunteers ready to answer questions.

I was intrigued that so many models of fishing vessels were of boats that had been built in Cornwall. The answer, it turns out, is that Folkestone’s boats used to be beach boats launched off the beach and designed to land and be hauled up at the end of a trip – like many of those elsewhere along the South Coast. However, once the harbour was built in the early 19th Century a different type of boat was needed. Such vessels were not built locally and so Cornish boats were brought in.

Here are some favourites… Some brave lifeboatmen and fishermen, a grand old boy with his melodeon and dog, some models and a priceless bit of local weather lore.

Bird of Dawning is relaunched, after 80 years

Bird of Dawning is one of the delights of sailing on the Swale – a pleasing and elegant example of the kind of yacht East Coast smack builders would sometimes build when not building vessels for fishing, shrimping or oystering. She lives just off in Oare Creek, just off Faversham Creek, and is a regular on the water.

Julian Mannering wrote this week to say she has been relaunched after some major work, and included a photo from this week’s relaunch together with a shot from her original launch at Paglesham, in July 1937. Here’s what he had to say:

‘Julian and Amanda Mannering’s Bird of Dawning was relaunched at Hollowshore, off the Swale, on Monday 24 April after extensive repairs and refitting.

Bird of Dawning was originally launched 80 years ago this year from the yard of Frank Shuttlewood at Paglesham on the river Roach and was built on the lines, above the waterline anyway, of a Paglesham smack.

‘Time inevitably takes its toll and considerable work had to be carried out this winter on her decks, covering boards, stem and stern to bring her back to strength. Tie bars were fitted under the side decks and some 500 bronze screws employed to refasten her original Siberian larch decks which were then recaulked with oakum and payed with a locally-made pitch. Finally, a new iroko capping rail was fitted and a little sheer added astern.

‘The work was carried out in the black shed at Hollowshore by Dan Tester, owner of Hollowshore Services, and Nick Relf who between them did a brilliant job finding solutions for tricky problem wherever they were encountered. They truly breathed new life into an old ship.

‘She looks like a new vessel now and is fit and ready for many more years sailing.

‘Once back in commission Julian and Amanda plan for some East Coast cruising, including a short cruise up the Medway in July to show a group of military historians the route of de Ruyter’s attack on Chatham 350 years ago. The Swale Match is in the diary for 29 July and then it’s hoped to have a summer cruise to the near continent.’

For the Old Gaffer’s Association’s list of vessels built by Shuttlewood, click here. There’s a recent photo of Shuttlewood’s shed here, and some scraps of history here and here.

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