Whenever boat designers get together there’s one topic nearly always crops up – the problems that arise when some builder or other changes plans.
Other groups have also have their gripes – I know touring bands talk about the comfort that is afforded by having the bigger engine option in their vans and office workers complain about IT.
But changing a set of carefully worked out plans goes to the heart of what designers do when they make the mass of small decisions that together make a functioning and often good looking boat. So a designer’s anxiety mounts when someone announces that they’re making a change.
Often, the changer is an experienced person (such as Faversham’s Alan Thorne), the change is minor and everything works out fine – but so often that anxiety often turns to dismay when an unlooked for modification turns out to be disastrous for the builder’s project.
And so it was in the example Michael Storer quotes in this article. I commend it to first time and amateur boat builders – and I commend Mik’s thoughts on the issue to other designers.
Boat designer John Owles has written to say that he has set up a new website, Summer Boat Design.
John has had a lifetime with boats: he learned to sail at the age of six years and spent childhood summers exploring the creeks of North Norfolk, and has since had a working life as a professional seaman and boat builder working with many kinds of vessels.
He’s done a lot of traditional wooden boat building, including designing and producing small traditional dinghies, designing sailing rigs, and repairing classic yachts, smacks, bawleys and a German WW2 schnellboot (E-boat).
He’s been going through his old plans and re-working them digitally – which meand they can be cut using form. Being digitised, many of the components can be CNC cut, which makes construction much easier and quicker. He says:
‘After consuming considerable quantities of midnight oil, I have re-drawn, in digital form, a number of my archive of previously hand drawn traditional ‘sail & oar’ boat designs.
‘We will be building two of these designs, Owlet and Windchime, commencing in a couple of weeks’ time.’
He’s promised to send pictures when the two boats are completed.
Oxfordshire-based Philip Burton is building a Julie skiff – and once it’s done we’re naturally very much looking forward to being able to call by to see it in action on the river. Here’s what he says:
‘I have spent the last few months building my first boat which I choose to be a Julie skiff.
‘I live in Oxford uk and I’m sure you will be aware that the river Thames runs right through our beautiful university city, so I’m really looking forward to getting the boat in the water very soon.
‘I am very impressed how easy it was to follow your plans and the basic hull came together relatively quickly, and I learned a lot about stitch and glue and fibreglass techniques.
‘I used 6mm marine ply and I was quite surprised by how much it weighed, and also how much it blunted my planes and chisels. But I guess that’s the price to pay for using ply that will last a long time in wet and soggy conditions.’