Tag Archives: canoe

BBA student builts Ted Moores’ Prospector Ranger stripper canoe

Keith Bowers launched his 15ft Prospector Ranger into the water at the Boat Building Academy’s latest launch day in Dedcember.

He used plans published in Moores’ book ‘Canoecraft’, but added a breasthook of his own design and a yoke. He also created two kneeling seats which can be placed anywhere within the canoe to suit the paddler.

Originally from Wales, Keith named the canoe is named Y Ddraig, the Welsh for dragon.

Keith worked in a variety of roles before joining the BBA, including working as a labourer, a bar supervisor and most recently a support officer for Worcestershire County Council – he has a BSc in computer studies.

Now, however, he is to take his new skills to the Underfall Boatyard in Bristol, which is named after a set of underfall sluices created by Isambard Kingdom Brunel to control water levels in Bristol Harbour in 1832.

The yard is a scheduled monument and includes several listed buildings.

In his spare time Keith will work on projects at his home workshop – initially building a traditional clinker dinghy and taking Y Ddraig on the river Avon and Chew Valley lake, which is a site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a national centre for bird watching, and is near where he lives.

Beautiful Surlingham Broad photo wins UK National Parks photo competition

actively yours winning image - Broads canoeist

This mouth-watering photo taken at sunrise on Surlingham Broad in Norfolk by amateur photographer Fraser Johnston has won the UK National Parks‘ Actively Yours photography competition sponsored by sportswear manufacturer Merrell.

The photo was chosen from a field of 334 entries by judges including adventurer and TV presenter Ben Fogle.

The judges were asked to look for people being active in one of the 15 National Parks. Mr Johnston’s prize takes the form of footwear from the company’s spring and summer 2013 range.

Mr Fogle described the photo as breathtakingly beautiful and said that like the National Parks, canoeing is accessible to everyone.


Beale Park Boat Show this weekend

Beale Park Boat Show 2 Beale Park Boat Show 1

The Beale Park Boat Show runs from this Friday to Sunday (7th – 9th June, 2013) at Lower Basildon in Berkshire.

The organisers say that this year’s event is looking good – exhibitor bookings are strong, there new attractions and visitor numbers are expected to be increased as children are now admitted free when accompanied by a full-paying adult.

The show is well known for its traditionally built craft, the Watercraft magazine competition for amateur boatbuilders and its race small boats powered by various cordless tools. There are also displays and demonstrations, free boat trips (subject to availability), and a ‘try a boat’ scheme operated by exhibitors and children’s activities.

The Historical Maritime Society will this year take to the show’s seven acre lake in a 23ft full-size replica of a frigate’s launch to perform evolutions under oars and sail.

On dry land, the re-enactors will return to their marquee to explain aspects of life at sea for the officers and men, and for the ladies at home; who will also be present at the show telling historical tales of what life was like back then.Visitors will have the chance to learn how crews were fed, what they drank, how ship to ship signalling worked and much more.

The Society also plans to show a WWII four-man commando canoe.

I hoping to make it along on the Friday – if I make it, I will certainly call on Lodestar Books publishers of new and neglected nautical writing, the Boat Building Academy, and the International Boatbuilding Training College.

Photographer Matt Atkin visits the stilt village of Kota Kinabalu, Borneo



Globe-trotting brother and photographer Matt Atkin has been on his holiday travels again, this time to Borneo, where he came across the extraordinary stilt-village community of  Kota Kinabalu.

Matt likes to use a miniature or small camera that he can carry easily, but insists that it should produce very high quality images. His current camera is a Fuji Finepix X100.

The photos themselves raise some interesting questions. If the sea around Borneo is sufficiently calm that this kind of near the water stilt living is practical (I wouldn’t want to try it off the coast of Kent!) why are the boats also on stilts? Could it be a precaution to prevent them being stolen?

And how do they get their boats up on those stakes? Presumably it’s all down to the tides, but if so, what’s the benefit of raising them on stilts for part of the time? And how big are the tides here anyway?

It’s interesting to see the use of outriggers made from bits of drainpipe. Home boat builders, please note.

Thanks for some amazing shots Matt! There will be more to come, of the local timber-built boats and of a fish market.

Dylan sails his Duck Punt for the first time – and loves it

Keep Turning Left sailor and film-maker Dylan Winter has launched and successfully sailed his new Duck Punt for the first time.

He’s absolutely delighted with the little sailing canoe, which slips along as nicely as those made by earlier Duck Punters on the Essex coast. And there is the added bonus that he seems to be able to sail and film at the same time without falling in – which I’m pretty sure is what would happen to me if I tried the same trick.

Here on the upper floors of Intheboatshed.net Towers, we’re cheering for several reasons.

It’s always great when someone successfully builds a little boat and enjoys it on the water, and the news seems even better when the builder is in the UK. Round here, amateur boatbuilding projects are nothing like so frequent as they should be, given how much water we have to play with.

I’m pleased, too, that the little Duck Punt shows clearly how effective narrow, flat-bottomed boats can be. The British tend to believe all boats must be round bottomed to be any good, and that therefore building a boat is just too complicated to be worth considering. Dylan’s little punt gives the lie to that myth, just as did all the other duck punts that came before it.

Still more than all this, the project is a tremendous example of cheap and simple sailing.

Here’s Dylan’s page linking to his Duck Punt film; links to John Milgate’s original plans are also available on his website.

PS – Fans of Dylan’s adventures should bag a copy of the latest issue of PBO magazine, which includes an excellent feature-length article by the man himself.

Chris Perkins Macgregor canoe on BBC TV

Scotch Mist in Argyll

Remember Chris Perkin’s award-winning Macgregor canoe built to Iain Oughtred’s design? Well, it has turned up on a BBC series following largely forgotten steamer routes taken by Victorian holiday-makers, and pioneer canoeist Macgregor himself. (I’m sure they’re not forgotten among boating enthusiasts!)

It’s a wonderfully scenic part of the world and it’s great to see Chris’s immaculate little boat being paddled by the presenter, and I think the series will be well worth watching. Broadcast transmissions have been restricted, but it is available to many of us via the BBC iPlayer.

More photos of the boat can be found on Chris’s Flickr photostream.

A boating adventure on the Brière

Brière Marais

Brière Brière Brière

Brière Brière Brière

Click on any of the images for a much larger photo

This is the Brière – an area of lakes and marshes a little inland from the France’s (or should I say Brittany’s) Atlantic seaboard.

Said to extend to 720 square kilometres, it’s a big area of marsh and water created by digging turf in much the same way as our own Norfolk Broads. However, it doesn’t have the long history of intensive exploitation by the holiday trade that is so apparent on the Broads – the big leisure activity here is wildfowling, and I guess that’s the purpose of the many hides.

The marshes are wild and empty – which makes them just lovely. (Click for a Google satellite image.) If you’ve ever wondered what the Broads would be like without the hire boats, the Brière is the best example I’ve yet thought of.

While there are no holiday cruisers, there small flat-bottomed canoes known as chalands that can be hired by the hour. They have almost no rocker and for seats they have thwarts high up in the boat, with the result is that they’re pretty tippy, and must be scary for holiday makers unused to canoes. They don’t paddle too well either – it’s no wonder that the locals use poles or outboards – but who cares? This is a fabulous place to be.

You don’t get any of the clear waymarking that the Broads has, and few clear waterways. The geezer who gives you your paddles also gives you his phone number because he half expects you to get lost, but that’s ok, for you will of course be rescued for a consideration.

He doesn’t explain how he’s going to find you in such an extensive labyrinth, however.

I gather the tradition is that the locals navigate by the churches, but our hirer gave me a satellite photo with suggested routes on it. I still became baffled after about half an hour and decided not to go too far: if you decide to spend a whole day on these empty marshes, I’d strongly suggest taking a smart phone with a GPS facility (and perhaps some spare batteries) so you can find your way using Google Maps.

You know you’re in a wild place when you see signs like the one above, which I found in an earth closet on an island in the marshes. As a freelance journalist, I naturally enjoyed the use of the word ‘commission’. And for our American friends, here’s a photo of a turkey that came to see me off…