Tag Archives: launch

BBA student launch, December 2012


This is photographic evidence that this year’s winter student launch at the Boat Building Academy really did manage to take place in decent bright, if chilly, weather despite the variable autumn we’ve had.

Apart from the students and staff, the shots show the launch of an Iain Oughtred-designed Fulmar named Florence after the builder’s daughter born a week ago and also a Humble Bee pram dinghy also designed by Oughtred.

Eight boats built by the class of March 2012 hit the water, and details of the boats and the students who built them are here, and there are more photos here.

The BBC and ITV were in attendance, and their reports are here (the launch report starts about 21 minutes in) and here.

Boat Building Academy students build a good looking Joel White-designed Haven 12 1/2

Boat Building Academy Haven 12 and a half

Boat Building Academy Haven 12 and a half Gary Thompson and helpers Boat Building Academy Haven 12 and a half

This lovely-looking shiny new boat is a Joel White-designed Haven 12 1/2 built in epoxy glass and foam with a traditional fit-out and spars. She was made by three Boat Building Academy students, Gary Thompson, Yoann Henric and Nick Lawther (see second photo).

Sadly the Haven 12 1/2 was one of two boats that did not make the water on the students’ summer launch day – Lyme’s harbour master decided the wind was a bit too frisky.

Gary is at the far left in the second photo; he is to start work with Wessex Resin’s technical expert David Johnson; Yoann in the centre of the photo has returned to France to find work near Marseille,  and Nick plans to set up a small boatyard in Australia in a few months.

PS – On launch day boat builder, occasional instructor, very good friend of the academy and former Royal Marines sargeant major Roy Gollop donned his bowler hat and did the honours in getting the twelve boats organised and down to the harbour with something approaching military promptness.

Boat builders? Military promptness? It sounds marvellous if slightly implausible, but  a bowler-hatted Mr Gollop is probably not someone to argue with!

Boat Building Academy Roy Gollop Launch

Film of Nick Smith and pals timbering out the steam launch Puffin

Nick Smith and friends timbering out a clinker built hull - in this case for the steam launch Puffin

This piece of YouTube film shows how Nick Smith and his colleagues timber out a clinker built hull using green oak steamed in a steam chest in Nick’s workshop.

It looks like damned hard work to me, but no-one can say the result isn’t worth the effort.

The only other thing I’ll say is that I edited this down from some film Nick sent over – and this will be the last time I’ll use Windows Live Movie Maker. It froze and crashed so many times I couldn’t count them, the only thing that got the software working each time was to go into the task manager and close it down that way. It quite spoiled my day – but hey, now we can all see how the professionals do this kind of thing (timber out a boat, I mean, not edit a YouTube clip!).

Nick comes from Devon, learned boatbuilding the traditional way and specialises in new builds in clinker and carvel for sail, motor and rowing power from 8ft to 28ft with a special emphasis on West Country style and design, and also takes on repairs and refits from 25ft to 50ft. These days he’s based in Hampshire, and can be contacted by email at nick_smith_boatbuilder@yahoo.com and by phone on 07786 693370.

Pier traditional and historic boat events this weekend launch British Tourism Week


Painting party on the pier

Poster for Painting Party on the Quay at Newlyn this weekend

National Historic Ships has worked with British Tourism Week to make sure historic vessels have a central place in Party on the Pier (POTP) – a series of events around Britain on Saturday 12the March to mark the launch of British Tourism Week.

The event was conceived as a celebration of piers including jetties, harbours, river piers and landing stages, but also involves a wide range of vessels including the steam-powered passenger ship Shieldhall, Cornish lugger Ripple, motor tug Touchstone and Humber super sloop Spider T.

There may well be something going on near you:

Greenwich Historic Ships Harbour Project aims to make East Greenwich Coaling Jetty a public heritage facility enabling historic ships to visit and dock in London. The GHSH team will put on a tented exhibition on the history project and proposals for the pier, with handouts by the boat crews and the opportunity to sign up as a supporter.

Discover Lincolnshire Weekend event Historic Fleet vessel Spider T will be open from 10am-5pm on Sat 12th and Sun 13th March. Owner Mal Nicholson will be giving talks, opening a new library filled with many rare book copies of historic Humber vessels, people and places, and launching the ‘Friends of Spider T’ support group. Artist Lesley Everatt will be exhibiting some of her work, and Chris Horan author of the recently launched book Humber Sail and History will be on hand.

Heritage Quay, Newson’s Boatyard and Waveney District Council Newson’s Boat Yardwill showcase Lowestoft’s maritime heritage. Vessels on show at Heritage Quay will include sidewinder fishing ship Mincarlo and MTB102, a display by the International Boat Building College at Lowestoft and a sample engine from a steam ship; Newsons Yard will meanwhile be exhibiting vessels involved in the Dunkirk evacuation now under restoration, and there will be a display on the steam fishing vessel Lydia Eva.

Southampton Pier & Docks’ contribution is a tour of maritime Southampton starting from Kuti’s Royal Thai Pier restaurant, including the pier itself, the Titanic Museul and Southampton Maritime Museum before moving on by bus to see the Shieldhall.

Pooley Bridge Pier, Ullswater will see a Tea Party on the Pier from 10am and 3pm, with hosts in 1930’s costumes. Light refreshments are being supplied by Dalemain Historic House and the local RNLI group, and scheduled steamers calling at Pooley Bridge that day will be decorated with bunting and flags.

Newlyn Harbour & Quay Luggers and traditional boats in The Old Harbour at Newlyn are getting a fresh coat of paint for the new season, and  artists will be on the Quay painting the scene. A Newlyn Archive will put on a photographic display of the 14th century harbour and its luggers in their heyday. All are welcome to bring their cameras, canvas, brushes, paints and sketch pads and join in. Visitors with memories from the past will also be able to have them recorded.

Gillingham Pier, Kent Visit light vessel LV21 and hear sea shanties performed by the Hog Eye Men and music by the Big Fish Street Band. Visitors can make paper boats to their ever growing fleet, try their hand at ‘porthole art’ or learn Morse code, and meet people behind local restoration projects including the paddle steamer Medway Queen.

Rochester Pier, Kent will offer free river trips and vessel tours from the Sun Pier, The Esplanade at Rochester on 18-20 March, 10am – 3pm, on the motor tug Touchstone.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is offering half price entry to the dockyard and the Spinnaker Tower.

Ben Wales’ clinker launch restoration

Ben Wales working on 18ft clinker launch Mary

Ben Wales working on 18ft clinker launch Mary

The new stem, and the old stem piece and apron removed

Some time when you’re sitting in the warm, spare a thought for dedicated Ben Wales working when he can in the open air during this winter restoring his 18ft clinker-built motor launch Mary. While you’re at it, wish him luck and good weather.

Here’s what he wrote a few days ago:

‘Here is the latest update on my restoration on Mary. The work has been slow – the weather held us up for over a month as it was just too cold, and before that it was wet whenever we wanted to work on her outside.

‘The stem has now been replaced in English grown oak as the old one was badly worn and soft. Without a doubt this is the most complex and time consuming job we have done on the launch, and all without  power tools or power.

‘First, a template had to be cut out for the bottom and top stem piece and then drawn out on a new in 4in thick oak plank where the two were cut out.

‘The lower part of the stem, which joins with the kee, was first shaped to fit and then holes were drilled out for stainless steel bolts made the job. It had to be scarphed on each end, and a mixture of paint and putty was applied for packing.

‘The top part of the apron was also replaced and that was cut and shaped before the top stem piece was fitted.

‘While the upper part of the stem was fitted we had a quite a task to shape it, as we tried to follow the original patten precisely – but found that had been cut wrong. So after more shaping it fitted far better than the original it replaced.

‘The next task is to fit the gunwales and knees, and to reframe the topsides. When the Weather gets warmer and I have saved up some money, I will purchase the timber to plank her topsides.


Thanks Ben – I’ll be thinking of you at least!

For an earlier post about this project, click here.

BBA student launch day December 2010

Boat Building Academy class of March 2010 in crab and lobster boat Witch of Weymouth

Boat Building Academy class of March 2010 in crab and lobster boat Witch of Weymouth. They make a heroic load for a 14ft boat

Boat Building Academy crab and lobster boat Witch of Weymouth Boat Building Academy student launch 2010 Boat Building Academy student launch 2010

More photos from the day – explanations will no doubt follow in the next few days

Boat Building Academy principal Yvonne Green has written to tell us about the student launch day at Lyme last Thursday. If you’re outside the UK, you may not know what we’ve had a generally horrible winter up to now – but that’s the reason for Yvonne’s enormous relief that once again the big launch event was blessed with good weather.

Here’s what she has to say:

‘It was a another brilliant launch day with boats and bright sunshine. We’ve had so much luck over the years that the Great Boat Builder in the Sky must be on our side

‘Nine students launched five boats, including Witch of Weymouth, and one student proposed to his girlfriend, on bended knee, in the middle of the harbour and on his boat’s first time out… It was a risky business but all went well and she said yes.

‘The boats were:

  • cold-moulded 13ft 6in electric motor launch
  • glued clinker 14ft Whitehall skiff
  • strip planked 15ft Chestnut canoe
  • 18ft strip planked gaff rigged daysailer
  • traditional clinker 14ft Dorset crab and lobster boat Witch of Weymouth

‘The BBC filmed Witch of Weymouth’s launch because of a piece they’d run about her build earlier in the year, but the other boats deserved just as much attention.

‘The motor launch is now on her way to Australia, the canoe was last seen heading for Norwich on a roof rack and the daysailer is stored in a garage until the summer. Witch of Weymouth will grace the workshop until after Christmas, when she’ll go home to Portland before heading off to the National Maritime Museum Cornwall at Falmouth.

‘Attached are some photographs of the day – our favourite is the class of March 2010 all looking jolly in Witch of Weymouth. More will follow next week.’

Chris Partridge of Rowing for Pleasure has more on the Whitehall skiff and it’s builder’s amazing public proposal here. There’s also a Youtube video including photos from the workshop here.

Thanks Yvonne! We’re looking forward to hearing more shortly. Also if anyone has any further photos, Youtube videos or anything else they’d like to send in, please let me know at gmatkin@gmail.com.

An extraordinary launch at Lyme for Gail McGarva’s lerret Littlesea


boat, boat building academy, clinker, dorset, gail mcgarva, launch, lerret, littlesea, lyme regis, vera

boat, boat building academy, clinker, dorset, gail mcgarva, launch, lerret, littlesea, lyme regis, vera boat, boat building academy, clinker, dorset, gail mcgarva, launch, lerret, littlesea, lyme regis, vera

Launch day for Gail McGarva’s lerret Littlesea. Those Boat Building Academy folks certainly know how to organise a party!

Gail McGarva’s lerret named Littlesea was launched at Lyme with all due ceremony on the 31st July, during the town’s Lifeboat Fortnight. Vera, the last seaworthy original lerret built in 1923 and the model for the new boat, was in attendance, along with two local racing gigs and what from the photos looks like half the town.

The lerret is a boat wholly native to Lyme Bay going back to 1682, and is a beautiful beamy double-ended clinker vessel of 17ft, built in elm on oak. Designed to be launched and landed from the area’s steeply-shelving stony beaches, lerrets have remained virtually unchanged from their beginning.

Although primarily used for mackerel fishing, lerrets also earned such respect for their seaworthiness that in the early 19th century the newly formed RNLI adopted two for service as lifeboats. Archive material recounting their stories of saving lives at sea is said to be extensive and quite remarkable, and Littlesea was launched during Lifeboat Fortnight in order to celebrate the connection.

As an earlier post about the project explained, Gail was awarded a scholarship to build a lerret from the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, funded by the Royal Warrant Holders Association.

Gail built this boat by eye – that is, without designer drawings – under the mentorship of Roy Gollop,one of the last remaining boatbuilders in Dorset with this particular skill.

Littlesea is to be actively used as a training boat to enable young people to gain confidence at sea,develop their rowing skills and work together as team.

The new lerret and procession, complete with an oar salute from Lyme Regis Gig Club, journeyed from the Boat Building Academy,which  housed the building of the boat, to the harbour slipway. The boat bearers and rowers were dressed in Sunday best of white shirts and waistcoats in a deliberate echo of boatyard launches of the past, and were accompanied by a brass band.

Gail gave a speech and presented Roy with a traditional yard foreman’s bowler hat in appreciation of his guidance and support, and the new lerret was named by Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust president William Gunn. The boat was blessed, a local songwriter performed a song for the occasion, and the boat was then carried through an archway of Cornish pilot gig oars, scattered with sea salt for safe passage at sea and launched behind the protective arm of the harbour’s sea wall, known as the Cobb.

Littlesea was then guided out to sea by the RNLI lifeboat The Pearl of Dorset, accompanied by Vera and escorted by Lyme’s two Cornish pilot gigs,which were also build by Gail in 2008 and 2009.

Littlesea is the local name for the Fleet behind Chesil Beach, as Gail learned from 90-year old Majorie Ireland. Marjorie’s family worked the lerrets along Dorset’s shores.

There are many references to lerrets in Basil Greenhill’s Working boats of Britain: their shape and purpose and also a nice description, a drawing and photos in his Chatham directory of inshore craft.