Boatbuilding Academy student’s boat gets pride of place at the NMM

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Boatbuilding Academy staff and students are brimming with pride because graduate Marc Chivers’ full-size replica of an early 20th century pilot punt is now the centre-piece of an exhibition at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, London. (See more photos of Marc’s boat here.)

The exhibition, The Boats That Built Britain, explores our island nation’s intimate connection to the sea through great maritime stories from the 15th to 20th centuries, and is running in conjunction with the BBC4 series Sea Fever.

The show’s being staged in partnership with National Historic Ships and is accompanied by a series of interesting-sounding lectures – read more about the show here. It runs from the 8th May until November, and I gather a podcast interview with Marc will appear on the Museum website shortly.

The TV series is well worth watching, even if Tom Cunliffe’s somewhat presentation is at times a bit to gung-ho and even and at times a mite misleading. (British sailors had struggled to deal with Barbary pirates whose ships went well to windward long before the Pickle see an earlier post on this issue, but TC chose to over-simplicate that point.) No doubt hyped-up presentation is the modern way and just what the production folks wanted.

These trifles apart, these shows are still well worth half an hour of anyone’s time. The Sea Fever programmes telling the story of HMS Pickle and the Matthew are on the BBC iPlayer as I write, if you can get them directly or via a proxy.

Marc’s boat, Defiant of Lyme Regis, was built as part of the BBA’s 38-week boatbuilding course. I gather Marc lives just a few miles away from us in Kent – so I must try to meet him some time. His website, which includes the story of how he transported Defiant to the exhibition, is at

Particular thanks to Emma Brice at the BBA at Lyme for the story and photos.

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2 thoughts on “Boatbuilding Academy student’s boat gets pride of place at the NMM”

  1. Sorry Ed; but I disagree. I enjoy Mr Cunliffe's tasty use of phrase..It's like he's just come below after being on deck all day and pulls them out of his old Sou'wester. Good to hear the Salty Dog.

    Most modern presenters ram it down your throat with juvenile enthusiasm and keep recapping every five minutes …Quick…! Nurse will be here in five minutes.

    1. It's enjoyable all right – but blithely saying that the Navy's old boys had never seen a ship or boat sail to windward is just nonsense. Heck, Dan Snow recently told us that an entire 17C British Government was toppled because they'd failed to stop the Barbary pirates, to the extent that the pirates were one night able to steal away the population of a Cornish seaport.

      The real question is this: how did it come to pass that the Admiralty didn't use the knowledge much earlier?

      Btw, are we to get a pair of jaunty sea boots and reefer jackets each? Hopefully we would still be allowed in the Shipwright's Arms…


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