BBA student Francis Clarke builds a Bear Mountain Boats stripper canoe

Derek Thompson LRPS - Frank Clarke Chestnut Canoe - Boat Building Academy

Derek Thompson LRPS - Frank Clarke Chestnut Canoe Derek Thompson LRPS - Frank Clarke - Bob's Special - Chestnut Canoe Company Frank Clarke Bob's Special canoe - bow cramp method

Paul Dyer - Frank Clarke Canoe

Students on the long course at the Boat Building Academy often build a canoe or kayak rather than a boat, and that’s what Frank Clarke from Norfolk did this year, says regular BBA correspondent Emma Brice.

A professionally trained canoeist – but lacking a canoe – Frank chose to build a Bob’s Special – a 15ft open canoe from the Chestnut Canoe Company catalogue.

The canoe was modified for strip planking and drawn by Steve Killing who works with Bear Mountain Boats in the US. More information can be seen on the Bear Mountain Boats website.

Frank’s canoe is strip planked with Western red cedar and has oak rubbing strips, thwarts, decks and fittings.

Usually when building the hull the strips are held to the mould with staples until the glue cures, and then the staples are removed. However, Frank wanted to avoid the marks that the staples leave, and so he invented his own tool, which he named a ‘bow cramp’ for keeping the strips in place as the glue set. It worked a treat: click here to see the photographic diary of the build.

Frank says his project will always be a reminder of his time at Lyme Regis, as well as a demonstration of his craftsmanship.

Before the course Frank worked in various roles, from customer service to sales and taught English in China, gained qualifications in outdoor activities and completed a fine art degree in sculpture. However, he became seriously ill and was paralysed from the waist down for two years: on his recovering Frank joined the course in order to regain his career direction and re-energise his creativity.

Since graduating Frank has decided to become a teacher and hopes to pass on his skills and interest in woodworking and fine art.

The first photo of Frank’s bow cramp method was taken by BBA Administrator Gemma Stunt.

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