Boat Building Academy students launch a stripper canoe with sailing rig

Strip-built canoe under inspection at the harbour. Photograph by BBA student and photographer Derek Thompson LRPS BBA Director Tim Gedge presents Chris Smith with his certificate after the launch.  Photograph by Jenny Steer

Chris on his maiden sail.  Photograph by Jenny Steer Chris, Colleen and Cally preparing the EllaJen's maiden voyage. Photograph by Jenny Steer




Boat Building Academy student Chris Smith from Dundee built this Selway-Fisher designed 16ft Canadian sailing canoe, with the help of included Paul Hutchins, who is from the South Devon.

Named EllaJen, the canoe is strip-planked in western red cedar, with a resin-infused inner laminate giving a lighter structure and higher quality finish. Chris chose the design because wanted to build something a bit different, and a canoe he could sail as well paddle fitted the bill.

Find out more about Chris’s canoe at his blog here, and see a photographic diary of the build here.

Before joining the Academy, Chris completed a degree in marine sport technology, which enabled him to kit the canoe out in modern racing dinghy style, with a light-weight carbon-fibre mast and racy rigging and control lines.

Chris has now now applied to take a masters degree in maritime engineering science at Southampton.

Co-worker Paul is busy establishing a workshop and business in Tavistock specialising in traditional and bespoke joinery, traditional boats, shepherd’s huts and gypsy wagons. The business is called Tavy and Tamar Boat Builders and he can be reached at

PS – While we’re thinking about the BBA, don’t forget the raffle to raise money for a permanent workshop at Lyme for Gail McGarva. There are just a few days left, and the prizes include an eight-week woodworking course and £100 towards materials for a personal project piece, a five-day traditional wooden boat building or wooden boat restoration short course, and a day with Gail in her workshop. More than £1000 has been raised so far, and tickets will also be available at the Lyme Gig Regatta on the 14th August – which is also the day of the draw.


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