BBA students build a Whitehall rowing skiff


Boat Building Academy students Luke Cooper, Casey Milburn and Seby Rubatto built this 14ft 9in by 4ft Whitehall rowing skiff made of glued plywood this summer.

Luke, who is from Devizes, was 18 years old when he joined the academy and had just completed A levels – the story goes that he met BBA graduate Ian Thomson at the Southampton Boat Show and  immediately decided to sign up for the long course.

(Ian was at the show exhibiting his now well known Nestaway boats range of nesting boats, which he’d started to develop when he was on the 38-week BBA course.)

When Luke visited the academy for an interview before joining the course, he noticed a similar Whitehall skiff that 2010 season student Matt Cotterill was building at the time, and so Luke decided to build the same boat on his course. There’s a diary of Matt’s build here.

The boat itself was built from a Robert A Pittaway design obtained from the Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut, and appears in the book 87 Boat Designs – a Catalogue of Small Boat Plans from Mystic Seaport. The plan dates from 1973, and the original boat is said to be still in service at Mystic.

The book Aak to Zumbra- a Dictionary of the World’s Watercraft states that a Whitehall skiff was originally used on the Columbia River in the mid-19th century.

I gather Luke is pleased with the boat and plans to keep it as a rowing boat for himself and his family to use.

Before relocating to Lyme, Casey lived in Antibes in south-eastern France, raced Optimists and Lasers, and from the age of 15 began spending his holidays teaching sailing at Club Nautique D’Antibes.

He completed his Yachtmaster qualification at the age of 18, and then spent three years crewing on super yachts before attending at the BBA.

Casey has returned to France where he is working with friends developing a boat repairs and maintenance business.

Seby came to the BBA from Trieste in Italy – it was his first visit to the UK, and so he spent his time both learning boat building and improving his English. Seby has now returned to Italy and is looking forward to starting a career in boat building.

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