Ant Mace skin on frame boat building courses at the historic Underfall Yard, Bristol

Ant Mace has been in touch to talk about some skin-on-frame boatbuilding classes that he’s running this summer. Here’s what he has to say:

I started building skin-on-frame boats out of personal interest alongside my other restoration work. It’s now the majority of my work. Mainly sea kayaks, but also some canoes and a skin-on-frame version of an Adirondack guideboat, which is a joy to row!

I’m running three kayak-making classes this summer. These are happening in July, August and September in my new workshop at Underfall Yard in Bristol. Students can choose between a modern design or traditional West Greenland-style sea kayak. Full dates are here

I love the combination of the traditional wood frame and modern skin materials. We make the frames from Western Red Cedar or Spruce with steam bent oak ribs, always bending by eye without moulds.  Each frame is custom-fitted to it’s paddler, and lashed and pegged together in the traditional way – without any nails or glue. They’re skinned by sewing on a ballistic nylon, then coated with a 2-part urethane (specifically formulated for skin boats). 

The finished boats end up beautifully lightweight, durable and strong. The lashed frame allows them to flex slightly when taking impacts, rather than cracking as a more brittle material would . I have a sample of skin that I use as demonstration piece when we have open workshops. Over the last 2 years it’s been abused by hundreds of visitors, with claw-hammers, chisels and rocks and is still going strong!

My new workshop is at the top of the historic slipway in Underfall Yard, and a stone’s throw from the lovely Pickle cafe. It’s a fantastic space to run the classes from – it’s much bigger and lighter than the old workshop. Best of all, students will be launching their finished boats from the same spot that iconic ships such as the Matthew were launched from!   

No experience is required to join a class. Last year I had students aged from 16-65 building kayaks.

To see find out more about the courses, see my website (www.shipshape.works) or drop me an email (hello-at-shipshape.works).

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Eyemouth museum boat and historic maritime items collection goes under the hammer

Auctioneer Sweeney Kincaid is selling the contents of the large Eyemouth World of Boats collection held at locations at Eyemouth, Cardiff and Lowestoft.  Be quick, for it closes 12 Noon on Wednesday 26th July.

The item are being sold under the instructions of the liquidators of Eyemouth International Sailing Craft Association Limited (Eisca), a Scottish registered charity.

It is a genuinely big sale, with some 270 boats from around the world including working boats from the UK and round the world (fancy buying a junk, sampan, a pearling dhow or an Azorean whaleboat?) classic racing dinghies, a currach, and a gorgeous North American Whitehall skiff. There really is some very interesting stuff here…

There’s also a photo archive, books and maritime ephemera. To get a sense of it and find items you might be interested in, see the online listing.

The collection started life at the Exeter Maritime Museum (ISCA) in 1968 and was added to during the time it was in the hands of Eisca.

Frankly, it’s a stunning collection – and I don’t think we’ve seen anything like it since Turk’s sold its collection of boats used for film and television work some years ago. Both sales underline the fragility of collections held in the private and voluntary domains – if things don’t go well, at any moment collections and material can be lost, including both the artefacts and the information about them.

The entire contents of Eisca locations throughout the UK will be auctioned individually, here online, closing online on Wednesday 26th July at 12 noon.