Nick Smith’s latest 20ft motor launch now planked up – and waiting for her ribs

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nick smith 20ft launch planking

nick smith 20ft launch planking painting

Nick Smith has now finished planking his latest 20ft motor launch project, which he’s given the working title of Bamboo Viper II. The name comes from an earlier similar boat named Bamboo Viper that he built some years ago and has exhibited regularly at the Beale Park Thames Boat Show.

Reaching this point in the build caused him to reflect for a moment on how boats these days are expected to last much longer than in years gone by, and on how builders have changed their approach. Here’s what he says:

‘Gav,

‘So Bamboo Viper II is all planked up, the boat is to be painted throughout except for varnished topstrake, and so the hull primed inside before the ribs go in, which will protect the timber under the ribs in the bilge.

‘Back in the day, these boats were built quickly and with a built-in short life – they were built bare and painted or varnished only after the build.

‘I’m reminded of the night in Clovelly when there was the famous storm many years ago when some 50 dinghies were smashed up on the beach. Losses like that were a regular occurrance years ago, so why bother to build boats to last?

‘It’s different now, the boats are pleasure boats that are not heavily used, and and are cotton-wooled compared with the old boats. So I build them to yacht standards both structurally and finish-wise.

‘Now gearing up for steaming out of the green oak timbers. More photos will be on their way after the steam out.

‘Regards

‘Nick’

Thanks Nick. I guess there are quite a few factors here; there’s obviously no doubt that working boats have a much harder life than most boats built for leisure use. I’d guess also that in the old days in many places there would simply be more working craft needing moorings – and that some would necessarily be moored in more vulnerable locations than others. I wonder also about the quality of the moorings – have we got better at this kind of thing, I wonder?

I’d also guess that another factor is that boats used for pleasure purposes get left for months at a time, often because of work commitments, family issues and so on. A working boat is much more likely to get regular use, and therefore regular care and maintenance.

And hey, Nick, how about a stop-time video of the steam out? Has anyone got a camera that can do it automatically?

Click here for more posts relating to Nick’s impressive old-fashioned motor launches.

Nick, who is a WBTA member, comes from Devon, learned boatbuilding the traditional way and specialises in new builds in clinker and carvel for sail, motor and rowing power from 8ft to 28ft with a special emphasis on West Country style and design, and also takes on repairs and refits from 25ft to 50ft. These days he’s based in Hampshire, and can be contacted by email at nick_smith_boatbuilder@yahoo.com and by phone on phone on 07786 693370.

Want to learn more about boatbuilding using the clinker technique? Try John  Leather’s book Clinker boatbuilding at the revived intheboatshed.net A-store.

Boat Building Academy students launch a 14ft rowing skiff with wooden fit-out

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Boat Building Academy, Jon Palmer, Ben Larcombe, Justin Adkin, glass-fibre construction, wooden fit-out, Atlantic Rowing Race, Beale Park, Thames Boat Show, BBA, David Johnson, Wessex Resins, Sliced Bread, Ian Thomson, Nestaway, sectional dinghies

Boat Building Academy, Jon Palmer, Ben Larcombe, Justin Adkin, glass-fibre construction, wooden fit-out, Atlantic Rowing Race, Beale Park, Thames Boat Show, BBA, David Johnson, Wessex Resins, Sliced Bread, Ian Thomson, Nestaway, sectional dinghies Boat Building Academy, Jon Palmer, Ben Larcombe, Justin Adkin, glass-fibre construction, wooden fit-out, Atlantic Rowing Race, Beale Park, Thames Boat Show, BBA, David Johnson, Wessex Resins, Sliced Bread, Ian Thomson, Nestaway, sectional dinghies

Built by Boat Building Academy class of September 2009 students Jon Palmer and Ben Larcombe, this 14ft rowing skiff was designed by Justin Adkin.

Justin’s design gave Jon and Ben an opportunity to explore glass-fibre construction with a wooden fit-out.

Before the course Jon worked as a product designer, and Ben held down a variety of jobs ranging from snowboarding instructor to pattern-making apprentice. Both were looking to learn practical skills that would broaden their horizons in woodworking and boat building.

Unfortunately for Jon and Ben, rowing athlete Justin (he won the 05-06 Atlantic Rowing Race) broke the foot-rest while testing the boat at the Beale Park Thames Boat Show just before the BBA student launch day – but  Ben and John were back in the workshop working on the boat by Sunday evening after the show, and the boat was ready in time for the big launch.

I gather Justin hopes his new design will provide the basis for a new rowing racing class – but more generally says that it’s designed for short- to medium-length coastal regatta rowing races. The design was carved from a block, lines taken and lofted, and is loosely based on Whitehalls and flashboats, but with fuller forward sections to help it to lift when rowing on the open sea. The result is not as tippy as a flashboat, say the BBA folks, but still a test to row. Justin has recently built a fixed-seat version, which he says is very quick.

Visiting the Boat Building Academy David Johnson of Wessex Resins commented on the excellent design and told Justing he should call her Sliced Bread because, he said, ‘it had to be the best thing since’. The name may have stuck.

Since finishing the course Ben and Jon are setting up a workshop working with Ian Thomson (BBA graduate in June 2008) whose company’s Nestaway sectional dinghies have taken off.  Meanwhile, Ben and Jon have been asked to quote for building a traditional rowing boat and another of the Sliced Bread skiffs.

The Dinghy Cruising Association at the Beale Park Thames Boat Show

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dca, dinghy cruising, association, beale park, thames, boat show, suppliers, wooden boat, boat plans, boatbuilding, sailing

The Dinghy Cruising Association at last year’s Beale Park Thames Boat Show

Dinghy Cruising Association member Nick Watt has written to say that his organisation will be at the Beale Park Thames Boat Show.

The DCA is usually in residence at the show, and generally provides a lot of the on-water activity in a range of small craft.

This year, says Nick, the DCA folks will have a stand ashore on which it’s hoping to present member Dave Jennings’ nearly completed Roamer – this is a specialist dinghy cruising design designed by a DCA member, the plans for which are available from the association. To find out more about the Roamer, click here and here. There will also be a pontoon providing moorings for DCA members’ boats.

A key aim of the DCA’s presence at the show is to demonstrate that there are more ways of having fun on the water in small boats than necessarily racing around the marks (hoorah to that, I say), and that a wide variety of small craft (including, hopefully, Alistair Law’s Paradox) can be used for cruising in coastal waters.

Whatever, those who drop in can be sure of a welcome.