Newly built Fowey River Dinghy number 53 launched

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Fowey River Class Dinghy number 53 was launched this weekend

This Saturday saw the launch of another local racing class classic at Fowey – a new Fowey River Class Dinghy made by Marcus Lewis for the local vicar and his family.

Built with a distinctive combination of spruce planking with thwarts and top planks of mahogany, the boat was launched at the Fowey Gallants Sailing Club and is number 53 in the class.

Marcus tells me that the Fowey River Dinghy is based on the Yachting World 15ft dinghy designed by Reg Freeman in the late 1940s with the aim encouraging people to build their own boats. Hunkins’ Boatyard at Polruan built one for a local dentist and they caught on, for by 1957 there were 15 boats in the fleet. Numbers continued to grow with other local boat builders betting involved, and the fleet reached 36 boats in 1965.

Interest in racing the wooden boats then dwindled, but over the last 15 years or so interest has returned with 15 new boats, several of which Marcus has built, and a number of restorations of the older craft. Five or six are seen sailing in regular Wednesday and Saturday racing, and the fleet swells to 15 or 18 in regatta week.

There are photos at – the Fowey River Dinghies can be identified by their multi-coloured mainsails and jibs.

Marcus Lewis is based at Fowey and can be contacted on 07973 420 568.

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Some photos from last year’s Beale Park Thames Boat Show

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With the Beale Park Thames Boat Show getting closer all the time (put the 5th-7th June in your diary, if you haven’t done so already), I thought I should post some more photos from last year’s event.

These photos show a pretty small stem dinghy displayed on the Wooden Boatbuilder’s Trade Association stand; the gentlemen dressed in green jerseys are some of its members.

Nick Smith planks up Louise – and uses a novel steaming technique

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Planking Louise: Nick uses an on-the-spot steaming
device for the garboards

Hampshire-based boatbuilder Nick Smith is currently planking up a new project, Louise. She’s  a 16ft loa, 6ft beam and will draw about 14in, and built with khaya mahogany planking.

She’s destined for customers in Newton Ferrers,  and won’t be kept on a mooring but will be dry sailed on estuaries and rivers. Her internal layout will be identical to  Nick’s last project Lisa but compared with that boat she will be smaller and more lightly built for ease of launching and recovery, and with finer ends and a flatter sheer.

She’ll have an 11hp Vetus twin diesel installed.

Nick has kindly sent us these photos illustrating his method of steaming garboards and often the first couple of planks in situ using a piece of old inner tube.

The arrangement here looks a bit Heath Robinson – it uses an old thinners tin with an old style kettle element in it – but Nick says it’s very effective and he also uses it to steam frames.

My suggestion, gentle reader, is that it might be a bit scary for most of us to try at home, unless you happen to have the skills of an electical engineer! I’d guess that a big, stable two-ring camping stove would be safer.

However, steaming on the spot is obviously a very neat trick. Nick says: ‘I can’t think who invented this method but I’ve not seen anyone else do it. It’s very effective, however: in the old days the boy would run with the hot plank from the steam box to the boat, but by the time he got there the board was almost cold. But this way the plank is in place already: you just slide the inner tube off, and cramp the hood end up in place.’

Click here for posts mentioning Nick’s previous project, Lisa. If you don’t already know him, Nick comes from Devon 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. He can be contacted by email at and by phone on phone on 07786 693370.