Boat Building Academy December 2013 launch – post no 1, a modified Hiawatha canoe

Hiawatha 15' Cedar Strip Planked Canoe © Derek Thompson  (4) Hiawatha 15' Cedar Strip Planked Canoe ©Jenny Steer Photography Dec 2013 (69) (1)

The Boat Building Academy’s class of March 2013 have been good all year so the sun shone brightly when they launched their eight newly built boats built during their course into Lyme Regis harbour on 9 December.

About two hundred people cheered as the champagne corks popped and each boat floated. ITV cameras were there, as were Dick Phillips for Water Craft magazine, and Nigel Sharp for Yachting World.

Colin Henwood watched as his newest employee, Brian Reford, sped across the bay in his new speedboat.

Students started work at dawn, making final preparations for the 10 o’clock launch. The boats went out of the workshops at 9, marshalled by former marine sergeant and boat builder Roy Gollop, before being processed the short walk down to the harbour.

Tim Gedge, Director of the Academy, said a few words, as did Sally Holman, Mayor of Lyme Regis. Then the real business of the day started…

Toby Williamson’s 15ft modified Hiawatha canoe is strip planked in western red cedar, sheathed with glass fibre and epoxy. Toby came across the plans in Ted Moores’ book Canoecraft. He modified the sheer line slightly and changed the design of the thwarts and ribs in line with a similar canoe built by Luke Browne.

Toby, the youngest member of the class, decided that sixth form and A levels weren’t for him. He had seen a feature on the Academy in Coast magazine, visited and decided he should go to the BBA instead. Now the course has finished his is working for two months in Holland for a boat builder before going for a season on a game fishing boat in Madeira.

The BBA folks report that Toby says he has loved every minute of the course, and that it is a shame to have to leave – but he is looking forward to taking his new skills around the world.