Great finds discovered and restored: two Macgregor canoes and a Salter’s rowing gig

Macgregor canoe

Salter's skiff before restoration by Adrian Morgan Salter's skiff restored by Adrian Morgan

Adrian Morgan wrote a couple of weeks ago to remind me of some treasures that I might have missed. He’s right, I need to make amends – though in my defence nobody mentioned them to me at the time!

(Note to traditional boat builders: please tell me what you’re doing, as this website gets seen by a lot of people!)

One important find was two rare and very beautiful MacGregor canoe found in the Marquess of Aberdeen’s sawmill loft a year or so ago – Macgregors are very rare and Adrian says the canoes came with full documentation. Adrian says the canoes were like Bugattis found in a barn: complete with chicken poo and swadust, they had been untouched for nearly 100 years.

Naturally, the Royal Canoe Club were over the moon and the canoes have since been restored by Colin Henwood.

There’s more about Macgregor here and here.

Another discovery at the same site was a half-rigged rowing gig made by Salter’s, which Adrian went on to restore – there’s more about this boat at Adrian’s website, but he says the colour of the Brazilian mahogany that appeared after weeks of stripping the gig was amazing. After treating the splits, liberal doses of Varnol brought the timber back from dry lifelessness to rich, deep colour.

Traditional boat builder Adrian Morgan is based at Ullapool and has a website at and a weblog at The weblog is certainly interesting: recent posts argue for working with your hands rather than a mouse; praise the Jumbo, the Solent and the work of  Fair Isle boat builder Ian Best; and appeal for plans for longish gun punts.

PS – I’m reminded that informative notes on the Rob Roy canoe are included in Macgregor’s book The Rob Roy on the Baltic, which is available from Dixon-Price Publishing. There’s also some material in the book Practical Boat Building For Amateurs.

BBA invites readers to student launch

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Boat Building Academy student launch day invitation

Student launch invitation, showing a Pettersson motor launch made by student Lars Herfeldt and launched last December

The Boat Building Academy down at Lyme is inviting readers to attend its big student launch on the 9th December. The event starts from around 8am, with the boats going in the water at around 9.30am.

It will be possible for visitors to see the Academy premises, so long as they don’t get in the students’ way.

Some 18 students are launching boats, and the photos below show the current state of some of them. It looks like very nice work, but there’s still some way to go. Will they make it? I’m sure they will. I won’t be able to make it myself, so if any readers take their cameras, I would be grateful for photos I can publish please!

Click here for the BBA’s short course prospectus for 2011 – in addition to the established offerings, it is offering Colin Henwood of Henwood and Dean instructing a five-day course on renovation and finishing, a two-dayer on rope work and wire splicing, and a three- or five-day half-model making course, the length of which depends on whether you want to make a standard model or one of your own choice.

Last year’s course on building a West Greenland kayak is back, and there’s a new introduction to woodworking skills course, which might reasonably be described woodworking for the petrified.

Wooden boat building in progress at the Boat Building Academy Wooden boat building in progress at the Boat Building Academy Wooden boat building in progress at the Boat Building Academy

Wooden boat building in progress at the Boat Building Academy Wooden boat building in progress at the Boat Building Academy Wooden boat building in progress at the Boat Building Academy