Boat Collection Manager, Andy Wyke with Witch of Worbarrow (front) and Witch of Weymouth (back). Boat Collection Manager, Andy Wyke with Witch of Weymouth.
Boat builder Ian Baird’sWitch of Weymouth replica of a Dorset crab and lobster boat is now on show at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, together with the 100-year old original on which she’s based.
Witch of Worbarrow was built in 1902, and was used for catching lobsters and crabs up to six miles out to sea in Worbarrow Bay, near Weymouth. She is believed to be the only boat of her type still surviving, but after so many years of use is now too frail to put on the water.
While as a student at the Lyme Regis-based Boat Building Academy, Ian decided to build a replica of Witch of Worbarrow and so built Witch of Weymouth. The result is a traditional clinker built boat, with larch planks laid over oak frames.
Naturally, the new Witch is now the only boat of her kind still in use.
‘It would be impossible to recreate over 100 years of modification and wear and tear that her older sister has endured,’ says museum boat collection manager Andy Wyke. ‘Ian, however, took great pains to accurately copy the lines of the old boat and the final result is a beautiful representation.’
The two Witches will be on display together NMMC until end of December 2011.
His latest project is a restoration of a 1961 clinker motor launch built by the Burnham on Sea Motor Boat Company. It has been extensively used by the owner’s family who purchased it newly built – however, after 50 years her bottom planks and centreline structure are in need of urgent repair.
When he first saw her, Ian says it was difficult to accurately assess the extent of the damage as she was glass-sheathed on the bottom of the hull and keel. However, the signs were that she was not in good shape.
When the sheathing was removed, she needed an entire new centreline structure, new garboards and three further planks either side and re-timbering throughout, as the old timbers fell out when the planks were removed.
‘I was left with a pair of gunwales and a selection of planks,’ says Ian.
‘The gaping hole and stumps of broken timbers gave her a bit of a “hag’s grin” look, but she’s coming together now nicely. The centreline structure has now been replaced and the garboards are now fixed so we are looking at an April launch.’
The restoration will be covered in full in a forthcoming Watercraft article later in the year.
Over at the Boat Building Academy at Lyme, Ian Baird has been making progress on his replica of the Dorset crab and lobster boat Witch of Worbarrow. The timbers of the new boat named Witch of Weymouth have gone in, the gunwales are now in place and the spars almost completely made.
He also gave me the link to this splendid Youtube film clip of the process of hot-nailing her steamed timbers into place. It looks wonderfully frantic to me!
On the boat herself, what’s left to complete are the knees, thwarts and finishing, which must all be in place by the time of the grand student launch on the morning of the 9th December. If you’re in the area and are interested in boats and craftsmanship, do get along!
For more posts in this interesting boat and its origins, click here. Also, look out for a series of three articles describing the build, the first of which is scheduled to appear in the magazine Water Craftin January.