Ian Baird’s replica of a Dorset crab and lobster boat in the workshop

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Ian Baird's Dorset crab and lobster boat at the Boat Building Academy

Boat Building Academy student Ian Baird’s project to build a replica of the rare Dorset crab and lobster boat known as Witch of Worbarrow during his course is continuing apace, as it must to be be ready for the big launch on the 9th December.

For more posts relating to Witch and Worbarrow, click here.

Ian, who was a novice woodworker at the beginning of his nine month course at the BBA, has been commissioned to write three articles on his experiences for Watercraft Magazine. The first of his articles will be published in January 2011.

“The centreline structure went together reasonably simply, but the first three planks on either side were really difficult for a fledgling boat builder,’ he reports. ‘The garboard and plank above both return onto the keel and the stern post at an awkward angle and there was a good deal of steaming, rabbet altering and scratching of heads, but we got it right in the end. The third plank was a bit of trouble too, with a tight curve onto the transom, but we are now banging on a plank a day.’

Ian says there has been a lot of interest in Ian’s project: ‘We originally put out a press release to try and winkle out any information we could about the original boat’s life and times, but the response has been more than I could have hoped for.

‘Interest from Intheboatshed.net, local television news and local papers has reached an extraordinarily wide audience and many people have come forward with information and pictures for which I am extremely grateful.’

A pictorial diary of Ian’s project is available at the BBA website.

The launch of the BBA’s March 2010 project boats will take place in the harbour at Lyme Regis, Dorset, at 9am on Wednesday 9th December 2010.

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

BBA student to build replica of Dorset crab and lobster fishing boat Witch of Worbarrow

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Witch of Worbarrow Dorset crab and lobster fishing boat

Witch of Worbarrow

A student at the Boat Building Academy is appealing for information and old photos relating to the Witch of Worbarrow, built in Weymouth in around 1902.

Student Ian Baird is building a replica of the rare Dorset crab and lobster fishing boat as part of his 38-week boat building training.

Now in the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, the original boat was rowed from Weymouth to Worbarrow Bay by Jack and Tom Miller, where it worked the crab and lobster grounds for many years, before becoming a gaff-rigged pleasure boat. In 1979 she was bequeathed to the National Maritime Museum by her late owner, Philip Draper of Arne, near Wareham. She is of historical interest because she is believed to be the only boat of her type still surviving.

Ian says that he wanted to build something that was unusual and local to his home county of Dorset. Recreating Witch of Worbarrow offers just that opportunity, and he wants to know much more about her history and the people who worked in her.

‘Apart from her life in Weymouth Bay and Poole Harbour we also know that she spent some time in Southampton Water or the Solent as there are old pictures of her close to the bows of the Queen Mary at Southampton,’ he says.

The project has attracted great interest from the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, which is planning to put the new boat on display alongside the original. The museum’s interest is that the original Witch is far too old to put on the water: ‘We don’t really know how she would have behaved on the water,’ says curator of boats Andy Wyke. ‘Ian’s reconstruction of the boat, which will follow as closely as possible to the original, will help us to learn a great deal about this historic fishing boat.’