HJ Mears boat builders, Devon

Alex Mears of Seaton boat builders HJ Mears sent over these recent photos of recent jobs in the yard. Here’s what he says:

‘Hello Gavin,

‘I’ve attached a few photos of the 25ft mahogany-built weekender for a chap at Dartmouth. We’re just starting to turn the bilge with the planking, and as a result she’s beginning to show her full Mears-style lines! We’re not known for sleek pieces of furniture; more the traditional beach working and harbour launches that require a sturdy old fashioned build.

‘There’s a couple photos in there of a Beer Lugger in Larch, that’s currently on the stocks too. She’s 16ft with an ample 7ft beam.

‘The owner of the 25ft boat said he came to us as he liked seeing the consistency of our boating lineage since the 40s. He also likes building by eye; as the project can evolve as he desires at every stage. We hope to have her planked and ribbed by new year, provided not too many other jobs get in the way!

‘We’re looking for a completion around July 2014 – it would be earlier but there’s a few commercial fishermen who don’t take ‘not yet’ for an answer!

‘Anyway hope you and your readers find these of interest. Feel free to ask any more questions.

‘Cheers for now,


It’s worth taking a moment to look at the HJ Mears site, by the way – each of the photos on the home page turns out to be a useful link to ‘Contact’, ‘Restoration and repair’, ‘Moorings’ and so on. It turns out that I’ll be travelling down to Sidmouth in the summer to play for the annual folk festival, so I’m hoping to get a chance to drop by and perhaps shoot a harbour stroll…

Thanks Alex!


Stirling and Son deliver two very different 12ft rowing dinghies, and repair a hogged Tideway


Lead On (first photo) is a new pilot’s punt built for for Kindly Light, a Bristol Channel pilot cutter, was completed by Stirling and Son and delivered to her owner during March.

She was built to the owners specification’s following his extensive research into the pilot cutters‘ boats.

Here’s what Will has to say about her:

‘She is built to both tow well in a seaway and also to scull well, and has very flat floors midships to provide stability, a little hollow in the bow under the waterline so that she cleaves the water with full sections above the waterline to give her good reserve buoyancy forward. Aft, she has a shapely transom above the waterline to reduce drag to a minimum.

‘In an initial tests in Carrick Roads, when a 12-stone man stood on her gunwale only 6in of freeboard showed above the water.’

That stable shape is very clear in the photo.

The second shot above shows another new 12ft rowing dinghy that left the yard at the end of March. Destined for a lake in Sussex, this is a much finer boat for rowing on lakes and rivers, and is varnished with gold leaf scrollwork and cove line. Will remarks that it’s interesting that two 12ft rowing dinghies of similar beam can be so different.

A third 12ft dinghy – a Tideway general purpose sailing dinghy – came into the Stirlings yard for repairs recently. New sidedecks and foredeck were fitted, underwater repairs were carried out and the boat was completely refinished.

Will’s remarks about this boat include a useful little warning for owners of timber-built dinghies:

‘This Tideway had generally stood the test of time well but, like another dinghy we repaired earlier in the year, most of the damage requiring attention had been done by the trailer where she had sagged aft of the last trailer roller.

‘A good piece of money-saving advice for traditional dinghy owners who keep their boats on a trailer for long periods is to put some supporting blocks under the transom – it is better to risk causing a little extra rocker than have the boat hog.’

Thanks Will! Stirling and Son offers traditional yacht building and wooden boat repair, and is based at Tavistock, in Devon.


Adam Newton of Beer, Devon builds a gorgeous 12ft glued clinker rowing skiff

Adam Newton 12ft rowing boat Morning Glory Adam Newton 12ft rowing boat Morning Glory at Beer

New intheboatshed.net reader Adam Newton of the Boatyard at Beer has written to tell us about a clinker built rowing boat he has constructed. As usual, click on the images for a much bigger photo.

Here’s what Adam says about the boat:

‘I have just stumbled across your website and found it very interesting. I’ve just launched my 12ft glued clinker rowing boat Morning Glory which I built over the winter months. She is based on a Shaldon Regatta rowing boat used at local regattas, the design of which Phil Morrison, a designer of Salcombe yawls, Merlin Rockets and many more dinghies, altered to my requirements. (There’s a great article about the Shaldon Regatta here.)

I had a Shaldon Regatta and they are a very good all round boat, easy to row, stable and light enough to pull up and down the beach. There’s an article about the regatta on www.swmaritime.org.uk website.

I had been thinking about building a wooden rowing boat for a few years and finaly got round to doing it. The regatta is 11ft with a 4.6ft beam and a 3ft transom but i fancied something a bit racier hence the 12ft-4ft-2ft measurments of Morning Glory which I’m calling a Beer 12 design, as I live in Beer, East Devon.

‘The planks are spruce with oak ribs and mahogany seats and gunwales. I just intend to row it around the bay at Beer, but it’s also light enough (51kg) to put on the roof of my car and to go for a jolly elsewhere. You can’t beat an early morning row with the sun on your back, and she is a pleasure to row.’

I don’t doubt it! Thanks for the story Adam – any time you and your pals in Devon have something to share with intheboatshed.net readers, please let me know at gmatkin@gmail.com.

PS – Adam has kindly sent me these photos of Morning Glory’s build. Thanks again Adam!

'Beer 12' Morning Glory built by Adam Newton  'Beer 12' Morning Glory built by Adam Newton 'Beer 12' Morning Glory built by Adam Newton 'Beer 12' Morning Glory built by Adam Newton 'Beer 12' Morning Glory built by Adam Newton 'Beer 12' Morning Glory built by Adam Newton 'Beer 12' Morning Glory built by Adam Newton 'Beer 12' Morning Glory built by Adam Newton 'Beer 12' Morning Glory built by Adam Newton