BBA students launch Beg Meil dinghy – and an invitation


It’s almost time for the summer student launch at the Boat  Building Academy at Lyme on the 10th June… So here’s an invitation, and a reminder of what the event’s about – a post about one of the boats BBA students dipped for the first time at the last student launch!

The final boat in the water at the BBA’s student launch event in December was a bright red 14ft glued-clinker Beg Meil dinghy built by Stuart McGowan and Graeme Furniss to plans by François Vivier.

Another student, Joe Wilkinson, also worked on the dinghy as well as all of the other boats built by the class.

Stuart has always had a passion for gaff-rigged boats; for a period he owned, sailed and raced a Cornish Shrimper and was a member of the Old Gaffers Association. He was particularly drawn to the Beg Meil design due to her rig, sailing abilities and half-decked, beamy layout.

The dinghy has been named Poppy after her red hull, the colour of which was chosen in memory of the classic red Porsche Stuart sold to pay for her build.

She has Douglas fir cockpit soles and spars, galvanised steel centre plate and copper coat antifoul below the water line.

Originally from Portsmouth, Stuart joined the Academy following a 40-year career in the water industry which took him all over the world. He joined the course to learn skills needed to complete repair work to wooden boats during his retirement.

Graeme worked as a child protection social worker before joining the Academy. A keen sailor, he wanted a new practical career working with his hands, and boat building seemed the perfect choice of craft for him to learn.

With time to fill before starting the 38 week course in March, starting in January he completed the first 8 weeks of the BBA’s 12-week woodworking skills’ course, during which he made a hatch cover for his 8 tonne double-ended carvel Hillyard.

Before attending the BBA’s 38-week course, Joe, from Staffordshire, was a qualified mechanic specialising in Land Rover repairs. He joined the course wanting a change, and is now working at Peak Oak Frames, an oak framing company near Sheffield, and has applied for an Edward Barnsley Workshop apprenticeship to further develop his woodworking skills.

Stuart will go on to work in yards and sailing clubs around the Solent and Graeme too will use his new woodworking and boat building skills in the marine industry.

The Beg Meil dinghy’s photographic build diary can be seen here.

Fabian Bush builds a François Vivier Aber dinghy

I’ve just remembered that I haven’t yet shared these photos to share of Lodestar publisher Richard Wynne’s new sail and oar dinghy – so here they are.

It’s an example of the very appealing François Vivier-designed Aber built for Richard at Rowhedge  by Fabian Bush, who showed it at the Beale Park show last month.

Naturally, there was a bit of a party in and around Fabian’s yard on when she emerged into the light. Richard’s delighted with the boat I gather – that day he and Fabian took the little boat for a sail out past Mersea, and found that it both sails and rows like a dream. (It has two rowing positions.)

It’s striking to think that François designed this elegant and well developed looking boat as long ago as 1985.

There are more photos of examples of Abers built around the world here.

Ian Baird writes up his first boat restoration job after studying at the BBA – and it was quite a challenge


Some time ago Ian Baird got around to finishing writing up his account of the restoration of Yoma II – the boat restoration that was his first professional project after completing his course at the Boat Building Academy, and it’s in this month’s issue of Water Craft. 

He tells me that he had what he described as the ‘rather wonderful’ pleasure of having a reader of the magazine, unknown to him, ring him up to congratulate him on the restoration job. It quite made his day.

Yoma II, I should explain, is a 1961 Burnham on Sea Motor Boat Company-built motor tender based on the company’s rather longer Sturdy 16 model, but built at 14ft to the owner’s specification.

Tackling such a restoration as a first professional outing as a one-man outfit sounds like a nightmare to me. Little Yoma’s bottom had rotted out, and everything from the fifth plank down from the gunwales had to be replaced.

But with a little help from some of his BBA ex-student friends she’s now back in the water, powered by her original 1.5hp Stuart-Turner engine and working as a tender to the motor launch Yoma, and if you read the Water Craft piece, it’s clear Ian is just a little misty-eyed about her and hopes she’ll now make her full century…

Read an earlier post about Yoma II here.

PS – Water Craft this month also includes a great interview with the charming and brilliant French designer François Vivier, together with a feature about a boat built to his sweet little 12ft 6in Morbic design.

PPS – the issue also has a piece about North Quay Marine’s spirited and clever little gaffer, the Spitfire 18.