Nick Smith-built half-decked motor launch afloat

This is the charming 16ft Nick Smith-built clinker-planked half-decker Isla afloat, I think in Scotland.

She has basic camping accommodation for overnight or the weekend, with a double bunk, storage and a small cooker, and I have a feeling a boat might appeal to quite a lot of folks…

Nick trained in Salcombe as a traditional boat builder in the 1970s. To learn more or to contact him, check his website. For more on Nick’s boats, click here.

Launch day approaches for Mat Gravener’s Norfolk Broads half-decker Jamesia II

Norfolk Broads half-decker Jamesia II Norfolk Broads half-decker Jamesia II Norfolk Broads half-decker Jamesia II

Norfolk Broads half-decker Jamesia II Norfolk Broads half-decker Jamesia II Norfolk Broads half-decker Jamesia II

Norfolk Broads half-decker Jamesia II Norfolk Broads half-decker Jamesia II Norfolk Broads half-decker Jamesia II


Joe Farrow has kindly sent in an update of the progress Mat Gravener has made in restoring and repairing the Norfolk Broads half-decker Jamesia II. As usual, click on the photos above for bigger images.

For an earlier post about this boat, click here, and for a post about Mat’s earlier restoration of a Broads sailing cruiser, click here.

I gather Jamesia will be afloat and sailing in a week or two from now, and Joe has promised to take some photos for us.

Here’s Joe’s explanation of each shot, starting from the top left:

  • port side planks epoxy splined – the photo shows them being glued (the impromptu clamps holding them in place are to be removed once glue has set)
  • this plank on the starboard side was constructed of a number of different lengths, and Mat decided in the end to go for one full length piece. This shot shows the plank removed ready for the new plank
  • et voila! One new plank!
  • plank all scarfed together, and fastened in place.
  • the hull filled and faired, and given three coats of undercoat.
  • next to receive attention is the interior; hirers used to sleeping on board under this cuddy
  • Mat re-created the old bench seating using mainly reclaimed mahogany from an old river cruiser
  • he has also added a new locker, and the photo gives a general view of how the lino deck has cleaned up beautifully, and how the insides of the planks have been painted to match
  • finally, the cuddy roof has had three coats of paint – it’s the traditional deck construction of painted canvas over tongue and  groove planking

Many thanks Joe!


Norfolk Broads half-decker Jamesia II

Jamesia II

Jamesia II Jamesia II Jamesia II

Jamesia II

Joe Farrow in Norfolk has written to tell us about a half-decker that one of his friends is currently working on. It’s been a while since we last had a Norfolk Broads post, so this was a nice surprise!

I’ll let Joe tell the story:

‘Hi Gavin,

‘As promised, I have rooted out a few details for a honey of a half-decker that a friend of mine is lucky enough to own!

Jamesia II was built by Martham Ferry Boat Building & Development Company in 1953. Her sister ship “Jamesia” was identical, aside from the cuddy.

‘She was exhibited in 1954 at the British Industries Fair, London Section, which seems like a long way away for a little Norfolk lass!

‘Originally constructed of overall varnished mahogany on oak she is similar to the Twizzy Whiz class designed and built by Ernest Woods – see the pic below of one of these boats, Mandi.

‘My friend Mat Gravener nearly purchased her after just one sail around 15 years ago, after she had been in the hire fleet for many years. I think Mat was attracted by her shape, the configuration of the lifting keel and the capability to camp on-board with ease. From what I understand, he just thought ‘there was something about her’, which included how she looked, her sailing qualities and her history.

‘Time passed. Five or so years ago he spotted her in a shed at Martham, with several planks and timbers cut out of the port quarter. To put in bluntly, she looked sorry and timeworn.

‘A little later she was on eBay and then rumour was that she had been taken to Lincoln for restoration. So no-one was more surprised than Mat when he became aware of her location in a barn, no more than three miles down the road from his house at Stalham!

‘He quickly bought her. Jamesia II is now again in safe hands. With careful chocking to replicate the original sheer and a batten or two, 12 green English oak timbers were left to soak in a boat dyke for a week and then steamed for 15 minutes prior to fitting.

‘Nine lengths of larch planking has been let in having been carefully shaped and hollowed. Fastening was by way of clenching on all but the beam shelf fastenings, which were roved.

‘With a new rudder, and ex Yare and Bure One Design rig lined up to be fitted (again, designed and built by Ernest Woods) Jamesia II looks set to return to exploring the Broads and rivers again in 2011.’

What a fabulous story! Thanks Joe – I’d love to see photos of her, and to see her sailing at some point not too far away. I’d like to add that it’s so often correspondents such as Joe that make worth doing – it’s certainly not the peanuts that come from the advertising.

For more Norfolk-related posts, click here.

PS – See the comments for a great story!