Henwood & Dean 30th anniversary book

Head, Heart, Hand – a Boatbuilder’s Story (the link goes to an impressive collection of sample pages) is a beautiful book documenting the work of Thames-side traditional boat building firm Henwood & Dean, with photographs and design by Michael English.

The book is published to celebrate three decades of the Henwood & Dean boatyard – an event that is also marked by local newspaper the Henley Standard.

I’d guess that it would make a nice Christmas present for quite a few folks out there…

By the way, if like me you feel a little awed by the the varnished finishes the Henwood & Dean team achieve, you may be interested to know that Colin Henwood will be leading Boat Building Academy courses on renovation and finishing at Lyme Regis next year on the 18th-22nd February and 18th-22nd November (by coincidence the dates fall on the same dates each month).

Great finds discovered and restored: two Macgregor canoes and a Salter’s rowing gig

Macgregor canoe

Salter's skiff before restoration by Adrian Morgan Salter's skiff restored by Adrian Morgan

Adrian Morgan wrote a couple of weeks ago to remind me of some treasures that I might have missed. He’s right, I need to make amends – though in my defence nobody mentioned them to me at the time!

(Note to traditional boat builders: please tell me what you’re doing, as this website gets seen by a lot of people!)

One important find was two rare and very beautiful MacGregor canoe found in the Marquess of Aberdeen’s sawmill loft a year or so ago – Macgregors are very rare and Adrian says the canoes came with full documentation. Adrian says the canoes were like Bugattis found in a barn: complete with chicken poo and swadust, they had been untouched for nearly 100 years.

Naturally, the Royal Canoe Club were over the moon and the canoes have since been restored by Colin Henwood.

There’s more about Macgregor here and here.

Another discovery at the same site was a half-rigged rowing gig made by Salter’s, which Adrian went on to restore – there’s more about this boat at Adrian’s website, but he says the colour of the Brazilian mahogany that appeared after weeks of stripping the gig was amazing. After treating the splits, liberal doses of Varnol brought the timber back from dry lifelessness to rich, deep colour.

Traditional boat builder Adrian Morgan is based at Ullapool and has a website at www.viking-boats.com and a weblog at www.thetroublewitholdboats.blogspot.com. The weblog is certainly interesting: recent posts argue for working with your hands rather than a mouse; praise the Jumbo, the Solent and the work of  Fair Isle boat builder Ian Best; and appeal for plans for longish gun punts.

PS – I’m reminded that informative notes on the Rob Roy canoe are included in Macgregor’s book The Rob Roy on the Baltic, which is available from Dixon-Price Publishing. There’s also some material in the book Practical Boat Building For Amateurs.

Water Craft magazine for March-April 2010 will be out very soon!

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The latest Water Craft will be with us any day

It’s almost time for the next edition of Water Craft magazine to land on our doormats – so what’s in store this time around? Lots of boating goodies as usual – including the first of two big features by our friend Ben Crawshaw in which he reports on his adventures sailing his Light Trow named Onawind Blue. That feels like a real privilege, I must say, even though I’d prefer to seem my design used for rather less extreme adventures…

Here’s what Water Craft editor Pete Greenfield has to say about the upcoming issue:

So – how has boat craftsmanship, amateur and professional, fared through the long hard winter and the much longer and harder recession? In W80, we seem to have some of the answers.

Interestingly, for many professional wooden boat builders, the answer seems to be they are managing rather nicely thank you… though mostly with repairs rather than new builds.

At Peter Freebody & Co, for example, spiritual home of so many traditional Thames craft, Melanie Freebody tells Kathy Mansfield there may be snow on the roof but the boatshops beneath have rarely been busier.

Giving up the well-paid but stressful job in IT to learn to build wooden boats is a good idea for some. Certainly, on a dark dank morning in December when the students of 2009 launched the fascinating variety of craft they’d built at the Boat Building Academy at Lyme Regis, our Dick Phillips detected little stress… though maybe the champagne helped.

No nerves on the part of our tame amateur boatbuilder Peter Goad either, when Messrs Phillips and Chesworth turned up to sail the Cape Henry 21. Perhaps, as Peter explains in his final fit-out article, a five-year project encourages a relaxed and patient frame of mind.

Watch, on YouTube.com, Ben Crawshaw’s reports on sailing a small boat in the Med and you’ll see rather more evident anxiety. And reading about how he built his first boat, a slender lugger called a Light Trow intended for more sedate waters, in a public garden in Spain, you’ll encounter few manyana moments.

More sail than oar but definitely a craft to cope with exhilarating sea sailing, we think Paul Gartside’s free plans, complete with lines and offsets, for his 20ft (6m) lugger will persuade many a putative backyard boatbuilder to stop saying manyana and take the plunge.

As may the editor’s outdoor boat….

But outdoors, as Colin Henwood of Henwood & Dean Boatbuilders explains in his masterclass on painting and varnishing is not the ideal place to give your boat the finest finish for the new season. You need a big tent, kind-of like Water Craft itself.

Buy a subscription now (see the link in our right-hand column here at intheboatshed.net and pay with your credit card via PayPal) or find the March-April Water Craft in your local newsagents – to find a stockist in the UK see http://availability.mmcltd.co.uk

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