Boat Building Academy students launch a sleek cold-moulded kayak

Touring kayak - Ewan Thomson - Jenny Steer 154

Lars (14) web Emma (296) Ewan Thomson - touring kayak - Jenny Steer

Students Ewan Thomson and Patrick Hughes built this cold-moulded 19.6 by 1.4ft fast touring kayak, ready to hit the water at the Boat Building Academy’s December student launch.

Ewan, who is from Isle of Skye, has worked in various practical roles from timber framing and gardening to boat repair, but it was the latter that grabbed his attention after he fitted out a plastic dinghy, repaired a clinker boat, did some boat painting and a spot of fibreglassing.

He then joined the BBA’s 38-week course to gain more experience with different construction types and designs.

A keen kayaker, Ewan had seen a kayak that he wanted to adapt and build as a prototype for a potential business and with help from group lead instructor Mike Broome he drew up new plans.

The finished kayak is made from 1.5mm sapele veneers – not an easy material to work with in so slender a hull form – and is finished bright.

Ewan’s next project is a GRP Orkney longliner, but he also hopes to start his own business on Skye and build more kayaks. Academy staff report that he feels a sense of relief that he now has the skills he needs to start a business of his own.

Fellow student Patrick’s background is in graphic design and communications. He joined the long course after completing the eight-week woodworking skills course, during which he was impressed by the achievements of some of the students on the 38-week course. I gather Pat now plans to start his own business, offering boat repairs, maintenance and storage in France.

A photo diary of the build can be found here.

Kayak building at the Boat Building Academy, Lyme, in September

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The Boat Building Academy at Lyme Regis has organised a 10-day West Greenland kayak building course starting on the 27th September.

The instructor is Lars Herfeldt, who first paddled a kayak in the 1960s and was the first to import British sea kayaks to Germany. In the 1980s he started making paddles and in 1989 built his first skin-on-frame kayak with Svend Ulstrup, who learnt the skill in Greenland.

Lars has now made over 400 paddles and 30 East and West Greenland kayaks and is a member of Qajaq USA. (He also completed one of the BBA’s courses recently and completed a very cool old-fashioned Swedish-style motor launch.)

While the course will be instructed and run by the Boat Building Academy, it is fully residential and takes place at nearby Trill Farm, which specialises in sustainable living skills, organic farming, natural remedies and more.

Over the ten days of the course students will each build their own made-to-measure kayak, using either linen canvas or ballistic nylon, and a paddle – the ballistic nylon kayaks will be completed and paddled in the sea at Lyme Regis before the end of the course.

For more details on the West Greenland kayak or the course, call Yvonne Green or Emma Brice on (0)1297 445545.

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Lars Herfeldt builds a gentleman’s runabout at the Boatbuilding Academy

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16ft gentleman’s runabout Lola, built to a design by C G Petterson, and photographed at the Boatbuilding Academy’s student launch day in December

Lars Herfeldt built this very pretty motorboat during his Boatbuilding Academy course at Lyme using plans by the Swedish designer CG Pettersson.

Academy principle Yvonne Green reports that Lola, which is named after one of Lars’ grandchildren, is a 16ft cold moulded motorboat made from two layers of 3mm plywood with a final layer of mahogany veneer laid fore and aft to simulate a more traditional carvel planking construction.

While on the course Lars wrote a weblog that includes the boat build but also of his life while living at the Academy on the course – it’s in German but includes many excellent photos including a series showing one of the famous Beer luggers going about. He also played Father Christmas at the Academy Christmas dinner, at which Yvonne says he managed to look as if he’d stepped out of a Norman Rockwell illustration.

For more photos from the student launch, check out Edward Pearson’s Picasa photo set of the event. readers may be interested to know that Lars is returning to the Academy in September to instruct a residential course on building West Greenland kayaks in September, at which up to eight students will build a traditional kayak over ten days – course members will stay at nearby Trill Farm and build the boats in the farm’s  magnificent old barn.

Many thanks for the story Yvonne – and don’t forget to tell us more about the kayak course, as I think there will be some interest from readers!