Film of Nick Smith and pals timbering out the steam launch Puffin

Nick Smith and friends timbering out a clinker built hull - in this case for the steam launch Puffin

This piece of YouTube film shows how Nick Smith and his colleagues timber out a clinker built hull using green oak steamed in a steam chest in Nick’s workshop.

It looks like damned hard work to me, but no-one can say the result isn’t worth the effort.

The only other thing I’ll say is that I edited this down from some film Nick sent over – and this will be the last time I’ll use Windows Live Movie Maker. It froze and crashed so many times I couldn’t count them, the only thing that got the software working each time was to go into the task manager and close it down that way. It quite spoiled my day – but hey, now we can all see how the professionals do this kind of thing (timber out a boat, I mean, not edit a YouTube clip!).

Nick comes from Devon, learned boatbuilding the traditional way and specialises in new builds in clinker and carvel for sail, motor and rowing power from 8ft to 28ft with a special emphasis on West Country style and design, and also takes on repairs and refits from 25ft to 50ft. These days he’s based in Hampshire, and can be contacted by email at and by phone on 07786 693370.

Pier traditional and historic boat events this weekend launch British Tourism Week


Painting party on the pier

Poster for Painting Party on the Quay at Newlyn this weekend

National Historic Ships has worked with British Tourism Week to make sure historic vessels have a central place in Party on the Pier (POTP) – a series of events around Britain on Saturday 12the March to mark the launch of British Tourism Week.

The event was conceived as a celebration of piers including jetties, harbours, river piers and landing stages, but also involves a wide range of vessels including the steam-powered passenger ship Shieldhall, Cornish lugger Ripple, motor tug Touchstone and Humber super sloop Spider T.

There may well be something going on near you:

Greenwich Historic Ships Harbour Project aims to make East Greenwich Coaling Jetty a public heritage facility enabling historic ships to visit and dock in London. The GHSH team will put on a tented exhibition on the history project and proposals for the pier, with handouts by the boat crews and the opportunity to sign up as a supporter.

Discover Lincolnshire Weekend event Historic Fleet vessel Spider T will be open from 10am-5pm on Sat 12th and Sun 13th March. Owner Mal Nicholson will be giving talks, opening a new library filled with many rare book copies of historic Humber vessels, people and places, and launching the ‘Friends of Spider T’ support group. Artist Lesley Everatt will be exhibiting some of her work, and Chris Horan author of the recently launched book Humber Sail and History will be on hand.

Heritage Quay, Newson’s Boatyard and Waveney District Council Newson’s Boat Yardwill showcase Lowestoft’s maritime heritage. Vessels on show at Heritage Quay will include sidewinder fishing ship Mincarlo and MTB102, a display by the International Boat Building College at Lowestoft and a sample engine from a steam ship; Newsons Yard will meanwhile be exhibiting vessels involved in the Dunkirk evacuation now under restoration, and there will be a display on the steam fishing vessel Lydia Eva.

Southampton Pier & Docks’ contribution is a tour of maritime Southampton starting from Kuti’s Royal Thai Pier restaurant, including the pier itself, the Titanic Museul and Southampton Maritime Museum before moving on by bus to see the Shieldhall.

Pooley Bridge Pier, Ullswater will see a Tea Party on the Pier from 10am and 3pm, with hosts in 1930’s costumes. Light refreshments are being supplied by Dalemain Historic House and the local RNLI group, and scheduled steamers calling at Pooley Bridge that day will be decorated with bunting and flags.

Newlyn Harbour & Quay Luggers and traditional boats in The Old Harbour at Newlyn are getting a fresh coat of paint for the new season, and  artists will be on the Quay painting the scene. A Newlyn Archive will put on a photographic display of the 14th century harbour and its luggers in their heyday. All are welcome to bring their cameras, canvas, brushes, paints and sketch pads and join in. Visitors with memories from the past will also be able to have them recorded.

Gillingham Pier, Kent Visit light vessel LV21 and hear sea shanties performed by the Hog Eye Men and music by the Big Fish Street Band. Visitors can make paper boats to their ever growing fleet, try their hand at ‘porthole art’ or learn Morse code, and meet people behind local restoration projects including the paddle steamer Medway Queen.

Rochester Pier, Kent will offer free river trips and vessel tours from the Sun Pier, The Esplanade at Rochester on 18-20 March, 10am – 3pm, on the motor tug Touchstone.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is offering half price entry to the dockyard and the Spinnaker Tower.

Ben Wales’ clinker launch restoration

Ben Wales working on 18ft clinker launch Mary

Ben Wales working on 18ft clinker launch Mary

The new stem, and the old stem piece and apron removed

Some time when you’re sitting in the warm, spare a thought for dedicated Ben Wales working when he can in the open air during this winter restoring his 18ft clinker-built motor launch Mary. While you’re at it, wish him luck and good weather.

Here’s what he wrote a few days ago:

‘Here is the latest update on my restoration on Mary. The work has been slow – the weather held us up for over a month as it was just too cold, and before that it was wet whenever we wanted to work on her outside.

‘The stem has now been replaced in English grown oak as the old one was badly worn and soft. Without a doubt this is the most complex and time consuming job we have done on the launch, and all without  power tools or power.

‘First, a template had to be cut out for the bottom and top stem piece and then drawn out on a new in 4in thick oak plank where the two were cut out.

‘The lower part of the stem, which joins with the kee, was first shaped to fit and then holes were drilled out for stainless steel bolts made the job. It had to be scarphed on each end, and a mixture of paint and putty was applied for packing.

‘The top part of the apron was also replaced and that was cut and shaped before the top stem piece was fitted.

‘While the upper part of the stem was fitted we had a quite a task to shape it, as we tried to follow the original patten precisely – but found that had been cut wrong. So after more shaping it fitted far better than the original it replaced.

‘The next task is to fit the gunwales and knees, and to reframe the topsides. When the Weather gets warmer and I have saved up some money, I will purchase the timber to plank her topsides.


Thanks Ben – I’ll be thinking of you at least!

For an earlier post about this project, click here.