BBA student launch day December 2010

Boat Building Academy class of March 2010 in crab and lobster boat Witch of Weymouth

Boat Building Academy class of March 2010 in crab and lobster boat Witch of Weymouth. They make a heroic load for a 14ft boat

Boat Building Academy crab and lobster boat Witch of Weymouth Boat Building Academy student launch 2010 Boat Building Academy student launch 2010

More photos from the day – explanations will no doubt follow in the next few days

Boat Building Academy principal Yvonne Green has written to tell us about the student launch day at Lyme last Thursday. If you’re outside the UK, you may not know what we’ve had a generally horrible winter up to now – but that’s the reason for Yvonne’s enormous relief that once again the big launch event was blessed with good weather.

Here’s what she has to say:

‘It was a another brilliant launch day with boats and bright sunshine. We’ve had so much luck over the years that the Great Boat Builder in the Sky must be on our side

‘Nine students launched five boats, including Witch of Weymouth, and one student proposed to his girlfriend, on bended knee, in the middle of the harbour and on his boat’s first time out… It was a risky business but all went well and she said yes.

‘The boats were:

  • cold-moulded 13ft 6in electric motor launch
  • glued clinker 14ft Whitehall skiff
  • strip planked 15ft Chestnut canoe
  • 18ft strip planked gaff rigged daysailer
  • traditional clinker 14ft Dorset crab and lobster boat Witch of Weymouth

‘The BBC filmed Witch of Weymouth’s launch because of a piece they’d run about her build earlier in the year, but the other boats deserved just as much attention.

‘The motor launch is now on her way to Australia, the canoe was last seen heading for Norwich on a roof rack and the daysailer is stored in a garage until the summer. Witch of Weymouth will grace the workshop until after Christmas, when she’ll go home to Portland before heading off to the National Maritime Museum Cornwall at Falmouth.

‘Attached are some photographs of the day – our favourite is the class of March 2010 all looking jolly in Witch of Weymouth. More will follow next week.’

Chris Partridge of Rowing for Pleasure has more on the Whitehall skiff and it’s builder’s amazing public proposal here. There’s also a Youtube video including photos from the workshop here.

Thanks Yvonne! We’re looking forward to hearing more shortly. Also if anyone has any further photos, Youtube videos or anything else they’d like to send in, please let me know at gmatkin@gmail.com.

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An extraordinary launch at Lyme for Gail McGarva’s lerret Littlesea

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Launch day for Gail McGarva’s lerret Littlesea. Those Boat Building Academy folks certainly know how to organise a party!

Gail McGarva’s lerret named Littlesea was launched at Lyme with all due ceremony on the 31st July, during the town’s Lifeboat Fortnight. Vera, the last seaworthy original lerret built in 1923 and the model for the new boat, was in attendance, along with two local racing gigs and what from the photos looks like half the town.

The lerret is a boat wholly native to Lyme Bay going back to 1682, and is a beautiful beamy double-ended clinker vessel of 17ft, built in elm on oak. Designed to be launched and landed from the area’s steeply-shelving stony beaches, lerrets have remained virtually unchanged from their beginning.

Although primarily used for mackerel fishing, lerrets also earned such respect for their seaworthiness that in the early 19th century the newly formed RNLI adopted two for service as lifeboats. Archive material recounting their stories of saving lives at sea is said to be extensive and quite remarkable, and Littlesea was launched during Lifeboat Fortnight in order to celebrate the connection.

As an earlier post about the project explained, Gail was awarded a scholarship to build a lerret from the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, funded by the Royal Warrant Holders Association.

Gail built this boat by eye – that is, without designer drawings – under the mentorship of Roy Gollop,one of the last remaining boatbuilders in Dorset with this particular skill.

Littlesea is to be actively used as a training boat to enable young people to gain confidence at sea,develop their rowing skills and work together as team.

The new lerret and procession, complete with an oar salute from Lyme Regis Gig Club, journeyed from the Boat Building Academy,which  housed the building of the boat, to the harbour slipway. The boat bearers and rowers were dressed in Sunday best of white shirts and waistcoats in a deliberate echo of boatyard launches of the past, and were accompanied by a brass band.

Gail gave a speech and presented Roy with a traditional yard foreman’s bowler hat in appreciation of his guidance and support, and the new lerret was named by Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust president William Gunn. The boat was blessed, a local songwriter performed a song for the occasion, and the boat was then carried through an archway of Cornish pilot gig oars, scattered with sea salt for safe passage at sea and launched behind the protective arm of the harbour’s sea wall, known as the Cobb.

Littlesea was then guided out to sea by the RNLI lifeboat The Pearl of Dorset, accompanied by Vera and escorted by Lyme’s two Cornish pilot gigs,which were also build by Gail in 2008 and 2009.

Littlesea is the local name for the Fleet behind Chesil Beach, as Gail learned from 90-year old Majorie Ireland. Marjorie’s family worked the lerrets along Dorset’s shores.

There are many references to lerrets in Basil Greenhill’s Working boats of Britain: their shape and purpose and also a nice description, a drawing and photos in his Chatham directory of inshore craft.

Don’t miss the great Boatbuilding Academy students’ launch, 8.30am, this Saturday

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Sadie Snowdon Johnny Tyson Teddy at sea

dsc_0528 cirrus-with-mike-broome-bba-instructor-designer seapod-the-peapod-5

Some of the boats Academy students have built in the past: Sadie Snowdon’s dory; Johnny Tyson’s whitehall; Edward Hoogewerf’s Ebihen;Marc Chivers’ pilot punt; Bob Hinks’ Cirrus; and Charlie Hussey’s Seapod the Peapod

If you’re in the area, don’t forget the Boatbuilding Academy’s students are due to launch their boats at Lyme on Saturday, starting at 8.30am. Read this earlier post to find out what boats will be included this year.