Mouseboats built and launched at Faversham

Folks on a training course at the Faversham Creek Trust’s Purifier Building led by local boatbuilder and repairman Alan Thorne have been building Mouseboats to my free plans – and yesterday they launched four of them on a pond at the head of the Creek.

A good crowd turned out to cheer and witness the event, and even the local press arrived with their cameras!

A fifth Mouseboat also turned up to be launched – this one was built by Terry Croucher, who has been working as an assistant to Alan.

Plans for the Mouseboats are available free from the Yahoogroup Mouseboats. To obtain them you have to sign up to join the  Yahoo (and the  Yahoogroup). Alternatively, some folks prefer to buy my book published some years ago – it is available from Amazon, but be warned that the new prices is a lot less than some folks are charging for second-hand copies!

The 8ft Mouseboats cost very little to make and are typically very light – they can be carried in one hand, yet can allow folks to go on the water very conveniently. Hundreds have been built around the world.

The boats built by Alan’s group are the Minimouse model with an easy to build flat bottom, but other similarly easy to build types for different purposes are available from the Yahoogroup.

Percy Mitchell boat Tudor Owen launch photo – and the crazy story of how they used to launch boats at Portmellon

Reader Roly Deighton sent us this photo from Melbourne, Australia, thinking that it showed the Tudor Owen built by well known boat builder Percy Mitchell being launched through a gap in the sea wall at Portmellon.

Naturally I contacted current local boat builder Marcus Lewis to ask if he could add anything – and he could. Yes, he confirmed, the boat is indeed Mitchell’s Tudor Owen, and added that the boat was bound for a customer at Brixham, the date would be in the early 1950s and the boat was on a temporary slipway down to the sea.

But if you think that was elaborate, consider what Marcus had to say next.

‘Prior to this, the boats had to be taken over the sea wall. This was a pretty precarious operation, during which the coast road would be completely blocked. The attached photo [see below] is a picture of the Torbay Belle balanced on top of the wall, waiting to descend the temporary slipway onto the beach.

‘Because of a problem with the lower ramp, the Belle sat like this for a day and a half while the lower ramp was levelled-up – and the road was blocked for three days. Then, at high tide her chocks were knocked out and she slid into the water without a problem.’

Could you could get insurance for something like that these days, he asks?

My thanks to both Roly and Marcus for this information.

Marcus is well known for building the local Troy class of racing keelboats, and the Fowey River class sailing dinghies. For more posts relating to Marcus and his work, click here.

PS – Roly later sent me this photo showing storm damage at Portmellon, in which the sea wall is almost all gone. There’s a quote on the village’s Wikipedia entry that leaves no doubt: ‘The true nature of this delightful little east facing cove is betrayed by the fact that all the houses along the sea front have stout wooden shutters which can be closed over their windows for those times when storms drive the waves over the sea wall.’

A beautiful and touching short video made by friends of Ben Crawshaw

Ben launching Onawind Blue video


This is a lovely piece of film, but don’t let that distract you from noticing how Ben Crawshaw has the art of launching down pat – or the way he uses a topping lift to enable him to row efficiently. This fella has something to teach us.

And, as usual, he has his boat looking great, and the low sun looks even better on the sparkling water of Spain’s Mediterranean coast in January this year.

I found the Vimeo link on Ben’s website a bit difficult – if you have trouble making it work well, look out for a button that takes you to a YouTube presentation of the same snatch of film.