HJ Mears Boat Builders work on a mahogany 25ft clinker-built motor launch

Alex Mears of HJ Mears & Son of Seaton in Devon has written to say that the 25ft mahogany clinker built motor launch they’re working on, Tarka, is coming along well.

You don’t see boats like this too often!

‘I’ve attached some photos of where she’s at currently. The owner has added a fair few extras compared to the original brief – laid decks, solid wood windbreaker/cuddy, but fortunately they appreciate that these extra tasks take extra time, which is especially important when the workload is heavy as usual at this busy time of year!

‘The Beta inboard engine has arrived and we’ve offered it up to the engine beds so the shaft, coupling, prop can now be ordered to correct sizes.

‘There is still an awful lot of varnishing to do (we’ve used over 3 gallons so far and that’s prior to thinning!).

‘The sea toilet and storage tank should be arriving this week. The sink and cooker have been offered up in the galley. The rudder, tiller, floorboards and various hatches are currently being decorated, which takes up a lot of time as the workshop has to limit the dusty work while decorating is going on, so we  we try to do that work at the weekends.

‘She is destined to spend this season on one of our swinging moorings on the River Axe, then next year she’ll head to Kingswear. I think the owner would like a brief change of scene but personally I think the River Dart has a lot to offer!

‘We’ve had a lot of interest from people; visitors to the yard, tweets, e-mails and phone calls; everyone appreciates a classic wooden boat, but not everybody wants one though!

‘Anyway I’ll keep you updated with progress.

‘Take care and keep up the good work, Alex’

Thanks Alex!

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Twinkle 12 sailing dinghy

A reader I know only as Paul has got in touch to tell us about his sweet little Twinkle 12 clinker built dinghy made largely from from the late 1950s. The twinkling varnish seems to make the name so appropriate…

Here’s what he says:

‘Wrights of Ipswich produced the Twinkle for several years in the 1950s and early 60s. They sail very well if looked after and well rigged, and can be quite exciting in strong winds…

‘Not many are now left and I am thinking of setting up an association to keep track of those that are left.

‘Apart from four new timbers cracked by the previous owner’s trailer she is totally original down to the deck fittings. Lots of work over the winter months but great fun.’

‘Thanks for your great website, with best wishes.’

If anyone’s interested in Paul’s proposed association, please email me at gmatkin@gmail.com and I’ll forward your message to him.

Nick Smith planks up Louise – and uses a novel steaming technique

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Planking Louise: Nick uses an on-the-spot steaming
device for the garboards

Hampshire-based boatbuilder Nick Smith is currently planking up a new project, Louise. She’s  a 16ft loa, 6ft beam and will draw about 14in, and built with khaya mahogany planking.

She’s destined for customers in Newton Ferrers,  and won’t be kept on a mooring but will be dry sailed on estuaries and rivers. Her internal layout will be identical to  Nick’s last project Lisa but compared with that boat she will be smaller and more lightly built for ease of launching and recovery, and with finer ends and a flatter sheer.

She’ll have an 11hp Vetus twin diesel installed.

Nick has kindly sent us these photos illustrating his method of steaming garboards and often the first couple of planks in situ using a piece of old inner tube.

The arrangement here looks a bit Heath Robinson – it uses an old thinners tin with an old style kettle element in it – but Nick says it’s very effective and he also uses it to steam frames.

My suggestion, gentle reader, is that it might be a bit scary for most of us to try at home, unless you happen to have the skills of an electical engineer! I’d guess that a big, stable two-ring camping stove would be safer.

However, steaming on the spot is obviously a very neat trick. Nick says: ‘I can’t think who invented this method but I’ve not seen anyone else do it. It’s very effective, however: in the old days the boy would run with the hot plank from the steam box to the boat, but by the time he got there the board was almost cold. But this way the plank is in place already: you just slide the inner tube off, and cramp the hood end up in place.’

Click here for posts mentioning Nick’s previous project, Lisa. If you don’t already know him, Nick comes from Devon 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. He can be contacted by email at nick_smith_boatbuilder@yahoo.com and by phone on phone on 07786 693370.