An appeal for information: does anyone know the story of Shed 55 please?

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Richard Chamberlain has written to ask for information about a Falmouth boatbuilder that seems to be called Shed 55, which used to be locaed at the docks in the town. This is what he has written:

‘I have purchased a 1970 cruiser originally called Windana and that was owned at that time by Derek Bell, a builder of Camborne and then Feock, Truro. In 1987 she belonged to Ray Law of Northwich, Cheshire and was renamed Emaray, and again changed hands around 1995 to Peter Sheene of Letchmore, Herts, who again renamed her, this time to Sandpiper 93.

‘Between being built and 1987 she had a wheelhouse fitted making her a trawler yacht. From the many photos and paper work I thought she was a “one off” boat but by chance I saw the last few minutes of a documentary in which a boat that was Sandpiper’s twin escorting three yachts through the Suez Canal. I believe this boat was called either Lady Pamela or Pauline and would love to know if anybody can help me trace Sandpipers ’sister boats’.

Sandpiper is now moored in Alcudia, Mallorca and is being restored her to her former glory. She is glassfibre over wooden ribs and very strong: her hull is in perfect condition. She has a solid teak deck all round. The interior is all hand finished in mahogany, with all doors hand-made and fitted with louvres.

‘Richard’

Please contact me at gmatkin@gmail.com and I’ll pass the message on the Richard – alternatively, please use the comment button below.

Poole canoes – the motorised flat-bottomed skiffs of Poole Harbour

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Poole canoes, photographed by John Lockwood

Home Built Boat Rally UK (HBBR) member John Lockwood has sent me these photos of a British Isles flattie I hadn’t known about until recently: the oddly-named Poole canoe.

The British Isles aren’t generally thought of as the home of flat-bottomed boats, and I can’t tell you how often I have told me that a flat-bottomed boat can’t work. And yet, there are quite a few around our inland waters and even on our coasts, including the turf boats and flatners of Somerset, the punts of the Rivers Thames and Cam, various gun punts, the Fleet trow and the Wexford cot. And, of course, going up-scale a range of lighters and coastal barge types including the celebrated Thames barge have flat bottoms.

So I was pleased a few weeks ago to learn of the Poole canoe a few weeks ago, and I’m now grateful to John for capturing these slender flattie skiffs with his camera before the original wooden boats disappear. I have the impression that they range up to around 22ft by 4ft or a little over. Thanks for the informative shots John!

A message from ‘Tranona’ on the PBO forum suggests that the boats built in the area for use in Poole Harbour were built by eye – and that British Seagull proprieter Mr Weyhope spent years experimenting to get the best speed out of the boats driven by a Seagull 102 model, which I’d guess was a 2hp type. Looking at the boats in these pictures, they mostly have the small amount of rocker I would expect for a low powered boat, though one or two seem to have rather flatter runs, which would suggest they were intended for a bigger power plant.

In this connection, some weeks ago I put up a post linking to an online ad in which someone was selling an old Seagull outboard still in its original packaging, and accompanied by a set of drawings for building a flat-bottomed skiff, which I suppose is likely to be one of Mr Weyhope’s designs. I’ve posted a tiny thumbnail of the drawings at the bottom of this post, and although it only affords a little information there seems little doubt that the ‘20ft trunnel boat‘ it presents is a Poole canoe, or something very like it.

I must say that I’m particularly interested in these boats at the moment, as they are so similar to a design project I’ve been working on for a friend for some time, and I can’t help feeling that they’re a kind of endorsement of the basic idea.

My project is a little different – my ‘client’ wanted a flat-bottomed design he could build in his garage and that would work with a 4-5hp motor rather than Mr Weyhope’s 2hp model – but the drawings I made before I’d even heard of the Poole canoe seem very like the South Coast boats. See my initial drawings here.

I plan to complete them as soon as I can decide whether the end of the prop should be inside or outside the transom when raised – I notice that the long wells seen in most of these photos imply that the prop is inside the well when the motor is raised – and yet I wouldn’t want to find a flailing prop in my well after hitting an underwater obstruction. Does anyone have any insights on this question?

By the way, I gather GRP Poole canoes are still made for fishermen by Salterns and that the yard has developed a higher powered 22ft model designed for sun bathing, fishing and exploring Poole Harbour, and powered by a 30hp electric start outboard. It even comes with a sun deck, picnic table, cool box, navigation lights, fishing rod holders, a tray in the stern for ring netting and flush decks. All of that seems a long way from the boats in the photos!

Thanks for the shots John!