A mystery boat – can anyone identify this old clinker-built dinghy?

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clinker, dinghy, spider T

clinker, dinghy, spider T

A mystery dinghy with a rather nice old-fashioned shape. But what is she, and how old?

Mal Nicholson has sent me these two photos of a boat he has bought, and which he intends to fettle up for use as a tender with the Humber sloop known as Spider T. Read all about her here.

She’ll fit neatly on Spider T’s carling hatches – but what is she? Mal says he has a mast and sails, but there’s no centreboard and there seem to be no identifying marks.

I’d say she was about 16ft in length, or may be a foot or two longer, and that she has a rather nice shape.

By they way, on the 13th and 14th March Mal and friends will be holding an open day from 10am to 4pm at Spider T’s home moorings at Keadby Lock near the A18; she will be open from 10 am to 4 pm on the Saturday and 11 am to 4 pm on the Sunday. If you get along, do mention intheboatshed.net – I gather you might just get a guided tour!

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Gadfly II – coin evidence could make her older than originally thought

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48-470Gadfly II under restoration – she may be considerably
older than originally thought

Simon Papendick, who is working on Gadfly II (see earlier posts here and here), has written to say that he has found a 1908 Edward VII penny under a grown frame below the mast, which strongly suggests the boat is rather older than previously thought.

She was previously understood to have been built in Kent along the lines of the Blackwater sloops, which I believe were built in Maldon by boatbuilder Dan Webb from the 1920s. (See an example for sale here.)

Simon says: ‘It was the custom to put a coin under the mast step on the top of the keel in a sailing boat or under the base of the stem on a motor boat, so that if the the boat should ever be rebuild of destroyed it will be possible to find out the year it was built.

‘I have always kept this up in all the wooden boats I have been involved in building since the custom was explained to me by my first boss, who was himself told that this was a long standing custom when he was an apprentice. He always did this to continue the custom handed down to him.’

So it seems Gadfly II may well be considerably older than was first thought and, if so, she predates the Blackwater sloops build by Dan Webb at Maldon in Essex. Could it be that Webb saw this boat, liked her and copied and then modified her lines to create his famous Blackwater sloop?

Certainly this story is becoming more and more interesting – can anyone out there shed any further light on Gadfly II’s mysterious background and her obvious connection with Webb’s series of Essex-built boats?

Simon Papendick, who runs J-Star Tuition & Boat Services, can be reached at 07799401650 and info@jstartuition-boatservices.co.uk.

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Oyster boats and mystery boats

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Fal oyster boats at Mylor. As usual, click on the images
for larger photos

The start of the Tall Ships Race included some interesting-looking mystery boats, as did a brief trip to Mylor and it’s cute little church. But first I thought I should show you some of the last sail-powered fishing boats in the UK. These yacht-like vessels work oyster beds in the Fal and Helford estuaries and are forbidden by a local byelaw from using engines. On their days off I gather those who work them also enjoy some keen racing.

For material relating to Percy Dalton, artist and designer of the St Melorus Fal oyster boat, click here.

Falmouth quay punt (I’d guess), a handsome motor cruiser, and
a mackerel driver (again, that’s my guess) at the start of the Tall
Ships race. That’s Sedov in the background in the last photo,
by the way

I was intrigued by this little dinghy, which must have been either
strip-planked or carvel, or something in between. Does anyone
know the answer from what you can see?