How to wedge and set a trunnel


How to wedge and set a trunnel – don’t say you haven’t been told.

The link goes to a weblog about the restoration of the Morgan, the last timber-built whaling ship. She’s cared for by Mystic Seaport folks, and the weblog is well worth taking time over.

To see how the a trunnel is inserted and wedged into place, scroll down the post.

BBA students build a Whitehall rowing skiff


Boat Building Academy students Luke Cooper, Casey Milburn and Seby Rubatto built this 14ft 9in by 4ft Whitehall rowing skiff made of glued plywood this summer.

Luke, who is from Devizes, was 18 years old when he joined the academy and had just completed A levels – the story goes that he met BBA graduate Ian Thomson at the Southampton Boat Show and  immediately decided to sign up for the long course.

(Ian was at the show exhibiting his now well known Nestaway boats range of nesting boats, which he’d started to develop when he was on the 38-week BBA course.)

When Luke visited the academy for an interview before joining the course, he noticed a similar Whitehall skiff that 2010 season student Matt Cotterill was building at the time, and so Luke decided to build the same boat on his course. There’s a diary of Matt’s build here.

The boat itself was built from a Robert A Pittaway design obtained from the Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut, and appears in the book 87 Boat Designs – a Catalogue of Small Boat Plans from Mystic Seaport. The plan dates from 1973, and the original boat is said to be still in service at Mystic.

The book Aak to Zumbra- a Dictionary of the World’s Watercraft states that a Whitehall skiff was originally used on the Columbia River in the mid-19th century.

I gather Luke is pleased with the boat and plans to keep it as a rowing boat for himself and his family to use.

Before relocating to Lyme, Casey lived in Antibes in south-eastern France, raced Optimists and Lasers, and from the age of 15 began spending his holidays teaching sailing at Club Nautique D’Antibes.

He completed his Yachtmaster qualification at the age of 18, and then spent three years crewing on super yachts before attending at the BBA.

Casey has returned to France where he is working with friends developing a boat repairs and maintenance business.

Seby came to the BBA from Trieste in Italy – it was his first visit to the UK, and so he spent his time both learning boat building and improving his English. Seby has now returned to Italy and is looking forward to starting a career in boat building.

The first volume of Rudder online

Rushton ad The Rudder magazine

The first year’s issues of the famous 19th century stateside boating magazine The Rudder placed online by Mystic Seaport is liberally sprinkled with strongly expressed views that seem deliberately calculated to offend someone or other.

Today, it all seems quaint but slightly crazy – yet many magazine editors will wish they could be so forthright today.

‘In a paper I saw the following wonderful what is it offered for sale : “A keel sloop, cutter rigged.” We shall soon hear of keel schooners, sloop-rigged and cutter-rigged catboats being bought and sold. How a yacht can be both sloop and cutter at one and the same time is something beyond me. The truth, sad to relate, is, very few if any of our large single-masted racing yachts are sloops; many of the best of them are cutters or that bastard rig which is so far nameless.’

I guess the writer means the rig with a single foresail on a jib. What is that called?


‘One thing strikes the buyer who reads the catalogue of J H Rushton: it is the perfect way in which everything is described. The most minute details of construction and finish of his craft are put down in plain English so that a purchaser knows just what he is going to get for his money. For that reason it is one of the best tracts for the suppression of profanity we have ever seen: he leaves the worst cranks no chance for a growl.’

And again:

‘The black-blight that invades and destroys the racing spirit in yacht clubs is the steam yacht. What quality of blood runs in the veins of a man who will willingly exchange the exciting and exhilarating pastime of sailing for the monotonous privilege of being driven around in a kettle? With obligations to the late Lord St Vincent, we remark that a yachtsman who descends to running a steam yacht is d——d for the sport!’

Thanks to The Good Old Boat Redwing weblog for the linking to these entertaining sets of scans.