NMMC sets up international vernacular craft database

Vernacular craft database

National Maritime Museum Cornwall scholars are assembling a database of details of craftsman-built boats from around the world that are known to be in the UK and are appealing for information about suitable craft that should be added.

See the index here.

Many of those identified so far are held in museum and other collections, but they turn up in some strikingly unexpected places – including a Sri Lankan boat that is part of a shop display on the isle of Skye.

The craft should be essentially craftsman-built rather than designed by a designer or marine architect, locally-built and suitable for local conditions. Most are working boats which were used for fishing and transport.

Barbary piracy in the West Country and more from the NMMC

NMMC Barbary Pirates

Are you sitting comfortably? If so I have got some serious reading for you this morning, published on its website by the National Maritime Museum Cornwall.

The first item on the agenda is a fascinating account of how the famous period of Barbary piracy in the South West during the 17th century worked.

It seems that the captives were often ransomed, that both Catholic and Anglican churches had a large part to play in negotiating and paying ransomes, but would not play any part in returning captive slaves who had converted to Islam. More, it seems that returned captive slaves were often regarded with some suspicion on their return, and some women among them ‘turned Turk’ in order to stay with their children.

The second item is In search of the Queen Transport, a thorough investigation of the historical sources regarding the wrecking two centuries ago of the ship Queen Transport in Falmouth Harbour with the loss of 200 lives, most of them soldiers returning from from fighting in the Peninsular War under Wellington. There’s a remarkable monument to the victims in Mylor churchyard – see it here.

The consensus seems to be that although the ship was in a harbour generally regarded as safe, there were serious questions over how much effort had been made to moor her securely.

Boat Building Academy and National Maritime Museum Cornwall launch short courses at Falmouth

Ropework course

The National Maritime Museum Cornwall and the Boat Building Academy have teamed up to run a series of short three- and five-day courses at the Falmouth museum’s premises.

The first weekend course, ‘Make a fender – decorative ropework and splicing’, with BBA visiting instructor Roy Gollop on 30 and 31 March will teach decorative ropework and splicing, and participants will make a fender to take away.

Roy began his marine career as an apprentice boat builder in 1946 before enlisting in the Royal Marines, where he was responsible first for landing craft operations before becoming senior instructor of seamanship.

He returned to Lyme Regis and managed the family fishing business for several years until he reopened his  toolbox and began building clinker dinghies and working boats for local people.

BBA  principal Yvonne Green says that running short courses at the NMMC gives the Academy the opportunity to offer short practical workshops outside the limited space available at its Lyme Regis premises.

  • hand tool sharpening and timber preparation 4th-5th May
  • basic joints 11th-12th May
  • dovetails 18th-19th May
  • wooden boat restoration 17-21 June
  • bending wood 22-23 June
  • half model making 29th-30th June
  • replace and scarf a plank 6th-7th July
  • repair a ply dinghy 3rd-4th August
  • ‘Knees up’ with Gail McGarva (shape a knee for a 12ft clinker sailing dinghy and have it fitted to a boat) 17th-18th August
  • basic woodworking skills continued 30th September – 4th October
  • oar making 2nd-3rd November

More information is in the programme: BBA courses at the NMMC 2013.

Also new from the BBA is a timber supply and machining service that will also cut timber brought in by customers.

Timber generally in stock includes sapele (25mm, 32mm and 50mm), American white oak (25mm and 50mm), European oak (25mm, 32mm and 50mm), Western red cedar (25mm and 50mm), Douglas fir (25mm, 32mm and 50mm), Far Eastern ply (4mm, 6mm, 9mm, 12mm and 18mm), Robbins Elite ply (6mm).

Machining of strip planking (with bead and cove) at 6mm and 9mm thickness is also available. Contact the BBA on 01297 445545 or email office@boatbuildingacademy.com.

Sawn timber