Boat Building Academy student Shane Butcher built a gaff-rigged 10ft sailing dinghy while on the BBA’s 38-week course, and launched it on the big student launch day in December.
Shane’s previous life was in civil engineering, however he has always had a passion for sailing and woodwork, and to him a change of career starting with a course at the Academy seemed an obvious next step.
Shane’s build was Dreamer, a composite-built copy of a clinker-built rowing boat belonging to the Academy.
The BBA folks reckon that Barnacle’s stem hull is a good general shape for rowing and sailing, and Ollie Rees, who was on the 2010 long course also built a copy of Barnacle, although he used traditional clinker construction methods.
The BBA has kindly agreed to share a set of offsets for Barnacle for anyone who would like to build their own version of the boat. They can be downloaded here: Barnacle 10ft stem dinghy offsets provided by the BBA. It’s nice to be able to get something like this for free – thanks BBA!
How to build the $15 canoe, 1876-style
The $15 figure is at 1876 prices, I’m sorry to say. In this excerpt from a Scientific American Supplement dated that year, Victorian-era writer Paddlefast provides offsets and the rest for a canoe with a simple hull that looks eminently buildable by either clinker or strip-planking methods.
In our time, we’d build it with water-tight compartments fore and aft, but many details could easily remain the same. For example, clever details here including halliards that are led forward through a block to provide forestays, and the drawings include outriggers for rowing.
Thanks here go to Craig O’Donnell, proprieter of the always-intriguing Cheap Pages.
Follow this link for more on sailing canoes at intheboatshed.net.
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“The number of boating men who find pleasure merely in sailing a boat is small compared with those who delight not only in handling, but as well in planning, building, improving or ‘tinkering’ generally on their pet craft, and undoubtedly the latter derive the greater amount of pleasure from the sport. They not only feel a pride in the result of their work, but their pleasure goes on, independent of the seasons. No sooner do cold and ice interfere with sport afloat than the craft is hauled up, dismantled, and for the next half year becomes a source of unlimited pleasure to her owner – and a nuisance to his family and friends. We know one eminent canoeist who keeps a fine canoe in his cellar and feeds her on varnish and brass screws for fifty weeks of every year.”
So wrote WP Stephens in the preface to his classic 1889 manual Canoe and Boatbuilding for Amateurs. It was written at a time when the word ‘amateur’ meant something slightly different to what it says to us today, but we probably all recognise the typical boat owner’s compulsion to change and adapt. Go down to anywhere boats are moored on a Saturday morning, and whatever the tide you’ll probably find half of the craft have a happy tinkerer mooching around on board, armed with nuts and bolts, some odd fittings and a tin of varnish. What could be better, apart from actually sailing?
WP Stephens’ book is a fascinating way into the world of sailing canoes in particular, and will make your next trip to a maritime museum showing old canoes much more worthwhile. Perhaps its value lies in the way canoe designers of the time shared their designs in a way that is much less frequent now – the designs laid out in WP Stephens’ book are complete with their offsets and can be built straight off the page.
So I’d encourage you to find any excuse you can to spend an idle hour with an online book that will take you, for free, back to an earlier time: