Some boats at the Barton HBBR meet

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A traditional ‘Welsh woman’ style wherry burgee on a shed at Barton Turf
catches the evening sun. Click on the images for larger shots

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HBBR member Wayne Oliver’s boat built to Conrad Natzio’s Oystercatcher
design and fitted with deadeyes, shrouds and other entertaining features

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Chris Perkins perfect little Stangarra built to Iain Oughtred’s Stickleback plans
was deservedly very popular – here it is paddled by Ewan Ryan-Atkin and
HBBR member Peter Nobes

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Tim O’Connor’s Iain Oughtred designed Acorn skiff named Ardilla

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Mark Harvey sails his father’s Goat Island skiff built to plans from Michael Storer


Nearly two weeks ago now we finally met the Home Built Boat Rally folks at their annual meet at the Barton Turf Adventure Centre. The images above are just a small selection of photos – so I’m sorry if anyone’s upset at being left out!

I’ll say a little more about the Barton Centre in a moment, but first I’d like to talk about the HBBR and its members. I’ve been a member of its Yahoo Group and publicised its website and events almost since Alec Jordan of Jordan Boats first floated the idea, but life’s usual complications have prevented us from attending any of their events.

Having met the HBBR group, I’m glad to be able to report that in real life they turn out to be a jolly bunch whose members cover the spectrum that ranges from boating enthusiasts who happen to have made their own boat at one end to perfectionist boatbuilding enthusiasts who are only now getting into boating – or maybe never will. The HBBR is a broad church, but it’s also one that has fun.

Julie and I rolled up together with my two teenagers Ella and Ewan, played with the boats and took photos – and my kids enjoyed themselves so much that they want to attend again next year, even though teens are usually allergic to any group  made up mainly of blokes of their father’s age.

As I write many of the Home Built Boat Rally folks are currently making their way from Lechlade in Oxfordshire down to Pangbourne for the Beale Park Thames Boat Show. I hope the weather holds for them, and that their nights are reasonably comfortable!

On the Barton Turf Adventure Centre, I’d like to say that Ella and Ewan had a superb week’s sailing tuition on Barton Broad while we stayed in our caravan and tents on the site, and Julie and I alternately sailed and went sight-seeing. The fact that we could camp made the cost of the course affordable, and the Fishwick family who largely run the place couldn’t have been more kind and helpful during our stay.

As well as sailing tuition, the Barton Centre caters for groups involved in boating, ecology and nature study and it’s difficult to imagine a better place for these activities. It’s certainly an excellent base for small boat sailing. Click here to get to the BTAC website.

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Two happy teens: Ewan and Ella Ryan Atkin at the end of a busy
week’s sailing tuition at Barton Turf Adventure Centre

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The new James Caird at the Beale Park Thames Boat Show this weekend

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The new James Caird, photographed a few days ago

If you’re wondering what to do this weekend – perhaps now’s the time to decide, for Friday sees the first day of the three-day Beale Park Thames Boat Show at Pangbourne!

An important attraction of the show this year is a recreation of the small ship’s boat that Sir Ernest Shackleton and his small crew used to reach Elephant Island, the James Caird, which is currently being built by students of the International Boatbuilding Training College (IBTC) at Lowestoft. We saw it during a brief visit to the college last week, and were made very welcome – the college is always pleased to receive visitors.

I was particularly amazed by the scale and diversity of the traditional boatbuilding projects under way at the IBTC, and will be writing more about it shortly.

At the Beale Park show students are scheduled to work on the James Caird’s deck beams and caulking. If you don’t know the story, after Shackleton’s expedition ship Endurance became trapped in pack ice in the Weddell Sea he and 28 men crossed a chaotic maze of ice in three salvaged boats and finally a small group including Shackleton sailed across the Southern Ocean to South Georgia to safety and to organise the rescue of the rest of the crew. The successful journey stands as one of the most impressive small boat voyages ever made – there were gales almost all the way, and it took 17 days of constant constant pumping and chipping ice from the hull and rig to prevent capsize before the little boat landed at South Georgia.

Three of the crew then climbed a four thousand foot mountain climb before staggering into Stromness whaling station to raise the alarm.

Commissioned by The Honourable Alexandra Shackleton, the new James Caird is to be used by by an expedition to re-create the voyage and mountain climb led by environmentalist and explorer Tim Jarvis.

The original boat was constructed of Baltic pine on steamed elm frames; in the absence of these, the students are using European larch on steamed oak. She is copper fastened with keel stem and a stern of grown oak. The students have planked her to the same original sheer and then built up with a further three planks in the same way as the original James Caird, and she will be decked in and canvassed. Caulking will be with cotton and she will be paid up with white lead putty, and then the whole boat will be painted white.

For more intheboatshed.net posts on the James Caird voyage and project including stunning photos of South Georgia, click here.

For more intheboatshed.net posts relating to the Beale Park Thames Boat Show, click here.

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Victoria of Bridlington, a Bridlington rowing boat at the Beale Park Boat Show

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Victoria of Bridlington

It’s high time we had some more photos from the Beale Park Thames Boat Show, as this year’s event isn’t too long away. If it isn’t already in your diary it takes place on the River Thames at Pangbourne, and the dates this year are the 5th-7th June.

Victoria of Bridlington is a Bridlington rowing boat built by the Siddalls, a Bridlington boatbuilding family – read all about them at the website of the Bridlington Sailing Coble Preservation Society. Nowadays, she’s apparently one of two similar boats kept on the Thames, and there’s even a small website including photos of Victoria and an even cuter dog.

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