Ian Baird’s replica of a Dorset crab and lobster boat in the workshop

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Ian Baird's Dorset crab and lobster boat at the Boat Building Academy

Boat Building Academy student Ian Baird’s project to build a replica of the rare Dorset crab and lobster boat known as Witch of Worbarrow during his course is continuing apace, as it must to be be ready for the big launch on the 9th December.

For more posts relating to Witch and Worbarrow, click here.

Ian, who was a novice woodworker at the beginning of his nine month course at the BBA, has been commissioned to write three articles on his experiences for Watercraft Magazine. The first of his articles will be published in January 2011.

“The centreline structure went together reasonably simply, but the first three planks on either side were really difficult for a fledgling boat builder,’ he reports. ‘The garboard and plank above both return onto the keel and the stern post at an awkward angle and there was a good deal of steaming, rabbet altering and scratching of heads, but we got it right in the end. The third plank was a bit of trouble too, with a tight curve onto the transom, but we are now banging on a plank a day.’

Ian says there has been a lot of interest in Ian’s project: ‘We originally put out a press release to try and winkle out any information we could about the original boat’s life and times, but the response has been more than I could have hoped for.

‘Interest from Intheboatshed.net, local television news and local papers has reached an extraordinarily wide audience and many people have come forward with information and pictures for which I am extremely grateful.’

A pictorial diary of Ian’s project is available at the BBA website.

The launch of the BBA’s March 2010 project boats will take place in the harbour at Lyme Regis, Dorset, at 9am on Wednesday 9th December 2010.

Want to learn more about boatbuilding using the clinker technique? Try John  Leather’s book Clinker boatbuilding at the revived intheboatshed.net A-store.

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More on Nick Smith’s latest motor launch

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Nick Smith has written in with some more photos of his current project, which he’s given the working title of Bamboo Viper II, because she’s very much like an earlier boat he built by the same name – you can see earlier posts here and here. Here’s what he says about his preparations for putting in the ribs.

‘BV II is now planked up, primed inside so the frames have paint behind them and less likely to rot out the contact faces between rib and plank. I have located some good New Forest oak and have machined that up ready at 15/16ths of an inch by 9/16ths.

‘I have had to pick and choose to avoid knots,short grain and sap, and despite that usually allow an extra 25 to 50 per cent extra for breakages anyway. It’s a nuisance to run short then have to machine and steam a second batch or even just an annoying one or two to finish off.

‘The oak is ‘green’ – that is wet almost straight from felling. It steams better having moisture inside, and in the meantime the ribs are wrapped in wet cloth and then polythene on the outside until they are ready to go in the steam box.

‘The cost of the material is around £200! English oak isn’t cheap, and amazingly kiln-dried American white oak is cheaper!

‘It’s getting ever more difficult to get hold of all three key components – seasoned planking timber, good oak and copper fastenings. The price of copper has rocketed in the last two or three years.

‘I’ll send some photos of the steaming out process and the planked and framed hull when it’s done – it’ll be a couple of weeks yet. Meanwhile I have jumped ahead a stage or two and machined the gun’ls and risers ready to go in on top of the frames.

‘Cheers

‘Nick’

Nick comes from Devon, learned boatbuilding the traditional way and specialises in new builds in clinker and carvel for sail, motor and rowing power from 8ft to 28ft with a special emphasis on West Country style and design, and also takes on repairs and refits from 25ft to 50ft. These days he’s based in Hampshire, and can be contacted by email at nick_smith_boatbuilder@yahoo.com and by phone on phone on 07786 693370.

Want to learn more about boatbuilding using the clinker technique? Try John  Leather’s book Clinker boatbuilding at the revived intheboatshed.net A-store.

Nick Smith’s latest 20ft motor launch now planked up – and waiting for her ribs

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nick smith 20ft launch planking

nick smith 20ft launch planking painting

Nick Smith has now finished planking his latest 20ft motor launch project, which he’s given the working title of Bamboo Viper II. The name comes from an earlier similar boat named Bamboo Viper that he built some years ago and has exhibited regularly at the Beale Park Thames Boat Show.

Reaching this point in the build caused him to reflect for a moment on how boats these days are expected to last much longer than in years gone by, and on how builders have changed their approach. Here’s what he says:

‘Gav,

‘So Bamboo Viper II is all planked up, the boat is to be painted throughout except for varnished topstrake, and so the hull primed inside before the ribs go in, which will protect the timber under the ribs in the bilge.

‘Back in the day, these boats were built quickly and with a built-in short life – they were built bare and painted or varnished only after the build.

‘I’m reminded of the night in Clovelly when there was the famous storm many years ago when some 50 dinghies were smashed up on the beach. Losses like that were a regular occurrance years ago, so why bother to build boats to last?

‘It’s different now, the boats are pleasure boats that are not heavily used, and and are cotton-wooled compared with the old boats. So I build them to yacht standards both structurally and finish-wise.

‘Now gearing up for steaming out of the green oak timbers. More photos will be on their way after the steam out.

‘Regards

‘Nick’

Thanks Nick. I guess there are quite a few factors here; there’s obviously no doubt that working boats have a much harder life than most boats built for leisure use. I’d guess also that in the old days in many places there would simply be more working craft needing moorings – and that some would necessarily be moored in more vulnerable locations than others. I wonder also about the quality of the moorings – have we got better at this kind of thing, I wonder?

I’d also guess that another factor is that boats used for pleasure purposes get left for months at a time, often because of work commitments, family issues and so on. A working boat is much more likely to get regular use, and therefore regular care and maintenance.

And hey, Nick, how about a stop-time video of the steam out? Has anyone got a camera that can do it automatically?

Click here for more posts relating to Nick’s impressive old-fashioned motor launches.

Nick, who is a WBTA member, comes from Devon, learned boatbuilding the traditional way and specialises in new builds in clinker and carvel for sail, motor and rowing power from 8ft to 28ft with a special emphasis on West Country style and design, and also takes on repairs and refits from 25ft to 50ft. These days he’s based in Hampshire, and can be contacted by email at nick_smith_boatbuilder@yahoo.com and by phone on phone on 07786 693370.

Want to learn more about boatbuilding using the clinker technique? Try John  Leather’s book Clinker boatbuilding at the revived intheboatshed.net A-store.