Mark Napier’s Julie skiff

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In South Africa, Mark Napier has built a Julie skiff adapted for a sliding seat, and loves it! Here’s what he says:

‘Hi Gavin,

‘I built a rowing boat based on your Julie skiff design. I fitted it with a sliding seat and use it to troll for large mouth bass.

‘Being my first boat, I made a few mistakes. Fortunately, I discovered that my father has a friend who is on his fifth boat, so he gave me tips on local suppliers of decent epoxy and varnishes.

‘Stitch and glue is not big out here in South Africa. The epoxy supplier is nearby in Durban, luckily.

‘The boat has turned out really nicely. I made some minor changes to the foredeck and transom – I wanted to fit two sliding seats on the boat, but I realise now that that’s going to be tight for comfort.

‘I power it with a 2hp outboard as well, which works great, especially when I keep the weight well balanced. I wouldn’t mind getting a sneaker motor later.

‘We have the Albert Falls dam 15 minutes down the road – a wonderful setting. Good fishing too.

‘The sliding seat is just wonderful. I started rowing (sculling) last year, but was looking for something where I could include my two young daughters. I considered many designs, but settled on yours due to its simplicity. It is so awesome to row for brilliant exercise, to be stable in the boat and able to enjoy the scenery around us.

‘Many thanks for making your designs available to the public.

‘Kind regards,

‘Mark’

The boat looks great and the lake is even better! What a handsome lake to have just 15 minutes from your home.

It’s great to see another Julie skiff on the water and to have a builder so pleased with the boat – Julie herself is delighted as well. I trust Mark realises those girls will likely need little boats of their own one day when the can swim well…

Plans for the Julie skiff, a lightweight and easy to build stitch and glue plywood skiff developed from traditional flat-bottomed skiff designs are available here. There is of course no need at all to have the complicated sliding seat arrangement if you don’t fancy it – for most of us a simple thwart, and oarlocks and oars will do nicely.

What’s more if you’d prefer a smaller boat, the Julie has sisters at 14ft and 12ft.

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.

Shipwright John Owles warns against laying timber decks on plywood

Rotten timber from a timber on plywood deck - John Owles shipwright

Rotten stuff from the timber and plywood deck of Antares. Scary, isn’t it?

Cornwall shipwright John Owles has issued a stern warning against timber-on-plywood decks: the commonly-used technique of laying timber decks onto a plywood substrate is doomed to failure.

‘Have one or the other type of deck construction but do not mix the two,’ he says to anyone considering a big repair and restoration job.

John makes his point on a web page reporting on restoration work he did on Antares, a 55ft schooner that was in his yard a little while ago. Her decks consisted of teak planking reclaimed from an old steamer laid onto a plywood substrate and payed with a polysulphide rubber – and the result was widespread rot.

The choice is clear, he argues: if you want a traditional-looking deck then lay a proper traditional deck using fully dried timber. Otherwise lay an epoxy-glass sealed plywood deck and paint it with a two-pack polyurethane sprinkled with glass beads for grip.

With timber on ply decks, it is almost impossible to achieve a good seal, even when the substrate is coated with epoxy.

This is particularly true where fastenings pass through the timber planking and plywood: ‘When a hole is cut in plywood it exposes 360 degrees of end grain, so every layer is at risk of absorbing water.

‘When moisture is trapped in these mid-layers where there is no air circulation, it is impossible for it to dry out… creating an ideal climate for any spores to become active and so the risk of rot is ever present.’

In building a deck, try to avoid anything that allows hidden water to hang around, he adds, and keep your vessel very well ventilated, especially when left unattended.

See John’s website here: www.rovcom.co.uk