A robbery – but was the evidence what it seemed to be?

Widebeam canal and river cruiser sailer Ian Buchanan has kindly written in with a scenario that will be familiar to many boat owners…

‘It was almost dawn on a chilly December weekend morning. Still in my pyjamas I hear the house phone ring: ‘Hello I am a dog walker and just passed your widebeam and its been broken into. One of your boat’s windows is smashed.’

‘Thanks everso, I said. And rapidly threw on some clothes and headed off to our treasured nature reserve mooring.

‘While I was on the way my wife rang the local police and they said they’d quickly send forensics from twenty miles away, which seemed impressive.

‘I didn’t have to wait long. I met the police man in a van at the Reserve’s gate and we went aboard to view the carnage.

‘All the tinned food had gone and my treasured booze cupboard was empty bar one small bottle.

‘I said to the forensic guy: ‘Look over there on the floor near the sink, is that blood?’

‘”Wow, DNA,” I thought “we’ll catch the bastards.”

‘The forensics guy looked at it. “No, that’s not quite the right colour,” he said.

‘I won’t tell you what was in that bottle beyond giving you the clue that it was what my parents used to make their gin go pink… The varmints, obviously of a younger generation, didn’t like it one bit and must have spat it out on the floor…

‘As it turned out, there was no usable forensic evidence to collect: no finger prints and no clues, and the robbers were not caught – but they also visited three other nearby cruisers and took leisure batteries, expensive river fishing gear and even an inverter.’

Thanks Ian – yup, it’s a common enough problem that we can all relate to. I hope it doesn’t happen again!

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Stirling and Son build a traditional 17ft Tamar salmon boat for the Scobles

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Tamar salmon boat Gloria Marcella. Click on the thumbnails for bigger images

Stirling and Son are currently building some smaller boats after having had to relocate to a garage while they organise themselves some new premises – for some years they were based at Morwelham Quay, which is sadly now in administration.

To prevent misunderstanding, I should explain that the garage is a temporary arrangement and that the outfit will be moving to new premises to begin a new 44ft project by the end of this month. Meanwhile, however, Will and his colleagues have been hard at work, as he reports, and have sent in these very nice shots of a Tamar salmon boat in build:

‘Two recent new builds in the garage have been a 17ft salmon boat for the river Tamar and an 11ft pilot’s punt for a pilot cutter.

‘One of the elder salmon fisherman, Alec Scoble, who has net fished the Tamar in wooden boats since the 1950s has ordered a new boat in preparation for the renewal of the fishing licences, which have been suspended since 2004.

‘In order to increase the viability of the boat, Alec’s son Colin Scoble will net fish with tourists in the traditional manner, tagging and releasing the fish for the National Rivers Authority. Also as a continuation of the family tradition Alec’s grandson, Sam Scoble, helped build the boat.

‘There were no plans for Tamar salmon boats; it seems most likely that none have ever existed, so in order to record the shape for the future, I created a draught of the shape based on dimensions given by Alec. Before planking small alterations were made to the forward moulds following an inspection by Alec and his friend Frankie, who had both fished the river since War War II. The draught was altered accordingly and is now held by the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich.

‘The boat is named in memory of Alec’s wife Gloria Marcella, and  has an oak backbone and framing with spruce planking; all fastenings are copper and bronze.’

‘Best wishes, Will’

Will does seem to have the knack of finding some great projects!

Stirling and Son are offering plans for a traditional general purpose 9ft clinker-built dinghy and an 11ft pilot punt of 1900. For more on these, see this earlier post.

The Wikipedia on punts and punting

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Punt builder\'s workshop, photo from the Wikimedia Commons, taken by Thruston

Punt in boatbuilder’s workshop, photo from the
Wikimedia Commons, taken by Thruston

I really can’t add anything to this excellent Wikipedia entry on the punt – one day all its entries will be like this.

Do you know there are still people out there, particularly in publishing, who think the Wikipedia is useless? I once had a rancourous argument with a senior director for a magazine and events company when I dared to suggest that the model was a good and useful one. No doubt sour grapes can grow almost anywhere…

The names of a punt\'s various parts

The names of a punt’s component parts, image from the
Wikimedia, drawn by Thruston

See also:

Henry Taunt’s 19th Century photos of the Thames

Punts galore at Oxford

Free online boatbuilding plans for a racing punt