BBA students build a Eric Hvalsoe-designed rowing and sailing dinghy in cedar



Photos by Emma Brice, Philippa Gedge and Jenny Steer

This lightweight Hvalsoe 16 rowing and sailing dinghy built in cedar was made by Boat Building Academy students Rob Murphy and Matt McGlade with the help of Matt Cowdery.

Read about the Hvalsoe 16 and its sister the Hvalsoe 13 at the website of  veteran Seattle boat builder and designer Eric Hvalsoe.

Rob wanted a boat that he could enjoy with his family, and chose this design as he wanted a lightweight boat that he would be able to use in protected waters and be able to launch by himself.

I gather Rob is ‘chuffed to bits’ with Skylark – he’s pleased with her light weight and finds it easy to manage, launch and recover the boat by himself. He has now sailing her in Poole Harbour and Stithians Reservoir – a fresh water lake in Cornwall – with his family on a recent holiday.

Skylark sails and rows very well and Rob says that his kids haven’t managed to break any part of her yet!

Rob has recently taken over a new workshop in Briantspuddle near to Bere Regis in Dorset and is starting a new boat building and repairs business to be called Blue Lias Marine. Once it has been set up, he has promised to let me know his web address, which I will post here.

Before attending at the BBA, Matt McGlade completed 20 years in the army during which time he acquired a range of useful skills. Having learned woodwork and boatbuilding at the BBA, he has now moved to Bolton, where he is continuing his studies.

Matt Cowdery who had previously worked on superyachts worked on Skylark in its earlier stages but moved on to a glass fibre restoration  project. He’s now working at Reading, building wooden frames for restored Bentleys – a line of work that that has a lot in common with boat building.

Jamie Poynton and friends build a stitch-and-glue runabout

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Jamie Poynton and friends built this 14ft vee-bottomed stitch and glue
marine ply and epoxy runabout at the Boat Building Academy

Boat Building Academy principal Yvonne Green has sent us still more great photos from the Academy’s  student launch day in December, this time of a stitch and glue runabout built by Jamie Poynton and friends. Thanks again Yvonne!

Jamie lives in Axmouth, near Lyme Regis and for a while commuted weekly to Eel Pie Island in London to work with his grandad, who was renovating a 1950s tug.

City & Guilds awarded him a full bursary to enable him to join the course at the Boat Building Academy.  With help from fellow students Seb Evans and guitar maker Rob Murphy, Jamie built a  14ft vee-bottomed stitch and glue outboard runabout in marine ply, based on a V-shaped ski boat.

Yvonne calls this the Chanel boat because of it’s clean, simple look, posh laid mahogany deck and beautifully finished black and white paintwork, black carpet and white leatherette seating, and adds that the photo at the top (Jamie in the back, Rob and Seb in the front) sums up the atmosphere in their particular part of the workshop during the course.  ‘It was fantastic seeing them thrilled by their own achievement and looking cool on launch day’, she says.

The form of the boat was created by Academy instructor Mike Broome, who also designed Bob Hinks’s boat Cirrus. Jamie wanted to build a ski boat, so Mike produced a lines drawing (14ft  loa, 5ft 4in beam, 22 degrees deadrise, 12ft lwl). The bow was a conical development and the panel shapes were generated by first building a panel half model at 2in:1ft from modelling ply. The finished design in terms of deck layout and interior evolved as the boat was built.

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PS Don’t forget to ask for a pdf copy of the Academy’s prospectus for the coming year, as it makes interesting reading. Email Yvonne at and I’m sure she’ll send you a copy.

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