Ex-Academy student wins scholarship to build a Dorset lerret by eye

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lerritt-at-portland-1980s

Dorset lerret photographed on the beach. Click on the image to go to the
excellent Burton Bradstock web pages including some interesting photos
of traditional boats

Former Boat Building Academy student, instructor and Cornish pilot gig builder Gail McGarva will be back in the workshops from September to build a traditional Dorset lerret by eye.

Gail has won a £13,500 Queen Elizabeth Scholarship for the project, which is to take place under the mentorship of Roy Gollop, one of the few remaining Dorset boat builders who build this way.

She worked as a qualified sign language interpreter, but after she decided to live on a boat in Bristol became seriously interested in boats and trained at the Boat Building Academy – her course boat Georgie McDonald was a replica of the oldest remaining Shetland boat constructed in 1882. She was also was named the 2005 British Marine Federation Trainee of the Year.

Gail went on to an apprenticeship in Ireland, became part of a team building an ‘Atlantic Challenge’ gig, before returning to Lyme Regis and the Boat Building Academy to work as an assistant instructor and project leader in the construction of Lyme’s first Cornish Pilot Gig. She is a member of the Wooden Boat Trade Association and is presently building a second gig for Lyme Regis rowers in a shed next to the Academy.

The scholarship for the lerret project comes from the charitable arm of the Royal Warrant Holders Association, which looks for well thought out projects that will contribute to the pool of talent in the UK and reflect excellence in British craftsmanship.

She will take the lines of a historic lerret currently lying in an old barn in Dorset, and then build a replica by eye over six months – I think it will be very interesting to learn how close the ‘by eye’ boat fits the lines at the end of the project!

PS – The Academy will also be exhibiting at the Beale Park Thames Boat Show this weekend. Principal Yvonne Green tells me that they’ve got a much larger tent this year and, because several students will be bringing boats, pontoon space as well.

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Is anyone building the stitch-and-glue intheboatshed.net skiff?

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The intheboatshed.net post offering free plans for the Julie skiff has been the most popular individual element of this weblog for some time. It’s been viewed by thousands of people and, naturally, we’re delighted at all the attention it has been receiving.

But although we’ve heard that various people have planned to build it, we’re not aware of anyone starting a Julie skiff project, let along finishing one. Is there anyone out there building this boat? If you are building this spring, please let us know at gmatkin@gmail.com – We’d be especially grateful for reports of how the building goes, and for photos of both the building and the completed boat that we can post here at intheboatshed.net.

I’d also be very pleased to receive any photos of models anyone may have built. Both Ben Crawshaw (thanks Ben!) and the designer have had a go, and in any case it’s always good to build a model before building a boat like this.

In case you’re wondering, I do still intend to draw a couple of traditionally-inspired sailing rigs, a more traditional chine-log version, and also a 17ft version for two rowers. It’s just that I’ve been very busy organising both a small folk festival (Frittenden Festival – Sing, dance and play) and a wedding. In addition the usual ups and downs of work, music making and family life, they’re more than enough to keep a chap busy, I can tell you!

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Ilaut thole pin photos from Ben Crawshaw

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Thole pine from a Spanish Ilaut photographed by Ben Crawshaw

Thole pin photographed by Ben Crawshaw

A series of posts about the traditional Spanish ilaut have appeared at Ben Crawshaw’s weblog The Invisible Workshop over the past few days. Interestingly, they’re carvel built and rather like ship’s lifeboats in shape

I was particularly struck by one post about thole pins that might interest rowers in particular. Some appear not to have been used, while others are clearly very important to the boat’s owners, yet others show a characterful kind of neglect.