BBA students build Herreshoff Biscayne Bay sailing skiff

Photos by Jenny Steer and Becky Joseph

This Nat Herreshoff-designed Biscayne Bay sailing skiff was built by Boat Building Academy student Nick Roche and launched at the BBA student launch day at Lyme Harbour last month.

Sadly there wasn’t much of a breeze, but Nick still rowed, with his sails set, out into the harbour to join the other Academy boats.

The skiff is 14ft 5in in length and of multi-chine construction and with a drop keel.

Nick chose the elegant 1912 American design because its lines and classic appearance appealed to him.

The sails were made at the Academy as part of a sail making course taught by Jeremy White of Elvstrom Sails; Jeremy was also on hand at the launch to help Nick with rigging.

Nick joined the Academy in March with the aim of making a career change after spending the past 19 years working in forest management and conservation in the UK, Asia and Africa. He is a qualified PRojects IN Controlled Environments (PRINCE2) practitioner and has worked as a co-ordinator for the Nepal-UK Community Forestry Project in Nigeria and for the Mersey Forest.

Nick will now find work in the marine industry, preferably in wooden boat building and will use his skiff for day sailing with family and friends.

Tom Oughton worked closely with Nick on the build as well as helping others with their build projects. Keen kayaker, Tom from Weymouth has worked as a lifeguard and activity instructor for PGL in France. He was inspired to learn boat building after his father built a strip-planked kayak and he decided to join the Academy looking for a new skilled based career.

Tom’s long term goal is to develop the traditional and modern skills he has gained from the Academy. In the future, when he has gained more experience at a yard, he would like to set up his own small business building wooden and composite boats.

See BBA student profiles here, boat diaries here, and photos from the launch here.

Shane Mason makes progress with his stitch and glue sailing Ella skiff

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Shane Mason’s sailing Ella skiff is on its way

Shane Mason in Toronto is busily building the first sailing version of the Ella skiff to a tight deadline and has sent over these shots.

I can report that he particularly enjoyed seeing the shape of the boat come together when he stitched the panels together.

He’s decided to give his deck some camber, which explains why the frames are proud of the sheerline, and has made his mast from pine laminated with carbon fibre.

For plans for this boat click here; for the rowing version click here.

The first model of an Ella sailing skiff

Ella skiff sailing model 4

Ella skiff sailing model 3 Ella skiff sailing model 2 Ella skiff sailing model 1

Matt Morello’s Ella sailing skiff model photos reader Matt Morello has sent me some photos of a model of the sailing version of the Ella skiff he has been working on, and once again I’m pretty chuffed.

One of my intentions with this series of designs was that they should be simple, conventional and easy to build, and that they should look ‘right’ – and although I haven’t had time to make a model myself, to me this little boat seems to fulfill my criteria.

Here are a couple of quotations from Matt’s emails:


‘Enclosed are some photos of my progress on an Ella sailing skiff model. She’s not quite done, but is close to finishing up nicely. I began it out of scrap balsa among other model boats I’ve been working on and I’m quite pleased with how she’s turning out. I can imagine that building her full-size would not be a difficult project to handle…

‘Thanks, Matt Morello, Connecticut

‘PS I wanted to let you know I enjoy your site immensely… Your site and the progress of your designs have been a source of endless entertainment, information, and encouragement for me.’

Thanks Matt – it’s a great pleasure to see and share these photos, and I’m very pleased you think is a force for good! I love the choice of background packing cases, by the way…

Seriously, I appreciate for feedback on my plans, both in relation to building and using the boats, I’m always pleased to receive photos, and grateful too for news of the adventures on which the boats sometimes take their owners.

To download the construction plans for the sailing version of the Ella skiff together with the drawings Matt has been working from, click here.

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