Boat Building Academy students build a Selway Fisher sailing dinghy

Boat Building Academy student James Dickson built this pea green Selway-Fisher designed sailing dinghy together with another student Simon Swindells while on the BBA’s long course starting in September last year.

The photos are by Janine Cashin, Paul Dyer, Becky Joseph and Jenny Steer.

The 12ft6in Selway-Fisher Northumbrian Coble was built using glued clinker construction and is planked in Robbins Elite marine ply. All other solid timber parts are made of iroko apart from the spars, which are made of sitka spruce.

James, who was previously a partner in a prominent Scottish law firm, is from a long line of Eyemouth fishermen, and chose the Selway-Fisher design because it allowed him to build a boat in a modern way, but reminded him of a traditional coble.

Simon from London, has worked in sales for the last 20 years but tired by being ‘only being as good as your last month’, joined the Academy to start a new practical career.

The coble has been named Star of Hope after a fishing boat James’ family owned in the 50’s and 60’s, and which he believes is currently being used as a sailing charter in Rostock on the Baltic.

The newest Star of Hope capsized fully three times on launch day, ducking James and crew – though when they rowed themselves back to harbour they reported that this had more to do with human error than the weather or the boat .

Neither James nor Simon have yet decided what they’ll do next, but are exploring different opportunities in woodworking and boat building. Meanwhile, Star of Hope is to be used as often as possible for fun with family and friends.

Boat Building Academy students launch a stripper canoe with sailing rig

Strip-built canoe under inspection at the harbour. Photograph by BBA student and photographer Derek Thompson LRPS BBA Director Tim Gedge presents Chris Smith with his certificate after the launch.  Photograph by Jenny Steer

Chris on his maiden sail.  Photograph by Jenny Steer Chris, Colleen and Cally preparing the EllaJen's maiden voyage. Photograph by Jenny Steer




Boat Building Academy student Chris Smith from Dundee built this Selway-Fisher designed 16ft Canadian sailing canoe, with the help of included Paul Hutchins, who is from the South Devon.

Named EllaJen, the canoe is strip-planked in western red cedar, with a resin-infused inner laminate giving a lighter structure and higher quality finish. Chris chose the design because wanted to build something a bit different, and a canoe he could sail as well paddle fitted the bill.

Find out more about Chris’s canoe at his blog here, and see a photographic diary of the build here.

Before joining the Academy, Chris completed a degree in marine sport technology, which enabled him to kit the canoe out in modern racing dinghy style, with a light-weight carbon-fibre mast and racy rigging and control lines.

Chris has now now applied to take a masters degree in maritime engineering science at Southampton.

Co-worker Paul is busy establishing a workshop and business in Tavistock specialising in traditional and bespoke joinery, traditional boats, shepherd’s huts and gypsy wagons. The business is called Tavy and Tamar Boat Builders and he can be reached at

PS – While we’re thinking about the BBA, don’t forget the raffle to raise money for a permanent workshop at Lyme for Gail McGarva. There are just a few days left, and the prizes include an eight-week woodworking course and £100 towards materials for a personal project piece, a five-day traditional wooden boat building or wooden boat restoration short course, and a day with Gail in her workshop. More than £1000 has been raised so far, and tickets will also be available at the Lyme Gig Regatta on the 14th August – which is also the day of the draw.


Photos from the Beale Park Boat Show 2011

Pierette at the Beale Park Boat Show 2011

1894 Desvignes-built steam launch Pierette, photographed by Pete Williamson

Cordless Challenge entrant Beale Park Boat Show 2011 Water Craft amateur boatbuilding competition Beale Park 2011

Unknown dinghy

Reader Pete Williamson has sent in some snaps of this year’s Beale Park Boat Show, including this shot of the wonderful steam launch Pierrette, and some entries for the kit section of the Water Craft amateur boatbuilding competition (Pete’s boat is the dark blue Selway-Fisher coble made from an Alec Jordan kit).

Also there’s something very unusual here: an entrant for the cordless challenge, in which entrants were asked to race each other around a course on the water using motor power derived from by battery driven cordless power tools. There are a couple of jolly pieces of video showing some of the entrants craft’ at Graham Neil’s weblog and at the Water Craft website. It makes you think, doesn’t it? At least some folks found a use for some old tools…

Finally, I’m not quite sure what the boat in this collection may be or who made it, but I remember being told that it contains a lot of old timber from somewhere, and thinking that the builder had done a nice job when I dropped in at the Barton Home Built Boat Rally meet at Barton Turf at Whitsun. I’ve posted some of my own photos of this craft taken at Barton below.

Thanks Pete!

Youjay dinghy at Barton Youjay dinghy at Barton Youjay dinghy at Barton