Boat builder and historian Will Stirling has sent in these shots of his latest beautiful 9ft clinker dinghy – Will has a great eye for a photograph and these shots are up to his usual standard, even if it was a miserable day.
These dinghies are a regular product line for Devon-based Stirling & Son and should be better known. This particular example is mahogany on oak with copper and bronze fastenings, spoon oars, with the name relief-cut with gold leaf.
Will also sent over a photo of half a whole mahogany butt sawn at 1/2in. ‘Dinghies in kit form’, he says wryly… There should be enough for seven to ten dinghies worth of timber in this part of the log – the rest arrived in a second delivery on the same trailer.
Will and his workmates had to cut hundreds of softwood sticks to place between the planks to allow the timber to season – softwood is chosen for the job because it does not stain. I gather teabreak at the Stirling & Son shed was dominated by question of how to calculate the optimum size of spacing stick to provide effective airflow and drying while using the least timber – and Will has asked whether any intheboatshed.net readers can advise?
By the way, Stirling & Son run twice-yearly courses during which students build their own 9ft traditional dinghy under the guidance of a skilled shipwright. The courses are part-time, running for three days a week for sixteen weeks, and cost £3,500 including materials.
For more posts relating to Stirling & Son boatbuilding projects and boat design work, click here.
Click on the thumbnails for much bigger photos!
The coast of East Anglia is well known for its crab boats, lifeboats, beach punts, beach yawls and Southwold luggers – but I can’t say that I’ve read much about the little boats with their sweeping sheers show in these shots.
These photos come from Orford, but similar craft can be seen along the Deben and on the Alde.
From looking at my copy of the marvellous but almost unobtainable Chatham Directory of Inshore Craft, I’d say that many of the small wooden working boats in these photos are relatives of what it calls the Felixstowe Ferry lobster boat, a lug-rigged 15ft open boat made at Woodbridge that died out in the 1950s.
There must be a story to be told about the history of these little craft. I’m struck that quite a few of the local modern plastic tenders have something of the same form.
Looking at these shots I can’t help but think they have more than a touch of the Norse about them, but it’s not just a matter of history: the advantages of that pronounced sheer line are obvious when you see the confused water of the bar they must cross to reach the sea (see below).
I was also tickled by the Laser converted for rowing by the addition of a sliding seat (which must be seriously wasted in a hull this short – see Rowing for Pleasure comment), and by this splendid shed.
One of the treats of the Beale Park Thames Boat Show was seeing one of John Macaulay’s traditional Hebridean skiffs full of old-fashioned boatbuilding features.
Note the short floors and ribs, for example – they’re very much what one sees in a Viking ship or Viking canoe. What’s more, the oarlocks and oars obviously belong to a time before the fashion for adopting rowing racing practice brought in round oars in round oarlocks capable of being rotated.
For an earlier post on Macaulay, click here.
This interesting article sheds light on the man himself: John Mcaulay Boatbuilder. Of the virtues of wooden boats he says: ‘There is only one boat worth having and that is a wooden boat. They are unique; one off and beautiful. How anyone with any sensitivity could choose a plastic hull over a wooden one made by hand, I will never know.’
Here’s another newspaper piece in the Stornaway Gazette describing the restoration of a Western Isles boat.
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