Boat Building Academy December 2013 launch – post no 1, a modified Hiawatha canoe

Hiawatha 15' Cedar Strip Planked Canoe © Derek Thompson  (4) Hiawatha 15' Cedar Strip Planked Canoe ©Jenny Steer Photography Dec 2013 (69) (1)

The Boat Building Academy’s class of March 2013 have been good all year so the sun shone brightly when they launched their eight newly built boats built during their course into Lyme Regis harbour on 9 December.

About two hundred people cheered as the champagne corks popped and each boat floated. ITV cameras were there, as were Dick Phillips for Water Craft magazine, and Nigel Sharp for Yachting World.

Colin Henwood watched as his newest employee, Brian Reford, sped across the bay in his new speedboat.

Students started work at dawn, making final preparations for the 10 o’clock launch. The boats went out of the workshops at 9, marshalled by former marine sergeant and boat builder Roy Gollop, before being processed the short walk down to the harbour.

Tim Gedge, Director of the Academy, said a few words, as did Sally Holman, Mayor of Lyme Regis. Then the real business of the day started…

Toby Williamson’s 15ft modified Hiawatha canoe is strip planked in western red cedar, sheathed with glass fibre and epoxy. Toby came across the plans in Ted Moores’ book Canoecraft. He modified the sheer line slightly and changed the design of the thwarts and ribs in line with a similar canoe built by Luke Browne.

Toby, the youngest member of the class, decided that sixth form and A levels weren’t for him. He had seen a feature on the Academy in Coast magazine, visited and decided he should go to the BBA instead. Now the course has finished his is working for two months in Holland for a boat builder before going for a season on a game fishing boat in Madeira.

The BBA folks report that Toby says he has loved every minute of the course, and that it is a shame to have to leave – but he is looking forward to taking his new skills around the world.

BBA student builds a Ted Moores stripper canoe



Becky Joseph June 2013 (67)


Photos by Jenny Steer and Becky Joseph

Boat Building Academy long course student Luke Browne chose to build this 17 1/2ft cedar-strip canoe designed by Ted Moores – the canoe appears in the book Canoecraft and was strip planked using western red cedar, sheathed in glass and epoxy, and fitted with rub-rails and breast hooks in black walnut. See

After finishing his schooling in the Cornwall town of Launceston, Luke spent time travelling in Australia and New Zealand before working as an architectural technician, in property renovation, and as a production operator.

Luke chose to do the BBA’s long boat building course because he felt that everything he was doing led to a dead-end and he wanted a career. He chose to build the canoe as his class project because he’s ‘not a sailor’ and liked the canoe project’s combination of traditional woodworking and modern fibreglass techniques.

I have to say that I very much approve of the paint job he’s done – strip-built canoes that are finished bright are just a little too obvious and blowzy, to my mind, but painting the hull white while leaving the black walnut bits bright seems much more tasteful, and rather more practical too.

Luke is now working at Spirit Yachts in Suffolk, where he will be working alongside fellow BBA Graduate Will Heward, who graduated in June 2012.

Photos of the build are on line here.