Johnny Tyson builds a 14ft Whitehall at the Boat Building Academy

Johnny's boat leaves the workshop

Johnny’s 14ft Whitehall leaves the workshop on launch day

Johnny workshop 1 Johnny workshop_1 Johnny workshop

And thats all there is to it AK Johnny champagne Johnny Tyson

Boat Building Academy student Johhny Tyson built this John Gardner-designed 14ft Whitehall together with his pal Jerry Reeves, and launched it down at Lyme along with other students’ projects back in June.

The materials Johnny used were West African mahogany on oak with a West African mahogany keel. I gather that following the launch he took it to the Portsoy Scottish Traditional Boat Festival.

There are photos of the build here at Johnny’s website.If you happen to run a boatbuilding business, need staff and like what you see, I gather he’s looking for a suitable job…

I should point out that John Gardner’s books are a tremendous body of work if you’re interested in American boat types, and some of them have been available at very keen prices in recent years it’s well worth checking Amazon – I’d suggest in particular that Building Classic Small Craft including 47 sets of boat building plans is a bargain at less than £15.

My thanks to Academy principal Yvonne Green for the photos.

For more on student launches at the Boat Building Academy, click here.

The Wexford cot and film of a gun punt in use

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Heard of a traditional boat type called the Wexford cot? Or seen footage of a gun punt in use? Neither had I until I caught up with Monday’s episode of Coast, a BBC-Open University series about our coasts that has been fascinating many people in this country for several years now.

The cot is a fairly basic double-ended flattie with rounded clinker sides developed for the shallow water of Wexford Harbour. These days they seem to be made with a small transom, presumably to take an outboard, but they’re traditionally rowed by two men with an oar each. I was strongly reminded of the Weston flatner, which is another flat-bottomed and round-sided boat type, and struck by the thought that Wexford and Weston aren’t so very far apart.

The gun punt footage mercifully saves squeamish people like me from having to look at any carnage in detail but it’s interesting to see the boats, which have just 10in of freeboard, being propelled and steered using a quant. More, it’s astonishing to see how little recoil the boats exhibit when the big gun mounted on their foredeck is fired.

The episode includes a nice interview with Larry Duggan, whose family has been building these boats for generations. Over at the Rowing for Pleasure weblog, Chris Partridge has picked up a Flickr photo set put up by Alan Duggan, which is well worth looking at.

If you’re in the UK and have access to the Internet, do try and catch it on the BBC iPlayer before it’s replaced by this coming Monday’s episode.

For a post about gun punts in the East of England including a splendid quotation from Victorian scholar and man of the cloth Sabine Baring-Gould, click here.

Restored slipper launch Wishbone at the 2008 Earl’s Court Sail, Power & Watersports Show

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Thames Traditional Boat Rally Prize-winning slipper launch Wishbone.
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Many readers will be interested in Wishbone, a Thames slipper launch due to appear at the Sail, Power & Watersports Show due to take place at Earl’s Court from the 26th to the 30th November.

Wishbone is in fact a Baby Greyhound model built by Andrews in 1931, and was restored in 2004 by Stewart Marine of Harts Boatyard, which is on the river near Kingston upon Thames. She has won the Top Boat Award at the Thames Traditional Boat Rally on three occasions, and I’m told she’ll probably be the oldest boat at the show.

See the Stewart Marine website at By the way, if the name Stewart is familiar, it may be because he won a Bronze Medal sailing keelboats in the 1992 Olympics.

Stewart Marine’s brokerage list currently includes Willow, a 1920s Messums rowing and sailing skiff complete with all sailing and rowing equipment, and Swift, a 20ft rowing rowing gig built by Turks’ in 1911, complete with a sliding seat, outriggers and two sets of blades said to be all in in fantastic condition. Now that’s two real objects of desire, I’d say!

There’s a short and rather incomplete entry on slipper launches at the Wikipedia, but I don’t know enough to sort it out. Is there anyone around with the knowledge, time and energy to fix it?

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