Ian Baird’s replica of a Dorset crab and lobster boat in the workshop

[ad name=”intheboatshed-post”]

Ian Baird's Dorset crab and lobster boat at the Boat Building Academy

Boat Building Academy student Ian Baird’s project to build a replica of the rare Dorset crab and lobster boat known as Witch of Worbarrow during his course is continuing apace, as it must to be be ready for the big launch on the 9th December.

For more posts relating to Witch and Worbarrow, click here.

Ian, who was a novice woodworker at the beginning of his nine month course at the BBA, has been commissioned to write three articles on his experiences for Watercraft Magazine. The first of his articles will be published in January 2011.

“The centreline structure went together reasonably simply, but the first three planks on either side were really difficult for a fledgling boat builder,’ he reports. ‘The garboard and plank above both return onto the keel and the stern post at an awkward angle and there was a good deal of steaming, rabbet altering and scratching of heads, but we got it right in the end. The third plank was a bit of trouble too, with a tight curve onto the transom, but we are now banging on a plank a day.’

Ian says there has been a lot of interest in Ian’s project: ‘We originally put out a press release to try and winkle out any information we could about the original boat’s life and times, but the response has been more than I could have hoped for.

‘Interest from Intheboatshed.net, local television news and local papers has reached an extraordinarily wide audience and many people have come forward with information and pictures for which I am extremely grateful.’

A pictorial diary of Ian’s project is available at the BBA website.

The launch of the BBA’s March 2010 project boats will take place in the harbour at Lyme Regis, Dorset, at 9am on Wednesday 9th December 2010.

Want to learn more about boatbuilding using the clinker technique? Try John  Leather’s book Clinker boatbuilding at the revived intheboatshed.net A-store.

What John Welsford does with mashed potato

[ad name=”intheboatshed-post”]


The transom for John Welsford’s new cruising dinghy design, Pilgrim. Read
about this interesting small boat at his Pilgrim Diaries

Well known New Zealand boat designer, builder and cruiser John Welsford has written tell us about a technique he has developed for testing the rot-resisting properties of unknown timber and plywood:

‘Hi Gav,

‘I thought that you might like to put my comment about mashed spuds in connection with rot testing.

‘Just to stir things up a bit you understand!

‘Rot is due to fungus and needs food, moisture and oxygen in order to grow and spread. Cut off one or more of those and you don’t get rot.

‘Also, rot, like most fungi, spreads far more rapidly in warm conditions.

‘My test method involves placing the sample on a dish in the warmth of the kitchen, and covering it with mashed potato. Potatoes are almost all starch, a form of sugar, and mashing it up with milk brings even more sugars. Mashed potatoes also hold moisture and, being light and fluffy (if made properly) they admit oxygen. So a layer of mashed ‘taties accelerates the rate at which rot takes hold and multiply and is a workable if unusual method of testing wood for susceptibilty for fungal decay. You should see what I do with raspberry jam!

‘Yours, John’

Many thanks John. I might try it some time, though I’d be a bit concerned about this as a practical test. Done properly, it would demand not just well made mash, but would also require brewing up quite a number of different samples. It’s a very interesting idea, but could also be a recipe for trouble in the kitchen that could test more than a piece of wood!

I wonder whether it would work if conducted where no-one goes, round the back of the shed in the summer, and under a plastic sheet?

For more intheboatshed.net posts relating to John Welsford’s boat plans, click here.

For more on John’s plans, see his website; also, there’s a nice new weblog about building a small cruising yacht to his Fafnir plans here.

Model Julie skiff photos from Ben Crawshaw

[ad name=”intheboatshed-post”]

Ben Crawshaw’s model of the Julie skiff

Down in Spain, Light Trow builder Ben Crawshaw turns out to be the first intheboatshed.net reader to come up with a model of the Julie skiff. Well done Ben! I’m pleased that other people are beginning to see this little boat’s potential.

There has been some wild weather where he lives in the last few days, so perhaps he’s taken the opportunity to make the model. He writes:

‘Well done Gav, a pretty design in the best tradition of the lightweight rowing skiff. I like the design, a pleasing form, simple to build, light weight, plenty of buoyancy and possibilities for storage and the opportunity to titivate using pretty wood for the breasthook and quarter knees.

‘I particularly like the way the breasthook sits over the foredeck and the idea of storing an anchor in the slot between the two. The ample sternsheets give it a Ratty and Mole feel and I can imagine a wicker picnic hamper in there somewhere.

‘I’d be interested in seeing a sailing version with the mast stepped aft of the forward frame so as not to compromise the watertight compartment. One thing I’d also like to see on this rowing version is the possibility for two pairs oars and two rowers, maybe with temporary thwarts.’

I’ve been thinking about the same things Ben, and will have a go at working them in.

How about extending the sternsheets slightly forward, adding a seat back, and leaving a space behind the seat and the transom for that hamper?

One issue that I’d like to address a little further is how to balance the boat with a weight in the stern, and a possibility would be to make the central transom removable and include optional second transom further forward.

Something similar might make a second rowing position aft a possibility if the sternsheets were removed, but I’m not so sure that’s the way to go, as a 17ft version for two rowers might well be a much better way to use the rowing power of two people. I need to think about this a little more.

If you build this boat – even if it’s a model – PLEASE let me know by getting in touch via gmatkin@gmail.com

See Ben’s comments at his weblog theinvisibleworkshop.

Download: intheboatshed.net Julie skiff plans

See all posts so far on this boat:

Complete free plans package for the intheboatshed.net flat-bottomed 15ft 6in skiff
intheboatshed.net skiff – drawings and coordinates for stitch and glue
intheboatshed.net skiff – photos of our model, and maybe yours too?
Intheboatshed.net skiff – now we can make a model
Intheboatshed.net skiff progress
Early drawings for a 15ft 5in lightweight flat-bottomed American-style skiff

Don’t miss something good – subscribe to intheboatshed.net