Boat Building Academy students build a good looking Joel White-designed Haven 12 1/2

Boat Building Academy Haven 12 and a half

Boat Building Academy Haven 12 and a half Gary Thompson and helpers Boat Building Academy Haven 12 and a half

This lovely-looking shiny new boat is a Joel White-designed Haven 12 1/2 built in epoxy glass and foam with a traditional fit-out and spars. She was made by three Boat Building Academy students, Gary Thompson, Yoann Henric and Nick Lawther (see second photo).

Sadly the Haven 12 1/2 was one of two boats that did not make the water on the students’ summer launch day – Lyme’s harbour master decided the wind was a bit too frisky.

Gary is at the far left in the second photo; he is to start work with Wessex Resin’s technical expert David Johnson; Yoann in the centre of the photo has returned to France to find work near Marseille,  and Nick plans to set up a small boatyard in Australia in a few months.

PS – On launch day boat builder, occasional instructor, very good friend of the academy and former Royal Marines sargeant major Roy Gollop donned his bowler hat and did the honours in getting the twelve boats organised and down to the harbour with something approaching military promptness.

Boat builders? Military promptness? It sounds marvellous if slightly implausible, but  a bowler-hatted Mr Gollop is probably not someone to argue with!

Boat Building Academy Roy Gollop Launch

News from my inbox: SS Shieldhall appeal, crossing the Atlantic by raft and surfboard building

SS Shieldhall on the Clyde 2005

Government grants for historic ships have dried up and the SS Shieldhall urgently needs £80,000 if she is to continue sailing

Just a few items from my inbox today.

Historic steamship SS Shieldhall needs £80,000 to keep sailing

One of the country’s most important historic steam ships has launched and appeal for survival, amid ongoing concerns that Britain’s maritime heritage is in decline.

Registered charity The Solent Steam Packet is appealing for £80,000 to secure the future of SS Shieldhall, a historic steam-driven cargo and passenger ship that some time ago was named ‘Flagship of the National Historic Ships Fleet’. In spring 2011 she will require dry-docking, which is necessary if she is to continue to sail – however the cost will be £80,000 to £100,000.  The charity says that budget cuts mean that grants are no longer routinely available to pay for maintenance work on heritage ships, and that our seafaring nation now risks losing many of its most significant vessels.

I sincerely hope they’re overstating the case or we could be in big trouble where some very important vessels are concerned.

Antiki – crossing the Atlantic on a raft made of plastic tubes

People try to cross bodies of water in a variety of craft both crazy and otherwise.

On this occasion part of the twist on this occasion is that the skipper, author Anthony Smith, is in his mid-80s and the vessel is made up of industrial plastic tubes tied together. The link above goes to the expedition weblog.

As you’d expect from the writer of the best-selling book The Body (The Human Body in the US), this silly-sounding voyage has several serious aims, including raising money for Water Aid, studying plankton in the age of global warming, and as a reminder of the dreadful bu often forgotten losses suffered by the merchant navy during World War II.

Surfboard building

Paul Reisberg has written to say that he’s hosting a three-day workshop by Rich Blundell on how to build a hollow wooden surfboard in Pembrokeshire at half-term this month – if you’re going to have a little time on your hands around then, love surfing and woodwork this might be for you. More information is available from the link above, and from Rich’s website.

Ben Wales’ clinker launch restoration

Ben Wales working on 18ft clinker launch Mary

Ben Wales working on 18ft clinker launch Mary

The new stem, and the old stem piece and apron removed

Some time when you’re sitting in the warm, spare a thought for dedicated Ben Wales working when he can in the open air during this winter restoring his 18ft clinker-built motor launch Mary. While you’re at it, wish him luck and good weather.

Here’s what he wrote a few days ago:

‘Here is the latest update on my restoration on Mary. The work has been slow – the weather held us up for over a month as it was just too cold, and before that it was wet whenever we wanted to work on her outside.

‘The stem has now been replaced in English grown oak as the old one was badly worn and soft. Without a doubt this is the most complex and time consuming job we have done on the launch, and all without  power tools or power.

‘First, a template had to be cut out for the bottom and top stem piece and then drawn out on a new in 4in thick oak plank where the two were cut out.

‘The lower part of the stem, which joins with the kee, was first shaped to fit and then holes were drilled out for stainless steel bolts made the job. It had to be scarphed on each end, and a mixture of paint and putty was applied for packing.

‘The top part of the apron was also replaced and that was cut and shaped before the top stem piece was fitted.

‘While the upper part of the stem was fitted we had a quite a task to shape it, as we tried to follow the original patten precisely – but found that had been cut wrong. So after more shaping it fitted far better than the original it replaced.

‘The next task is to fit the gunwales and knees, and to reframe the topsides. When the Weather gets warmer and I have saved up some money, I will purchase the timber to plank her topsides.


Thanks Ben – I’ll be thinking of you at least!

For an earlier post about this project, click here.