Class of September 2012 Launch Day
On an unseasonably wet June morning, the Boat Building Academy’s Class of September 2012 braved the wind and rain and walked their boats from the Academy to Lyme Regis harbour. Family, friends, staff and well-wishers from Lyme and further afield gathered to hear a few words from Commander Tim Gedge, Director of the Academy and Sally Holman, Mayor of Lyme Regis. The boats, built as part of the intensive 38 week boat building course, were then launched one by one into the water, supervised by Roy Gollop in his foreman’s bowler hat.
Ben Charny’s traditional clinker dinghy launched first. Ben’s boat ‘Ack Emma’ is a replica of ‘Pip Emma’, housed at the National Maritime Museum Falmouth. ‘Pip Emma’ was designed and built in 1916 by F.C. Morgan Giles for his eldest son as his first boat. Rumour has it that her transom was made from one of the family home’s mahogany tables. Ben took the lines off Pip Emma at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall and lofted her during the lofting phase of the course. She is planked in sweet chestnut with a black walnut transom. The name Pip Emma means PM, or afternoon, in the phonetic alphabet used by Royal Air Force signallers in World War 1, ‘Ack Emma’ means AM or morning. Ben grew up in Sidmouth, a little way down the coast from the Academy in Lyme Regis. He has worked as deckhand and bosun on ships in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and crossing the Atlantic. After the course Ben returned to the Mediterranean as a Ships Carpenter on Eleonora, a 50 metre replica of a 1910 Herreshoff yacht. Ben will enjoy Ack Emma with family and friends when he gets back home to Sidmouth.
Luke Browne’s 17 ½ foot cedar strip canoe went into the water next. Designed by Ted Moores, the ‘Redbird’ canoe came from the book ‘Canoe Craft’ and was strip planked in western red cedar, glass epoxy sheathed and finished with rub rails and breast hooks in black walnut. After leaving school in Launceston, Cornwall, Luke spent time travelling in Australia and New Zealand before working as, among other things, an architectural technician, in property renovation and as a production operator. Luke chose the long course because he felt that everything he was doing led to a dead end and he wanted a career. He built the canoe because he is ‘not a sailor’ and loved the idea of combining both traditional woodworking and modern fibreglass techniques. Luke is using his newly acquired skills at Spirit Yachts in Suffolk where he will be working alongside fellow BBA graduate Will Heward.
Ross Weeden‘s 17’ Whitehall rowing skiff launched third. Cold moulded using three layers of West African mahogany veneers, the skiff design came from ‘Building Small Craft – Volume 1’ by John Gardner. Ross had seen shorter versions of the Whitehall built by previous students on the Academy website. He loved the lines and wanted to build his own 17 foot version. Ross’s boat will initially be a rowing boat but the keel and hog have been constructed to allow conversion to sail. Ross who, like many of the students who join the Academy, had no prior woodworking experience is back home in East Sussex with his new skills and skiff, looking forward to rowing his boat on lakes around the UK and France and getting started on new woodworking projects at home.
Fellow students Charlie Couture and Alex Brown worked closely with Ross on the build. Charlie, from Guernsey, has competed in the Cowes, Falmouth and Yarmouth classic yacht regattas. He is now working as ship’s carpenter and deckhand aboard 1902 Fred Shepherd designed 85 foot schooner ‘Coral of Cowes‘. Charlie joined ‘Coral’ in Barcelona. His first job was to help get her ready for the Royal Club Nautico’s Puig Vela Classic Regatta. So, no pressure. His next job is to replace the garboards on Coral’s tender ‘Coralita’, a 1926 Lymington Scow, once they’ve found some suitable wood in Portugal. Alex Brown studied Design and Technology at university then ran an internet business for several years. He joined the BBA because he wanted to find a way back into working with his hands. After graduating in June Alex was kept busy by his sister’s list of carpentry jobs in preparation for her baby’s arrival. After a short time enjoying being an Uncle Alex has now started work at Fairlie Yachts in Southampton.
Colin Hurner decided not to complete his 22 ½ foot half-rater in time for the launch. He wants to complete the build to the highest possible standard of craftmanship, regardless of the time it takes. Visitors on launch day could therefore see the beauty of the workmanship in the unpainted hull. Colin chose to build the half rater after stumbling across a picture on the internet of Miru, a William Fife 25′ racing day sailer. With no complete plans and limited drawings of Miru, built in 1895 in New Zealand, Colin created a half model inspired by Miru’s lines. A table of offsets was developed from the model which Colin then lofted and produced a set of plans. It was an excellent learning experience for all of the group. Named Miura, she is carvel planked in Alaskan yellow cedar with an iroko backbone and laminated sapele frames. Woodworking has been a significant part of Colin’s life. His father comes from a long line of Swiss craftsmen, teaching carpentry and carving. Colin spent many hours in the workshops working on projects alongside his father, including the restoration of an old 16’ catamaran. Just before joining the BBA in September, Colin worked in the Caribbean as deckhand on Martha Ann – a 70m luxury superyacht built by Lurssen. Colin is now in Southampton with his brother, where he plans to complete Miura’s build.
Tobias Roithner, Colin’s main build partner, is half Swiss, half Australian. Tobias is a data analyst and process design engineer. Before joining the BBA he worked as a quantitative analyst for Swisscom. Interested in ‘unconventional means of transport’, in 2002 he bicycled from Switzerland to India. His long term goal is to sail around the world. He has been working on the boat he will sail while on the course. Getting it to Lyme Regis was not without incident and ‘xxxx’ made the front page of the local Lyme Regis newspaper. Now Tobias has finished the course he will set sail from Lyme Regis in the Autumn. The Mediterranean is his first port of call. Tobias created a blog detailing Miura’s build.
Students on the 38 week course, whether building their own boat or not, work on all of the boats built by the group. Peter Whale spent some workshop time doing the initial part of a traditional clinker Rensa (Royal Navy Sailing Association) dinghy restoration. Later in the course Peter gained hands-on practical experience in carvel and strip planking, cold moulding and traditional clinker boat building. Originally from South Africa, Peter brought his wife and 2 year old son with him to Lyme Regis when he joined the BBA. His second son was born during the course. At weekends Peter worked at the Lyme Regis Town Mill Bakery, and although his original plan was to work in the marine industry after graduating, he has decided that Lyme Regis is a good place to bring up his family and so for now will continue with his work as a chef/baker and see where it takes him.
Several Graduates and their boats joined the celebration. Kyle Paternoster’s Rubee, a traditional clinker pram dinghy, built as part of the March 2012 course, raced Ben Charny’s Ack-Emma. Mike Gill, Simon Case and Nigel Sabin’s red-painted 14’ Beer Beach boat Rosie brightened the grey morning. The traditional clinker boat, built as part of the September 2007 course, was joined by David Campbell’s 19′ glued clinker Caledonian Yawl, which first launched in December 2011. David Riley’s 17 ½ ’ West Greenland kayak was launched for the first time. Built on a 10 day course in March this year, the canoe is Sitka spruce framed with European oak ribs and oak coaming, with a ballistic nylon skin coated with Seacoat single pack polyurethane to make it watertight. David’s first outing in a West Greenland kayak was made in front of two hundred people. It took some time but eventually he made it across the choppy harbour… we took our rainhats off to him.
Gail McGarva wore her waders, Justin Adkin launched his new design skiff, Charlie Goodwin was there with the bike he designed and built on the 8 week Woodworking Skills course…
It was a day to remember.