Class of August 2018 Launch Day














Wednesday 12 June marked a celebratory end of the 40 week Boat Building course for the Class of August 2018 with the launching of the six boats they built into Lyme Regis Harbour for the first time.

After several late nights earlier in the week, launch day began with a few last-minute tweaks and finishes and by lunchtime the boats were ready to be launched. Friends and family flocked to the workshop to see what their loved ones had been working on for the last few months.

By 1400 the procession of boats made their way down to harbour slipway, much to the cheers of the assembled crowds. After a congratulatory few words from the Boat Building Academy’s director, Tim Gedge and the newly elected mayor of Lyme Regis, Brian Larcombe MBE, the first boat entered the water at 1430.

In total six boats were launched into the harbour: a traditional and contemporary rowing boat, a speed boat, a clinker sailing boat, a 21’ fishing boat and a sailing tender.

After a couple of hours of rowing, sailing and even water skiing across Lyme Bay, the class returned to the workshop for the awarding of certificates. The class thanked instructors Will Reed and Mike Broome for their expert tuition and dedication to the course. After the certificates are handed out and the class photo taken, all retired to the Lyme Regis Power Club for a well-earned drink (or two!).

The Class of August 2018 was made up of a wide array of people of differing ages, backgrounds and nationalities. Some joined us from as close as Dorchester, whilst others faired from slightly further afield from Denmark, Austria and as far as New Zealand. Before joining the Academy, the occupations of the students ranged from a photography lecturer, a tree surgeon, a chemical scientist and a pair of school leavers.

Whatever the level of skill the students bring with them, they are taught at the same level, which helps to alleviate any bad habits that people have picked up along the way. The ‘hands on’ practical nature of the course means that by lunchtime on the first day of the course, everyone is at their workbenches learning how to sharpen their tools. After an initial foundation woodworking phase, the class move down to the main workshop ready to start work on their boat projects.

The boats built on the course differ with each class, but each range of boats must show a wide array of construction methods utilising both traditional and modern boat building techniques. Each boat built by the class is commissioned by a student (to a maximum of 9) who pays for all materials but will be able to take the boat home after the course.

All who graduate from the 40 week course leave the Academy with the essential skills needed for today’s changing marine industry. For Heike and Andy, the course has allowed them to retrain for a career in the marine industry. As from Monday, the pair of them will be working at the prestigious luxury yacht firm Spirit Yachts in Ipswich. For others, the course is a way of fulfilling a lifelong passion that can act as a retirement gift or a sabbatical from a demanding job.

The course brings together people from all walks of life and it is privilege to see them start a new life as boat builders.

If you are interested in the 40 week course, go to for further information or you can contact the office at or telephone 01297 445545.