Off she goes, Iain Oughtred's slightly foreshortened Penny Fee, at 15ft. Sails by Jeckells, spars by the wonderful Jeremy Freeland at Collars. The rest by Messrs Burke and Morgan (that's Jonny by the way...)

Thursday, 16 December 2010

My Guilty Secret

Now you do know how I go on about plywood and epoxy, to the despair of those who point out its many virtues, of which I am certainly not unaware having built a few such boats in my time.

They are, in order, a Mirror, Gull dinghy, Waarschip 570 mini-tonner, three 8ft John Westell-designed tenders and a 22ft Atkin motor cruiser. I once had a lovely plywood National 12, which would have been hopelessly uncompetitive planked in mahogany with copper nails and steamed timbers. And I often use epoxy to patch things up, most recently the splits in the planks of a superb 100-year-old Honduras mahogany Salters-built Thames skiff.

I can heartily recommend the stuff for so many uses, but I did not enjoy ladling it on to glass cloth, and squeezing out the excess while finishing the hull of the Atkin launch. The result was a strong, good-looking and durable boat that looks the part. Using Bruynzeel plywood, at vast expense I might add, was a good move as it is guaranteed for 20 years or so. It was lovely stuff to work, too; no splintering, no voids, more like a high-quality engineering material. But I was coughing up blood by the end of the build... The result was worth it, just.


  1. You'll come of a closet full of cedar strip tomorrow!

  2. That's a pretty launch with the Admiral at the helm. Not my cuppa tea, but very nice.
    A fellow once asked me to build him a traditional clinker skiff as a tender for his old cat boat. His nephew had begun the job. When the parts were delivered, I discovered a pile of 6mm okoume plywood. I tried to explain to the old boy the difference between a planked boat and a glue/plywood boat, to no avail. So I glued it and riveted it too. Which made the fellow very happy. Not so the builder. What a mess!
    He insisted on finishing the vessel inside and out with Deks Olje so I washed my hands of the whole thing and walked away.
    I got a lot of compliments on that boat but never felt right about it.