Vendia 9mm planking from Finland and Collano Semparoc glue from Switzerland, plus a few coats of International Clear Primer, white paint, what a brilliant combination to build a boat. Here's the latest Viking Boats of Ullapool creation, an Iain Oughtred-designed Arctic Tern, the 17ft version, after being turned. and at the long process of fitting out begins.

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.