The blog will now be devoted not to boat building but to my 82-year-old Vertue, Sally II, now undergoing a well needed refit at Johnson & Loftus in Ullapool (and gliding...)

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

An Arctic Tern has Alighted

We can eat! The Oughtred-designed Arctic Tern that has been flitting about for a few weeks, has alighted on the roof of Viking Boats International's (Ullapool) shed and will be under construction just as soon as I can clear it of the other projects, notably the Tammie Norrie (finished but awaiting delivery) and the Guillemot, back in for some pre season fettling. There is also a Flying Fifteen and a small grp motor boat cluttering up the place.

Iain has redesigned the boat at 17ft and she will be built traditionally, in larch with Shetland-style framing, not steamed timbers, perhaps the first of his Arctic Terns to be built properly (cue angry cries from epoxy/plywood fans).

She'll be heavier, but will need less ballast than a plywood version. The buoyancy will not be built in, but in the form of bags under thwarts, the boat being essentially open. Iain has drawn her for eight strakes, rather than the original six, but I reckon we could go down to a more traditional seven a side.

After ten years on my own I am being joined by one Mattis Voss, a shipwright from Ireland who spent a couple of years at Skeppsholmens Folkhogskola in Stockholm, during which he built a 21ft haddock boat. He clearly knows a thing or two about Scandinavian types, and is also an aeronautical engineer, speaks five languages and has a CV that quite frankly puts mine to shame. The general idea is that I will simply pull up an armchair in front of the wood burner, light a fat cigar and from time to time say encouraging things as he builds the boat, while I deal with the admin and marketing (and count the cash).

It won't of course be like that. First off, we'll have to see if we get on; and furthermore, if he can stand the cold inside the shed for longer than a few hours, and the leaking roof and the choice of radio station. For this is boat building in the raw, as practised centuries ago in these parts, and the way I would like it to stay, for all its discomforts.

Mattis expects to learn a great deal from me, although I suspect it will be the other way around. Anyway, it seems the Arctic Tern arrived at the right time.

More next week...


  1. Hi Adrian, Congratulations on the new commission. It'll be nice to see another of Iain's boats being built traditionally. Having spent the morning epoxying the decks onto my canoe I can certainly see the advantage in building without the need for the messy stuff, but don't let on to Chris Perkins I said so.

  2. Not to take sides, but I'm a bit jealous. The gooey stuff is getting to me, too. It's been a long time since I built a boat with real wood so I'll be here, getting my kicks vicariously.

  3. Add a third voice to the above two, as I get on my bike to turn on the heaters in the tent, put on my mask and gloves and get to work.
    In my mind's nose I can smell the smell of larch coming out of the thickness planer.
    Hope the addition of a second pair of hands gives you lots of time for the blog while sitting in your chair in front of the wood burning stove.

  4. I'm looking forward to seeing this new boat take shape. Keep the pictures coming.

  5. Who will ever miss the cleaning of epoxy squeeze out? But as a mediocre amateur building on my own it is the only way to go at the moment. Maybe when I grow up (only 59 at the moment) the step will be made to the real thing! Keep up the good work.