Sitting on the dock, my 4 year old was able to control the boat by himself (and was very proud of himself).  He was a slightly crazy driver and he claims he learned it from his mom. CB editor Dan Houston visited America’s eastern seaboard in summer 2013, on a whistlestop tour of a dozen yards. Inspirational, I think, is the one word I would use if forced to keep it that short about my trip to Rhode Island, Maine and Massachusetts in the early summer. Taylor Allen, president of Rockport Marine, the yard behind Adventuress – CB’s 2013 Restoration of the Year winner. Greg Rossel is well known to long-term readers of CB for some of his insightful boatbuilding articles written a few years back. The 33ft (10.1m) Reliance Model at Bristol, RI, is a nod to the 1903 genius of Nat Herreshoff.
This is the recreation of Nat Herreshoff’s workroom in the museum at Bristol – on the site of the famous yacht and boatbuilding company. Nat Wilson is a traditional sailmaker based at East Boothbay, just about an hour south of Rockport. Joe Loughborough (Loughborough Marine Interests) is a Brit who moved to Rhode Island after decades skippering boats. New Bedford was built on whaling money and for generations whalers were built by the Beetle Co, until 1921 when they switched to Beetle Cats (boss Bill Womack pictured). The event draws a crowd and this year was attended by the famous furniture maker John Makepeace.
There are usually around nine boats being finished at this stage and this year they range from a paddle board to a 20ft (6m) cabin trailer sailer – a Roger Dongray Golant Ketch design which is being finished, in 9mm clinker ply, by Keith McIlwain, a sailmaker from Suffolk.
Keith is a mature student and clearly had a well-defined  view of what he needed from the boatbuilding course before he joined. It’s impressive, Tony and Reuben, who were off to Mussett Engineering (F1 cars!) in Norfolk and Cockwells Boatbuilding in Cornwall respectively at the end of the course, said they had been in the shed until 0345 that morning, painting their skiff. In the last 18 years the BBA has supplied a steady stream of ‘apprentices’ to the burgeoning classic boat industry. Yvonne Green, who took over as principal seven years ago explained that the BBA nine-month course provides the necessary skill set to start a career as a boatbuilder.


The idea of building a range of boats in a short time  overseen by two or three instructors has served the college well since it was founded in 1996 by Lieutenant Commander Tim Gedge RN – a Falklands Fleet Air Arm Squadron Leader. The process allows many disciplines to be taught, from making a half model to planing planks, roving, building in strip plank or with the vacuum bag technique. Students also often live on site in the college facilities which may sound like a hothouse atmosphere but it’s a way of totally immersing themselves in the shared experience of this course – which costs ?13,950, plus living expenses. Students do restore boats at BBA and Dan Curgenven’s restoration of a 1946 cold moulded vosper Thornycroft launch (with 18,000 staple fastenings) was a project that did not launch. BBA also offers short courses and a 12 week furniture making course on a similar City and Guilds structure (level 3).
I’m afraid I failed to write down the date of Launching this year and wonder if you’d send me an email?
Certain information contained herein is derived from information which is the property of, and copyrighted by, Houston Realtors Information Service, Inc. John Daugherty, Realtors has proudly earned the 2016 WQC Website Quality Certification for meeting Leading Real Estate Companies of the World’s rigorous standards of website excellence. I’d voyaged there aboard the Gannon & Benjamin schooner Rebecca, riding the warm Gulf Stream conveyor current north from the Caribbean. We are thinking that she is possibly the most important restoration in the world at the present time, now that the Charles W Morgan is sailing. We found him setting up shop early one morning in Searsport, Maine, where he is teaching high school kids maths and physics via boatbuilding.
We went to their Belfast, MA, offices to find out more and then went for a test run on a SoT powerboat.
Using the good-feeling North Sails classic cloth, but also able to source a heavy natural cotton canvas duck – for the suit of sails for the restored whaleship Charles W Morgan for instance – Nat and his team make sails by hand. Now based in nearby Wareham, the company is going strong and has just built a new whaler… for the Charles W Morgan! It’s the day before the 18 students on the full time nine-month course (September 2013) are christening their boats – at a special ceremony where they all walk the boats down to the harbour and launch them. It’s a celebration of some extremely hard work; the students on the 38-week course have learned the skills, chosen their design, procured the materials and built and painted the boat.


Keith’s plan is to base himself in Bristol and build boats like this, calling his business Daydream boats. Next to Keith’s boat is a Whitehall Skiff type 18ft (5.6m) beach cruiser which has been adapted for sail and oar by designer Don Kurylko.
They might go, like Reuben, to Cockwells at Mylor, Falmouth in Cornwall – a yard which has built a reputation for fine traditional craft built with traditional methods and materials, or they might go to somewhere like Spirit Yachts at Ipswich which has an equally enviable reputation building distinctive spirit of tradition yachts in more modern wood epoxy materials. And almost all of it takes place on the shop floors: “Our course is 94 per cent practical, six per cent theory,” Yvonne points out.
A current bugbear is that non-EU students were recently barred from studying the long course and Yvonne says this seriously affects BBA’s and similar colleges’ viability. Great floor plan with custom master bath featuring Jacuzzi tub, utility room, many windows, screened in porch, circular driveway, storage area, front & back decks with water views and more. We are passionate about exploring Houston, learning more about the people and organizations and providing resources for parents of young children. Rhode Island was where the pilgrimage began, seeing the famed IYRS school set up by Elizabeth Meyer and seeing Joe Loughborough’s yard where they restored the second-time-famous Dorade (see p23). Could I start working with my hands producing something as beautiful as an open wooden boat, clinkered up strong to be seaworthy and long lasting?’ I’m not sure if it’s the smell of the freshly shaved larch or the array of well kept tools or just the atmosphere of activity which have such a positive effect but it seems a very life-enhancing thing to do. So it’s not surprising that for the day of my visit the place is alive with energy as the projects near completion – there’s nothing like a deadline for getting things done and this is actually a relevant part of the course in preparing students for the outside world of work – if that is their chosen path; for any realistic chance of success, boats built or restored in the real world need to be finished within a time-frame and to a budget.
Tony Corke and Reuben Thompson were putting the finishing touches onto this open yawl made of strip-plank western red cedar which they only started in January. From there it was a road trip up into the beautiful leafy land of Maine to see some of the people behind the restorations that have graced the covers and pages of CB for so long.
Most boats are built from scratch, lofted on the college floors and then completed, typically with two or three students working to a boat, and to this six-month deadline.




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