Boat Building Academy, Lyme Regis

13 December 2012

On a cold 5 December more than two hundred people (and ITV and the BBC) joined staff and students of the Boat Building Academy in Lyme Regis to celebrate the launch of eight boats built by the 'Class of March 2012' as part of the Academy's 38 week course.

Mayor of Lyme Regis, Sally Holman, opened the proceedings with a short speech, followed by Commander Tim Gedge, Boat Building Acadamy director.  The range of boats were then launched one by one into the harbour in the winter sun.

The boats are built in the last six months of the course and give students hands-on experience of a range of construction types.  Principal Yvonne Green said 'Because the Academy does not undertake commercial work and is not part of the Further Eduction state system it means that we can provide a course that is totally focussed on training.  The boats are a testament to the skills the students have learnt and that they are a brilliant CV for graduates is an added bonus.'

Boats launched were:

  • An 18' Paul Gartside cutter, strip-planked in Western red cedar with a small cabin designed by student Dominik Gschwind, an architect from Switzerland.  The boat not only had portholes (an Academy first) but also a neatly fitted portable toilet...  The boat was fitted out in douglas fir, elite and super-elite ply which was bright finished.
  • ‘Skylark’, a 14’ traditional clinker dinghy, was planked and the birdsmouth mast made from high quality slow-grown douglas fir (supplied by Tristan Stone). 
  • The Iain Oughtred Humble Bee 7’9 pram dinghy was planked in sweet chestnut with a Dorset grown oak centreline, fore and aft transoms, green oak ribs and grown knees.  Students made the sails during a weekend sail-making workshop run by Jeremy White, MD of Elvstrom Sails.  The boat’s owner, Kyle Patternoster, is a qualified dinghy instructor and will use the boat to teach members of his family to sail.  Rob Hounslow, who helped Kyle on the build, is setting up a workshop ‘Hounslow Brothers Woodworking’ in Wiltshire with his brother.  The first boat they are going to build for sale is a Humble Bee.
  • ‘Florence’ was named after student Jade Randell’s new daughter, who was expected on launch day but arrived a week early.  The floating Florence is an Iain Oughtred ‘Fulmar’, plan 43 in the catalogue, hence the sail number.  Of glued clinker super-elite ply construction with sapele fit-out, student Scott Russell, a Royal Navy Chief Artificer for 23 years, also added a tumble home to the after sections of the boat and a deck.  He and Jade made a carbon fibre centre board and rudder.
  • Tim Talo built a graceful double ended Joel White Peapod, strip planked in western red cedar with a sapele centreline and sitka mast and spars.  Tim started the course not because of an interest in boats, but because he saw the Academy demonstrating at ‘Art in Action’ and realised it was ideal way of realising his dream of working with wood.
  • Ewan Thomson, a keen kayaker from the Isle of Skye, had seen a kayak he wanted to build.  With help from Mike Broome, lead instructor for the group, he drew up plans.  The canoe was cold-moulded with 1.5mm sapele veneers, no easy task with so slender a shape, and then bright finished.  Ewan hopes to start his own business on the Isle of Skye using the kayak as a prototype.
  • Former big top constructor Ryan Gostick built a strip plank ‘Ranger’ canoe using western red cedar for the planking and American cherry for the inwales,  gunwales and seats.  Ryan also produced the canework for the seats.
  • Last but not least the Selway Fisher, with some modifications to the bow and with a curved transom, 22’ foot slipper launch named ‘Graciela’ after student Will Hide’s girlfriend.  Of stitch and tape construction, with a 9mm elite ply hull and subdeck, a sapele deck and fitting out and with an electric engine and Lloyd Loom chairs ‘Graciela’ has been built to glide elegantly along the River Dart near Will’s home.

Some students have gone straight to work at boatyards in Southampton, Chichester and Ipswich.  Several others are starting their own businesses in the UK or abroad.  Kyle is off to sea again on a new 3 month rotational job as Engineer on one of the world’s biggest private super yachts.  Ivan and Dominik are taking their skills home with them to Australia and Switzerland and others have set their sights to the West Indies.   Others will start using their new skills in the New Year.

For further information on the students and what they were doing before they joined the Boat Building Academy please go to


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