Boat Building Academy graduates launch new boats at Lyme Regis

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The latest wooden boats built by students at the Boat Building Academy (BBA) in Lyme Regis were launched in the town’s historic harbour on Tuesday 4th June.

Following BBA tradition, the boats were wheeled the short distance from the Academy to the harbour slipway, where they were greeted by the town’s Mayor Cllr David Ruffle, before ceremoniously taking to the water for the first time. The spectacle attracted hundreds of well-wishers including friends, family, BBA trustees, volunteers and local townspeople. 

Andrew Streeter introduces his 14’ (4.3m) glued carvel Crosby Catboat Trio to the water for the first time at Lyme. Photograph: MaxWillcock/BNPS

Sixteen students undertook the Boat Building Academy and Furniture School’s latest 40-week wooden boatbuilding course, spending the first 20 weeks learning skills such as joinery, lofting, traditional, modern and fibre reinforced plastic boatbuilding, and sail making.

In the last 20 weeks they have come together to build three boats and renovate a fourth, putting all their new skills into practice, often working long into the night.

The boats were commissioned by course members Ginny Harvey, Andrew Streeter, Tom Thorley and Ben Short and all the projects were overseen by the BBA’s expert tutors:

  • 14’ (4.3m) glued carvel Crosby Catboat Trio – Andrew Streeter
  • 14’ (4.3m) carvel & cold moulded Riva Scoiattolo – Tom Thorley
  • 14’4’’ (4.4m) glued clinker Welsford Walkabout lug yawl – Ginny Harvey
  • 20’ (6m) traditional clinker Looe diesel launch restoration – Ben Short
BBA graduate Ben Short and his classmates proudly take the restored 20’ (6m) Looe traditional clinker diesel launch back into the water after many years. Photograph: MaxWillcock/BNPS

Ben Short’s restoration project saw the Clifford Adams built boat, once used as a passenger ferry, return to its former glory. The boat had been in a barn for some years prior to its restoration and its engine had been submerged in a creek.

After taking his boat on the water for the first time Tom Thorley said: “The course has been amazing. Very tough at times, but the tutors are incredibly knowledgeable, supportive and inspiring and the experience has reached all my expectations, one hundred per cent. I now look forward to spending as much time as I can in my beautiful boat.”

Andrew Streeter’s 14’ (4.3m) glued carvel Crosby Catboat Trio is followed around Lyme harbour by Tom Thorley’s outboard powered 14’ (4.3m) carvel & cold moulded Riva Scoiattolo. Photograph: MaxWillcock/BNPS

BBA Director Will Reed said: “I am immensely proud of the students and staff who have all worked so incredibly hard to get their boats to where they are today.  I never tire of our launch days – they are always truly inspiring events and today was no exception. For many of the students, this is just the beginning of their journey into the exciting world of boat building and I wish them all the best of luck.”