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Newlyn Fish Market - boats due to land.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Wooden boatbuilders are not dead - yet.


Commercial wooden boatbuilding yards are fast becoming a part of the maritime history of many coastal states. In Scotland alone, yards like Millers, MacDuff, Herd & McKenzie, Nobles, Irvin & Sons. Jones, Forbes and Alexander Noble of Girvan have all either ceased trading or moved on to build exclusively steel vessels.

Once upon a time, the design of every boat built reflected the personal preferences and foibles of the commissioning skipper but increasingly in the 1980s & 90s stringent safety regulations and changing fishing practices helped standardise the construction of fishing vessels.


Britannia IV leaving Newlyn.

In Cornwall, John Moores is the only wooden boatbuilders left - probably best known locally for building Freddie Turner's Britannia IV. Luckily, the craft and skills associated with wooden boats are still being taught locally at Falmouth Marine School.

In France, a number of boatbuilders (chantiers) continue to build wooden vessels incorporating modern techniques and styles for their large inshore fleets around the coast - especially in Brittany. 

One such yard is the Chantier Tanguy in Douarnenez who in this video re-build the bow section of the wooden trawler, the Gwenvidik. The carpenters' work with a very new approach to the modernisation and upgrading of wooden fishing vessels.



More recently the yard saw work on the Morlaix registered crabber Steren Va Bro completed...



a predecessor of hers fished from Newlyn for skipper Mike Rowse until she was damaged in a fire after which she was sold and her hull used to create a 60' yacht.