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Notes from the IABBS
(excerpts from the magazine)
by Jim Betts 

Good Design + Modern Materials = Success

When I was first in touch with lain Oughtred some years ago, he was already a "name" in boat design, but not widely known outside Britain. For some time he had been a successful racer of dinghies and had begun to design some very interesting clinker-built small boats. Thanks to his imagination and devotion to wooden boats - and helped by his enthusiasm for modern materials - he became one of the driving forces in the rebirth of amateur boat building in Britain,  

I had seen some material on his Grey Seal, a 22-ft, clinker-built sloop with traditional style, but a certain modern look about it. We doodled an idea of mine that was to be called the Black Pearl, a modification of Grey Seal with a slightly larger cabin and this and that. He was a pleasure to work with and I am sorry that nothing came of the idea. (Maybe it's time to try again? Well, not right now as I'm busy enough!) 

A new look at what he has been up to 

When I started contacting designers all over the world about the new IABBS, he turned up on my list and I contacted him. I was pleasantly surprised to see that he has grown and prospered. And I was aghast at his fancy literature. A 68-page catalog with 33 designs from 7 to 22 feet, and a 178-page book, both very nicely designed, illustrated and printed. To be frank, I do not know of any other designer with a more impressive presentation. (NOTE: Designers - send me your material and prove me wrong!)

Frankly, I fall in love with boat plans on a regular basis, but I have really been smitten by lain's Wee Seal. I don't like the term "cute" except when applied to puppies and kittens, but this is a cute boat! Perky and jaunty come to mind. It is almost a cartoon; the kind that brings a smile to your face. I'd like to have one. It would be finished bright (varnished wood to you newcomers) and I would sail around in the starting area of a yacht club race and watch all the people on their plastic modern racing machines look at me with great envy. 

What brings it all together and makes it work 

The basic clinker boat has been around since the days of the Vikings. Maybe it's the long ends and the swooping sheer, or maybe it's just that the Vikings were adventurers and used the boats to explore new lands and do battle with enemies. (It is widely thought that they came to America before Columbus.) 

Years ago (as we say) such boats (also known as lapstrake) were planked over steam-bent ribs and fastened with rivets. Such hulls swelled and shrank as they dried and got wet, so it was not unusual for them to leak a bit, at least until the hull had soaked up a bit of water. This type of construction fell to the guns of progress. (Fiberglass chopper guns.) The Jersey Sea Skiffs became plastic and - for some years - had the lap-strake pattern molded in.

But modem materials can also be put to positive use. What lain has done is use plywood and epoxy. Plywood is more stable and does not shrink and swell, so the "planks" hold their shape. (Unless you paint such a boat, the plywood really has to be Mahogany or such so it looks like *"real wood.") 

But the ''real secret" is the epoxy. This will about stick any-thing to anything. And it is gap-filling, meaning that you do not have to have a perfect joint. In a sense, epoxy sticks to itself as well as to anything else. So the strakes (planking) will be just as strong and watertight as if they were one piece of plywood. A plus is that where the strakes overlap, you have a sort of double-thick reinforcing structure. Such a boat has a monocoque form and does not need a lot of frames and longitudinals and such. This gives more space inside the hull for the accommodations. It also makes for a boat that is lighter than one with a lot of interior structure. 

Another plus is that the individual strakes are light weight and easy to handle. The plans for such boats show how to cut the strakes, so they Fit properly and look nice. (Make that "look right!")

As a plus, lain's book - Clinker Plywood Boatbuilding Manual - is a very good book for boatbuilding in general. It has chapters on tools' materials, setting up, planking, interior work and fitting out. There are many drawings and photos showing step-by-step building. The book is available from (click the cover above) The plans catalog is $18 and lain will take U.S. checks, 
lain Oughtred, 
Struan Cottage, 
Isle of Skye, 
Scotland IV51 9NS. -