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Boat-building and Enjoying

Beautement Boats

     We carry out boat-building work (with their associated marine crafts) on an entirely charitable, volunteer and non-commercial basis. From 2016 we have been based in a Unit at Staunton Court Business Park. If you are in the UK you will be able to visit us by prior arrangement. We also recommend you have a look at the work of the Lyme Regis Boat-Building Academy or, if you are in Ireland, you could look out for the historic wooden ship ‘A K Ilen’ in Limerick.

Viking Boat Project. This Project started in the early autumn of 2023 and will build a replica of a small Viking fishing boat. The steps in building it will be documented on the site here.

16-foot Gandelow completed. We finished building a 16-foot (4.8 metres) long Irish gandelow and it was launched at the end of June 2017, and a second version in 2019. We have devoted a special page to these boats. The page documents the design and build process, the launch ceremony and the boat sailing. We hope you find it interesting!

Types of Boats built or Restored

     Our interest in is small (10-24 foot long, 3 to 7 metres) boats made mostly of wood in a traditional manner. The designs we use reflect regional variations, such as that of the Irish gandelow - featured in our publications and shown below. This boat usually comes in two sizes: 23-foot (7 metres) and 18-foot (5.4 metres) long. At present, detailed plans are only available for the 23-foot version. In February and March 2016 WoodenBoat magazine, in America, published two of our articles about gandelow building in Ireland. Dimensions of the 16-foot boat were published in 2019.

     We assist with other boat restorations on an as-and-when basis - usually as part of a charitable activity. For example, for four years, we have been helping rebuild the A. K. Ilen, a 56-foot (17 metre) long ex-Falkland Islands Company trading ship. This work is being done in Ireland, partly in Limerick and partly at Hegarty’s Boatyard near Skibbereen in south-west Cork. A truly wonderful video of the shipwrights at work has been made - have a look at it in a quiet moment ...


Boat-building Techniques

     The techniques used in building boats have evolved down the centuries but have many common features. Before steel was used for construction building a boat involved:

  • Deciding on a design that was suitable for the local environment.
  • Sourcing materials that were easily available.
  • Employing skills and expertise to build the boat that had been gained though hard-won experience.
  • Sailing, rowing or paddling the boat - of course engines were a much later addition.

     Ireland_Bundle-Raft_RoscommonAt their simplest boats were made from hollowed out logs or bundles of reeds tied together (like this ‘bundle raft’ example from Ireland); then followed skins spread over frameworks of bent branches; much later came a variety of more complicated designs with overlapping (clinker) or edge-to-edge (carvel) planking. Boats might be flat-bottomed with a sharp angle (chine) where the floor meets the side planks. Or the boat might have a rounded profile or bilge. Later boats were fitted out with cabins, and rigging and other sophistications were added depending on the needs of their owners.

     Many types of timber have been used to make boats. Experience showed which woods were best for which parts of the boat - based on properties of flexibility, strength, water-resistance and so on. There are many many books and web sites on the topic. Wikipedia has this page on boat building; and the Wooden Boat magazine has excellent resources.

Artisan Crafts - Past, Present and Future

Being artisan craft workers, such as boat-builders, shipwrights and textile workers has been in the Beautement family’s blood for generations - as the History page on this site testifies.

Modern examples of our interests include:

  • Arts, authorship, dance, textiles and weaving, leatherwork.
  • Boat building - such as of the Irish gandelow fishing boats. They were almost a lost craft till recently, now documented in detail in book which provides a step-by-step guide on how to build one. Wikipedia has more about the gandelow, the Shannon river and the Shannon estuary in Ireland.
  • Forestry management and wood crafts.
  • Medical technicians and innovators of Internet technologies.
  • Renovations - eg, historic houses and traditional furniture / upholstery (eg,, now closed).
  • Restorations - eg, of the ‘A. K. Ilen’, a 56-feet long tall-ship which was rescued from the Falkland Islands in the 1990s. Involving the true craft work going on a Hegarty’s Yard, Baltimore and the boat School in Limerick.

Past examples are:

  • Apprenticed boat builders in Hull.
  • Electronics engineering and radar.
  • Shipping and merchant mariners.
  • Timber importation and carpentry in Hull, England (Burt & Hughes Ltd).
[As at 07 Nov 2023]