You Don't Always Know What Is Around The CornerFinding a vacant RAF
barracks building on the beach at Lyme Regis
Tim decided to set up a residential boat-building academy, primarily
for people wanting a career change. Soon the 3 bedrooms grew to 13 and
he was running courses ashore and afloat, offered a diving course and
opening a chandlers for sales to the public.The courses available now
are one for boat building taking 38 weeks,
an 8 week woodworking skills course and a number of short one to five
day courses. Each boat building course takes 18 students and there are
two courses per year. During the overlap the new course takes place
upstairs where basic skills are taught. The students then move
downstairs and start boat building, initially building a 20 inch
clinker section from plans so that the result can be checked
dimensionally. Here ‘best practice’ or correct methods is taught.
Several typical boat types are built by the students: riveted or glued ‘clinker built’ where everything except the sails are made; ‘strip planking’ covered in glass fibre and epoxy resin; ‘cold moulded’ double curvature with double-diagonal veneer strips glued with epoxy resin; ‘resin infusion’ as used in the aerospace industry; ‘foam core and glass fibre’ with a honeycomb and ply deck; ‘stitch and tape’ where plywood panels are sewed together with wire then joined with epoxy and tape and the wire removed; and ‘all wood’ where the clinker boards are held by wooden pegs and wedges.
Wide experience is gained in building this variety of types. Besides
the building skills demonstrated by the students the ability to work in
a team is also assessed. Some two dozen boats are built per year and
all are launched at a set date to put pressure on the builders and to
develop project management skills. About 200 people come to witness
this twice-yearly launching. Students may buy their boats for the cost
of the materials.
Students are awarded City & Guilds Certificates (they always get credits or distinctions) and the academy certificate which is recognised in the marine industry as the best possible recommendation; graduates always get jobs.
Short courses include wooden boat restoration and conservation,
building a dinghy in a week, sail making (unique in the UK), chair
making, and wood working skills for beginners - an 8 week course
leading to a City & Guilds certificate.
The Academy ethos is high self-imposed standards - and these standards are rising. Students can use the facilities in the evenings and at weekends so they can achieve high goals. The long course costs £12,000 for everything except accommodation, a substantial sum, ensuring that students are really motivated. Tim has a very strong belief in high standards of training. He believes that the nation is not training people properly or setting high standards.
Sending everyone to university is, said Tim, “crackers”. Many
graduates don’t find employment and are saddled with debt. A number of
university graduates have come to the Academy, taking on more debt to
pay for it, but have all got jobs. Students come from all walks of life
including high flying professionals. All succeed.
The vote of thanks for this enthralling and inspiring talk was given by Arthur Brocklehurst who was involved in the Sea Harrier project at the MoD.