Swanage Lifeboat Week got off to a flying start on Saturday, 20 August after the pandemic had put paid to it for the past two years – and one of the highlights is the Build a Boat competition, reports Mark Blanchard.

Competitors pay a £30 entry fee and are given a sheet of plywood, a length of batten, a broom handle and a tube of mastic – the rest is up to their craftsmanship.

Boatbuilding in progress…

Seven teams of budding boatbuilders started at noon and were allowed four hours to build a seaworthy craft. The boats were then carried from Prince Albert Gardens to Monkey Beach, where they underwent sea trials in front of a large crowd.

Once declared safe by the crew of the town’s D-class lifeboat Phyl and Jack, they all lined up for a blue ribbon race. The boats were paddled about 100m to a buoy, where they turned and then raced back to the shore, all under the watchful eye of the town’s offshore Shannon-class lifeboat George Thomas Lacy. To make the race slightly more exciting, fire hoses were at the ready to handicap some of the faster entries.

One fine vessel, built by retired coxswain Martin Steeden MBE in memory of his father, who passed away a few months ago, came a very respectable second in the race – Martin’s sister, whose only nautical experience to date had been eating fish and chips on the pier, paddled the boat during the race to take the silver medal.

Another of the boats, which resembled a wedge of brie and was named Big Cheese, produced some roars from the crowd. On launch she capsized three times, but her cunning skipper worked out that she sailed far better upside down than she ever did upright, and paddled her round the course sitting on top!

… before the race commences…

… under the watchful eye of the Swanage RNLI lifeboats.








This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here


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