BH4’s amazing wooden boat collection
It is hard to believe that we have been open just 5 months, here in Boathouse 4. Our first weeks were well occupied, populating the cathedral like space with some famous and some more humble projects. As each boat was craned into place so the picture of a true working yard began to develop and now we are for the present pretty much full. As each project progresses so there will be movements and changes to the floor plan; the big gantry cranes running the breadth of the building allow us the opportunity to re position projects and leapfrog finished boats across to the dock for launching.
One of the first boats to be brought in by low loader was Fandango, a Laurent Giles reverse sheer design she has now been stripped of all the glass sheathing and an external support structure built around her to hold her shape whilst still allowing us access to her fastenings as the students start to address her internal structure. When her decks were removed a whole ecosystem was unearthed, including a colony of leafcutter bees which we carefully removed within their cigar like capsules packed into the rotten decking, I am glad to say we have had a successful emergence of several dusty sleepy bees over the last couple of months all of whom were carefully rehomed in the Porter’s Garden here in the dockyard.
Beside Fandango lies Dolly Varden she was one of the last boats to be brought in. You can see her in the picture below being dropped into her place by bay two crane the big Morris. She is a large Itchen Ferry ( Solent Smack ) built 1872 and previously owned by the Cowes sailmaker Ratsey who used her as a developmental vessel for his sails and rig.
Dolly is probably one of the most significant small sailing vessels of the nineteenth and twentieth century, she was racing competitively for sixty years. Everyone who was anyone wanted to helm her and win a race on her, including royalty. In 1935 when Dolly was already of mature years, Uffa Fox said of her, that she was the fastest boat of her length in the world!
Boathouse 4 may have only been open for 5 months but we have already conducted 28 invited group boatshed visits on top of our regular two o’clock shop floor tours, and over 87,000 members of the public have wandered in to our lovely big shed. No need for a ticket to see us, if you are interested in a course call in at reception and we can give you a guided tour, for the general public we offer a 2pm tour every day and if you are an interested group or party wanting to organise something more specific then do get in touch we will be delighted to see you and you will certainly go away with a real buzz.
The Solent branch of the Old Gaffers visited earlier in the year. http://www.oga.org.uk/solent/news/visit-to-IBTC