First Steps in Building Of Catbird 16 foot Sharpie.

Here are a few photos of the first steps in building a wooden 16 foot sharpie sailing boat. First the wood for the chines, inwales, and keel are jointed and planed to thickness. Here I’m checking them for square and straightness.

Checking wood for 16 foot sharpie sailboat custom built by Roeboats, Co. Cork

Then I have to mark out the frames on the sheets of half inch plywood. I nested the frames as best I could on the sheets to reduce wastage. This was fairly easy to do as as the sharpie hull shape is very economical with materials. One of the reasons that it has remained a very popular traditional hull form. Perhaps more boats should be flat bottomed wooden boats. Of course more boats should be wooden boats. Marking out the frame material for a 16 foot sharpie sailboat custom built by Roeboats Co.Cork IrelandThen the frames had to be cut out with a hand circular saw and a guide rail. I did use a jigsaw in some locations but the circular saw is much quicker and leaves a straighter cut.

Cutting out the frames fro a 16 foot wooden sharpie sailboat custom built by Roeboats Co. Cork IrelandWell that’s all you are getting to see so far. We actually seem to be having some Summer weather here in Ireland for the first time in years and it is getting very very hard to stay in the workshop and not just go sailing.

Roeboats, Ballydehob, Co. Cork, t:+353 (0)28 38973 m: +353 (0)86 158 69 37


Roeboats to build Karl Stambaugh Catbird 16 Lug sail day boat

catbird16_yawl wooden daysailor built by Roeboats, Cork Ireland for saleRoeboats have been commissioned to build a 16 foot sharpie designed by Karl Stambaugh. The owner will be finishing her himself so she’ll leave the workshop without paint, rigging or sails. Hopefully I’ll get to sail her at some point. The lug rig should prove powerful and versatile and it looks pretty good too. The finished boat will be sailed on Galway Bay where the 2011-2012 Volvo Ocean Race will finish. I’ll be posting the building of the boat as it progresses so check back to see how I’m getting on or better still subscribe to the blog or Roeboats Quarterly newsletter which will have the inside info on all the goings on at Roeboats.

Roeboats, Ballydehob, Co. Cork, t:+353 (0)28 38973 m: +353 (0)86 158 69 37


Roeboats at the Ilen framing out and Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival.

Here are some photos of the Ilen the last wooden sailing cargo vessel built in Ireland in 1926 for use in the Falkland Islands. She’s currently undergoing a rebuild here in West Cork. I was invited to the framing out celebrations on the completion of the reframing of the boat. Next step is the planking and you can help by sponsoring a plank. They are also running traditional boat building workshops each month. They’ve also started a blog here.

Frames of wooden boat Ilen taken by Tiernan Roe of Roeboats custom boat builders

The Baltimore Wooden Boat festival was a tremendous success with up to 70 boats attending. Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of the weekend as I was too busy talking to people about Ninigret. I’m exhausted having spent the entire weekend talking.

Roeboats, Ballydehob, Co. Cork, t:+353 (0)28 38973 m: +353 (0)86 158 69 37


Birthday for Roeboats

Starting a business in the middle of a recession is not easy but people will still want to enjoy the unique unparalleled freedom offered by being captain of your own boat. Yes it has been difficult but I’ve wanted to be a boat builder since I was thirteen when I started maintaining and repairing racing dinghies. After nearly 25 years of learning and honing the skills needed I finally decided to start Roeboats and follow that dream. So far I have been successful and I’m hoping that clients will recognise the value and beauty of the boats that Roeboats build. I’m building boats that were designed during the golden age of yachting and building them using eco-friendly and low maintenance techniques so clients can have beautiful classic boats without the headaches of traditional construction and benefit from their sea-kindly and fuel efficient hull forms.” It all started with the building of an optimist dinghy with my father see the picture below.

wooden optimist dinghy

Mo Bháidín (My little boat) 1983

To celebrate Roeboats first anniversary in business I’m offering a free tender with every boat ordered over 20’ before the end of April 2010. Launched with the commencement of the building of hull number one a John Atkin designed 22’ eco-friendly fuel efficient powerboat Roeboats have not only survived the recent economic maelstrom but are implementing plans to grow the business in the coming years. I’m currently discussing custom built boat projects, both power and sail, with prospective owners both here in Ireland and abroad. We’ve teamed up with two boat dealerships in Ireland, I’ll be announcing details soon, and I’m also beginning to target the UK and northern Europe. Initial contacts with specialist brokers have been very positive.
Official celebrations are being postponed slightly to coincide with the Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival at the end of May where Roeboats first boat will be making it’s debut where clients can get a chance to see the fine craftsmanship and excellent sea keeping of the Ninigret. So if you’d like to have a look at what Roeboats are up to why not head to Baltimore for the 28-30th. of May

The most beautiful boat in the world?

Dark Harbor 17 classic gentleman's gaff rigged wooden one design day boat designed by B. B. Crowninshield

If I could build one boat for myself I would build a Dark Harbor 17. Twenty-five feet overall with a 17.5′ waterline, this gaff rigged beauty is the quintessential gentleman’s day boat. Those graceful overhangs and fine hull shape combined with her long keel and simple cuddy all combine into something incredibly beautiful. You couldn’t name this boat after your wife or husband; they could get very jealous. You could very easily start to spend all your free time out sailing in the best looking boat in the bay. Designed in 1910 by B.B. Crowninshield for the members of the Manchester Yacht Club as a one design racer, they are still being built to this day, a real example of how style never goes out of fashion. It doesn’t look like my wife will let me build one of these for myself, I already spend too much time in the workshop. So if you would like your own Dark Harbor 17 there is no better time to order yours now. I’m offering a free classic tender with each of these boats so hurry before the offer is over. I was thinking of building a new version strip planking and epoxy sheathing for low maintenance and durability. This would result in a lightweight and low maintenance classic wooden gentleman’s day sailor that will give many many years of enjoyable and reliable service.

Wooden boat magazine did a feature article on this beauty in issue 196 May/June 2007 which has some good photos and information about the designer.

Roeboats, Ballydehob, Co. Cork, t:+353 (0)28 38973 m: +353 (0)86 158 69 37


West Cork Launch Site No. 3 Ahakista

Here’s another launch site in west Cork on the Sheep’s Head peninsula a very secluded and remote part of west Cork. Located approximately half way along Dunmanus bay it is the perfect place to start exploring this beautiful part of the country.The pier here is busy with both private and fishing boats and it boasts an excellently maintained and wide slip. The harbour itself is quite sheltered and Kitchen Cove proper is well protected from most points of the compass. ahakista

As you can see in the picture above tenders are tied up to railings at the head of the slip but don’t really interfere with launching and retrieving your boat. ahakista1

There is water available at the pier and a difibulator if you’re in need of one. There’s a pub just up from the pier with a beer garden overlooking the water and is a fine place for a few sunny pints.ahakista2

This will Shena Christinas home port and I spent a few beautiful days there putting the boat through some sea trials, unfortunately I was too busy to take any photos.

Roeboats, Ballydehob, Co. Cork, t:+353 (0)28 38973 m: +353 (0)86 158 69 37

West Cork Launch site No. 2 Baltimore

Here are some photos of the pier and slips in Baltimore, Co. Cork. Baltimore has one of the best harbours in Ireland that has ample depth to accommodate large vessels and is sheltered enough for smaller vessels. There are two slips for launching in Baltimore and all the facilities associated with a busy port. Baltimore Pier

This is the refurbished pier, the end of which is used by the ferrys to Oilean Cléire ( Cape Clear ) and Sherkin Island one of which can be seen at the end of the pier. Smaller craft can moor alongside closer to the shore, where it is quite shallow at low water.

Baltimore harbour looking west

Looking west from the start of the pier you can see the slip in the right hand section of the photo. Actually there are three slips and a boat railway. Starting from the west is a public slip, the boat railway, the RNLI inshore lifeboat slip and the Baltimore Sailing club slip. With so many entities using the shore line you can appreciate that Baltimore can be a bustling place in the summer season. These photos were taken on a beautiful day in April. The pier in the picture is foul on its southern end and the western side is used by commercial boats. Charter and dive boats usually tie up at its eastern side.

Baltimore Harbour looking northThis is another slip and can be used for launching and tying up to by small craft for short periods there are rings along its outer edge. The large stone building in the background is Dún na Sead Castle which is open to the public during the summer. (The stairs in the castle were built by my friend and colleague Simon Hassett.) To the right you can see the main square where it all happens during the summer and if the weather is right is more akin to the french riveria than west cork. If you are launching a boat in Baltimore there is parking for trailers on the road side beside the old BIM boatyard and across the road from Glenans who are celebrating 40 years in Baltimore this year.

Finished Lofting!

Finally finished lofting Ninigret. I had to spend some time finishing up outstanding jobs that I had on as well. With the lofting complete, I now have all the frame and stem bevels, and transom projected so it will be full steam ahead making from now on hopefully. Here’s something of interest, I came across this at Woodenboat; it was their boat of the week. It really appealed to my conceptual sensibilities, I have always been a fan of people like composer John Cage and the Fluxus group. Anyway here’s a picture of an unmanned boat that can “sail” directly into the wind. Quite a technological feat really. I think it looks fantastic maybe we should all be building boats like this.



Roeboats, Ballydehob, Co. Cork, t:+353 (0)28 38973 m: +353 (0)86 158 69 37


Why use wood to build boats?


Photo by rick rowland via Flickr Creative Commons

Where lightweight and strength are needed wood is the best material to use.

Wood is stronger than than steel, most fiberglass and aluminium pound for pound.

Wood is stiffer than all fiberglass, kevlar and steel.

Wood absorbs vibrations and this includes sound, so wooden boats are quieter.

Wood does not fatigue with repeated loading,

Wood is a renewable resource and the growing of wood removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Wood is eco friendly in that it can be recycled, fiberglass cannot.

Wood looks good.

Wood allows economical, in both materials and cost, custom production of boats.

Wooden boats require similar maintenance to fiberglass boats. Gel coat is not the wonder material it was thought to be

So why are most boats for sale today made of fiberglass?

There is one reason most boats are built from fiberglass; that is cheap labour.

It requires skilled craftspeople to build a wooden boat, whereas semi-skilled and unskilled operatives with proper supervision can manufacture a fiberglass boat.

Fiberglass is not renewable and non-recyclable,

Fiberglass requires similar maintenance to a wooden boat. Gel coat is not the wonder material it was thought to be.

Update: 2-May-2010

I came across this article by Lawence W. Cheek in the Seattle Times today and he says exactly what I want to, but better.

“We willingly pour the considerable labor and love into building, maintaining and restoring wooden boats because they lead us to participating in something greater than ourselves. I have nothing against fiberglass, but a boat made of synthetic material simply reflects human culture back at us. It is purely a product of technology. A wooden boat is a partnership. It’s not literally a living thing, not quite, but it evinces respect for the life that exists outside the clubby circle of human intelligence.”

Photo by Botheredbybees

Photo by Botheredbybees via Flickr Creative Commons

West Cork Launch Sites. No. 1 Ballydehob


Above: Ballydehob’s Iconic 12 Arch Tramway Bridge

I thought that I would do an occasional series on the launch sites and small piers around the West cork coast. Whenever I’m passing near one I usually check them out to see what they’re suitable for. Now I’m going to start photographing them. So that you can get a good idea of how much water there will be I’m going to aim to photograph them around low tide.

It is here.

And Here are some pictures.

ballydehobblogLooking north

As you can see the slip is in good condition and offers at least 5′ at high tide. It is obstructed by mooring lines but these could be moved when launching and retrieving.

bdhobblogLooking east

bdhobblog2Looking West

There is ample space for parking and the area is lit and safe at night. It’s a short 2-3 minute walk to the shop, small hardware shop, launderette, petrol station, restaurants and 7 of the best pubs in Ireland. Click here for information on Ballydehob.

bdchannelThe channel through Ballydehob bay a to Roaringwater bay is marked by bouys and is fairly straight forward. The great thing about Ballydehob is that diesel and petrol are available in the village; this is no longer so in neighboring Schull. Also it is much quieter and picturesque with better shelter than its more famous neighbor. It is restricted in draft and only accessible to smaller craft which is great.

Hope this info. is helpful to some one. And yes I know I should have taken an aerial shot from the bridge. I’ll add that next time.