Building a Northumbrian Coble in Clinker Ply

With 4 months of free evenings and weekends on the horizon, I pondered the possibility of building a sailing dinghy. I had owned a lovely 20' sloop that was as good a boat as I could ask, but I was beginning to feel cramped on board, so I naturally decided that a bigger boat would be the answer. I ended up moving on to a 40' wooden ketch, but it turns out that there really isn't enough time to restore an old wooden boat while studying engineering full time. I ended up selling the ketch and instead decided the answer was a smaller boat. Something I could sail to the local islands with minimal effort, like my 20' sloop, but with even more ability to poke into every nook and not having to anchor and row ashore.

I began browsing designs. I wanted something that could comfortably sail a few people, but wouldn't be too big for one person to manage on the beach. I knew I needed something that could be built in plywood since I would have no way of working massive solid wooden planks. I first went to the Atkins' designs since I really love some of their larger boats, but they don't have much of what I was looking for. I eventually came across Selway Fisher and they had a great number of suitable boats. I wanted to do clinker ply rather than stitch and glue, but his designs seemed to allow for that. After some comparison I settled on the 12.5' Northumbian Coble and in afterthought I do think that it's very suited to what I am looking for. In the future I really want to try building one of Iain Oughtred's designs; I really like the look of his double enders, but they are a bit big for the space I have available to build in right now.

On this website I'm gradually documenting the building process as I work away. Once I'm done I'll probably organize it by component rather than just chronologically, but for now this works well.

I built a 3d computer model of the boat while I was waiting for the plans to arrive and that is where the title image comes from. It sure is easy to try out colour combinations. I definitely want to go with a tanbark sail.

It begins...