David Winspear is one of a dying breed - the boatbuilders who went through an indentured apprenticeship. Sadly, he has to work as a joiner by day but still creates objects that are closer to works of art than functional modes of transport in his very traditional shed near Whitby, North Yorkshire.
He works by eye. This lovely Thames-style skiff was made without plans or much by way of power tools, which to the layman is jolly close to magic. "Where I was apprenticed we used to get orders for a dozen or so skiffs for boating lakes in parks and so on, so I have had lots of practice," he said.
And David made it from the tree - he bought a trunk of European larch and had it sawn into planks by a friend. The frames are made of oak. Traditional copper boat nails hold it all together, though David is using some stainless steel screws these days. It comes complete with two sets of oars (though three oarsmen can row by moving a thwart) and iron hoops to support a tent for camping. True threemeninaboat stuff.
Just look at the shop - a roof on sticks to keep the rain off a strongback set on the bare earth.
David has made an enormous variety of boats, including a replica Viking ship, a Saxon boat with raised ends, and local traditional boats such as cobles and double enders, though the demand for commercial vessels in wood has dropped off in the last few years. He also builds 27ft gigs for both local rowing clubs, Scarborough and Whitby Fishermen, which is a tribute to his skills as they are deadly rivals. A selection of his boats can be seen on his website.
Incredibly, David rarely goes out boating himself. His wife Enid writes: "David NEVER goes in a boat!! He has built dozens, fishing, pleasure and heritage but I can't persuade him to have one of our own..." He blames it on a trip he was forced to take on a trial voyage of a fishing boat he built: "It is a bit like a busman's holiday for me. I went out once on a boat I built for the White Fish Authority and it was a very boring day."
The new skiff is currently for sale on eBay with an initial bid of £4,200. It must be worth every penny. Get bidding now and help support a traditional craft!