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By Andy Jackson - Perth, Western Australia - Australia

September 5, 2010 was launch day for my newest build, a John Welsford Joansa rowboat.

In the early nineties I was fortunate to have some experiences on sail training ships in the UK and Europe. This led to an interest in small wooden boats and boat building.

My first boat was/is a 12 foot clinker ply sailing dinghy called Daydream (Mallard design by Andrew Wolstenholme UK). That one took me 4 years (1996 – 2000) to build due to various house moves and study/work commitments. I learnt a lot from that and over the next few years built a 13 foot canoe (Dennis Davies, Build your own canoe book) and two Pygmy stitch and glue kayaks (Queen Charlotte and Golden Eye) from plans.

In 2004 my wife and I were expecting our first child, so I thought it would be nice to have a rowboat for family picnics etc on the local rivers. I had purchased John Welsfords book, NZ Backyard Boatbuilder and the Joansa design appealed to me. I wanted something light that could be launched from the river bank like the kayaks and not require a boat launching ramp like the sailing dinghy. Our kayaks weigh about 20kg each so if the rowboat weighed less than 50 kg, I knew my wife and I could easily carry it from the trailer to the river. Our sailing dinghy rows reasonable well but is too heavy for us to carry so we always launch it at a boat ramp.

For the Joansa I used okoume marine plywood as per the plans and Bote Cote epoxy. For extra hull protection I glassed the bottom and first row of side planks. The hardwood is mostly Tassie Oak as it is readily available in appropriate dimensions from the local hardware store. The building was straightforward and I made steady progress over a few months up to the stage of fixing down the seat tops for the flotation compartments. By then our baby daughter was born and suddenly there was not so much time available for boat building. I figured it could wait until baby was old enough to wear a PFD. By 2006 no more progress had been made and baby number two arrived, a boy this time. In 2008 we moved house and that meant the usual busy time, changing and repairing things to make the new place our own.

Roll around August 2010 and finally I found myself with a few spare hours each week to devote to boat building and was able to finish the job. My employment takes me away from home for several weeks at a time, so it was touch and go whether it would be finished in time before my next stint away at work. We had organised a family get together near Shelley Bridge on the Canning River for Fathers day. Anyway, and as it came closer we were able to finish off the painting and tack on some thin varnished rub rails to the sheer. The paint is enamel, light grey satin inside and Bordeaux Red gloss on the outside.

We decided to name the boat Cosmic. This is a word my brother in law Phil uses to describe anything cool and groovy. We were blessed with a beautiful day for first launch and everything went smoothly. I rowed a quick loop by myself just to make sure everything was safe and was delighted by the lightness and easy motion of the boat. After that the rest of the family were invited for a ride or to row themselves. With my wife and two children on board the rowing was only a little more work and we are all looking forward to getting out in the boat again when I get home from work in mid October. My oars are stock pine oars from the chandlery that I intend to modify as suggested in Johns book. I made my own rowlocks to a Phil Bolger design and they work well enough for now though I really need to use the boat some more to iron out the little things. Now I am dreaming of a 2 hp Honda to assist on longer trips.


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