Mayflower sets sail

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Cornish wooden boatbuilder Marcus Lewis launched his Mayflower dinghy today, marking the revival of a classic gunter rigged design.

The newly-built 14ft dinghy was unveiled at the Southampton Boatshow’s Wooden Boatbuilders Association stand.

Lewis spent the summer painstakingly replicating the original designs at his Fowey boatyard and he is delighted with the result. His Mayflower has a steel centreplate and is skilfully crafted in mahogany and cedar, with Canadian spruce planing and steamed oak ribs.

He said: “Unfortunately all the patterns and templates were destroyed in a fire in the nineties. I had been looking for a boat of this size to build for a while. They are an ideal size for teaching the grandchildren to sail and they conjure up that Swallows and Amazons sense of romance and adventure.

“They are good steady boats, with a moderate sail size, and they are easy to keep on a trailer. It is also a very well-respected design which has proven to be popular over the years.”

The building of the boat has been recorded as part of the project Traditional Maritime Skills (TMS), which is currently recording wooden boatbuilding skills that are in danger of becoming extinct. Every stage of the build has been captured on video and on a time-lapse camera and the footage will form part of a virtual learning tool for future generations of wooden boat builders.

The £1M TMS project is being lead in the UK by Cornwall Marine Network, with partners in the Netherlands and Belgium recording similar skills.

The Southampton Boatshow runs through to September 25.