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  Hi guys, some thoughts on Proas from Balkan Shipyards.....

Next, the HAVAYA 30 ocean cruiser, 10 years of proa design and building from BSY


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I really like your videos. Looking at your workshop there I did a brief resume of all the joinery workshops/boatsheds etc that I have owned, rented, or constructed : at least 15. When you are in a place with other artisans and their workshops- that's always good, you exchange skills and knowledge.

The last one I rented was in the Channel Isles. It didn't have formal planning consent, but I knew it would comply. Unfortunately someone in a neighbouring outfit annoyed a householder nearby and the authorities came to stick a bill on that one and all of us other workshops. I told my landlord how to negotiate with them and the reasons he must put forward in an appeal. He won the appeal. He then doubled the rent. £9K to £18K p.a.

That was the second time that had happened to me.

As I have said many times to people talking about building one-off boats: the boatshed is the most important thing.

Now I have two smallish workshops. One in France and one in UK. The French one I originally rigged up with 3 phase machines, then EDF cut me off because the (temporary) supply was technically to a house (oakframe of course) I was building, and that house was taking too long from their point of view. I have just installed solar, but not enough for 3 phase. So I have about 10 tons of 3 phase woodworking kit I can't use.. Sedgewick  400mm planer'thicknesser, Wadkin spindle, Guiilloux 4 sider, Hapfo copy lathe, Wadkin overhead router, Pade slot mortiser, Pade single ended tenoner.

Open to offers. The spindle and Sedgewick planer were recently used, the others are in a 20ft shipping container where they have been since I took them to France (Normandy) so are a bit dirty. The four sider etc all came working from a cabinet shop.

Your place brought back memories of a joinery shop I had in Nottingham. Pantiles in the roof and all that. The floorboards were studded with old upholstery tacks, with holes in from where the mice would occasionally emerge- to get a snap from my German Shepherd in wait for them. Below was a mechanics' place; they were servicing taxis and on the dole. One car set on fire and took the whole place up. I walked out through the flames with my dog on one hand, a teacup in another, and a copy of the Manchester Guardian underneath my arm.

Happy days.

  Seems like the force wasn't by your side my friend....

That's some harsh stuff happened to you over the years.

I too, had me ups and  downs but in my way.... 

  I like my place, got some good machines and space, though if shit hits the fan, I got so many other places I can build that I'm not really worried.... Fires are bad! If one of those comes by then it was meant to, and there was no way I could prevent it. 

  We are very different, I own nothing, a bunch of hand tools and a few power tools. All I have can fit into my car and we can build anything anywhere. I never owned land, concrete and cast iron. If I cant move it I don't want it. If all I have goes (which I hope it doesn't) I will buy it all over again.

  I am a joiner by trade, but being a carpenter is far better how ever you look at it. A tool belt and 5 more power tools and I will build you what ever you want.

I suppose we are very different.

Happy I could take you back in time.....

All d best 

Oh, by the way, did I say I was a Gypsy???

I started off as a joiner, having taught myself everything I knew  -after graduating with a Cambridge degree I never used (hated Cambridge University as well), gradually did more and more carpentry, it always paid better for one thing. Later I combined it all, joinery, furniture-making, carpentry, oak framing and also kiln- dried and sold timber. Years ago I had a car like yours, but a bit older: an Opel Kadette estate with a roofrack. It was a great car, I even carried full bay windows I had made on the roof. I had two identical, and switched the registration plates according to requirements on a regular basis.....I agree with you about electronics, I am a minimalist hence like Wharrams.

I have just read Wharram's new book People of the Sea, and he tells the story about when they moved from Wales to Cornwall. Ruth went down there with a bike and a list of places to look at, and found the place they have now. It had permission for a workshop and access to a creek mooring. By the time I could actually contemplate buying anywhere -places like this were unheard of.

I rented nearly all my places till the last 10 years or so. In the UK in any area now, apart from the poorest, it's always too expensive for a one-man-and-a-dog band to buy. So in the UK people tend to work out of big vans. I had ideas about rigging a lorry up for a workshop, or a barge, but something easier always came up. Actually making stuff in the UK makes you a gypsy of sorts...

Have a look at James Wharram's new book: I think the rig he describes on the Sri Lankan "Oru" outrigger canoe would be of interest to you, there's a drawing and photo there as well:

"The Oru use a large square sail which is set on a bamboo mast and sprit in a unique manner. To tack, the canoe is reversed end-for-end like a Micronesian proa, with outrigger float always kept to windward. During the tack the mast becomes the sprit and the sprit the mast by the simple adjustments of some ropes, an easier tacking method than swinging the whole triangular rig round, as is done on the Micronesian proas, which requires a big strong crew ...."   p.257  People of the Sea,   Wharram/Boon

Tight lines!   Ian

There is a model of an Oru with the rig on the Maritime Museum Greenwich website;


Interesting man, moving is the way of travelers, I suppose...

I know those sprit square rigs, though reefing is the most important feature on a Proa, in my opinion....

So we gonna Junk Rig her, or to put it perfectly We gonna LaSHuNK her....

Best Proa  Rig in the world for land locked seas, where strong winds come and go at any time.

I will not change this rig for anything modern, or traditional

Keep shunting! Balkan  Shipyards

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