Clinkerbuilt wooden sailing dinghy

Trusty Companion (click to enlarge)

Earlier this year, my eye was drawn by the classic lines of this clinker-built sailing dinghy, built by Barefoot Wooden Boats here on Gabriola Island.

At the time I took the photo, the boat seemed ready for some sprucing up – not surprising since it’s exposed to the elements day in, day out, year round at its dock in Silva Bay. Nevertheless I could see it was a beautiful, sturdy little vessel, holding up well. Since then it’s had a bit of TLC, and with its spiffy new paint, it’s now looking great.

I don’t know if the boat has a name, but I call the photo “Trusty Companion” – for who could not enjoy spending quality time with a reliable craft like this? And unlike the modern inflatable dinghy and aluminum skiff with which it shares the dock, I’m betting it’s a dream to row.

Old wooden vessels like “Trusty” carry me back in time to the very first boat my parents owned, the one which began my love affair with the sea: a clinker-built double-ender called Gwynda. Here’s a photo of that boat (the only existing photo I know of – obviously in sad shape), taken off Sidney circa 1957:

Old clinkerbuilt motor boat

Our first boat: Gwynda, circa 1957 (click to enlarge)

You’ll note the royal ensign – this was some years before Canada adopted the maple leaf flag. That’s my dad standing proudly on the aft deck, and my mom is inside, at the helm. I’m probably aboard too, but too small to appear in the photo. It makes me chuckle to see that our dinghy (also clinker-built) was almost half the length of our boat.

“Trusty Companion” is one of 30+ mounted prints I have on display this summer at the Silva Bay Restaurant & Pub on Gabriola Island. Entitled “Inspired by the Coast”, my show runs until September 7. If you’re Gabriola, I hope you’ll stop by to have a look (and enjoy a great meal while you’re there).

About Laurie MacBride, Eye on Environment

Photographer and writer focusing on nature and the environment

6 responses »

  1. Sherry Galey says:

    I see such beauty in this boat. So lovingly photographed too! And to have that photo of your family’s boat. How wonderful! I can just imagine little you in there developing your love for the nautical life…;-0

  2. A beautiful clinker Laurie and your family’s boat is a treasure. Our old wood boat was built in 1930 and there is something special in those old classic designs. Mind you, looking at the clinker reminds me of the upkeep involved – something I don’t miss. Much to the distaste of some, we also flew the red ensign.

  3. Bob Simmons says:

    Help an old Iowa dry lander — tell me what is “clinker-built.”

    • It’s a method of boat building (very ancient in origin – think of the Vikings and even earlier), where the planks of the hull overlap. It’s also called “lapstrake”. The other main method, which has overtaken clinker-built boats nowadays, is when the plank edges are butted smoothly together; this is called “carvel” construction.

      Thanks for your comment and question, Bob!

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