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The Repair of CHALE BAY

November 28, 2014

CHALE BAY - Wooden fishing boat reapir completed by Berthon Boat Company

CHALE BAY is a 40 foot, 25 ton, wooden fishing vessel built in Bideford and fitted out in Lymington.  Launched in 1990, she is of carvel construction with Iroko planks on sawn Oak futtock frames. For those who don’t know, a futtock is a curved timber that forms a rib in the frame of a boat.

On the night of 17th September 2014 CHALE BAY was en-route from Alderney in a north easterly with a 10-12 foot swell when her bow collided with what looked like a shipping container floating end up. Graham, her owner and skipper put the floodlights on and went out onto the foredeck to find that the stem had sheered off at deck level along with a section of the bulwarks leaving a huge hole. Fortunately, the damage was all above the water line.

CHALE BAY - photo of damage to stem and bow

Graham made the decision to head back to Lymington although with the swell he had to steer 30-40 degrees off course to lessen the ingress of water to the forepeek through opened deck joints. About 6 miles off Bournemouth in the lee of the shore he turned and made his way up the Needles Channel and safely back to CHALE BAY’s home port.

Fishing Vessel CHALE BAY in the slings at Berthon Lymington Marina ahead of repair work

The following morning CHALE BAY was lifted at Berthon and shored up next to the workshop where Berthon surveyed the extent of the damage and measured her up for the timber that would be needed to repair the bow.  Between Graham, and Berthon skilled Shipwrights Mike Prince and Stuart Barrett, the decision was made to use English Oak for the stem and apron, and Iroko for the bulwark boards. The gunwales and capping rails were also damaged and so a combination of Iroko and Mahogany was used for those.

Closer inspection of the repairs to be made

Once the deck had been cleared of the damaged timber, 2 new staggered scarf joints were marked out on the bow; one on the inside for the new apron and one on the outside for the new stem.  The joints were cut and planed, and the new timber was then machined to size and moved to CHALE BAY for dry fitting. The apron was fitted using epoxy glue with 20mm stainless steel through bolts. The new stem was also fitted with epoxy glue, through bolted to the apron. Then a rabbet cut was made to house the hood ends of the boards. The bulwark boards were then cut back to good undamaged timber with stepped scarf joints on the frames. Templates were made and new boards cut, glued and screwed to the frames.

The new stem piece is put in places before being shaped

Fishing boat stem shaped and new boards being cut in

The capping rails were taken back to existing dog leg scarfs on either side.  New gunwales were laminated to the bulwark frames and faired off level with the top of the frames. Templates were made for the new capping rails, to which the timber was cut and machined before being fastened in place.  The stem was shaped using adzes and a tar plane and two small pieces of covering board from each side of the apron where it exits the deck, were replaced before the samson post was refitted and bolted to the apron and stem. Finally, the top of the stem was shaped to refit the straightened stem-head fitting and stem band and all the work undertaken was sanded smooth and coated with primer.

CHALE BAY on deck view of repairs before samson post was put in place - Berthon Boat Company

New stem head and original samson post replaced on CHALE BAY wooden boat repair berthon boat company

CHALE BAY provided a good opportunity for Mike & Stuart to impart some traditional boat building skills to Lewis Still, a second year apprentice shipwright who was keen to learn. This is an important part of the process, as it would be a shame if these skills were lost to future boat builders and shipwrights.

Berthon Shipwright Stuart Barrett working on Ripple with Apprentice Lewis Still
Above image shows Berthon Shipwright Stuart Barrett working with 2nd year apprentice on the stem for RIPPLE – West Solent One Design

Apprentice Lewis commented on the opportunity saying:

“Whilst working on CHALE BAY I had the opportunity to learn from 2 highly skilled shipwrights which was very beneficial to me as they have huge amounts of knowledge which they willingly shared.

I have been learning about wooden boats whilst at college so it has been fantastic to be able to carry out practical tasks to support and enhance the theory. I hope to be able to work with this kind of project in the future as I believe the use of traditional skills, tools and methods to be a beneficial component of a Shipwrights’ repertoire. The skill set that has been learned can then be transferred into modern day boat repairs.”

CHale Bay - BD97 - Wooden Fishing Vessel repair by Berthon Boat Company Lymington

For Berthon this shows the full depth of the skills available within the yacht maintenance and repairs team, to be able to complete this wooden boat repair in three weeks to such a high standard on a constantly used commercial vessel. Graham’s wife runs Daphne’s, the seafood shop selling local crab, lobster, whelks, and other delicacies from the sea on the cobbles, just off Lymington’s Town Quay.

For more information please contact and for information about Berthon’s marine industry apprenticeships and how to apply.

To order a local crab or lobster or two, leave a message for Daphne on +44 (1590) 677037

Click here for more information on Berthon boat repairs and here for yacht refit stories in the Berthon Blog.

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