My name is Greg Lamb and this is the story of my build of a 12' 6" Northumbrian Coble.  This is a Selway Fisher design ( and I'll explain a little later why I chose it over the multitude of designs available from Selway Fisher and others.  This is a stitch and glue boat, so if you are expecting a treatise on skilled woodworking, I am afraid you have come to the wrong place!  This site is now pretty much complete although I wrote most of it as I was building the boat, so it might sound a bit "present tense".

The picture below is the finished boat.  I built the rowing version so for details on the sailing version you will need to look at other sites.  There are several of them and the Selway Fisher Builder's site ( ) is a very good place to start (although you probably arrived here from there in the first place!)

Before setting out on this project I trawled through all the sites I could find on building stitch and glue boats, and took enormous encouragement from the enthusiasm, tips, skill and honesty (especially when things went wrong) of those other builders.  I hope this site will give you similar pleasure and encouragement as I had from those who have done this before me.

I am inspired and a little bit awed by Iain Oughtred's "Clinker Plywood Boatbuilding Manual" which shows you how to do a proper job of all the bits from building frames to bumpkins and cleats.  I also bought some while back "Instant Boatbuilding with Dynamite Payson" which is full of useful information, encouraging words and some intriguing designs.  I bought the book in the USA, but I believe it's available in the UK as well - Amazon's always worth a try.  His site is also well worth a visit -  I won't list here all the other sites I found helpful, but the Selway Fisher site has a page of useful links and I'll probably mention the odd one or two as we go along if they seem particularly relevant.

I have sailed nearly all of my life, mostly in racing dinghies of one sort or another, and have always been fascinated by how boats, especially wooden boats, are built.  I have done my fair share of minor repairs, mostly with epoxy in various ways, and learnt the hard way about the good and bad properties of epoxy and how to make wood and GRP stick together with it. However I had never built a boat, or even a small section of one (although my dad produced my first boat from a kit when I was 16).  I always had a lurking desire to have a go, but time, money, and space (roughly in that order) combined with a doubt that I could actually do it always made it too difficult.

In September 2009 I unexpectedly found I had the time and the money, courtesy of my one-time employer deciding my services were no longer required.  This seemed an ideal time to see if I could actually make a boat that at the very least floated and of which I wouldn't be too ashamed.  I am also fortunate that my sailing club has a large boat shed which is mostly empty during the summer months, so the space to build under cover with power at hand was also there.  I didn't intend this to be a long term project (ha ha!) - I wanted to use the boat as much as build it, and had to be out of the boat shed before it was needed late in the summer of 2010 - and so wasn't about to embark on a self-taught shipwright's course.  A stitch and glue design was the obvious choice, but many of these are, frankly, unappealing designs and the worst of them bea
r a striking resemblance to coffins.  I wanted a boat that looked like a boat, with the graceful curves and sweeps that make boats such satisfying things to look at and touch.

I also wanted a boat that was seaworthy enough to punch out to a mooring in less than perfect weather without shipping water.  My other boat is this -

and I wanted to be able to row or motor out to her in the sort of weather she revels in, which means a fair bit of wind.  (She's a Dragonfly 920, and if you want to know more go to Quorning boats at or search "dragonfly sailing" on Youtube for some great video clips.)  And although I wanted a reasonably quick build, I also wanted a challenge - I know I can stick two bits of wood together, I wanted to see if I could move beyond the straightforward.

This all led me eventually to the Selway Fisher page and their Northumbrian Coble designs; undoubtedly pretty boats with lovely reverse sheer and tumblehome, and giving every appearance of being a seaworthy craft, which given the design's origins, it should be.  It is a more complex build than many others, but that suited me and the choice was made.  The design includes all the details for a sailing version, but for reasons of simplicity and speed I went for a rowing boat (plus I knew I would never actually sail it - I already have a wealth of opportunities for that in my boat and other people's).  The plans also include a variant that has an outboard well (because the transom is heavily raked and doesn't take an outboard easily).  This seemed to me to take out a lot of the internal space plus I felt cutting the large aperture in the hull wasn't going to add anything to the strength and rigidity of the finished product.  That is no criticism of Paul Fisher's designs, more a comment on my confidence in my construction skills.

I bought the plans from Selway Fisher along with the two DVDs produced by Alec Jordan of Jordan Boats ( which show the building of a 10' 6" Coble.  These are also excellent and just seeing someone doing something somehow gives you confidence that it really can be done!  Jordan Boats also supplied me the planks as explained in the Materials section.

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