The Coracle Files (1)
The Lonely Hearts Coracle Club!
MIDDLE AGED GENT WITH (NEW) CORACLE SEEKS
LADY WITH PADDLE FOR WATERY ADVENTURES!
It's finished, I think. The coracle that is, except that I haven't
got a paddle so can't try it out. Had the workbench arrived ten
days ago as it should have done, I'd no doubt have made myself a
paddle as well by now, but I'm still waiting.
The coracle's looking quite shipshape, though I say it myself.
I'm reasonably confident that it will float, but I'm not too sure for
how long! Should I really have used water-soluble bitumastic paint?
It's ended up as about 60" long by 40" wide and 14" deep. I think
that's about right for a one-person coracle, but not having much
to go on other than some photocopied plans, it was all a bit tentative.
The next one ought to be much better!
It all started at the National Trail Boat Festival at Wootton Bassett.
In between bouts of manning the
Cotswold Canals Trust stand, I wandered
down the canal to see the various boats and exhibits.
Avoiding the desperately unstable-looking 'floating bicycle' that
David Bellamy had demonstrated with such aplomb, I found myself down
by the bridge where 'Peter Faulkner Coracles' were showing some lovely
woven hazel and cowhide coracles. They were being paddled around the
canal most proficiently by some quite small children.
It occurred to me that a coracle would be nicer than an inflatable as
a tender to Saros (our 58' nb) but at about £500, these 'genuine
articles' were a bit out of reach financially, so I put the thought
'on the back burner' until our lottery numbers come up (frustrating
if they do as we rarely enter them!) or that rich uncle dies (what
Anyway, I happened to show Barbara (SWMBO) the 'Peter Faulkner Coracles'
flyer, and said how nice the coracles were, and thought no more about it.
The next day we were both at Braunston, for 'The Show', me working again
on the Cotswold Canals Trust stand and Barbara wandering round enjoying
Jeff Dennison & Benny Graham singing songs from "they're coming back to the Water".
She came back after a while and said that I must come and see something.
So leaving the stalwarts to man the stand (as they'd done for most of
the weekend already) I was led to the marquee near the entrance where
a friendly bearded chap was enthusing about coracles.
His coracles looked far less 'professional' but far more affordable
so I started asking questions. It turned out that he, Graham Fisher,
wasn't trying to sell anybody anything, just the idea that coracles
are nice eco-friendly little boats that have been around for millenia
and that they're easy to build and use.
I was hooked! Especially when he said that the ones he was showing
cost about £18 in materials! I didn't need to win the lottery to
make one of these it seemed. "Just soak a few bits of green ash in
water for a few days" he said, "screw some legs to a seat, nail the
ash to the legs, bend them up to the gunwale, cover in calico and
Even I could do that I reckoned - okay so my last carpentry experience
was at primary school in about 1950-something, hammering two lengths
of dowel onto three lumps of PAR pine to make a steam roller -
but if primitive men have been making coracles with their bare
teeth for thousands of years, I can't possibly go wrong with my
trusty Black & Decker can I?
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