The Wooden Boat Centre is a community facility and so what better place could there be to build a boat for a community?
In 2015, the Bitterns St. Ayles skiff rowing team, spurned from its success at the international regatta in Franklin that year, decided to build a boat to add to the existing two already built by the community (Imagine and Billie).
The offer of a grant from the Westpac Foundation to the Franklin Working Waterfront Association, lessee of the centre, started the ball rolling by providing the funds to employ a consultant shipwright, Grant Drummond, to guide the Bitterns in the build.
The St. Ayles skiff, 6.7m. in length and 1.7m. in width, is a bonded clinker, all water rowing boat for four rowers and cox and is based on a traditional Scottish design by expatriot Australian Iain Oughtred. The base is a kit comprising only laser cut planks and frames, all of which require scarfing and assembly. The rest of the wood, mainly Celery Top, for keel, hog, stems, gunwhales, seats, breast hooks and oars had to be sought and constructed by the crew and were paid for by donations from fundraising events.
The moulds were set on the hard back in early December and by early February all the 12 planks were scarfed and fixed. A few days later, in grand ceremony, the skiff was upturned and set on its keel for the internal fit.
In all it's expected over 400 volunteer hours will have been spent before the anticipated launch date in early April.
The building of the Bittern is the first of this style of boat to be constructed in the Wooden Boat Centre and it's expected to be the precursor of many more affordable recreational and pleasure boats.