A Woodys Trip Report from France

A Woodys Trip Report from France
photos & story ex Russell Ward

Getting the other-half to go on holiday in France – thats easy, but how Russell manages to sneak in visits to wooden boat yards, beats me. I need some tips 🙂
I’ll let Russell tell the story. Remember to click on the photos above to enlarge 😉

I visited a fellow steam boater in Arcachon and the conversation on steamboats lulled a trifle and we went on to local work boats the Pinasse! Yep, when the French say Pinasse it is rather akin to the technical term for one’s diddle!
They are a breed of double ender peculiar to Arcachon on the coast out from Bordeaux. Arcachon is a rather larger harbour than Whangateau. Golden sands and sandbars abound. Oyster farms are everywhere and the origin of the Pinasse in the area dates from 1900 or so.

The local work boats abound and many have been retired to pleasure duties and some look real posh.
They have a broad beam, some have elongated bow and stem posts to give a Venetian look; bold sheer (as befits a work boat intended for fishing), self draining cockpit fwd, low deck house and aft cockpit.
The engines were marinised automotive engines and many early ones were made by local engineers.
The older traditional boats have a disappearing prop arrangement akin to the American Dispro boats (check out Wooden Boat). The Dispro has a cast tunnel that the prop shaft and prop pivot up into. The Pinasse has a slot about six inches wide from a third of the way fwd from the stern post. The prop shaft emerges at the fwd end of the slot and there is a bronze universal to allow the prop shaft to pivot up when a lever is raised in the aft cockpit or automatically if the skeg scrapes on a sandbar.
The hull form is interesting. They appear round bilge but in fact have a chine on the middle third of the hull.

One boatyard built most of the boats and above  are several photos of the sheds. Makes my eyes go all misty and George and Pam’s will too. They have so much space in there but only a couple of major rebuilds in progress. One smallish burdensome sailing boat of about 16’ and one elderly Pinasse who has a new stem, chines, set of floors and most of the bottom having new planks.
 Six generations of one family worked the yard and it was recently sold to a man and his sister who continue the work.
Lovely place!

There are a lot of references but few specific to our interests. Go trawling!

6 thoughts on “A Woodys Trip Report from France

  1. I am being nice! I’ve been through their factory/yard at Croix-de-vie and was really impressed by their timber work. They have their own sustainable forests in West Africa and some amazing gear for turning it into incredible interiors.
    Real tree wood, but transformed, shall we say?


  2. The Beneteau family started off the same way, up the coast from Arcachon, at Croix-de-vie, in 1884. They faced the same tough Bay of Biscay conditions but, of course, went to the dark side with fibreglass.


  3. This is not going to be everybody’s cup of tea Russell. There’s cob webs in the corners, grass is growing through the timber clad walls and there’s a crusty toxic layer of lead based paint on the rafters. Never mind the safety hazards.
    You know us well…Certainly this yard has me humming. I’m looking at the back bone of those sheds, good and strong, I totaly cringe when George hangs his block and tackle in the rafters or pinching for room suspends a 12 ftr from the roof or you come in wanting to remove the boiler from his steam boat.
    Just imaaagine how many projects we could have on the go. And dear George would have them all comeing along as well as operating the slip ways… and the draft of the boat wouldn’t be a problem Te Uira would fit in. And the room to sought through timber…
    Isn’t the Vos Yard / boat shed pretty big…


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