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© Rebecca Collis
© Nick Matthews
© Rebecca Collis
© Gail McGarva

Gail McGarva

Gail McGarva Boatbuilder
By appointment only
+44 7974121606
© All rights reserved

For the love of boats

  • • Gail was a sign language interpreter before becoming a boatbuilder
  • • She lives and works on the south coast of England
  • • She breathes new life into a traditional craft

Gail lived on boats for many years, but it wasn’t until she journeyed to the source of the River Thames in 2003 that she had an overwhelming desire to make boats the centre of her life. She left her job as a sign language interpreter and re-trained as a boatbuilder. Her specialist areas are building replica boats, ‘clinker’ construction and building boats by eye, without the use of designer drawings and construction plans. The first work she made was a replica of the Gardie boat, a Shetland eela boat of 1882.

Read the full interview


  • © Nick Hand
  • © Nick Matthews
  • © Simon Tutty
Photo: © Nick Hand
Littlesea, the Dorset lerret

Littlesea is a replica of one of the last surviving Dorset lerret fishing boats, designed for launching down the steep shingle of Chesil Beach. The build was funded by QEST in order to preserve a type of boat in danger of disappearing, and also to preserve the art of boatbuilding by eye. The lines were taken from the 1923 mother boat Vera.

Length 17 Ft

Photo: © Nick Matthews
Three Cornish pilot gigs: Rebel, Black Ven and Tempest

These long, elegant racing-class boats are built for speed. To ensure they meet the specifications laid down by the Cornish Pilot Gig Association, they are measured three times during construction. All the modern pilot gigs are replicas of Boat 1 dating from 1838, Treffry.

Length 32 Ft

Photo: © Simon Tutty
Vera, the Story Boat

The Story Boat gives a new lease of life to the retired lerret mother boat Vera built in 1923. In collaboration with wheelwrights Rowland & Son, Vera has been upturned and transformed into a miniature maritime museum.

Length 17 Ft

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