Lockdown Coracle

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06 June 2020

I’ve wanted to paddle a coracle for many years. My wife promised me a coracle building course for my 70th birthday but by the time it came to book, she had become too ill to leave for a weekend. Lockdown provided an opportunity to fulfil that ambition. A friend kindly allowed me to trim a wildly overgrown willow structure in their garden; other materials would have to come from a lifetime’s hoarding of ‘potentially useful’ materials in my garage.

Instruction came from the Society’s website and numerous YouTube videos. I made a rough base-board rather than push the willow into the very soggy ground. I also had useful advice from Euan Raffel via email.

The photographs are probably self-explanatory. I was very short of suitable willow, so the weaving was rudimentary at best. I compromised my principals by using cable ties to hold the willow wands together because I needed to be able to re-tighten them as the willow dried out and undoing and re-tieing 64 pieces of string didn’t appeal.

The paddle was made following the pattern on the website but the broom handle was shorter than recommended, which will need correcting before I risk paddling on a river. The paint was all I had available, but white probably wouldn’t have been a good choice if some gentle poaching was anticipated. I’ve tried the coracle in a neighbour’s large plastic pool which showed it worked. It was a bit tippier than anticipated but has whetted my appetite for a more adventurous expedition, perhaps at Ironbridge if the August Bank Holiday event goes ahead.