The Boat Project is a Sail Boat Made from Wooden Memories

boat projectthe boat project/CC BY 2.0

This boat is called Collective Spirit, as well it should be since it was made out of 1,221 pieces of wood. Each piece was a public donation and comes with a story, a sentimental or emotional attachment, that the donor wanted to share.

And out of that came this 30 ft. sloop which was sailed around the south-east coast of England by volunteers.

boat projectBonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

Created as part of the Olympic Art programme, the boat was built by two artists and a team of boat builders. It was built literally "from the stuff of people's lives" since they took all the precious donated objects and created something bigger. Something that moved and excited the 30 communities where they landed, having sailed 600 nautical miles around the coast of England.

The Olympic summer and the voyage are over now. But the boat has come to London for display and then it will move on to other towns.

boat projectBonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

The boat is built out of red cedar planking, which is very light. Each donation was sliced until it was wafer thin. Then each one was epoxy glued onto the hull.The boat has a lifting keel which comes up and down. The mast is made out of carbon fibre. The sails were proper sail material. There is no motor, the boat is steered with a tiller. It is 30 ft. long so that it can fit on the trailer and continue its journey by sea and road.

boat projectBonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

The list of donations included a tennis racket, cocktail stick, a shaving from a jimi hendrix guitar, a guitar, hockey stick, rabbit jig saw puzzle, tree from the National Trust, a wooden eye from a tree planted in 1166. They were eccentric and unique and each donation has a story. These are all commemorated in a publication, The Lone Twin Boat Project.

boat projectBonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

The hatch cover with the Olympic rings was made from five thin circles of dark wood, sliced from the mast of an old Thames sailing boat. It had to be hidden since no Olympic advertising was permitted.

boat projectBonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

It took 15 months to build and cost £5M. Its future? Unclear in this time of austerity Britain. The hope was that a local municipality would take on its care but this has not happened. Now the group is looking at setting up a trust so that the community can continue to use it as a learning and sailing resource.

Tags: Boats | Communities | England | Olympics


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