Design and construction of Jonni Sharko - shark fishing boat

placeholder gifDesign and construction of Jonni Sharko - shark fishing boat

Joe Shillito's workshop in Brixham but before moving to Brixham he worked in Northern Rhodesia.

Joe Shillito built steel boats in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) between 1952 and 1964. His boatyard was in a small industrial area at Bwana Mkubwa, a few miles outside Ngola. His 'equipment' was a huge forked tree with pulleys hanging from upper branches. He had welding equipment and shears and his workforce was six Africans. His method of construction was to build the boats upside down and turn them over for completion. The keel, gunwales and stringers would be formed by one end in the forked tree and 4-6 Africans would push on the other end, chanting (what sounded like) "Hope me dorta bwega cha". At 'cha' they would give the most exertion until Joe's 'eye' was satisfied that the curve was correct.

The gunwales would be positioned on the earth floor and the keel suspended from the pulleys and welded to the gunwales at the bow. The sheet steel bulkheads would be cut by feeding the steel into heavy shears. The lower arm of the shears was bolted to the work bench and the upper arm extended by 3 feet - pressed down by the Africans who chanted as they did so. When the bulkheads were in position the stringers would be welded on, then the steel skin.

At this stage the hull would be turned upright with the help of the pulleys on the branches of the tree. The deck and cabin would be then be completed. Boats up to 72 ft were completed in this way and he built them for the Northern Rhodesia Government and the Government of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland and also for private commissions.

On completion, the boats would have to be delivered to rivers or lakes overland by lorry and trailer, usually hundreds of miles. The roads could be bad in the rainy seasons. The bridges over small rivers could be washed away. In the case of the ferry 'Gemini', the two hulls and superstructure and engines were transported in pieces in five lorries and assembled by the side of the rapidly rising lake.

All these problems were a challenge and were overcome.

© copyright Biddy Clark

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Technical Information (Metadata)
Technical Information (Metadata)
Title Value
Identifier ref 1327
Coverage Devon. Brixham
Date 1964
Format greyscale photogaph; 120 mm x 160 mm
Publisher Biddy Clark
Rights Biddy Clark
Source Torbay Library Services
Subject Maritime. Brixham. Boat building
Type Image
Keywords boats construction steel shillito brixham