Boat Building at Sgoil Lionacleit

Overview – An Islands Heritage and the future Skills for a New Generation


A Secondary School on the Isle of Benbecula has a number of features. It celebrates its Gaelic Culture, its island community, Pipe Band, sport persons, academic achievements, but It has yet more to offer.

The potential for its pupils are not only the traditional education pathways but a chance to celebrate, develop and cherish a unique local tradition in Wooden Boat Design and Building using construction industry carpentry and joinery skills.

The, "Grimsay Boat" developed a distinctive style that responded to the Uist conditions: small enough to be beached in rocky inlets off the Minch, but fast, strong and stable for the lobster fishing in the Atlantic.

At option choices in S4/5/6 pupils can choose to study SQA Boatbuilding and gain key lifelong skills of use within the construction sector.

It also allows them further choices in their future to study other Design or Practical National Qualifications within the school.

Gilmour and Aitken Timber Merchants
Gilmour and Aitken Timber Merchants

Gilmour & Aitken Ltd are suppliers and stock holders of a comprehensive range of high quality sawn and engineered hardwood and softwood timber products. They are our Larch and Oak, Supplier.

Click here!

Grimsay Boat Hevan Logo
Grimsay Boat Haven

At the Grimsay Boat Haven, We SHARE skills and knowledge, LEARN from the past, SUPPORT fishing communities, REACH OUT to people today.

Click here!

International Boatbuilding Training College Logo
International Boatbuilding Training College

IBTC International Boatbuilding Training College Lowestoft offer a wide range of traditional boatbuilding and joinery courses together with shorter courses exploring additional woodworking skills and maritime crafts.

Click here!
Sgoil Lionacleit building. Sgoil Lionaleit Pipe Band. Sgoil Lionacleit Boy's Football team. Health and Wellbeing Pupils. 2019 Deasbad/Gàidhlig Debate Winner from Sgoil Lionacleit.

Drawing of Grimsay Boat Lily CY173, 2001.

"All hands on deck……….. Boatbuilding in the Western Isles……. a noble tradition. Now it is part of a bright future for a bold community."

The Herald Newspaper

Boat Building tutors working on a Grimsay boat.

The Grimsay Boatyard and Museum!

Trip to The Grimsay Boatyard and Museum. All pupils had a super time and massively enjoyed the visit. Especially mentioned was the local history and looking at the exhibits/boats on display. A great day, interesting, informative and thanks to the Grimsay Trust and staff.

End of May Update!

Full steam ahead and the final planks are being shaped and fitted. Hot May days in the Boatshed. Ribs, thwarts and gunwales to follow.

Shaping the final planks
Take a break in the heat reading the Grimsay Book
Top planks nearly on

Maybank Progress!

More planks added and the distinctive hull shape is becoming more apparent. Preparations under way with the ribs.

Happy Easter

End of term Update!

25th March 2021

Boatbuilders back in full time and more planks are being added. The hull shape and Grimsay Boat lines are really starting to show. Happy Easter to all !

March stem and stern update!
March planking update!

March Boatbuilding Update!

1st March 2021

Transom and stem in place. Garboards fitted and four planks are into Hull No 4.

All going well despite the challenges of current times. Fabulous Larch trunk supplied by Rod @ Gilmore and Aitken. Spring has arrived and work renews at a pace.

Garboards and first planks   Hull no 4 Shape appearing 
Stem and Transom
Fascinating book about the Grimsay Boats.
Never Broken in a Sea/Gun Fhaillin San Fhairge book  

A 59 page spiral bound booklet "Never Broken in a Sea" "Gun Fhaillin San Fhairge" Lots of lovely line drawings. In the introduction it is described as the story of the Grimsay work boats as told by Stewart Boat Builders, Grimsay Fishermen and many other people through the Uists. Most of the original content of this book was in Gaelic and translated into English. This little book is an extremely scarce item and a must for anyone genuinely interested in Island Life, Gaelic and Maritime History.

ABE Books Website

Update from the Boatbuilders at Sgoil Lionacleit!

1st December 2020

The Boatbuilders have cut the Stem/Stern joint, Deadwoods and the first of the hull planks.

The Garboard plank, and deadwoods are from a Siberian Larch Tree.

The Keel, Stem and Sternpost Hull No 4.
Stem Joints and First Garboard Plank

Hull No 4 Due to start November 2020

The Boatbuilders at Sgoil Lionacleit on the Isle of Benbecula are ready to lay the keel for the 2020 boat.

Grimsay Boat built at Sg L Hull No 4.

This years ten pupils from S4/5/6 have all been learning and practising their practical skills. Currently completing their plank clamps, scarfs, planking, keel, stem and stern joints.

The Larch for the planking and Oak for the ribs is due to arrive on island anyday.

Boat builing students working in the school workshop.
Boat builing students working in the school workshop.
Former Pupils of the Boat Building Course.
Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson is shown a Grimsay boat by Duncan MacDonald, 2010.