Classic Sailor Issue 1

Page 1

T RS E FI SU IS OCTOBER 2015 £3.95


Griff Rhys Jones gets serious A comedian in a yacht race? But this is the Fastnet


Contents Editorial


Big Picture: Duel at the Rock




Welcome to the first issue of Classic Sailor: a new magazine dedicated to seamanship and seaworthy boats – and the enjoyment of sailing With a first-hand account of how the S&S yawls Dorade and Stormy Weather fought it out at the Fastnet Maritime news from the UK, Europe and around the globe

Stars of the East


The Marine Motorist


Return to Dunkirk


Thames Barges, smakcs bawleys and the rest - how the East Coast’s unique heritage was preserved, by Robert Simper, who was there The page for petrol-heads, with news from the world of propellers On board one of the Dunkirk Little Ships for this year’s cross-channel passage to commemorate the historic wartime operation

Association News: 8-Metres Worlds




Smylie’s Boats


Great British designers


The Post


On Watch and Off Watch


Sailing Skills: Raising the Jib


Navigation: finding your way around the globe


Around the Yards


Practical: repairing a teak laid deck, part 1


Tools: the drehknüppel


With the King of Norway, and a rerun of the 1912 Olympics Mike Smylie’s new series starts in the Far West, with Cornish Luggers Your letters and feedback are welcome

Andrew Bray

Americas’ Cup, then and now


Guest Column: Peter Willis


Cowes to St Malo with Griff


Fastnet heroes


Rowing down to Runnymede


How to survive a regatta


Restoration comedy

Dan Houston puts to sea with Griff Rhys Jones on Argyll as he limbers up for the Fastnet – and how the three S&S yawls fared in the race Ninety years after the first race, we celebrate some of the original participants, who pioneered offshore yacht racing in Britain A spot of re-enactment as Sophie Neville wiffles aboard shallop Royal Thamesis to deliver an archbishop to Magna Carta’s 800th anniversary Guy Venables’ infallible guide to navigating the rocks of etiquette

There’s a revival of interest in rowing: the first of our regular reports The Top 21 founding fathers (and grandfathers) of British yacht design, from GL Watson to Alan Buchanan, profiled by Theo Rye Things to use, wear and rely on, plus books to read First of a new illustrated how-to series showing a seamanlike approach to sailing tasks, starting on the foredeck with safe ways of jib handling And another new series, this time going right back to the fundamentals of making and reading charts

Who’s building what, where: Cornwall, Suffolk, Holland, Australia, plus a special report on the restoration of the Fife classic Cambria The llustrated how-to guide begins by showing how to deal with removing and replacing an individual plank The what? It’s what you’ve always needed to save your hands when pulling tight on any kind of line. By ropemeister Des Pawson

The unofficial raid on Brittany


Over the Yardarm, Calendar and Next Month


Puig Vela – classic fun in Barcelona


The Last Word: Sam Llewellyn


Roger Barnes and some sail-and-oar amis are refused permission for an organised event – but the Challenge Naviguer Leger goes ahead anyway Why this Catalan event is fast becoming Europe’s regatta of choice

Secrets of the perfect Martini, coming events and a taste of what’s going to be in November’s Classic Sailor (order it now or get a subscription!) Off Lampedusa in the dark, along with who knows how many refugees




SEE LEGENDS rise again

is MY


Restoration | Bespoke Yachts | Winter Storage | Berths Johan Anker, master of the lines, designed twenty 12s in his lifetime. This was his last one which demonstrated all his knowledge, experience and brilliance. And he had a lot. But she was never built. Until now. Fourteen other 12ths came to Robbe & Berking to christen her. Welcome to the Baltic 12-metre f leet!

YA C H T S + 4 9 0 4 61 31 8 0 3 0 6 0 ∙ C L A S S I C S @ R O B B E B E R K I N G . D E ∙ W W W. C L A S S I C S . R O B B E B E R K I N G . D E

Editorial Editor Dan Houston welcomes new readers to a new magazine, for seamanship in seaworthy boats


t’s not a common occurrence to be starting a new magazine, especially one dedicated to traditional seamanship and seaworthy boats, but starting we are, and with some luck, goodwill and a following wind – or just a following actually, we might just be able to establish ourselves as a voice for the commonsense and practical nous that hopefully designates the sort of people we’d like to have as readers. In trying to set out our stall there is a danger in saying too much, or not saying enough, about the kind of magazine we’d like to be. Will we be about wooden boats? Well yes, but also steel, or glassfibre, or any other material that may be used in boatbuilding. We’d like to point out the qualities of materials of course, and the methods of using them in building watercraft, and we’re hoping to call upon a range of experts who can help us do just that. But more than that we’d like to be about the experience of going boating. Of buying boats, of learning to use them, of restoring them if they have got a bit tired (or worse...) and of the fun that can be had by getting afloat and drifting off downstream without too much care about what is happening in the wider world. I have often thought of boats as a bridge, to link the areas of humanity in our planet, and also to bridge a way out – to get into the far backwaters which still exist beyond the fetters of our urbanised mind. They are a way of getting to new

places – whether that is to meet people, or to hide away; the boat, especially the small cabin boat, is still a conveyance out into extraordinary experiences. Much is said about how difficult it is to keep a boat now. How the moorings and other costs are prohibitive. But we know people who do it with reasonable modesty of means and we want to show how it’s done. These are the things we hope our classic sailors will enjoy and come to value... basically the shared experience of that occasional bit of life afloat. And of course there is a hint in our title that we want to be traditional, both in terms of design and also approach. But we’re not going to be stuck in the past – there are many great boats that might not seem to be classic; as long as the keels don’t fall off we’d welcome them and stories about using them. And if you think anything with a fin-keel is bascially a modern approach, then take a look at page 11 and the news of Ester – a Swedish racer from 1901 being brought out of the Baltic mud. Of course some boats are for the deep range and some are for more coastal concerns... I think it’s safe to say that we like both types but we might try to educate on which type is for which activity. I am looking forward to hearing from new readers or maybe meeting you at the Southampton Boat Show. We’ll be there and we’d love to share a few yarns with kindred spirits. Our stand is B108, near the Holiday Inn...

There is a hint in our title that we want to be traditional, but we’re not going to be stuck in the past

Sailing with Griff Rhys Jones on Argyll at the start of the Cowes Dinard offshore race. Sink me if we aren’t in front!



Big Picture: Sister act History repeats and then collides with itself as Stormy Weather and Dorade round the Fastnet Rock in close combat. The two S&S inboard yawls, winners of the Fastnet Race in 1935 and in 1931/33 respectively, had duelled all the way down Channel from the start at the Squadron Line, on August 15 to round the famous landmark off southwest Ireland before dashing back across the Irish Sea to Plymouth to finish within half an hour of each other. Stormy’s Chris Spray said of this moment: “We rounded the Fastnet rock a boat length or so ahead of Dorade. To achieve that we actually had to pass them to leeward on our final tack in, which I frankly didn’t believe was possible. Dorade forced us to time our final tack to the rock with absolutely no margin for error so it was white knuckles on the tiller all the way in, with that huge forbidding rock staring me in the face. I aged about three years in those 10 minutes, but miraculously rejuvenated when we managed to pull it off! If only we could have fended them off all the way back to Plymouth! Dorade is sailed with great precision and they are extremely slippery downwind. We prayed for errors but they didn’t make any... “It’s a huge credit to Olin Stephens that two of his early, but great, designs can still place so high in the fleet 80-85 years on.” More on these offshore classic racers on p29 Photo: Daniel Forster/Rolex




Signals Tidings of a new Thames Barge, new owners at IBTC, Southampton show preview, Brixham trawler returns, Swedish racer is raised, and more... Pin Mill Smack Race

New Thames Barge being built… in Cornwall

The first new Thames Sailing Barge since 1930 is now in build for the Maldon-based SeaChange Sailing Trust. A faithful replica of the Blue Mermaid, launched at Mistley in 1930 by CW Horlock, the new barge, also to be called Blue Mermaid, was commenced in July at the historic yard of C Toms and Son at Polruan in Cornwall. Once the hull – steel, like the original, though welded rather than riveted – is completed, in about six months’ time, it will be transferred to Maldon for rigging, by TS Rigging, and fitting-out with the aim of being brought into service in 2017. Sea-Change works with disadvantage young people, currently by chartering barges. “Having our own barge will enable us to expand our activities, and also cut our costs,” explains skipper Richard Titchener.

Maria, CK21 (left) was first across the line in this year’s Pin Mill Smack Race on 11 July – in “a good working breeze” according to her owner Paul Winter – But Ethel Alice won on corrected time. Photo Alistair Randall

Below: Sea-Change trustees with a half-model of the original barge, and right, Blue Mermaid herself, built 1930, sunk by a wartime mine

“We’re also planning to carry cargo to broaden the young people’s experience – and the new Blue Mermaid will be engineless, to develop real sailing skills in a low-carbon environment.” Total cost of the barge, fitted-out and ready for service is estimated at £650,000, which is pretty cheap for a project on this scale. As a new-build it doesn’t qualify for Lottery support, but

has raised around two-thirds of the sum from various charities including the Gosling Foundation and Trinity House. The list of appeal patrons includes Maldwin Drummond, Tom Cunliffe, Sam Llewellyn and others. The Sea-Change Sailing Trust was set up in 2007 with the aim of providing action-centred learning and seamanship training for young people and vulnerable adults, giving help to about 200 of them every year. It has always delivered this through the use of Thames Barges, and has recently introduced a Sailing Barge Training Course for young people considering maritime careers. More details of the Trust’s work and its ongoing fundraising appeal can be found on its website

IBTC Lowestoft gets new owners and £half-million investment New owners at IBTC Lowestoft, the 40-year-old International Boatbuilding Training College, are planning a £500,000-plus investment aimed at upgrading the premises and generally developing the college and the courses on offer. Mike Tupper, himself a former student, and his wife Lyn took over the college in July. “We are excited by the chance to build on the college’s


long-standing reputation,” Mike told Classic Sailor. New courses will include short courses in marine joinery and boat maintenance “for the everyday sailor”, but the core course will remain the 47-week boatbuilding course leading to the widely-respected IBTC Diploma. This will also be offered by the entirely separate IBTC Portsmouth, run by Lowestoft’s former owners Nat and Gill Wilson.

Mike, a former Royal Navy officer and Falklands veteran, and a carpenter and joiner by trade, is intent on not only maintaining but raising the standard of the diploma, and supporting the college’s students with adequate provision of equipment and materials. “For example, we’ve just bought £8,000 worth of African mahogany for them to use in boat restorations,” he said.

Ted Spears

We are sad to report the death of Ted Spears of North Quay Marine, a little earlier this summer. Ted was a stalwart of the Wooden Boatbuilders Trade Association and many members attended his funeral in Kent in early July. Ted designed and built the range of 19 to 20ft North Quay Marine cruisers from the company’s Conyer base, and was a well-known marine surveyor as well as a founder of Bay Class Yachts. We were also sad to hear of Tim Bennet’s passing. Tim sailed his restored J Laurent Giles Brittany class Droleen in the Solent.

Classic Sailor is at the Southampton Boat Show, September 11-20. We’re on stand B108 near the Holiday Inn, where we would love to meet you!

Southampton Boat Show 2015 Wooden boatbuilders are back!

The enticing display of clinker dinghies, skiffs and other attractive small boats that forms the Southampton Boat Show’s nowtraditional greeting to visitors as they arrive through the turnstiles is back again this year thanks, once again, to the efforts of the Wooden Boatbuilders Trade Association. This year’s presence includes new boats in the front-of-show arena,– and boats in the Marina, the Try-a-Boat feature and in build in the nearby marquee. Demon Yachts will be presenting its new production model of Andrew Wolstenholme’s Kite, the 21ft (6.4m) trailer-sailer. Previously seen in two marine-ply versions, one owned by the designer, this is the first GRP version. Star Yachts of Underfalls yard in Bristol is bringing its new Bristol 16, latest and smallest in its line of Wolstenholme-designed Bristol motor launches. The 16 is an open launch, capable of near-planing speeds with its 10hp engine, or more sedate cruising with an electric propulsion option. Also new is the Atlantic Beachboat, described by its builder Colin Evans of Evans Boatwork, Milford Haven, as a “five crew sail and oar adventure boat”. This 28ft (8.5m) hull uses stitch-and-glue construction for ease of building and is aimed at outward-bound schools, local clubs and the like. It could well prove to be the Welsh equivalent of the hugely successful Scottish St Ayles Skiff (22ft/6.7m, rowing only) which will also be at the show, with one boat in the Try-a-Boat feature,, and another being built by Alec Jordan in one of the marquees. Willow Bay boats has been raiding its pre-decimal piggy bank again and has come up with the Florin, a 20ft (6.1m) upscale from the 17ft (5.2m) Shilling – so new it’s still only in model form. Cockwells also has a new boat, this time only in announcement form – the Duchy 21, an open-launch addition to the range. The Duchy 27 will be there in the Marina, as will a Swallow Boats’ Bay Raider. Kittwake Boats will have two boats at the show – the 16 on the stand, and and a 14 ready to sail in Try-a-Boat. Other WBTA Members there include Adrian Donovan, Craftsman Craft, Lakeland Wooden Boats, North Quay Yachts and Ian Richardson. Plus Classic Sailor on B108!

St Ayles skiff racing has taken off in a bid way – this is the Women’s Open at Shieldaig in August - try one and see one being built at Southampton

Clockwise: Model of Willow Bay’s new Florin; Andrew Wolstenhome’s 21-footer Kite; Wolstenhome Bristol 16 motor launch and Cockwell’s new Duchy 21

The show runs from 11-20 September



Signals Please send your news to Couta boats now racing in Pittwater

The traditional rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne extends from football codes to baristas, but there is one subject on which they can both agree: the 120-year-old design of Couta boats is about as good as you can get in an open centreboard gaffer, writes Alan Williams. Originally built for hand lining barracuda in the shallow, choppy waters of Port Phillip Bay, they supplied the fish and chip industry for 1890s Melbournians day tripping to Portsea. As well as 80-odd boats in Victoria, there is now a small fleet racing on Pittwater, a protected body of water just north of Sydney as well as a new, growing fleet on the Harbour. The boats are predominately 26ft 6in (8.1m) long with 30hp Yanmar inboards. They are a mix of original build fishing built boats and replicas. With the advent of serious racing of these boats, new builds have of course seen them built lighter and lighter. “My replica fishing boat has a rudder that takes a strong man to lift but on a new ‘Couta Yacht’ as I call them, a rudder can be lifted one handed.” says Larry Eastwood, president of the NSW Couta

Stockholm to Brixham

Boat Association. The fleet races year-round from the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club as well as numerous summer Regattas. To share the joy of sailing these classics, there is a syndication plan set up for co ownership. For further details contact Larry Eastwood:

Above: Lively Lady outside the Mirror building in 1968 Right: Brixham trawler Deodar returns from Sweden

July, 354 days after beginning his solo circumnavigation. Rose bequeathed the pale blue 36ft (11m) Fred Shepherd-design to

An old Brixham sailing trawler has revisited her port of origin. The Deodar BM 313, built at Jackman’s Yard (on breakwater beach) Brixham in 1911, lay on the heritage pontoon along with some other old sailing trawlers – Vigilance BM 76 – Pilgrim BM 45 – Excelsior LT 472 and the Golden Vanity. Deodar was one of the largest trawlers at 57 tons. She was ordered by the Hellings family of Milford Haven, and trawled for fish around the south coast and Bristol Channel. In 1919 she was sold on to the Barnard family of Lowestoft, and carried on fishing as LT 543. In 1937 she was sold to Sweden

Portsmouth and in 2008 she was used by Alan Priddy, a sailor inspired by Rose, to circumnavigate again, with 38 disadvantaged young adults on dfferent legs. Alan is now planning to rebuild Lively Lady to take her around the world again in 2018. Funds are being raised through his charity Around and Around.

and in 1942 refitted as cargo vessel Rigmor. Her present owner Thomas Hellstrom bought her in Malmo Sweden in 1972. She has since been lovingly restored back to her original design, even with her number BM 313 has been embossed on the side. Peter Hunt

Moments in maritime history – The modest mariner’s lady lives on

Lively Lady was the centrepiece of Holborn Circus outside the Daily Mirror building in July 1968 just days after 60-year-old Southsea greengrocer – the now newly knighted Sir Alec Rose, returned to Portsmouth on 4

Below: Coutas down under – now sailing in Sydney

Au revoir Amandine

This year’s Panerai British Classics was time to say goodbye to Amandine Rohmer, the Panerai executive who has done so much to support the British Classic Yacht Club’s event on the Solent each July. Amandine revealed that she will be moving to Harrods. However at the prize giving ceremony she was given a lifetime membership of the BCYC so she may well be seen on the water again.


Ester - the mini-Vasa raised to race again

On Sweden’s High Coast, one of the nation’s fastest racing yachts of the early 20th century has been brought back to the surface from the dark Baltic mud where she has lain in forgotten obscurity for more than 70 years, writes Dan Houston. The Gunnar Mellgren skimming dish design Ester is in surprisingly good condition. Divers made a cradle for her and raised her in the same way that they raised the Vasa and the Mary Rose. They blasted the mud away from around the wreck with air hoses before fitting a web of strops and ropes around her frame and bringing her up from her 164ft (50m) deep watery grave. For Bo Ericksson and friend Per Hellgren it was a moment to savour. For the last six years they have been raising money to raise this famous piece of Swedish yachting history after Per found her on the bottom in 2011. But unlike the Vasa or the Mary Rose, their aim is to restore the racer to sail – and not only that, but to race! Ester had a legendary racing career lasting 15 years from when she was launched in 1901. She was specially commissioned and built to defend Swedish honour against the Finnish competition for the Tivoli Cup. Her debut on the racing circuit was quite explosive with writers admiring her lines as well as her performance. She was a radical dishy shape, with a slim fin keel, influenced perhaps by the lightweight racing designs of the English designers Charles Sibbick or Linton Hope. In one of her early seasons she took 29 straight wins in those hotly contested years of yachting before the Great War. She disappeared after that war but was later renamed as Britta and the name of Ester passed into yachting legend.

Ester is brought to the surface in the high Baltic, inset, Bo Eriksson and diver on her frame. Right: dishy lines and a fin keel belie her age. Below: racing 100 years ago

Ester 1901 Plym LOA 50ft (15.3m) LWL 26ft 5in (8.04m) Beam 9ft 9in (3m) Draught 6ft 6in (2m) Sail area 108.4 M2 Weight 3.6 tons

Then one dark night in the late 1930s while she was being sailed north from Trysuda there was a reported fire onboard and the yacht sank. Tthe crew abandoned to a dinghy, but the whereabouts of Ester were lost.

It was decades later, when Per Helgren was researching yachting history, that he came across the story and began to dig for Ester’s past, and to try to find out what happened to her. He eventually deduced the area in which she had sunk, and the search came out of the library and onto the water. Back in the moment of her raising Bo and Per are nervous about whether the precious 114year-old hull will break with the strain of lifting. She is full of five tons of mud which has to be removed. But it seems Ester is happy to be in the light.

Then they discover something strange... a year earlier they had brought up the gaff from where it had been lying on the deck all those dark decades. And as it broke the surface, a half of the gaff jaws had broken off and fallen into the sea. Amazingly that half gaff jaw is found on the deck of Ester as she is brought to the surface. Waterlogged, it had sunk all the way down through the water, to land back on her deck in the deep. It’s an auspicious moment. And now the work of restoring Ester begins. More soon.



Then something that looked like a low-flying glider ditching sideways into the sea flew past my ear and my preconceptions of sailing changed forever

St Ives scullys over to the Thames Trad

The team behind the revival of the St Ives Jumbo fishing lugger, together with their two replica St Ives punts, became unofficial ambassadors of the town in July when they were invited to UK’s capital of rowing as guests of Thames Traditional Boat Festival, writes Jonny Nance. Held in glorious weather and in conspicuously prestigious surroundings, the humble punts from the far west of the nation found themselves, somewhat incongrurously, in company with the gilded Gloriana (the Queen’s ceremonial barge), a flotilla of Dunkirk Little Ships and a plethora of immaculate river craft so varnised you could see you face in them. Called upon to demonstrate the technique of ‘scullying’ (using a single oar over the stern), the two punts raced past the commentary stand whilst the Jumbo Association’s chairman, Andy Smith, explained proceedings to an astonished crowd suitably impressed by this maritime practice. The Jumbo Association with their robustly-built craft proved a popular addition to the well-established regatta illustrating the contrast between our ‘fresh’ and ‘saltwater’ heritage.


Sailor hailer

As all classic sailors know, you will be better heard on deck in a blow if you cup your hand to your mouth to create an impromptu trumpet... but when did we first start doing that? Did it happen when we first got into boats? Well it would seem a lot earlier... New research reports that when danger nears, orangutans warn their group with alarm calls sometimes by cupping their hand to their mouth to make the call both louder and deeper. The findings suggest the orangutans know how to create new sounds using another part of the body (in their case the hand) which is a behaviour once thought to be unique to humans. So far orangutans are the only known primate to modify or enhance sound this way said researcher, Adriano Lameira, a postdoctoral fellow of evolutionary anthropology at Durham University. Experimental Biology.

America’s Cup jaunt

Also at Henley was Charles Payton, long term commentator who said it was his last season; he will be missed! We also spied the new slipper launch from Hurley’s Peter Freebody & Co and couldn’t resist a snap of what it looks like in the driving seat. That, is varnish!

Sending a Classic Sailor to cover the America’s Cup is akin to asking early man to host a lecture on coding, writes Guy Venables, but away I went, adorned with a maypole of lanyards and headed for the V.I.P. area where I found champagne and Gosling Dark and Stormies to ease me in. I was whisked onto a rib to watch the action close up inside the perimeter, with a Frenchman who knew all about the America’s

Cup boats, and a bloke off the telly and his girlfriend who didn’t know where they were. Then something that looked like a low flying glider ditching sideways into the sea flew past my ear and my preconceptions of sailing changed forever. As these astonishing vessels pass you it is hard not to feel whisked into a future time. The boats themselves have solid main sails which are called, rightly, wings. The wings

have sections that can move independently. Under each hull are bent butter knives called the mainfoils and can be raised or dropped. They can also be pivoted back and forth which keep the hulls clear of the water. Too clear and she’ll rise up and then nosedive and probably tip forwards into a somersault. The rudder has moveable foil flaps too to keep the stern up. This is roughly what I gathered from the shouting Frenchman. Crawling all over the hulls and netting between were a team of stuntmen. They had to be. Nobody else can react as fast as that. They say that the meek will inherit the earth but it seems the brave will inherit the sea.

“Not all lifejackets are the same, the difference could save your life”








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Find your local Fusion 3D stockist today © Photography Matt Knighton / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

Signals: Association news A flavour of the world of 8-Metres: John Lammerts van Bueren (IEMA President) on ther World Championships What a sight it was to have 24 International 8-Metres from eight countries and two continents all lined up in front of the clubhouse of the Societe Nautique de Genève to compete for their annual World Championships. There seems no end to the enthusiasm with which owners and crews travel from afar to celebrate, enjoy the company and friendship and race a great variety of boats as one. The winds were pretty light, 6-10 knots most days; the real variable was the temperature, it ranged from hot to very hot to scorching! Early in the week the race committee decided to postpone the first start every day until 1400h, that way we could all stay inside while the thermal winds would develop. It’s always tough on the principal race officer to set a proper line and course but given the conditions he did an outstanding job. It is always special to have His Majesty King Harald of Norway competing at the event. In the past years the King has concentrated on racing his 8-Metre Sira, both in Norway and abroad, and Sira is a very special boat. She was commissioned for King Harald’s father, King Olav, in 1938 and the first time Harald joined his father on board Sira he was just two years old. I don’t think there is another person in the world who can claim to have sailed and raced the same boat for 75 years! When it came to the races it was flawless tactics, boat handling and speed to match from Jean Fabre’s modern wingkeeled Yquem that controlled the overall score of the series leaving reigning world champion Hollandia no choice but to accept defeat and settle for second. The classic boats saw a very strong fleet for the hotly contested Sira Cup. Early on the top contenders were Luna from Finland, Wyvern and Froya from Lake Constance, and Sira and Wanda from Norway. In the end it was Wyvern with Eckhard Kaller at the tiller who


The First Rule boats were out in force this year...The 1912 Olympians Taifun (Gold, Norway) and Lucky Girl (Bronze, Finland) raced together for the first time in 100 years.

Left and above: King Harald of Norway in his Johan Ankerdesigned Sira. Right: Spinnakers Below: A triumphant wave Photos by James Robinson Taylor

took home the Sira Cup. For the vintage boats the Neptune Trophy was extraordinarily close between three local boats and won by Fred Meyer’s Catina VI. The First Rule boats were out in force this year, five of these stunning beauties coming out to race. The 1912 Olympians Taifun (Gold, Norway) and Lucky Girl (Bronze, Finland) raced

together for the first time in 100 years with Lucky Girl winning the rematch. The victory for the First Rule Cup went to Elfe II from Lake Constance with Edit taking a close second. It was wonderful to welcome Fife 8-Metre Jacques-Eduard back to the fleet. This beautiful 1928 design was launched as Sirena at the Cannes yard of Chiesa.

Her thorough restoration took close to 10 years of dedication and with her “Endeavour blue” topsides she looked magic ! All in all a great regatta, a gathering of old friends and welcoming of new, once again the SNG gave our class great break from a work-a-day world. Isn’t that what sailing these regattas is all about ? ★


Signals: Association news A new Johan Anker designed addition to the wooden 12-Metre fleet.

New Anker12-Metre from Robbe & Berking

The first new-built wooden 12-Metre in 50 years has been launched by Robbe & Berking Classics in Flensburg, Germany. One of the last designs (No 434) by Johan Anker, who died in 1940, she is a pure, engineless

racing yacht, built in mahogany on alternate stainless-steel and ash ribs, for a Scandinavian customer. Her deck is teak, the mast wood and her lead keel weighs in at 17 tons. She was launched, and christened Siesta, in time for

Nardi’s Nods

the strength and durability of the new material, so to be on the safe side designers and builders exaggerated, leaving us with indestructible artifacts. The Camper&Nicholson 32 of 1964 is a perfectly example. There are many for sale around

Each month Federico Nardi of the celebrated Italian restoration yard Cantiere Navale dell’Argentario choses a good sea boat

C&N 32

The magic of a wooden boat will always stay with us, never to be substituted by the technology, comfort or performance of a modern sailboat. Yet to transform a dream into reality is a privilege for few, even though we are moving through the sea, which costs nothing, and propelled by the wind, which is still exempt from taxation. But today there are solutions to our dreams that contain a little less magic but are available to all: the boats built at the dawn of glassfibre construction. Little was known in the 1960s about


the Robbe & Berking 12-Metre Open European Championship for which 14 classic 12-Metres came together on the Flensburg Fjord as one of the largest fleets ever in the history of this class. Johan Anker, the great Norwegian designer, was also very successful as an active

Federico Nardi head of the famous Cantiere Navale dell’Argentario

The 1964 Camper& Nicholson 32

racing helmsman and his boats, especially his metre-class designs, were recognised as being particularly fast. Design 434 is the last of his 20 12-Metres and, says Robbe & Berking, all his experience and all his knowledge has gone into this boat.

the world for a cost of €15-20,000. The marketplace ignores boats from back then, primarily because they lack living space, yet it also ignores the high quality of their design and construction. They may have design legacies like a long keel with

Siestsa, Johhan Anker’s last 12-Metre design newly built by Robbe & Berking, takes to the waters of Flensburg Fjord

internal lead ballast, or a skeg with its reassuring support to the rudder. Or a gunwale as an integral part of the hull mould with cap rails in varnished wood, perhaps the optimal hull to deck joint (and it was not unusual to cover the internal joint with further lamination). No air bubbles are found in the hand rolled and compact lamination; the fear of osmosis disappears when confronted with the thickness of the hull. Aesthetically these yachts maintain the elegant shapes of wooden yachts with some varnished trim, but maintenance costs are low, plus they can also be keep out of the water for long periods of time when not in use. The sea is at your doorstep: with an investment equal to a family car we can reach any corner of the planet in safety. ★

Smylie’s boats


Night sailing

Sitting on the bow looking out on another peaceful night, the hull rhythmically pitches as she pushes aside the silent waves with gentle intent. Heading south the motion is back, the bowsprit forever leading us to our destination. A trawler slips down our starboard side to be left scraping the seabed for all its worth. A crudely shaped matchstick-box of lights sits on the horizon, a cruise liner en route to an attractive tourist haunt. The clear sky gives us plenty of twinkles, and I was just blessed with a shooting star that left a trail like Super Ted. But the shore lights prevail right now and paint a picture of contrast. To port the sea is lit up, the ripples and waves play with the light, mirror it, embrace it. The light obliges and dances in and out of the mingling troughs comparable to the erratic fireflies back home. On our starboard side it’s dark and never ending. There’s no defining the horizon; it’s a sublime continuation of nothingness. 20 metres away pure, unadulterated blackness! Surely this is what the ancient mariner beheld in the olden times and yet we still earn this privilege every time we venture offshore. The occasional twinkle of a reflected star, the plough constellation on the quarter. Yesteryear…. Oh the disparity of it all! Andy Cully

On deck under a lemon moon, a warm glow from below. Photo by Andy Cully

Cornish Luggers

ornish luggers come in various shapes and sizes depending, on the whole, what part of the coast they are built to work from. Everywhere, not just here, did working vessels evolve through their intended usage, the place they worked off, the owners’ requirements and innovation and boatbuilders’ traditions. So, in tidal St. Ives, the boats have voluptuously-rounded bottoms that can dry out and stay relatively upright on the sands whilst those from the deeper water harbours of Mounts Bay stay afloat and are finer and more subtle in shape, gaining a corresponding increase in speed and manoeuvrability. Those that do ground use wooden legs to stay upright. Then there’s the transom. In the west the boats tend to be double-enders, said to be so that they fit snugger into the small harbours. Yes, I know it sounds a bit tenuous and it remains to be seen exactly why these fishers at the extreme of the southwest favoured double-enders when their neighbouring counterparts favoured the transom. One guess is that it’s a Viking influenced characteristic. But go east, around the Lizard, and they all prefer boats with transoms, albeit slightly smaller in length. It has been suggested that these evolved from the transom-sterned beach boats: they are largely transom-sterned even today as are the smaller Breton craft across the Channel. Another theory is that the transom developed with the introduction of the internal combustion engine which needed increased buoyancy aft to cope with the extra weight. However there are two contradictions to this: the fact that transom-sterned vessels were built prior to 1915 and the practice of many Cornish fishers fitting their egines in the forward end of the boat with long shafts leading aft. I agree they simply were larger craft styled on the beach boats. Unlike the larger double-enders fishing mackerel and herrings as far away as Ireland and the Scottish east coast, the smaller luggers didn’t work too far from home. As their name implies, they are traditionally lug rigged, the largest sporting two big dipping lugsails, though some from the eastern ports, just to confuse, were converted to a dandy rig of gaff main with topsail and standing lug mizzen. Foresails were normal. But as survivors they’ve done better than most and a whole host of the luggers still sail, as well as a string of recent replicas. They race every year, especially at the biennial Looe Lugger Regatta but the 1911 Looe-built Guide Me is still the one to beat as, engineless, she romps home first every time. ★

Then there’s the transom. In the west the boats tend to be double-enders, said to be so that they fit snugger into the small harbours


The Post Email or post letters and replies to the editor - see opposite; we’ll make sure responses to queries are forwarded on Back to basics?

I would love to see articles about the basics of being a sailor - starting from learning to swim (for children and adults); what to do when someone falls overboard; how best to survive in different water situations; joining a rowing club or sailing club and how they work. Sailing clubs/canoe clubs are great fun and often have boats available for members to borrow and the help and training on offer is something that would benefit the newcomer to boating and anything that may encourage people to enter the world of boating has got to be good. Very excited about your new magazine - best of luck. Ann Cooper, Gloucestershire

Adix has apparently added to her spread of canvas with this painting by Picasso

Ann, that pretty well sums up one of our main aims in Classic Sailor: to draw newcomers into the world of sailing and the love of classic vessels, and help them to get to know it better. Except for the swimming perhaps – though we will doubtless be keeping an eye on buoyancy aids and survival training.

Fastnet start observed

The Fastnet race started here in the Solent on the Royal Yacht Squadron Line; 370 boats in almost no wind at all and it took the start of the Spring ebb and the advance zephyrs of the afternoon westerly sea breeze to help the boats clear the line. But the lack of speed gave us all a better chance to admire the sheer variety of boats on show attempting to transport 4,000 crew members around the iconic Fastnet Rock. There was the awesome 100ft Comanche, holder of the world monohull speed record of 620Nm in 24 hours, vast trimarans, exotic carbon fibre racing machines, down to tweaked-up racer/ cruisers and family cruiser/ racers. All of them on the same start line competing together. I really do wish I was there, doing it again. Craig Nutter, Isle of Wight


Adix’ Picasso

There has been quite a lot of fuss in the press recently about the owner of the modern classic schooner Adix taking his Picasso painting Head of a Young Woman, onto his yacht with the apparent aim of smuggling her to Switzerland. The work is protected as a Spanish artefact and must remain in Spanish hands. With all the crises facing Southern Europe right now isn’t it a bit previous to be seizing bits of canvas because someone has hung them up in his schooner’s stateroom? There was a time you actually had to do something to be accused of a crime. Name withheld

Rigging my tender

I have a tender that I use to get out to my Whisstock Cutter, David B on her mooring on the Blackwater. On the premise that

if it floats it should have a sail, I added an old rig I once used on a sailing canoe. The somewhat oversized rudder came out of a skip and the lee board is cut from an old Wayfarer floorboard. I’m pleased to report we finished first in class (under 8ft LOA) in the recent Round the Island Race. (Isle of Osea that is) Time 3 hrs 15 mins. Out of a field of one entrant. Goes really well, but very slow upwind. The lee board gets shifted every time you tack. Interestingly this tender is being made today somewhere in East Anglia, I think. If you look at the foreshore at Waldringfield on the river Deben you will see these craft in a huddled mass. Perhaps we should start a new development class. No alterations to the hull as supplied but any design of rig,

rudder and leeboard is permitted. Then my days of being first in class will be over, for sure. Richard Elkan, Maldon

How the tender is rigged to sail

A great deal of satisfaction is gained by organising events and seeing other people enjoying and taking part in something you have taken time to run Two famous authors...

I see Peter Duck, Arthur Ransome’s ‘marine bath chair for my old age’ was towed back into Wells in Norfolk by the inshore lifeboat when the engine overheated in a flat calm as they were leaving harbour. Not much news there, you’d think – but a golden opportunity for a headline writer. The local TV news website screamed: “Did they mean to go to sea? Famous author’s sailing boat has to be rescued by lifeboat.” Bit unfair on the current owner, Julia Jones – who had merely called the coastguard and certainly did mean to go to sea – but as she’s also a wellknown children’s author who has written a series inspired by Ransome’s books, not a bad story for the silly season. Jan Needle, Oldham

Mysteries of the heart

Here at Classic Marine, whilst rummaging through a box of boat bits we occasionally find an oddity; this one has us flummoxed. We think it is functional as there are some signs of wear on the inside surfaces. Weighing over a kilo and measuring 7in (18cm) across we’ve also concluded it is probably too big to be a piece of romantic jewellery! This heart shaped galvanised forged steel ‘thing’ has so far left us and customers bemused so it’s now over to the collective experience and knowledge of all you ‘Classic Sailors’. What is it? How would it be used? Where did it come from? Anything! A bottle of whisky to the winner. Moray McPhail, Woodbridge

Letter of the month Join in - and make something happen!

With the introduction of this new magazine I got to thinking what will happen to Classic Boat magazine? Of course, someone will run it as your successor and they will be paid to do it. But this led me on to consider my own situation regarding my clubs and Associations. I have been a member of several organisations, some for over 40 years, and a common feature of them all is that I can predict the few volunteers who will always be there to lend a hand. Over the years these people obviously become older and need to be replaced; but this does not seem to happen, the “youngsters” appear to be happy to let us “wrinklies” do all the work. I don’t think this is a specific sailing problem: does it apply across the UK? Or is it just me! It is very hard these days to encourage younger people to not only do sporting activities but to join in with the excitement of making something happen, whether you are in a club or not. We encourage quite young people to join in with our sailing activities but then as they get a little older, ie in their teens, they discover that going to parties, getting drunk etc is much more exciting. We would like to think that when those same people reach the ages of say 25-40 they want to then join a club and not only actively take part in the sport but also help organise events. A great deal of satisfaction is gained by organising events and seeing other people enjoying and taking part in something you have taken the time to run. There is something to be said for saying that you get out of an organisation in proportion to what you put into it. Most young people nowadays want everything given to them on a plate, which means always taking something out and not putting anything back in. We have seen this happen not only in sailing clubs but other sporting clubs and we mustn’t let clubs get into a decline. Those with experience must actively encourage young blood to see how rewarding putting a little effort into something gives so much satisfaction. How then can we the experienced and older members encourage younger people to take over and receive the satisfaction that we have had over many years? That is the question many are asking and it most certainly is a difficult question to answer. Is it that many people are frightened to take over as they don’t think they could do as good a job as the existing team? Well that is not the case as new blood, with new ideas is essential to every successful organisation and has to be the way to go. Write your answers on a £50 note and send to the Editor!! Sue Farrer Elder Gaffer and Secretary North Wales area OGA (Archer extraordinaire!) Well said Sue! Could it be that you are so good at what you do that anyone younger dares not to assume the mantle? (I am not speaking for myself there by the way!) People who organise things often become legends in clubs and associations and so there is a need to mentor others to take over when that chair is ready for a new person.

7 Haslar Marina Gosport, Hants. PO12 1NU

✆ +44 (0)2393 110042 Editor Dan Houston Design Acrux Design Sub Editor Peter Willis Contributing editor Guy Venables Columnists Andrew Bray, Sam Llewellyn Publisher Jonathon Savill Advertising Catherine Jackson Web Jamie Savill, David Miles Chairman David Walker Classic Sailor Ltd Published monthly: ISSN 2059-0423 USA $9.99

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Andrew Bray ‘The 500% increase in speed was not linear over the 164 years’


am only too keenly aware that there are many of you reading this who know very much more than I know, or will ever know about the subjects on which I’ll be writing. My experience as a Classic Sailor might span over 50 years, as the first boat I skippered was a gaff cutter and my current boat, Maggie May, is a gaff yawl but in between I have been an advocate of bermudan rig and until three years ago all the boats I owned, with the exception of a gunter-rigged Heron dinghy, have been so rigged. However, I would argue that a Classic Sailor is not defined by the rig that he or she sails under but by the techniques employed to sail and navigate those boats: anchoring is anchoring, navigating is navigating and getting out of (and into) trouble happens whether or not you’ve got many feet of varnished spruce at the masthead. I learned the skills of practical navigation and seamanship at the elbows of people whom I consider to have been some of the finest navigators and seamen afloat. The amount I gleaned by working with Des Sleightholme when he was Editor of Yachting Monthly would be too great to fill a volume of the Admiralty Manual of Seamanship. Indeed Des effectively tore up the traditional manuals and re-interpreted them in a form that was much more relevant and practical for the small boat sailor. It was he who introduced the concept of practical seamanship features and this theme continues in YM today. All of this might seem a million miles and a million years away from the recent trials for the America’s Cup which were held off Portsmouth in foiling catamarans in July but it illustrates how yacht design and sailing techniques have evolved since the Cup was first contested in 1851. These catamarans are capable of speeds of up to 40 knots. This means that two of these boats heading towards each other at full tilt will have a closing speed of more than 90 miles per hour. Quite what New York Yacht Club Commodore John Cox Stevens, who chartered the gaff schooner America in 1851 to challenge for the 100 Sovereign Cup, would have made of this is anyone’s guess – disbelief and incredulity I suspect, that 164 years later this very same event should be raced in machines that fly. Here are a few interesting comparisons. America was wooden, 101ft (30.8m) overall and displaced 100 tons. Although she was, in her way, revolutionary in terms of design and construction, it’s unlikely that her maximum speed would have been much into double figures. She won the Hundred Sovereign Cup, later to become the America’s Cup, in a race

round the Isle of Wight, by a margin of 18 minutes. By comparison the carbon fibre AC45s weigh in at around 1300kg, probably little more than the armament, two 24 pound and one 12 pound cannon, carried by America. Such comparisons are meaningless unless taken in context. The 500% increase in speed was not linear across those 164 years, indeed it is probable that the boats competing up to 1983, the era of the Twelve Metres and the year that Alan Bond’s Australia II, skippered by John Bertrand, wrested the Cup from the arms of the New York Yacht Club, that speeds had not increased substantially, if at all. Races were won and lost by fractions of a knot. This was the era of the ‘lead mines’, boat with such enormous ballast ratio that they could sit upright on their keels ashore with only vestigial support. I’m not attempting a history of the America’s Cup here, others have done that at very great length already, but after some challenges – best described as ugly, a new class emerged – the International

The carbon-fibre AC45s probably weigh little more than the armament carried by America

America’s Cup Class, which was raced between 1992 and 2007. These too were lead mines and after another unsightly challenge, this time in multihulls, in 2010 which took place as much in the courts as it did on the course, Larry Ellison took the Cup with him back to San Francisco where, in 2013, the America’s Cup was raced for the first time in foiling catamarans: the AC72s. The challenger was Emirates Team New Zealand and the defender Oracle Team USA. Their top speed of over 30 knots was then considered pretty awesome. The result is history. The Americans came back from 1 – 8 down to take eight straight races and win the Cup. Their change in fortune also came when a new strategist, one Ben Ainslie, stepped on board. And now we have 45-footers capable of 40 knots. There might seem little relevance of this to the Classic Sailor except that it illustrates the way evolution is design and construction can take place over a very short period of time. You might think that ultimate speed is not really a part of his or her vocabulary and you know what? You’d be quite right. But to watch these new foiling catamarans flying along at such high speeds is just breathtaking, whether you’re a classic or a hi-tech sailor. ★


Guest column: Peter Willis “Without it the restoration is a mere replica, no longer eligible for HLF funding”


he sex life of bi-valve molluscs doesn’t seem the most promising theme for a play, but you know how it is these days. Anything goes, or tries to. The play in question, Oysters by the ever-inventive Eastern Angles theatre company, which was touring Suffolk and Norfolk earlier this summer (we caught it in Waldringfield Village Hall towards the end of its run) turned out to be only loosely connected with such matters, and much more concerned with the boats that used to go fishing for them. Or one particular boat. The play developed from some community work with Harker’s Yard in Brightlingsea, home of the Pioneer Sailing Trust – Pioneer being the large smack restored in 2003 after its remains were dug out of the West Mersea mud. The boat in the play is, we’re told, entirely fictional, as is the yard. But as with Pioneer, and most other major restorations, its completion is dependent on the Heritage Lottery Fund. Now the thing about HLF finding – and an integral part of the plot, as well as the source of much of the humour – is that, alongside considerations of materials, methods and the concept of “the space occupied by the boat” (ie its shape), to be eligible for funding the boat has to be a restoration, and

not a replica. The difference being that a restoration has to contain some part of the original boat, and a replica does not. In the case of this boat, the original fabric turns out to be a small piece of the deadwood which, rather improbably, can be easily removed with a screwdriver. And is. Which makes their precious restoration a mere replica and therefore no longer entitled to the vast funding it has received. This requirement by the HLF has always struck me as narrow-minded, even verging on the heresy of fetishism. Why should a fragment of the original be so revered, especially when the rest of the restoration is based around a hypothetical construction of thin air? It’s reminiscent of the medieval reverence for pieces of the True Cross – which, as one character remarks, if collected together would furnish enough wood for dozens, even hundreds of crucifixions. Authentication is of course a more advanced science these days, and the requirement probably acts as an effective method of keeping applications at a manageable level. If replicas were allowed, everyone and his dog would be asking for help to build one. Nevertheless this restriction has scuppered some decent projects. A plan to build a replica of Darwin’s HMS Beagle foundered on it. Even though the last resting-place of the original was identified

there was not enough remaining fabric to scrape together a sufficient sample of Beagle DNA. The fictional boat of the play is more fortunate; the missing piece is found and replaced, conflicts between tradition (the old boatbuilder) and interpretation (the fundraiser) and youth (the young apprentice) are resolved and all is well. And it’s the perceptive young apprentice who puts her finger on the final irony, or the paradox at the heart of the HLF policy. “We’ve got to burn all the other bits of wood we recovered, to make sure no-one else builds a replica of the same boat,” she announces. The plot gets a bit tangled up at times, and I still have no idea whether the science bit – the reproductive arrangements of oysters which are apparenty bisexual – was supposed to be a metaphor, and if so for what. Something to do with reproduction and replication perhaps. There is a half-hearted attempt to introduce a lesbian love angle, but I put this down to having to tick some sort of LGBT box in order to get an Arts Council grant. On the whole though it gets its message across in an enjoyable way. As for the real-life Pioneer Sailing Trust and Harker’s Yard, it now employs a dozen apprentices, building rowing gigs and with two more restorations on the stocks: a Trinity House workboat, and Priscilla, an 1893 Brightlingsea oyster smack. ★

“We’ve got to burn all the other bits of wood we recovered, to make sure no-one else builds a replica of the same boat.”

Terence Frisch as Mo the boatbuilder in the Eastern Angles’ production of Oysters


The dash for The Cowes Dinard race is a 151NM qualifying competition for the Fastnet. Dan Houston joins Griff Rhys Jones aboard the S&S yawl Argyll for an overnight offshore race to remember



t’s ten to three in the morning when the spinnaker blows. Suddenly the ghostly white expanse of energy billowing in front of me is gone, replaced by a dark cloud-scudded hole the wind is pouring through. My first thought had been how quiet it was; it just fell away in less than a second. I’d been sitting in my position on the windward deck next to the mast, as the wind had been building up to the forecast NW F6, and I had felt the strengthening pull on the long sheet running over the deck to the cockpit winch. Now the sheet goes slack and I jerk to my feet. My headtorch, which had been occasionally useful to see the set of the upper tell tales, picks out the bunt of the sail dragging in the water. An inch or two of luff remains with its bosomy curve

still pulling ahead in the wind. Hands materialise on deck and in a few seconds the torn A2 is in, and in a minute or so more its slightly smaller brother is ready to hoist. There is no discussion as to whether even this might be too much sail. We are racing, and we need to power on. There’s not too much shouting on Argyll, but as I’m on the halyard winch winding the head of the sail up to the block I am urged on in my task. I put my back into it as a gust of wind pulls a few precious inches of rope through the winch, and we put on a fourth turn. Forcing the half turns I decide the excercise is aerobic, my head feels suddenly light as my shoulders begin to burn. I feel guilty; everything happened so quickly and smoothly until it was my turn to persuade this sail upwards in this dark windy night. I’m disgusted by the office flab; where did my youth go?


Left: the cockpit of Argyll with winch crew and Griff at the helm


Right: Argyll waits to enter the lock into St Malo after the race

Dinard The new sail fills the hole and harnesses the wind. Argyll is racing off again, with her fast elegant reaching gait. I stand on deck trying not to pant too loudly and admire the dark water, marbled by her bow wave, coursing by. I’d like to stay awake, to savour the night. This is my first time racing offshore on a Sparkman and Stephens inboard yawl. And I can now connect back to those guys in the 1930s on Dorade or Stormy Weather who won the Fastnet in the early days of British offshore racing. They’d have had nights when it felt like this; the gear breaking, the intense activity to make safe, repair or replace kit, and carry on. These yawls are still revered for their seaworthy fast design; we witnessed it earlier as we pulled ahead in the fleet, enjoying a spectacular hour or so racing down the Western Solent

after getting late to the start line, and crossing a minute or two after the gun. The dishy modern glassfibre boats should have been passing in numbers – you’d have thought, but as we tripped past the Needles many are eating our wake, though I notice a sistership Stormy Weather maintains her bearing out to windward. It’s true that we are in our best element: a fine-ish reach to cross the Channel in a south-easterly F3 which is quite a rare wind even in summer. I’m reminded of a time when I met Olin himself, in Palma Mallorca; in his eighties, he was still involved in offshore racing, attending a conference on the rules. He kindly agreed to let me buy him dinner and told me about his legendary design career. He was a designer who acutely understood the rules, and developed his designs to beat them. But


This yawl Argyll is comfy, as she slides through the water. The crew come on watch with a little coffee... as we polished off the wine he told me that if there were no rules to design to then he would design a boat like Dorade every time. “For the combination of speed and seaworthiness,” it would have to be Dorade, he said. And you can see why he said that. This yawl Argyll is comfy, as she slides through the water. The crew come on watch with a little coffee, made from the coffee machine which perches nonchalently on the side in the galley. They don’t have to be dressed in wet weather gear all the time; the mate Ollie Graffy wears his Cornish smock and there’s a sense of ease. The motion is partly due to a massive lead keel heaving against our buoyancy and keeping everything cushioned in the seaway. That huge keel gave this type of design the nickname of leadmine. And it feels like that as you go below; you seem to carry on down further than you expect! With nearly a one in five beam to length ratio Argyll is nearly as narrow as Dorade (not racing here) though she is longer and this helps with the comfort factor at sea as well. It feels good that we don’t even have to be on the windward rail, like a little row of ninepins for Poseidon’s spray; every time I look around someone has his tobacco out, which I doubt is happening on many of the other boats. Interestingly Matt Brooks, the owner of Dorade said of racing her offshore (after re-winning the Transpac in 2013): “We kept the tiller in the centre. Constant, small corrections are enough, and we learned that keeping the weight low down in the middle of the boat worked better than sitting out high side.” You might think such a remark was pure conjecture, or based on what some of the old hands said CLASSIC SAILOR



We learned that keeping the weight low down in the middle of the boat worked better than sitting out high side – Matt Brooks, Dorade


Top left: cameraman Ben and Baines take some rays. Above left: Griff and Roger discuss the plan. Left: down below Argyll crew share space with sails. Right: our 151NM track 26 CLASSIC SAILOR




about their experience sailing a comparitively heavy long-keeled classic, but Matt had actually made polar charts sailing with crew out on the rail, or deep and central in the cockpit. He proved it for the design! But please excuse my manners dear reader, I should do some introductions. This boat belongs to Griff Rhys Jones, comedian and television presenter who is also a lifelong sailor, though mainly a cruiser, until a few years ago. His 2003 book To the Baltic With Bob is an epic cruise in a wooden boat – Undina, which he kept on the east coast. He began racing with the British Classic Yacht Club and became so keen on competition that after he bought Argyll he started his own quirky regatta – Yawlba, which is for yawls, yes just for yawls only, and takes place in Elba. Having no sponsorship from a major posh watch maker he gives the winner a Swatch – and apparently the timepieces are highly prized. Griff keeps Argyll in an enviably polished, showroom condition, with a French skipper Alex Bordessoule and mate Ollie. Long term racing crew include Baines (“it’s just Baines”), Norwegian Lars Landfald and Rory. We are also joined by Ben Risley, cameraman (Griff is thinking about making a film of the Fastnet) and our navigator Roger Ford. Roger’s earlier plan, that we should sail down the land (rather than the island) side of the Solent had paid off and we had had clearer breeze with a good angle to get out into the




Channel. We left the Needles before 10.00am and like a lot of the fleet headed up to get clear air with the wind fine on the bow. But we were soon able to lay a course to west of the Casquets. Speaking later Roger explained: “I wanted to be a mile west of the Casquets when the wind changed and backed to the forecast NW. And we sailed on a simple bearing for the Hanois light (West tip of Guernsey); rather than stay on a straight line (over the ground) which would have put us more against the tide. So the tide took us west for a couple of hours and then back east.


It looks like we have the Needles to ourselves as we are in the fore of the 170 strong fleet Argyllers L-R: Roger, Ben, Baines, Griff, Ollie, Alex and Rory; Lars is down below

“When we got to the Casquets (about 7pm) I was concerned we weren’t far west enough, but then I saw Stormy Weather was east of us so I stopped worrying! The wind changed around 10pm and we gybed as the tide turned back west. Around that time a wind warning came over Channel 16 about a F6 imminent from the NW. And as we know that did happen.” For Roger it was the first time sailing a yawl like this and this was his trial race before another Channel race and then the Fastnet itself. After the spinnaker evolution I arrive on deck after a some sleep to witness Argyll

crossing the line. The leaden sky begins to brighten and we realise we have done extraordinarily well. Our finish time of 0520 is fully 40 minutes ahead of Stormy Weather (although we don’t know this timing accurately until a bit later) and there is a great sense of achievement, although after a 22hour sail no-one is whooping. It’s been a long time since the evening meal and we grab bread and cheese. And coffee. Griff takes it in his stride. His mind is already on the Fastnet but it is a fabulous achievement. It turns out we are the fastest British boat on elapsed time, coming fourth overall of the 173 entries and first in class (IRC4) by nearly 40 minutes. We enter the yacht basin where half a dozen boats and wan-looking crew are jilling for a space to tie up. Griff is returning straight home, he will leave the prize taking to captain Alex – to whom he gives full credit for “fettling up the boat to racing condition”. I say I’ll go too. Ben the cameraman will join us. We go to find a ferry ticket and to see the race office where RORC Commodore Michael Boyd greets Griff with enthusiasm. It’s time for some breakfast though really it feels like we should have a beer... so we do. We can reflect on an almost perfect performance. There was only the spinnaker blowout (and a time earlier in the Solent when its tack line had snapped) to be any cause for discussion, but it’s left; breaking things is worth it if you win. We leave for the ferry before noon. A trip that turns into a 12 hour ordeal as the fast cat from Guernsey to Poole is a delayed connection. Griff passes the time with tales of when he used to drink, at the Groucho. And as I get home, I pray that Olin still knows how we love his boats. ★


Argyll joins Stormy and Dorade in the Fastnet


or this, 90th, year of the Fastnet race, two previous winners from the 1930s, both Olin Stephens inboard yawl designs, came to Cowes to Compete. Matt Brooks’ has been famously campaigning Dorade and mystifying some modern minds by winning the Transpac in 2013. Dorade won the Fastnet consecutively in both 1931 and 1933 while Christopher Spray’s Stormy Weather won it in 1935, giving S&S dominance in those years. The two veterans were joined by Argyll, herself no slouch, having come first in class in class in the recent Cowes Dinard. In American ownership Argyll also won the Bermuda race outright in 1950. It may seem odd to some that these old ladies of the sea are pitting themselves against the best offshore yachts of today, but the reality is they are fabulous sea boats where comfort matches speed. Owners are refurbishing these wooden boats to race competitively again and the IRC rule seems to be able to handle the situation admirably. Dorade came second and Stormy fourth which is an amazing result and one to savour in the waterside bars for a while. Never mind what was happening to the plastic fantastics – it was the struggle between the two veterans of the race which was getting attention. After initially losing touch, the two came together near the Lizard and battled it out across the Irish Sea rounding the rock neck and neck as our picture on p6 shows. “We love racing against other S&S boats, particularly Stormy Weather,” said Matt Brooks. “It was give and take, great competition, proper match racing.

Stormy Weather, 1934 Design No 27, LOA: 53ft11’in (16.4m), LWL 39ft 9in (12.1m), Beam 12ft 6in, Draught: 7ft 11in (2.4m)

Meanwhile Griff Rhys Jones said Argyll had a disappointing race: “We got away in front of Stormy, though trailing Dorade by a short bit. We certainly held our own during the first lull but that night we tried to kedge and couldn’t in 50m. If you look at the tracking we went backwards for an hour. We stayed up in the race after that, right up to the Lizard, within two hours of the other yawls. But the Lizard was a disaster. The tide changed, the wind dropped and we had to anchor. After that every shift favoured the ones ahead. Missing our tide gate by two hours made us look like a lesser boat, so I sort of want to do it again.


never mind the plastic fantastics, it was the race veterans getting attention

Argyll, 1948 Design No 628, LOA: 57ft 4in (17.5m), LWL: 40ft (12.2m), Beam: 12ft 9in (3.9m) Draught: 8ft (2.4m)

Dorade, 1930 Design No7, LOA: 52ft (15.85m), LWL: 37ft 3in (11.3m), Beam: 10ft 4in (3.1m) Draught: 7ft 6in (2.3m) CLASSIC SAILOR



The first rock stars

As the Fastnet Race celebrates 90 years since its inception in 1925 Clare McComb looks back at some of the original participants who pioneered offshore racing in Britain


t took fiercely independent spirits to sign up for the first Fastnet, 90 years ago this year. The “Ocean Race” was being described as dangerous and foolhardy by a frequently hostile press, which predicted that tides and currents would overwhelm unsuspecting competitors, driving them into the rocks, or situations they couldn’t handle. Onlookers were waiting for the project to fail. Among the brave men who started on 15th August was Harry Donegan, a feisty Irishman from Cork, who fought his way round in Gull, driving his crew relentlessly, only to be thwarted by a chafed halyard.


Ingo Simon, the world record-holding archer, owned Saladin, a Bristol Channel pilot cutter so fast in light airs that he was once quite wrongly accused of cheating. Ray Barrett was disgruntled that his double-ender, Banba IV, hadn’t been measured in time for the start, but he went on to serve as an official RORC measurer from 1932-55! Other pioneers included archetypal man of derring-do, Bobby Somerset, in North Star, and the youthful crew of Royal Engineers in Fulmar, who laughed their way round the Fastnet course, coming in second nonetheless.

Clockwise from top left: Saladin and Ingo Simon; Jolie Brise with “paid hand” Sid Briggs; Banba IV (dark sails) and Ray Barrett in later life; The Fastnet Rock; Gull and Harry Donegan. Inset: George Martin

Jolie Brise won with George Martin, Cruising Editor of Yachting World and founder of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, at the helm. He had masterminded all the race practicalities and had among his crew Weston Martyr, who had suggested the original race format, and Sid Briggs, a brilliant “paid hand” with invaluable rigging experience on Thames barges, brigantines and schooners. Most who took part said they had had the most magnificent sailing experience of their lives, which had been the real point of the competition. And so it continues to this day! ★

Row me to Runnymede Historic replicas turned out in force on the Thames this summer to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta. Sophie Neville was aboard one of them



t was with great excitement that I set off towards Henley to join the crew of the shallop Royal Thamesis on the River Thames this June. We had been asked to lead a flotilla of traditional boats from Hurley to Runnymede. A copy of Magna Carta was carried by a relay of local people in our sister ship, the royal barge Jubilant, with another rowing boat, The Lady Mayoress, belonging to the Company of Watermen and Lightermen, in attendance. Our task was to provide transport for the Town Crier of the Royal Borough of Windsor, a gentleman of no mean substance, who disembarked at historic sites along the way to make proclamation of the event that instigated

democracy as we know it. This was the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta by King John. As we rowed down the Thames we were joined by an assortment of vessels both modern and traditional, the most fantastic being the 94ft (28.9m) Gloriana, launched in 2012 to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. While the Royal Thamesis, which belongs to the Worshipful Company of Drapers, has six oarsmen and can carry eight passengers, the Gloriana towered above us, 18 oarsmen raising their blades in salute. However it was our barge that was allotted to host a sizeable actor playing Stephen Langton, the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1215. This was a great honour. He stepped daintily aboard, admired the

RUNNYMEDE 800 Left: City Barge members in their gondola. Right: The shallop Royal Thamesis Below: Gloriana’s stern seal and Gloriana at Runnymede

turquoise and gold livery, along with the Drapers’ flag flying astern, and promptly sat down on his sandwiches. As well as her oarsmen, the Gloriana is also powered by two silent electric engines; useful for taking her in and out of locks. The crew of the Drapers’ shallop had to stow their long wooden oars and grab paddles. Somehow most of the boats in the flotilla managed to fit into each large Thames lock on the Saturday and rowed so fast that we found ourselves always to be ‘previous’, up to an hour ahead of schedule at any point. I spent my time watching birdlife along the river - great crested grebe, Egyptian geese and coots nesting by one of the weirs that would not have been around in 1215. The Archbishop was relaxed about any delay. He merrily blessed all those watching from the bank, waved at tourists from his velvet cushion under the canopy of the Royal Thamesis, and roared with delight as Windsor Castle came into sight. Our barge was beached at Windsor on the ancient river bank opposite the town, so that he could alight and perform. Escorted by the Earl of Salisbury, he joined other actors who played out the drama that illustrated how and why the barons had forced King John to sign the charter. Although I took an oar from time to time, my job on the crew of the Royal Thamesis that weekend was to act as wiffler, the man standing in the bows with a boat hook, who in medieval times would prod floating logs and dead dogs out of the way. I didn’t like to think of what else ended up in the Thames in those days. Our bargemaster acts as coxswain and

Our barge was allotted to host a sizeable actor playing Stephen Langton, the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1215. we row on fixed thwarts, with wooden thole pins instead of rowlocks. We are affiliated to the Oxford rowing club City Barge and were joined by their Chairman, Roger Blackburn, who took the helm as we approached Runnymede. The Royal Thamesis was built by Michael Dennett from Brazilian cedar to the order of the Thames Traditional Boat Rally in 1997, based on a design of a state shallop commissioned for Queen Mary II in 1689 by William III . She was bought by the Draper’s Company in 2003 for use at ceremonial and charitable events. Every year inner-city children get the chance to help row her at Countryside Live on the River Lee before she is used for the Lord Mayor’s Show on the tideway. A carving of Old Father Thames looks down from her stern, elvers peeping from his beard. Having rowed 22 miles downstream, we made it through the last lock to find ourselves joined by about 180 other boats, crewed by oarsmen wearing medieval dress. It was an historic sight. Other members of City Barge had followed the Gloriana in sandalos, gondolas and a pair of Maltese craft, their oarsmen standing, their fine garments catching in the evening light. The 800th anniversary had been celebrated by classic sailors in style. ★




How to survive a regatta Guy Venables offers advice on the social etiquette of yachting and how to ignore it


he first thing to consider when attending a regatta is which booze, if any, is sponsoring it. You can judge and decide whether even to attend by this easy to remember ancient poem:

If it’s beer, away ye should veer, If it’s wine stay off the brine, If its champagne watch the weather vane, If it’s rum, as a rule of thumb drink your fill till your face goes numb. Godfrey Church 1823 Powerful stuff I think you’ll agree. But it is a very real dilemma. Drinking free cognac all day in the hot sun can play hell with operating a 50ft yacht in 30 knots of wind. Especially when it’s not yours. From Antigua to Ullapool all regattas have their “types.” There will for instance always be a famous yachtsman that you cannot identify, in sponsored clothing that make him or her look like someone else has dressed them, being interviewed on camera by someone who doesn’t know anything about sailing, probably from The One Show. It will soon become apparent that it’s a sport in which the famous person is very good at doing, but utterly untrained at talking about. A small man in a big blazer will be talking loudly, much to the annoyance of the The One Show, into a microphone, which comes through the un-synched speakers as a series of loud echoing quacks. Standing next to him, prompting, is the Commodore, highest ranking of the race officials. The lower race officials have confusingly military monikers that all seem to outrank each other like an Escher stairway.


‘The crews are involved in drinking competitions which should really be renamed spilling competitions’

There will be areas that you are allowed to go into and areas that you are not. These are depicted in coloured blocks on the wristband or lanyard and do not correspond at all to any of the coloured flags. The only way to behave is to allow everyone to assume you are the owner of the land on which the regatta is held. You can only be proved absolutely wrong in the unlikely event that you meet the actual owner. There will be stalls. The first selling clothing that two fashion students from Exeter imagined was what sailors wear. Then one, inexplicably selling antique French turn-of-

the-century furniture. Then a man who looks like he has taken apart someone else’s boat and is selling every single fitting off it, a man who has once again reinvented teak oil and finally, the modern day equivalent of the snake oil seller, the magic magnetic wrist band vendor with claims to solve all problems in the same way Jesus did. (and yet when I upturn their tables I’m thrown out of the ExCel centre). If it’s a regatta of classic boats there will be someone there with a spirit of tradition boat not knowing quite where he fits in. Likewise if it is a contemporary regatta.


Although there were only about twenty yachts in the regatta the number of people who warrant a trophy runs into hundreds

‘A sailing race is a white-hot combination of kindergarten competitiveness and deafening bellowing... Deep rooted childhood friendships rarely survive a yachting race intact’

The first thing to do is to get a little drunk. Not ‘trapdoor’ drunk but just a bit ‘cobbled road’. That way you can still smile benevolently upon the man who had the time, money and freedom to make a 20ft clinker launch in his own garage and bring it to the regatta to show people. It also softens the memory that you haven’t managed to move the broken washing machine and soggy plywood out of your own garage for several years. If you are entering the sailing regatta yourself, be warned, the entry form will ask you impertinent questions about your boat’s lineage and history that would make most shipwrights blush and it will be several volumes long. Although from land a sailing race can look serene, even beautiful, on the water it is a white-hot combination of kindergarten competitiveness and deafening bellowing, usually culminating in months of ostracizing whoever is the skipper. Deep rooted childhood friendships rarely survive a yachting race intact. So my advice is to always race with strangers. Firstly they are less inclined to shout at you and secondly you may accidently make friends in the unlikely event you actually win but, importantly, you won’t lose any if you come second or below. Before the race starts you should race up and down near the starting line. The start line will be a rumour, possibly between that Dunkirk Little Ship and an arbitrary point of land. This assumption is usually scuppered as the motor boat heads off for lunch and you’re left to decide between a wreck buoy, a black

flag that turns out to be a cormorant and a partially submerged container. If you have been told the race will start with a flag then it will start with a blast on a horn. If you’ve been told it’s a horn then chances are it’ll be a flare or a cannon or someone shouting “GO!” If all the boats then look like they’re going one way, immediately go the other. People will think that you’ve got a clever tactic up your sleeve. This will worry the other competitors into distracted errors but to be honest boats are expensive and having that many, that close to each other looks rather dangerous to me. Back on dry land the award ceremony will begin. You’ll need several more drinks because people totally unaware of the art of entertaining are about to hold a microphone for well over an hour. This is where you find that, although there were only around twenty yachts in the actual regatta, the number of people that ‘Someone famous but untrained in talking about it being interviewed by someone who doesn’t understand sailing’

warrant a trophy runs into the hundreds. The trophies themselves range from a small copper coin to a silver urn the size of a wine barrel with a list of previous winners the length of a large town’s war memorial. These are handed out to applause of diminishing enthusiasm whilst sozzled journalists take flash photographs in bright sunlight of people they will never recall. By this time you haven’t eaten for six hours and you’re beginning to wonder if tobacco has any nutritious value. Here you usually have two choices. The first is a line of vans selling all manner of foodstuffs including noodles served on paper plates that immediately distribute them onto the floor. Or the burger van selling grey burgers in an airy bap with nothing else inside and strangely labelled bottles of sauce. Or the “hog roast” (mechanically separated meat in a wet pile flopped onto a bun with some apple sauce by a fat man in a vest with a half-smoked fag in his mouth for £8). Finally there’s an optimistic vegetarian alfalfa van patronized by nobody but the two Exeter fashion students who spend the entire day’s takings on a bean sprout salad and some green tea. The other option is to head in to the organisers’ tent where you can get a square meal, but are not allowed in. The way to circumvent this is to grab a waiter by the arm and lead him past the check gate saying loudly “and I want more tables in the east section and is the champagne cold yet? We CAN’T have warm champagne.” Once in you won’t have an allocated seat. This doesn’t matter because all the press will ignore the seating plan, take one table for themselves and the knock-on effect will be that the seating becomes a free for all. Try to sit at a table of foreigners. This will ensure that you’re not found out as an imposter and with a bit of luck will allow you to eat in relative silence. You can also convince them of certain customs like the pouring of the wine starts at you because you are facing north (change where applicable) and goes to the left. By the time dessert approaches you want to be thinking of heading outside and get to the beer tent. This is where foul weather gear comes in handy as the crews are now involved in drinking competitions which should really be renamed spilling competitions. If you can’t get home, sleep on any boat, the bigger the better. By this time everybody will be so drunk they won’t remember who their crew is and with a bit of luck you might get a free breakfast the next morning. ★



t felt like a proper holiday, so unlike the grey northern waters I generally sail in. I lounged in the shade of my dinghy’s boom tent, moored in a tiny harbour on the Île de Ré, licking ice cream and listening to the jazz band on the quayside. I had arrived in La Rochelle the previous evening, after a 24-hour journey from my Somerset home – an evening drive to Portsmouth, the overnight ferry to Caen, and then a day on the autoroutes of France – a little tiring, but far quicker than a cruising yacht making the journey by sea. I had not launched immediately, as there was some work to do on the boat before the challenge that lay ahead for her. I spent the evening splicing ropes and overhauling gear, then slept in my boat, ashore in the car park, defiantly moored under a sign saying “no campervans”. Next morning I launched Avel Dro on the huge marina slipway, and slipped away out of the marina, past rows of motor cruisers with flying bridges, catamarans with glazed sunrooms, and modern monohulls with sharp bows and wide transoms.


CHALLENGE NAVIGUER LEGER I reached out into le Pertuis d’Antioche, the wide sound between the Île de Ré and the Île d’Olèron, then turned north. A strong tide under her keel, Avel Dro plunged into a steep sea thrown up by the brisk northerly sweeping under the lofty viaduct linking the Île de Ré to the continent. Cars roared far overhead, downdraughts thudded into Avel Dro’s sail, and a succession of green waves came crashing under the curved foot of her faded brown lugsail, over the lee gunnel and into the bottom boards. She was carrying too much canvas. Leaving the helm, I lowered the sail smartly into the boat. My dinghy lay beam on to the wind, heaving over the waves. Bracing myself against the motion, I pumped out the bilge water, pulled the foot of the sail tight, rolled in a neat reef and tied the points down firmly, lest they shake free in the wind. Reefed sail rehoisted, I sailed on more comfortably. Beating to the west, I crossed courses with a huge cruising catamaran, running in towards La Rochelle. I could see no one at either of her wheels, so although I had the right of way, it seemed prudent to pass under her stern. Peering into

Dawn breaks over the marshland of the Marais Poitevin, as Emmanuel Conrath rows his Skerry Raid into the sea lock; other boats in the flotilla wait behind.

Unofficial pleasures Roger Barnes takes his cruising dinghy Avel Dro on a sail-and-oar challenge in France - all the better for being unlicensed – and with the spice of competitiveness



CHALLENGE NAVIGUER LEGER Left, from top: Didier Fauvel on the Skerry Chasse Marée; Gérad Delorme and his Skerry Marie Pupuce; Stéphane Blanc on the Wayfarer Whimbrel; Alban Gorriz on his homebuilt Ilur Bénétin; Alain Goetz on the Pertuis One-Design Emjo 2 Right: Pierre Mucherie’s slippy Chester Yawl Atipik easily keeps pace with Alban Gorriz aboard his white Ilur Bénétin

the patio windows of her vast deck saloon, as she sailed past on autopilot, I saw a man sitting reading a book. He raised his head and stared at my little laden dinghy. Our eyes met in mutual incomprehension of our different styles of sailing. Coming onto the transit into the tiny port of La Flotte en Ré, Avel Dro slipped through the shallows into its tiny drying basin, enclosed by sun-bleached buildings under orange roofs, windows shaded by faded shutters. It was a relief to have arrived in this humble and honest little harbour after the huge Port des Minimes, where I had launched. There is something soul-destroying about the sight of massed ranks of yachts, most rarely taken sailing. They pass their lives rattling their halyards and waving their antennae, like an infestation of white insects. The sea is the last great wilderness on Earth. Surely we should approach it in the same way that a hillwalker or climber treats the wild uplands? We should explore it with humility and reverence, and the minimum of well-honed gear – not clutter it with ostentatious icons of human vanity. 38 CLASSIC SAILOR

I am not the only one to think like this. The French magazine Le Chasse-Marée has long questioned the technological fetishism of modern yachting, and championed sailing in small simple boats. The magazine’s numerous plans of ‘sail and oar’ boats, such as my own Ilur-class dinghy, inspired the Voile-Aviron movement, and the rallies for small boats that take place all over France. But although the Voile-Aviron movement is a great success, it has not noticeably dented the mania for going out and buying big white yachts, and then not using them. This was Le Chasse-Marée’s motivation for creating Le Challenge Naviguer Léger, to show that you do not need a large

As she sailed past on autopilot, I saw a man sitting reading a book. He stared at my dinghy. Our eyes met in mutual incomprehension


boat for coastal cruising. After an experimental event in 2014, the first Challenge was scheduled for June 2015. The plan was simple. Some 20 small boats would sail for three days, on a 100-mile course among the islands and rivers of CharenteMaritime. The event would test navigational skills under both sail and oar, and allow different types of boats to be compared on an equal footing. Every vessel would be autonomous. There would be no support boats to carry baggage, no nights ashore in hotels. Crews would camp ashore in backpacking tents or sleep aboard their boats under canvas. « Trois jours, cent milles et un océan de liberté » The application process was remarkably complex. I filled in a sheaf of forms, submitted a nautical CV, a medical certificate, evidence of insurance, and a list of safety equipment carried aboard – an unusually large amount of bureaucracy, even for a French maritime event. The organisers were clearly having difficulty configuring the event to comply with French safety regulations.

Just after I had arrived in La Rochelle, I received yet another email message, announcing the last-minute cancellation of the Challenge. The notion of a coastal competition for 20 autonomous cruising dinghies had proved too challenging for the French state in the end. I dashed off a quick response, saying that I intended to follow the course of the Challenge anyway – and if French officialdom wanted to interfere with a peaceful British vessel: well, I’d like to see them try. Checking my emails later I found a multitude of messages from many of the other entrants, saying they intended to come too. The event was programmed to begin at Marans in the heart of the Marais Poitevin, the marshes to the north of La Rochelle. The times for the sea lock of the Marans canal meant I’d needto lock in the following evening. My navigational planning completed, I relaxed, poured a glass of wine and lounged against the cushions of my dinghy, the laid-back ambience of the little port soaking into me. But skippers of cruising boats should never allow themselves to become too relaxed, even

Right, from top: Pierre Mucherie on his modified Chester Yawl Atipik; François Girault on his dory Louis et Poupette; Emmanuel Conrath, proprietor of Arwen Marine, on the prototype Skerry Raid; Emmanuel Mailly under the boat tent of his Ilur Tournepierre; Roger Barnes plotting a pre-dawn departure aboard his French-built Ilur Avel Dro CLASSIC SAILOR


if they only command a 15ft (4.6m) dinghy. Full of good food and wine, I overslept. Suddenly awakening, I remembered that I was in a drying basin on a falling tide. Opening the tent doors, I prodded over the stern, to find only a foot of water under my keel. Struggling out of my sleeping bag, I pulled the tent down, cast off my warps and rowed hurriedly out of the basin, my oars stirring up mud. Once clear of the shallows, I hoisted sail and shaped a course westwards, back towards the mainland. I lay on the side deck with the sail boomed out with an oar, as the low coastline come slowly closer. Rough poles rose out of the shallow Baie de l’Aiguillon, marking the oyster beds: birds skimmed across the water, or walked along the edge of the mud banks.


Gilles Montaubin’s slim, fast le Brol performed impressively throughout. Her sails are reefed by pulling on lines which rotate the masts. Below: the route

The channel narrowed between rotted wooden piles. There was a strong tide now, sweeping me onwards into the unknown. My paper chart did not extend into the marshland, but ended at Port du Pave, at the mouth of the River Sèvre Niortaise with its vast school of flat-bottomed aluminium oyster boats with stacks of equipment on their decks. This was classic dinghy cruising territory, a workaday port rarely visited by cruising yachtsA complex network of waterways surrounds the Sèvre Niortaise, draining the flat marshes. Following the main river channel, I arrived at a bascule bridge, busy with traffic, remotely controlled from the sea lock in the distance. It was now early evening. By the time I had locked into the canal, only a light air remained to blow me up the long straight cut to the old port of Marans, deep in the marshland. I lay moored in friendly Marans all the next day, watching other little boats arriving on trailers and being launched into the canal: a sailing dory, a Wayfarer, four lovely boats from Arwen Marine, including a Skerry Raid sailed by the yard’s proprietor Emmanuel Conrath, and a slim Chester Yawl, two other Ilurs, a local Pertuis One Design, and an unusual yellow boat with two masts, Le Brol, designed as a specialised ‘raid boat’ by her skipper Gilles Montaubin. Eleven boats, including my own, had decided to carry on with the Challenge, in spite of the French state. In the evening Gwendal Jaffrey, editor of Le Chasse-Marée, arrived with other event organisers. They gave out disclaimer forms for us all to sign, to attest that we were sailing at our own risk, that there would be no safety boats and no insurance, and that if anything dreadful happened to us it would be our own stupid fault. The event had become « un challenge off » – an unofficial challenge.

Originally there were to have been a series of control points, so that each boat could be timed along each leg of the course. This was now abandoned. But I had no illusions that this would lessen the competitiveness of the other entrants. They were French after all. I had not made any major alterations to my boat for the Challenge. She was carrying all the usual gear for unsupported coastal passages, so she was much heavier than the other two Ilurs, let alone the slim Arwen Marine Skerries, and the decidedly sporty Le Brol. It was clear that I would be at a serious disadvantage in calm conditions and on the rowing legs of the course, but hopefully I could make up time on the exposed sea passages. My main aim was to see off my long-time rival Alban Gorriz, in his white Ilur. During les Rendezvous de L’Erdre, a couple of years before, he had found a second crewmember and a second set of oars for the rowing legs, which still rankles aboard Avel Dro. This time he’d promised to come alone, so we could “do battle with equal armament”. Now I discovered that he had equipped his Ilur with a sliding seat for greater performance under oars. As I could not rely on having the fastest boat, I needed to deploy low cunning. Starting how I meant to go on, I left Marans very early the next morning, to catch the night breeze off the land, so I did not need to row the entire length of the canal. Wen the rest of the flotilla assembled at 5.30 am, Avel Dro was already gliding along the silent canal in the dark, barely disturbing the still water. An otter slid off the bank and swam along the canal alongside me. As the pale light of dawn began to spread over the sky, the wind failed and I started rowing. The rest of the flotilla caught me up at the sea lock. Alban was extolling his sliding seat: “Five miles of rowing and not at all tired!”

We locked out of the canal, and close-tacked down the River Sèvre against a light breeze off the sea. Once clear of the marshlands, our course was a long reach along the north shore of the Ile de Ré towards a buoy far to the west. But the morning wind dropped away as the sun rose, and we were in danger of losing the fair tide under the Île de Ré viaduct. After a discussion on the VHF, the fleet reversed course, a couple of miles short of the mark. Returning to the East, we tacked under the viaduct and regrouped just off the nudist beach. Our evening destination was Boyardville on the Île d’Oléron, ten miles away on

As I could not rely on having the fastest boat, I needed to deploy low cunning. I left very early, to catch the night breeze off the land the other side of the wide Pertuis d’Antioche. The wind was strengthening, and big seas were rolling in from the Atlantic. Normally I would have reefed, but this was my chance to get one over all those light boats, so I carried on under full sail. Avel Dro crashed through the seas on a mad reach, sustaining speeds of 7 and 8 knots, taking huge amounts of spray aboard, and overtaking most of the fleet. Arriving in the unpretentious oyster port of Boyardville, the lighter boats hauled out on the beach and pitched their tents under the trees, while the heavier ones moored further up the river amongst the oyster boats. The next day’s course was to sail south to a buoy in the strait of the Ile d’Oléron, then

north to the River Charente and finally up the river to Rochefort. Leaving Boyardville, the flotilla gently reached along the coast together, in a lovely feeling of comradeship. But once again the wind failed around noon. We began to lose ground against the tidal stream, so we cut the course short, and headed back towards the mouth of the Charente. As usual the wind strengthened again in the afternoon, giving the three beamy Ilurs another chance to show their paces. We led the fleet in the approach to the Charente, the Arwen Marine Skerries and the dory just astern of us. Then the VHF crackled into life: “Ici François: je coule, je coule !” [I’m sinking.] Cutting the corner too tightly, François’s dory had smashed into the long rocky shoal extending to the west of l’Ile Madame, ripping off his daggerboard and tearing a huge hole in her hull. She settled rapidly, the waves rolling her further onto the rocks. Even if we had a fleet of accompanying safety boats as planned, they could not have helped. No RIB could have reached François in the shoals. Instead the flotilla helped itself. Two Skerries turned back to render assistance, and we all monitored the situation on our dedicated VHF channel. Finally we heard that François had abandoned his boat and waded ashore onto the island. Reassembling in the Charente, the rest of the fleet raced up the winding river together, passing rows of fishing huts perched on the muddy banks, with huge square nets hanging in front. Around a sharp bend, we gatecrashed a sailing-school race, our traditional rigs a bizarre contrast to the conventional racing dinghies around us. Then onwards under the huge pylons of the famous transporter bridge, followed by a sharp beat towards the magnificent basins of Colbert’s 17th-century naval port of Rochefort, where the supposed

Stéphane and his crew Franck examine the chart in Rochfort, before the final day’s passage

autonomie of our navigation did not preclude going for a slap-up meal in the restaurant overlooking the port. We locked out of Rochefort at 9am the next morning for the 12-mile row back down the Charente, which was another chance for the light, slim craft to display their superiority in flat water and for Alban to deploy his sliding seat. The beamier boats competed on more equal terms as we tacked out of the river into a steadily rising wind. Then we bore off through the sound of the Ile d’Aix and onto on a close reach up the coast to La Rochelle. So I finally arrived back in the huge Marina des Minimes, where I had launched. Some of the other Challenge boats were already there, but I arrived before Alban, which I could not help mentioning. “That does not count,” he said: “I finished the rowing leg long before you!” As no one was taking times, and different styles of boat liked different conditions, it was difficult to gain an objective impression of our relative performance. Certainly Gilles’s Le Brol was impressive throughout, almost unbeatable under oar or sail: if nowhere near as comfortable as an Ilur for extended cruising, as a light raid boat for one person, she was consummate. The Wayfarer was powerful and fast under sail, as was the large Pertuis one-design, both performing reasonably well in the rowing legs, with their two-man crews. The Chasse-Marée photographer arrived to take our photos, and there was François with the good news that he had finally recovered his dory. We shared a drink on the slipway, but there was no big ceremony. The French boats were hauled out and towed away, and suddenly I was alone again, among the massed yachts of the marina. Le Challenge Naviguer Léger « Off » was over. I wondered if anyone in the rest of the marina had even noticed us.★ CLASSIC SAILOR



El perfume


Barcelona’s Puig Vela has grown into one of the most important, and enjoyable, regattas on the European circuit. Jonathon Savill reports 42 CLASSIC SAILOR


uig Vela is fast becoming one of Europe’s most important regattas Puig (pronounce it puch), born in Barcelona eight years ago, is for boats in five classes: Vintage Gaffers, Vintage Marconi, Big Boats and two sets of Classic Yachts, divided into 1 and 2 depending on their performance defined by RORC rating.

It’s not hard to define why it’s such a great event, but harder to put the reasons in order. Start with Barcelona, the Catalan capital city whose warmth and beauty are awe-inspiring. The Real Club Náutico of Barcelona has been around for over 140 years, and displays the casual grace and elegance a long history bestows. And it is a rare sight to see so many classic yachts in the same place. It provides


del mar

Left: Alba is one of Barcelona’s most popular yachts. Owned by Damian Ribas she is as original as possible and constantly wins. JONATHON SAVILL

a sensory overload for someone who loves boats. Beautiful features cram themselves into your vision, a lazarette cover here or a winch there. For a few days at least the world is a very beautiful place in that marina. As the fleet sails out into the bay the mood changes. These boats are there to race and as they pick up the winds in the bay their personality changes. The crews are tight and






professional. The sounds of the rigs as they strain for a few extra yards and shouts of the tacticians and helmsmen are inspiring. The sheer power of boats such as Moonbeam 3 and 4, down to the elegant sail set of Alba is breathtaking to watch. Carlos Pich has been at the regatta since the start, firstly as a skipper but latterly as a guide for the press.

Above: Marigold at work. Below: Amorita, winner in the Vintage Marconi class. Left: Moonbeam IV

He explains: “These are important pieces of history. They are not as fast as the plastic boats but they are big and heavy. They move fast and injury to the crew or damage to the boats is serious. The sailing is more gentlemanly with fewer objections. But is is very competitive.” Last year the regatta played host to the 12 Metre championships, won by Nyala. It was

These are important pieces of history, big and heavy. The sailing is more gentlemanly. But very competitive a brilliant race, in which an America’s Cup crew sailed a boat they had never seen before to a strong victory. As you watch the current America’s Cup events you have to be impressed by the high-tech foils and the 50-knot sailing, but for many of us the elegance of the earlier age is more attractive. One owner explains his philosophy: “there should always be one thing in your life that is only there to give you pleasure. It should not be counted in terms of cost but in aesthetic beauty and the joy it gives you.” At the end of the day there is a party. The regatta costs each boat roughly €250 which includes two weeks’ mooring and three of the best parties known to man. During these nights the crew relax and consume enough beer and wine to actually float the regatta on. One of the skippers puts it neatly: “These guys really have it right. It’s great value and other regattas charge you €750 for a couple of days. We will be giving most of the others a miss this year.” ★ Winners in class were: Marigold (Vintage Gaffers), Amorita (Vintage Marconi), Emeraude (Classics 1), Alba (Classics 2) and Moonbeam III (Big Boats). CLASSIC SAILOR




Moonbeam Of Fife III (1904).

Marc Puig: scents and sailability


uig may be the biggest company you’ve never heard of, unless you live in Barcelona or one of the twenty-two countries where they have offices. Or you are one of the four thousand people who work for them. Or you’re a Classic Sailor or happen to smell and look sophisticated. Puig is perfume and fashion. As detailed in these pages the Puig Vela Classic is one of the foremost regattas in Europe. But the company is far more entwined in the fabric and folklore of Catalonia and in particular Barcelona.

Marc Puig

Marc Puig is the current leader of the company. He explains: “My great grandfather was a farmer in a little town north of Barcelona. He specialised in a small variation of potatoes known as early potatoes. These were popular in Europe but especially in England.” In 1911 Marc’s grandfather was sent to London to study. While there he picked up distribution agreements for British and French perfume. By 1914 the company was trading. “Spain was not that interested in the first world war because we had our own civil war” Marc explains. But world wars have a habit in intervening. A ship carrying fragrances to Puig was torpedoed, leaving the family with a hungry market but no supply of perfume above sea level. Necessity being the mother of invention they decided to manufacture. Fast forward to 2014 and the company is celebrating 100 years of family ownership. So why a regatta?

“I started sailing in these waters at the age of seven, in Optimist dinghies. I have sailed in Moonbeam 3 and 4 and it’s in my blood.” The Puig family have a long relationship with both Barcelona and sailing so it is only natural for them to sponsor such an event. But why the name Puig and not one of their brands? “Because we are not trying to promote our name to the world. There are certain things you have to keep alive. It’s all about beating the other guy elegantly.” So what is the future of the Puig Vela Classic? Are the family committed to it? “We supported a regatta in Majorca for twenty-five years. This year we have brought visitors from Australia, Hong Kong, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Columbia, Brazil, Chile and Argentina. It brings together our clients as a family and we enjoy the elegance of the occasion. Some of our clients join in the racing. As long as we are enjoying that success we will carry on sponsoring the regatta.” ★


“Because we are not trying to promote our name to the world. There are certain things you have to keep alive. It’s all about beating the other guy elegantly.” 46 CLASSIC SAILOR

Stars in the Robert Simper recalls the near-demise and rescue of the working craft of the Thames Estuary rivers - the barges, smacks and bawleys that give the East Coast its unique character


he Thames Estuary is classified as being sheltered waters, but the narrow shallow channels between shifting sandbanks can be worrying to sail in, and lethal if you stray out of channels. However the East Coast working sailing craft had a longer working life than those on the open coastline. After World War II, when the schooners and ketches of the West Country and Ireland, had been motorised and were coming to the end of their working careers, there were still 48 CLASSIC SAILOR

fleets of sailing barges and quite a few fishing smacks in the Thames Estuary working normally, using sails. It was a little world on its own, quite separate from the rest of the coastal communities. Although the men working these craft were mainly just earning a living, some were attracted to the East Coast because the barges were being worked under sail. This unique situation was recognised by Hervey Benham, who captured the magic of the East Coast in a series of books. Benham’s Down Tops’l had a tremendous influence on a whole generation of young men, and women, who became passionate about sailing barges and smacks.

Sprits’l barges Mirosa, Marjorie and Edme at the start of a Pin Mill sailing barge match

The older barge skippers were puzzled by this sudden interest in their working lives, although they were happy to sit in pubs spinning yarns about their barges. The sailing barges were loaded with freights in the London Docks and sometimes took a few days or even a few weeks to reach their destinations along the East Anglian coast. Their employers often had little idea where their barges were until the day they came sailing up some shallow East Coast estuary. As long as the barges turned up with dry cargoes, and no damage, everyone was more or less happy. This independent working life had attracted men in the past, but many young men became attracted to the barges in the


EAST COAST SCENE such as John Fairbrother, Peter Light and Jim Lawrence actively promoting the idea of a new era of preserving barges for the future. A key turning mark of the new ‘trad’ boat movement was the meeting of barge enthusiasts in the Jolly Sailor at Maldon to restart the Blackwater Sailing Barge Match, just for barges sailed for pleasure, in 1962. Another race was started at Pin Mill and this riverside hamlet became the home of Richard Duke, a Master Mariner who became engrossed in the barge preservation movement. He bought up barges and old gear to get them sailing again. With so many barges having been scrapped there were sails, spars and

Taking a traditional boat from its home waters just does not seem to lead to their long-term survival.

Skipper Ian Ruffles on the Thames sailing barge Cambria, winner of the Coasting Class in the Medway Race, 2015.

1950s because they knew that this unique way of life was about to end and would not be replaced. This group of bargemen conspired to keep their sailing barges going as long as possible, but one by one their owners withdrew them from trade. In the past old barges and smacks had been dumped in lonely creeks when their working lives had finished. However it was found that barges could have a new lease of life if passengers were charged for a voyage under sail. There was a burst of enthusiasm to start restoring barges. This idea appears to have taken root at the Hythe Quay, Maldon with young skippers

gear abandoned at every port on the Thames Estuary. When Tony Winter rigged out the barge Lord Roberts in Lower Halstow in 1964 he found enough secondhand gear from over twenty barges to get her sailing again. The smack race at the West Mersea regatta was revived after World War II, but most of the smacks sold out of fishing had their fishing numbers painted out and cabins and portholes added to make them yacht-like. When Mike Frost started to rebuild his 1808 30ft smack Boadicea in 1963 he decided to put her back exactly as she had been as a working smack. This was a new approach and set the standard. By 2015 there were about sixty Essex smacks back in sailing order. Almost all of them have been returned to their original workboat appearance and kept in their home area. Taking a traditional boat from its home waters just does not seem to lead to their long-term survival. I had been very keen on the last years of working sailing barges and had been on them. I tried to forget about barges and bought an old gaff cutter, Sea Fever, but found that many were looking down on gaff rigged boats. Roy Clarke kept his smack Fly on a mooring next to Sea Fever, but he had fallen out with the other smack owners because he could afford new larger sails and they all had old secondhand ones. Roy promoted the idea of a race just for gaff rigged boats and in 1963 I went along to a meeting at John Scarlett’s house in Maldon to join in the discussions about starting a race. We agreed to hold a race for just gaff boats on the River Blackwater and we borrowed the name Old Gaffers Race from one we had read about in Yachting Monthly that had taken place on the Solent. I went around asking the owners of gaff-rigged boats to come in the race, but most of them had laughed and said the idea was impractical as you could never find a real handicap to make it fair. This of CLASSIC SAILOR



The revival of interest in sailing barges, smacks and gaff rig all started within a short period of time at the beginning of the 1960s. course was true, but this did not seem to have bothered anyone, except for a few keen racing types who took the races seriously. Just as the revival of barge races started a forest fire of enthusiasm, the Old Gaffers races triggered off the revival of the gaff rig. Many years later I went to interview Maurice Griffiths who we thought was a great supporter of the gaff rig. He had designed several wooden boats, but said that in his years as Editor of Yachting Monthly he had been trying to stamp out the gaff rig, which he regarded as being out dated. “But then you came along and started the gaff boats off again,” he added. No one was more surprised at the success of OGA races on the East Coast than the men who had started the OG races on the Solent. They had been just a small group of friends who had met once a year for a relaxed race with beer afterwards. Suddenly they found there was an Old Gaffers Association campaigning to start branches all over the United Kingdom and much later all over the western world. It took a long time, and a lot work, to reach a worldwide organization, but it was a far cry from John Scarlett in his back bedroom organising races for a few boats on the Blackwater. When the OGA was started it was very definitely about restoring old gaff boats. By the time I became President of OGA in 1983 the battle had been won and the gaff rig was saved from extinction, but where did we go from there? Some members just wanted to keep to wooden boats. To our amazement new gaff boats were being built, some in ferro-cement and more in fibreglass. I felt, since yachts were not traditional boats, the OGA membership should be thrown open to any craft with gaff sails. The revival of interest in sailing barges, smacks and gaff rig all started within a short period of time at the beginning of the 1960s. The long years of austerity after World War II were finally over and the boom years of the 1960s were just starting. By then there were more people with a disposable income in their pocket. Anyone with a sense of history could see that workboats from the Golden Era in the late Victorian and Edwardian eras were on their last legs. If someone didn’t save these boats they would be gone forever. It was unimaginable that the barges, smacks, bawleys and old yachts could vanish forever from the East Coast rivers. Hundreds of sailors, often working alone, have brought these craft back to life. Only a fraction of the workboats from the Golden Era have survived, but if you go to 50 CLASSIC SAILOR

Above: The Hythe Quay, Maldon, after the Blackwater Sailing Barge Match, 2012 Right: The Cambria’s original 1906 skipper’s cabin that was put back when she was rebuilt


This number of boats could not have survived without a new generation of shipwrights tending to their needs.

The Lady Daphne in the lock at St Katharine Docks, London

the Maldon barge race or the Colne smack and barge race at Brightlingsea there are so many former workboats that you could imagine that you were back in the 1890s. This number of boats could not have survived without a new generation of shipwrights tending to their needs. Some were trained at the traditional boatyards in the old way but increasingly they went to train at colleges in Lowestoft and Falmouth. There is a new breed of freelance shipwrights with vans and an urge to keep on travelling in search of work on wooden craft. As the new generation of sailmakers need a loft area to spread out their sails they are not so nomadic. There is more discussion about the size and the cut of a sail than anything else. Time never stands still and it is now almost impossible to get flax canvas - to be honest flax sails, when wet, are very heavy and stiff to handle and people sailing for pleasure may be put off these boats if at the end of day their finger nails are torn out and they are covered in brown sail dressing. Fortunately new sailmakers, mostly working with man-made materials have appeared. The barge skipper Jim Lawrence started a sail loft at Brightlingsea and Lucy Harris also works in the town, while Steve ‘Stitch’ Hall’s North Sea Sails produces a great deal of good hand work over at Tollesbury. Some of the craft being restored have also kept alive the old working skills. Whitstable smack Stormy Petrel, owned and restored by Dick Norris, used to go oyster dredging; Paul Winter’s Essex smack Maria goes ‘stow boating’ for sprats in the winter. The Maldon bawley Marigold goes trawling and none of these three has an engine. The Whitstable smack Gamecock used to go dredging oysters off the north Kent coast, while my son Jonathan Simper’s bawley Mary Amelia and grandson Harry’s Alice & Florrie have been used for musseling for two winters. All these three have engines, but sails are used when they can. The West Mersea dredging match is held in the autumn for smacks, bawleys and winkle brigs. (Hervey Benham didn’t make up that name. It was a joke, but the small open gaff boats really were called winkle brigs.) This match is an important event as the craft compete to dredge under sail, in a set time, for the most weight of oysters. When the traditional boat revival started in the 1960s there were plenty of abandoned wharves in lonely creeks and forgotten quays CLASSIC SAILOR


in the coastal ports. Those days are long gone; where there is a road access to tidal water yachts have moved in and more recently property developers have bought up boatyards. The dodge is for the developer to charge a very high rent, which makes it impossible for a boatyard to be a commercial success. The yard then stands empty and the developer tells the council that it is a “redundant boatyard” and gets permission to build houses. New residents move in and then campaign to get rid of boats and related work in that area.

Above: The smack George & Alice with a stow net, in the River Blackwater Below: A winkle brig dredging oysters in the West Mersea Dredging Match 2007

It is very difficult to fight off the financial pressures for houses and yacht marinas. There were plenty of young people who would have been willing to run a boatyard at Whisstock’s in Woodbridge, but the rent would not have paid for the developer’s investment. Woodbridge people fought for twenty years to stop Whisstocks from becoming houses and flats, but in the spring of 2015 the inevitable happened and the developers’ bulldozers moved in and flattened the place. However there is a plan that the waterfront should be

The number of people who knew these craft in their working state is getting less every year, but it is very important that their era is properly remembered. kept for traditional craft, similar to the Smack Dock at Brightlingsea when that was started in the early 1970s. Another pressure is keeping the workboats in their traditional working appearance. The number of people who knew these craft in their working state is getting less every year, but it is very important that their era is properly remembered. These craft are not only a source of great pride to her owners and exhilarating to sail, but in a world that is becoming very international, the traditional working boats are the heritage of the East Coast of England. ★ Useful addresses Thames Barges Smacks Old Gaffers Association


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News from the world of motorboats by Mike Taylor Cowes-Torquay-Cowes 2015 Powerboat Race

The Royal Yacht Squadron will again witness the world’s longest running offshore powerboat race, which will coincide with the 200th Anniversary of the Squadron’s founding. The first Cowes-Torquay race was held in 1961, the event gripping the public’s imagination with televised coverage as the 27 boats roared off the start line, the event being won by racing driver Tommy Sopwith in Fairey Christina, Thunderbolt. This year’s fleet will assemble at the Cowes Yacht Haven on Saturday 5 September for technical inspection. The public will be welcome to watch adjacent to the North Basin, as the crews complete their last-minute preparations. On Sunday 6 September the racing fleet will muster to the east of Cowes Harbour entrance. Race boats will then pass in a convoy, at speed, between Snowden and Trinity

Fastest boat at the 2015 Sydney Boat Show…. is 55 years old and homemade. Among the polished fibreglass and gleaming aluminum exhibits was a show-stopping 26ft (7.9m) 170 mph timber hydroplane. The 2.5 ton Aggressor was begun in 1961 by a then 20-year-old apprentice fitter and turner, David Tenny who designed and built everything himself, including the propeller. He paid £125 for the supercharged V12, 27 litre Merlin engine from a scrapped Mk 9 Spitfire. The three-point hydroplane is cooled by raw water collected in a ½in pipe which requires dump valves to control the intake. David was lucky to survive a serious crash in 1972. The wreck was subsequently acquired by serial motor boat restorer Dave Pagano who has sheds full of classic motor boats (“About 24, I think.”) on his NSW property. We will be looking at Aggressor in detail and other boats in his collection in a later issue. Alan Williams

Left: Thunderstreak, photo Mike James Right: Mark Raybould, Tommy Sopwith and Ken Raybould Photo: Mike James

House buoys before starting the race proper immediately to the north of Gurnard cardinal buoy at 0900. In the afternoon race boats are expected to return through the Western Solent approaches between 1430 and 1730, finishing north of Gurnard cardinal buoy. For more information contact:

Ex-James Bond Fairey burns

Sad news has reached the Classic Sailor press desk regarding respected COPC member Paul Fairall’s classic Huntsman 28 Here and Now, below. Built in 1962 this C-T Race veteran was one of the craft used in the chase scene in the Eon feature film From Russia with Love. She was engulfed in flames when her port

side turbocharger caught fire. Immediately the emergency services were called to attend. Luckily, Paul and his crew were unharmed. The RNLI were quickly on the scene, putting her in tow and taking her to Lymington. Luckily, investigation revealed that the for’ard cabin has been undamaged by the flames, but the cockpit and windscreen were badly affected. We hope owner Paul Fairall will be able to arrange for repairs to take place without delay and that it won’t be too long before we see Here and Now creaming across the Solent once more.

While talking about Tommy Sopwith and his marine racing career we must not ignore Tommy’s most famous boat Thunderbolt, which is now back in the water after repairs to her hull and electrics. Finally, we mustn’t forget the Classic Rally where classic powerboats will be out in force around Cowes over the weekend of 4-6 September (one day after publication!) and sharing the pits with modern racers. ★

For more information contact: Classic Offshore Powerboat Club

Thunderous applause

On Saturday 4 July the veteran race car and power boat driver Tommy Sopwith was reunited with three of this old boats at Hamble where he was able to inspect the almost finished Thunderflash. Next on hand was Thunderstreak, yet to be reunited with her engines, and the Grafil-reinforced Avenger 21. The get-together marked a memorable occasion for Tommy, Ken and son Mark Raybould plus current owners Mike James and Robin Ward. (Ken oversaw the build of Thunderbolt in 1961) who had come along to meet the distinguished driver and discuss these classic race craft.

The weekend of Henley Trad Boat Festival in July was one of perfect weather with sunshine on the River Thames and the brightwork of the assembled fleet of river boats looking fabulous. Sadly one of the stars of the show, Sir Malcolm Campbell’s restored 138mph Bluebird K3 had a small fire on board when she was first put into gear to run on the river and the assembled marine motoring fans were deprived of the glorious sound of her 27 litre V12 Rolls-Royce engine. Search her name and K3 online for a sound of that.



Nigel Sharp joins the fleet of Little Ships on their 75th anniversary crossing to Dunkirk, and relates the stories of some of the boats taking part

Dynamo dare


n 10 May 1940, after eight months of relative inactivity between the warring armies in Europe, German troops began their invasion of Holland, Belgium and France. They advanced with astonishing speed, forcing the British Expeditionary Force and the French army to retreat to the coastal area of Dunkirk where they were soon surrounded. At 1857hrs on Sunday 26 May, the evacuation plan ‘Operation Dynamo’ was put into effect with the expectation that it might be possible to rescue 45,000 men. However, over the following nine days – largely thanks to an extraordinarily disparate fleet of almost a thousand vessels, of which only 200 were military craft – 338,226 Allied troops were brought safely home to Britain. 56 CLASSIC SAILOR

One of the boats which took part was the 29ft 6in (9m) motor boat Surrey which, in the spring of 1964 and now renamed L’Orage, was purchased by the late television presenter Raymond Baxter. A few months later, prompted by his 13-year-old son who pointed out that the following year would be the 25th anniversary of the evacuation, he decided to organise a commemorative Return to mark the occasion. As a result of this, in 1965, 55 boats – albeit not all of which had taken part in the evacuation - crossed to Dunkirk accompanied by vessels from the Royal Navy and the RNLI, and the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships (ADLS) was formed soon afterwards. Although bad weather prevented the next planned Return in 1970, five-yearly Returns have taken place ever since. All of them have been special but this year’s – marking three quarters of a century since the evacuation – was particularly so, and I was lucky enough to take part on board Alan and Ann Jackson’s

Above: Thames sailing barges Greta and Pudge with motor boats Sundowner and Wairakei II

Riis I, a 57ft 6in (17.5m) motor yacht designed by WG McBryde and built by McGruers in 1920. So at around 8 o’clock on a glorious sunny Thursday morning in May, 48 Dunkirk Little Ships – including two Thames barges, and ex-MTB and several ex-RNLI lifeboats - began to leave their berths in Ramsgate Marina in a carefully choreographed order. The Medway Queen – one of just two surviving paddle steamers of the 23 which took part in Operation Dynamo – remained tied up in Ramsgate. She is part way through a comprehensive restoration and is not yet able to go to sea under her own steam, but she is expected to play a full part in the next Return. We assembled outside the harbour to await a flypast by a Spitfire and a Hurricane from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight before proceeding across the Channel. The fleet was divided into two groups, and within each group into “sections” in “finger four” formation. The slower boats in Green Group


devils return – led by ADLS Commodore Ian Gilbert in his 34ft (10.4m) Papillon – went ahead, followed by Red Group along a predetermined route marked by 14 waypoints. At each waypoint which required a change of course, the instruction to do so came from Papillon, call sign “Flag”. As the fleet approached the Traffic

It was expected to rescue 45,000 men, but thanks to an extraordinarily disparate fleet 338,226 Allied troops were brought safely home

Separation Zone, the faster Red Group came alongside Green Group to minimise the time the flotilla spent in the shipping lanes, after which Red Group pulled ahead. In line with tradition we were escorted across by two Royal Navy vessels (this year it was the P200 Archer Class HMS Trumpeter

Aerial salute from a Hurricane and a Spitfire

and HMS Ranger), the Ramsgate lifeboat (RNLB Esme Anderson) and the Maritime Volunteers Service’s East Sussex, and – for the first time – by three Nelsons provided by the Nelson Owners’ Club.


efore we left Ramsgate, Alan went through his usual pre-voyage checks to ensure Riis I’s diesel engines would be at their best – happily they gave us no trouble at all, unlike the temperamental petrol/paraffin engines she had in 1940. During Operation Dynamo she broke down twice, first while she was leading a convoy of eight boats from Sheerness to Ramsgate. After she was taken in tow and repairs were carried out, she crossed the Channel but was later found deserted and at anchor after her engines had failed again and was eventually towed home. During the course of our crossing, I recalled the Operation Dynamo experiences of some of the other vessels around us, two of which CLASSIC SAILOR


were also towed home (both by Dutch vessels) after suffering propulsion problems. Soon after she’d reached Dunkirk, Blue Bird of Chelsea’s engines broke down when her fuel tanks were filled with water, a common problem throughout the evacuation because cans normally used for petrol were used to transport water to the waiting troops as there was a shortage of water containers. Soon afterwards she and Princess Freda – built as a Thames passenger launch in 1926 and still operating as one from her base in Westminster today – both experienced another widespread hazard when their propellers were fouled by some of the vast amounts of debris in the water. Janthea was owned by a publican in 1940 and, when he called in to Teddington where Tough Brothers were preparing her for the evacuation, he suggested that the wellstocked drinks locker should be left that way as ‘the chaps will have a greater need for it than me’. She crossed to Dunkirk twice: the first time she brought 21 men home, then 58 CLASSIC SAILOR

Above: Crowds throng the piers as the fleet sets out from Ramsgate Harbour Right: Thames barge Pudge and freshlyrestored lifeboat Lucy Lavers


ferried 50 French troops to off-lying ships before bringing 23 more back to Ramsgate. It is a myth that large numbers of the Little Ships were taken to Dunkirk by their owners in 1940, but some were. One of these was Sundowner whose owner CH Lightoller was no stranger to the perils of the sea: in 1912 he was the senior surviving officer on the Titanic, and while serving with the Royal Navy in the First World War he escaped a serious grounding and another sinking on two different vessels. While bringing 122 troops back from Dunkirk, Sundowner was attacked by enemy aircraft; Lightoller found that evasive techniques previously explained to him by his son, an RAF pilot, were extremely effective. In common with all the vessels which managed to return safely from Dunkirk in 1940, Sundowner needed a certain amount of luck as well as the skill of her crew; and, in common with the majority of Dunkirk Little Ships which survive today, she needed that luck to continue. In 1986, already in poor condition, she was caught in a storm in the English Channel and suffered further damage. She took shelter in Ramsgate where her owners reflected on their predicament: they simply didn’t have the funds to carry out the necessary work and it seemed that the only solution was to take up a local boatyard’s suggestion that she should be cut up with a chainsaw. But amazingly, John Knight – at that time Archivist of the ADLS – happened to be in Ramsgate sheltering from the same storm on his own Little Ship Fedalma and, hearing about this impending disaster, managed to prevent it. It is probable that many of the surviving Little Ships have a similar tale of “knife edge” survival before luck and new dedicated owners intervened. Taking part in this year’s Return were three newly-restored vessels which are now benefitting from such circumstances: Lucy Lavers was a brand new RNLI lifeboat in 1940 – it is said that Operation Dynamo was her very first “shout” – and so it is highly appropriate that for this year’s Return she was fresh from a stunning restoration by Rescue Wooden Boats; Kevin Finn’s Lazy Days was extensively restored by Classic Restoration Services although initially it was thought she just needed new decks and her hull painted, and the work on David and Trish Shotton’s Marsayru – which, in 1940, ferried about 400 troops from the Dunkirk beaches to off-lying ships – was completed just in time to take part in this year’s Return.


London fire boat Massey Shaw

n awkward cross sea caused some uncomfortable rolling during the latter part of our crossing but the situation improved when we turned sharply to port just west of Calais and ran parallel with the French coast. This was a particularly hazardous route for the evacuating vessels in 1940 – at least in daylight – as it put them in firing range of German troops which

had already overrun the Calais area. The Returns have usually included rough-weather contingency plans to allow the smaller vessels to enter Dunkirk’s west entrance (with special permission from the port authorities) and then to make their way through the labyrinth of canals and locks to rendezvous with the other boats, but there was no need to put that into action this year. As we entered Dunkirk’s east entrance, it was particularly poignant to pass the remains of the East Mole on our port side and reflect on its crucial role in 1940. Even at the start of Operation Dynamo, enemy action had rendered much of the harbour unusable, but it was still possible for ships to go alongside the Mole even though it was never intended for such a purpose and it was only wide enough for troops to walk three abreast along its 1,300

It was poignant to pass the remains of Dunkirk’s East Mole on our port side and reflect on its crucial role in 1940 metre length. Nonetheless, it was from there that almost all of the 239,555 troops which were rescued from the harbour embarked. We passed the Mole with the Massey Shaw, the Thames fireboat which – although she was never meant to go to sea once she completed her delivery voyage from her builder’s yard in Cowes in 1935 – was now completing her seventh voyage to Dunkirk: she crossed three times in 1940 and has taken part in three previous Returns. On her first two trips during the evacuation she ferried about 500 troops from the beaches out to waiting ships and brought 106 more back to Ramsgate. When she went back a third time, she went alongside the Mole, but its unsuitability prevented her from embarking troops and that time she came home empty-handed. As we made our way towards the vast Watier Lock, the all-varnished open Thames launch Lady Isabelle - one of the five Little Ships which didn’t cross with us but were already in Dunkirk – came out to welcome us. The lock was easily big enough to accommodate the entire flotilla – including our escort vessels – and so we all rafted up together and waited to pass through. It is, of course, blindingly obvious to point out that the youngest of the Little Ships is three-quarters of a century old but it is worth bearing that in mind, and the fact that many of them were primarily intended for calm inland waterways, when considering that this year all but one made it across unassisted. This one was taken in tow by one of the Nelsons when her crew discovered that one of her fuel tanks had worked slightly loose on its mountings. CLASSIC SAILOR


Once we transited the lock we made our way through the Bassin d’Evolution and soon afterwards we passed the Princess Elizabeth, Operation Dynamo’s other surviving paddle steamer which is now a Dunkirk tourist centre. Having previously heard about the warm Dunkirk welcome received by the Little Ships, I was a little disappointed to see just a handful of people when we passed the first two (of the three) bridges which had been opened to allow us to make our way unimpeded towards our berths. But this only served to heighten the emotions when we finally entered the Bassin du Commerce where much larger crowds welcomed us with enormous enthusiasm, just as the 1901 fully rigged ship Duchess Anne came

Above: In Dunkirk’s massive Watier Lock – big enough to swallow the entire fleet Below: Bluebird of Chelsea

in view to port and we could see the Union flag flying below the tricolour on the nearby St Eloi belfry to starboard. Sadly I only had a couple of hours in Dunkirk before I had to make my way to my hotel – I only managed to book it just as we completed the crossing and it was ten miles away though luckily on the way to Calais from where I needed to get a ferry home early the next morning. But I left with warm memories of owners and crew throughout the fleet of Little Ships relaxing in the evening sunshine and happily reflecting on the successful completion of a voyage, as countless mariners frequently do, but rarely after a voyage of such unique significance.

After three days of ceremonies, parades, services and receptions in Dunkirk, the Little Ships set off for home again. Unfortunately the sea state – later described by Ian Gilbert as “not dangerous but uncomfortable” – soon persuaded about half the fleet to return to Dunkirk. When they tried again the next day, they were delighted to see that the Ramsgate lifeboat had come over again to meet them at the end of Dunkirk Roads to escort them across the shipping lanes. The poignancy of this is perhaps enhanced with the knowledge that, of the 19 RNLI lifeboats which took part in Operation Dynamo, the Ramsgate boat Prudential was one of just two which were manned by their regular volunteer crews. That same boat, now renamed Trimilia, took part in this year’s Return and had made it back to Ramsgate the previous day. Also taking part in this year’s Return were half a dozen Dunkirk Veterans – two of them crossed from Ramsgate on Princess Freda – but it is a sad inevitability of life that there will come a time when they will be no more, and the ongoing survival of the Little Ships themselves will hold even greater significance. Ian Gilbert took the lion’s share of the responsibility for organising this year’s Return, and when I asked him how he thought it went, he was suitably modest. “That is for others to judge,” he said, “but from comments I have heard – from those on the Little Ships and on shore – they found it incredibly moving and an incredibly worthwhile experience. We want everyone to know that we will continue every five years as long as we are welcome in Dunkirk which we certainly were this year.” ★ Nigel Sharp’s book Dunkirk Little Ships was published by Amberley Books in May. Contact:



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Rowing his own boat

Meet Geoff Probert, rowing coach and owner of the American whaler Molly which he regularly trails to Venice By Chris Partridge


owing clubs line the riverbank at Henley, but when Geoff Probert decided to get back on the water after a career in computer software he found it surprisingly difficult to find a club prepared to take him on. “All the clubs round here fancy themselves as elite operations and they don’t take old codgers,” he says. So Geoff had to look elsewhere, and found what he wanted in the


gracious but unlikely setting of Phyllis Court, a social club near Henley whose manicured lawns stretch down from the Georgian house to the river at the Royal Regatta’s finishing line but which otherwise has little direct connection with the sport. “Phyllis Court Club was just setting up a rowing section that suited me perfectly,” says Geoff. He soon found he was not alone and the club expanded rapidly. “There were lots of people like me who hadn’t rowed for 40 years,

or more, interestingly people who had reached a certain age and suddenly decided they wanted to take up rowing,” he says. “People are starting to row at 60 now which a few years ago was unheard of. We encourage them because we know there is nowhere else in Henley that will take them - the other clubs run learn-to-row courses but if they think you’re no good they won’t let you join.” The club bought a number of sliding seat boats, including fine boats for the adventurous

Above: Geoff coaching at the Phyllis Court club. Below: with Molly, under sail and in Venice


All the clubs round here fancy themselves as elite operations and don’t take old codgers

and relatively fit, and beamier recreational boats for training and fun. Having rowed at school and university, Geoff soon became one of the coaches at the club and developed a unique training scheme in the recreational boats, which have the seats and outriggers made as drop-in units. Geoff discovered that putting the coach’s unit in back-to-front enabled him to face the novice rower. “That way I can see what they are doing with their hands and they can see me demonstrating what to do,” he explains. The pushmi-pullyu arrangement also means the pair can row alternately, moving up and down the river but never far from the pontoon. Of course, the arrangement does give rise to a lot of banter from passing boats... Soon after, Geoff discovered another outlet for frustrated older rowers to get out on the river at Henley – the American Whaler Molly, owned by sailor and oarsman George Trevelyan, well known in raiding circles. George had bought the 28ft long, 6ft beam (8.5 x 1.8m) hull from the US and had her fitted out by Colin Henwood with a sailing rig designed by Andrew Wolstenholme. George began to offer weekly rows to like-minded people. All that was holding Geoff back was the sliding-seat rower’s disdain for fixed seats. “Molly was in town and I knew many of the rowers but like many sliding seat rowers I rather looked down on fixed seat rowing, especially on this stretch which is all sliding seat, but George used to bring in a few ringers for big events such as the Great River Race and I rowed her a few times,” he says. He was hooked. “Then the opportunity came up to purchase her and I was keen for the activity to continue because there was no other opportunity to row on the river here.” Geoff bought her and has continued the local rowing expeditions and also takes her away for regular tow-row trips including raids in England and the Continent where her combination of slim build and ability to row upwind makes her ruthlessly competitive. She enters the Great River Race, London’s rowing marathon, every year. And Molly is becoming a familiar sight at more ceremonial events such as the Diamond Jubilee flotilla and the Magna Carta Relay, celebrating the 800th anniversary this year. The floral decorations and magnificent flag always maker her a sight to see and a great ambassador for the more mature rower, a growing force in the sport. ★

The Solent Galley enjoying a revival Rowing regattas were hugely popular in Victorian times, attracting vast crowds. These were, it must be admitted, mainly interested in betting rather than enjoying a closely-fought race but it made rowing a national obsession. On rivers, boats rapidly evolved into long, slim speed machines, but rowing clubs on the south coast needed a more robust design that would combine speed with seaworthiness. The result was one of the prettiest boats ever built - the Solent Galley. Rowed by a crew of four with a coxswain, the galleys were usually built of spruce or larch on oak, with a mahogany sheerstrake to emphasise the flowing line. A foredeck keeps the boat fairly dry, and the stern rises to a pert transom. The length was a standard 30ft (9.1m), ensuring all galleys were closely matched for racing. It is said that the length was dictated by the Southern Railway, which used to transport boats free to regattas on flatbed trailers exactly that length. The railway did not do this out of charity of course - it was to encourage events that most people would travel by train to see. The biggest builder of Solent Galleys was probably George Feltham of Old Portsmouth. He was certainly responsible for the last two to be built, Bembridge and Sallyport, as late as 1961, to replace boats lost in a disastrous fire at Southsea Rowing Club. By then, galleys were no longer raced but the cruising section took them for jaunts to the Isle of Wight and other places that the sliding-seat boats could not reach. Inevitably, however, the space they occupied came under pressure and eventually they risked being burnt on the beach. One of the members was determined to save them. Pat Sherwin collected a fleet of four and established the Pat Sherwin Trust to look after them.

To encourage their use, the Trust lent Bembridge and Sallyport to Langstone Cutters RC, based in Chichester Harbour, and uses the others in Portsmouth. After years languishing out of sight, Solent Galleys are suddenly proving popular again. Rowing as a sport is expanding rapidly, especially with people who want to spend time on the water and generally improve their fitness rather than compete. The Solent Galley’s combination of safety, speed and room for a picnic basket makes it an ideal expedition boat. Only seven of these lovely boats are known to remain, but all are now back out on the water after their long hibernation. There is even talk of building more, which would be a remarkable revival for a boat that only a few years ago seemed doomed to extinction.★



Britain’s Greatest From G L Watson to Alan Buchanan, Theo Rye introduces the 21 formative practitioners of the art,


acht design is a curious and fairly recent offshoot of naval architecture. As a separate discipline it really didn’t exist until the 1870s; prior to that, most yachts were “designed” by their builder, often by eye or by model, and drawings (or draughts) were rare. Ship-building from draughts was relatively common from the 18th century onwards; Admiralty contracts, for example, were usually placed on the basis of draughts, which meant that many builders were capable of building to drawings; but it was sufficiently unusual for yachts to be built that way that nobody seems to have been a dedicated yacht 64 CLASSIC SAILOR

designer. Lloyd’s Register of Yachts, which was first printed in 1878, did not include a separate entry for the designer as distinct from the builder until 1884. So whilst it is certainly true that some yachts were designed, and sometimes built from drawings, the notion of being a yacht designer simply did not exist before the steady increase in yachting in the 1860s prompted a few to try their hand. G. L. Watson (1851-1904) is often cited as the first yacht designer, but there is considerable evidence that a now mostly forgotten Liverpool designer was actually the pioneer. St Clare J Byrne (1830-1915) trained and worked in shipyards, and had some success with yacht design almost as a side-line before setting up an office in around 1869. It was probably tough going initially; Lloyd’s

Register for 1884 lists only a 10-tonner from 1870 and a steamer from 1872 from his first few years. In 1873 G L Watson also set up independently, offering naval architecture, brokerage and survey services. Although the original advertisement mentioned his speciality was the design of “racing and steam yachts”, Watson had probably only designed a handful of yachts at that stage, and initially work was slow to come in and he had to supplement his income writing as a yachting journalist. It was a profession that slowly gained credibility; Watson proved a highly capable designer, especially of racing yachts, and his abilities were becoming evident with the likes of Clothilde (1875) Madge (1881) and Doris (1885). Byrne was meanwhile designing substantial yachts, starting with Sunbeam


Yacht Designers

or science, or both, that began as a distinct discipline in the latter half of the nineteenth century

G L Watson

St Clare J Byrne

John Harvey

Opposite page: 1903 America’s Cup contenders, Herreshoff’s Reliance and Fife’s Shamrock III Above: Byrne’s Gitana, 1883 Left: Fife 6-ton cutter Bedouin,1884

for Lord Brassey (1874); and through the 1880s and 90s he was designing increasingly large steam yachts such as Valiant (2184 tons) for W K Vanderbilt. John Harvey (1831-1901), the son of a successful Wivenhoe boatbuilder, was another early designer; his notable vessels included Kitty (1852) and Jullanar (1877), and he was a major influence on Watson in particular. Harvey adopted sound mathematical design principles and was an early member of the Institute of Naval Architects (established in 1860); he ran the shipyard at Wivenhoe for about 30 years until c.1880, and at its peak it rivalled any yacht yard in Britain, thanks in no small part to Harvey’s design ability. William Fife (1857-1944) was another designer from a boatbuilding family; his father, a very highly

Fife’s methods were fairly simple, at least in comparison with Watson’s comprehensive sets of hydrostatic data rated yacht builder, passed the yard at Fairlie on the Clyde on to his son in about 1886. Fife junior would prove to be one of the most prolific and successful designers in history; he designed well over 600 yachts in a career that ran from 1875 to 1939, including many of the most celebrated and beautiful yachts ever created. Although designs for the larger classes became scarce after 1910, Fife was a very

William Fife

Alfred Mylne

successful designer under the International Rule and produced dozens of 6mR and over 50 8mR designs, as well as beautiful cruiser-racers like the double-ender Latifa and the incomparable Hallowe’en. Fife’s methods were fairly simple, at least in comparison to Watson, who derived a comprehensive set of hydrostatic data for his yachts, especially the larger racing yachts like Britannia, including metacentric heights at a time when the necessary calculations were time-consuming and onerous. Fife, who did not charge for designs that his yard built (the large majority), usually restricted his calculations to displacement and keel weight only, and often relied on scaling and slight modifications of existing designs. Alfred Mylne (1872-1951) was Watson’s chief draughtsman from 1892 until setting CLASSIC SAILOR


Above: G U Laws’ 6mR Dormy Right: a single-handed cruiser by Dr T Harrison Butler

Charles Sibbick

Charles Nicholson

Albert Strange

G U Laws

up on his own account, to Watson’s dismay, in 1896. Mylne continued to use Watson’s scientific methods to great effect, becoming a very successful independent designer even before acquiring a building yard at Port Bannatyne in 1911. Watson died in 1904, but his company continued to design and build very large luxury motor yachts, which by then had eclipsed St Clare Byrne’s work; Harvey returned from the USA in 1898 to an impoverished retirement in Essex, and so the coast was largely clear for Mylne and Fife to continue their friendly rivalry in sailing yacht design from their Scottish offices. Several English designers were also rising in prominence; Charles Sibbick (1849-1912) was a successful builder-designer, based in Cowes, who 66 CLASSIC SAILOR

had great success with raters before his somewhat mysterious early death. Albert Strange (18551917) was a successful amateur yacht designer whose artistic designs have proved to have an enduring appeal. His canoe-yawl designs are particularly notable; he was a pioneer of the small, habitable coastal cruiser. Another noted amateur and a friend of Strange was T Harrison Butler (1871-1945) whose “pocket cruisers” were popular and successful; in particular his Z4 design, of which over 50 were built in the 1930s. Butler wrote two books and corresponded freely, espousing in particular the “Metacentric shelf ” theory of hull balance. On the south coast, Charles Ernest Nicholson (1868-1954), the son of Ben Nicholson, co-founder of Camper & Nicholson’s and himself a renowned

yacht builder, joined the company in 1887, aged 19, and established his credentials as a designer in the early 1890s. By the outbreak of World War I he had had notable successes with Istria 15mR and the racing schooner Margherita, and was well on the way to being the premier British designer, especially in the larger classes. He designed four J-class yachts to the Universal Rule (Shamrock V, Velsheda, Endeavour and Endeavour II); from the 1920 Shamrock IV challenge until the Second World War Nicholson was the designer of choice for all the America’s Cup challengers. He was also responsible for some of the largest sailing yachts built such as Vira (now Creole). The promising career of Gilbert Umfreville Laws (1870-1918) was ended by his death from tuberculosis contracted on active service; Laws had


Linton Hope

Norman Dallimore

F C Morgan Giles

Left: Seal, 1907, a 37ft canoe-sterned cruising yawl designed by Albert Strange

designed the Olympic gold medal winning 6mR Dormy (1908), and was a very talented designer based in London and then Burnham. He influenced other designers of the period, notably Linton Hope (1863-1920), who specialised in the smaller raters, and pioneered many lightweight building techniques; Laws also trained Norman Dallimore (1883-1959). Dallimore turned professional in 1905, but his career really flourished between 1920 and 1939, mastering shoal-draught as well as conventional hull forms for cruising and racing designs up to 60ft (18.3m) in length. Arthur E Payne (1858 -1903) was another talented designer from a boatbuilding family, this time from Southampton. His father, Alfred, was a noted yacht builder; he died in 1878 and Arthur took over

The premier British designer, Nicholson designed four J-class yachts and America’s Cup challengers the yard. With considerable success especially in the raters of the Length & Sail Area Rule of 1886, his promising and prolific career was cut short with his early death. Frederick Shepherd (1869-1969) trained under Payne and, setting up independently in 1899, went on to have a long and successful career, mainly designing cruising yachts like Maybird,

although with some notable cruiser-racers such as Amokura. Shepherd took on Fred Parker (19121984) as a pupil in 1934, and Parker went on to have a successful career himself, particularly designing for Moody’s in the 1950s and 60s; Ian Nicolson, senior partner of Mylne and Co between 1979 and 2007, was apprenticed to Parker. F C Morgan Giles (1883-1964) had started to build a reputation for fine dinghies and small yachts before the war, but it was the establishment of his Teignbridge yard in 1920 that confirmed his rise. With success under the International Rule, and many cruising designs, Morgan Giles enjoyed a long and prolific career, spanning both world wars. His unrelated namesake, Jack Laurent Giles, (1901-1969) was a naval architect who worked for CLASSIC SAILOR


Above: Robert Clark’s 30ft lwl Sun Quest Right: Kim Holman’s Stella class

J Laurent Giles

Kim Holman

C E Nicholson before setting up on his own in 1927. A string of highly successful cruising and racing yachts such as Etain, Andrillot, Maid of Malham, Lutine, Gulvain, Sopranino and the Vertue class demonstrated that his design method (which he described as “a combination of calculations and controlled guessing with art”) was potent, and he went on to be arguably the most successful British yacht designer of the 1950s. Of the many other talented designers who emerged in the 1930s and flourished in the 1950s, Arthur Robb (1908-1969) in particular stands out. Born in New Zealand, Robb moved to Scotland and turned professional after the Second World War; he became known for well-balanced, handsome designs such as the Lion class, as well as Olympic contenders 68 CLASSIC SAILOR

in the 5.5 metre class, and the Daring class. Robb was a meticulous draughtsman who enjoyed considerable success. His contemporary Robert Clark (1909-1988) also became known for nicely proportioned, wellbalanced and elegant designs; his breakthrough, after giving notice with Mystery in 1936, was the highly successful offshore racer Ortac. After a glittering spell of RORC winners either side of World War II, he turned to cruising designs and long-distance racers such as Gipsy Moth III and V for Francis Chichester and British Steel for Chay Blyth. His largest design, the 170ft (51.8m) schooner Carita, is still sailing as Fleurtje. Christopher ‘Kim’ Holman (1925-2006) was another fine designer who emerged after the war.

Following service in the navy, he read naval architecture at Bristol but his restless nature meant he left without a degree. Apprenticed to yacht designer Jack Francis-Jones, he moved on to West Mersea where he rapidly displayed great talent with his 1956 design Phialle. He is probably best known for his Stella (over 100 were built) and Twister designs (over 200 built), as well as his early GRP designs such as the Elizabethan 29. Joined by Donald Pye in 1961, the partnership produced some very pretty, fast and seaworthy designs. Holman’s enthusiasm for design waned in the late 1960s as the emphasis shifted and yachts became beamier and less elegant, but with David Cooper the company continued, designing many very well regarded yachts like the Bowman 36 and many of the early Oysters.


Alan Buchanan and, above, his Yachting Monthly 3-tonner

Alan Buchanan (1922-2015) had a remarkable career; setting up after World War II ended, he ran a busy design office in Burnham for many years (where the newly graduated Ed Dubois worked for him in 1974). Buchanan’s success was founded on a highly successful run of racing yachts in the 1950s; especially on the east coast, where his designs came close to being ubiquitous. Buchanan managed the transition from wood to GRP construction that baffled many of his contemporaries; he was a trained draughtsman and adept at efficient design. Prolific to the end he continued to design sound yachts right up until the end of his life. From the earliest pioneers designing yachts has always been a challenging career. To succeed, a yacht designer has to have a rare combination of ability,

Thankfully it was common for designers to allow publication of their lines and plans allowing development of a sort determination and personality. The route was usually to be apprenticed or trained by an existing, established designer before setting up independently; a qualification relating to naval architecture was by no means necessary. Few design studios ever employed more than a small handful of people at most; and this had an

effect on the general progress in yacht design. Most designers worked independently, often specialising in one or two types; there was relatively little cross-fertilization of ideas, and rarely any sort of budget for research. Thankfully it was common for designers to allow the publication of the lines and plans of their designs, so budding designers had plenty of material to study, which went some way to towards ensuring development of a sort, but the scientific methods pioneered by G L Watson in the 1880s and 90s were not properly exploited and progress in yacht design was often stuttering and hesitant. It is an interesting thought that had G L Watson lived long enough to train Olin Stephens, the whole history of the sport might be very different. ★ CLASSIC SAILOR




It’s what you would rather be reading… Welcome to the new magazine about traditional seamanship and seaworthy boats.


But how to get your copy ahead of the vicar? He’s a canny subscriber, realising a six month sub is about the same as a couple of bottles of communion wine! He gets his issue delivered direct to the vicarage door saving some 25% on the newsstand cover price. Join our flock and take advantage of our special direct debit rates. 12 editions – £35 6 editions – £18 Please quote our code 15CS




Griff Rhys Jones gets serious A comedian

There are bargains for overseas readers and other ways of paying too. Online offer: Tel: +44 (0)2393 110042

in a yacht race? But this is the Fastnet



Anglia Yacht Brokerage Tel. +44 (0)1359 27 17 47

2000 Cornish Crabber 22’ in lovely condition with Yanmar 1GM10 diesel, Bespoke road trailer and upped rating to category B. £37,950

2006 GRP Kittiwake 16’ gaff rigged sloop. A very high end fit out with lots of hard wood and bronze work. Complete with cover and break back road trailer £8,995.

2001 David Moss Sea Otter 15’ in lovely condition. Cedar strip/epoxy construction with a standing lug yawl rig. Complete with electric motor, covers and road trailer. £7,750

1999 Storm 15’ with balanced lug rig. Complete with cover, electric outboard and combi road trailer. £2,250

1990 Drascombe Dabber Mk2 in exceptionally tidy condition with cover, Honda 2.3HP 4-stroke and road trailer. £4,450


2006 Cornish Crabber 17’ in lovely condition with coppercoated underside, Suzuki 6HP 4-stroke and break-back road trailer. £12,950

Anglia Yacht Brokers are a well established small sailing boat builders based in the UK near Bury St Edmunds. We provide traditional sailing boat marketing and refurbishment services, brokerage and are always on hand with advice and help. Please ask for Alex.

Come and see us at the Southampton Boat Show 11th - 22nd Sept

On watch Things we have rated highly over the years ...

Garmin Quatix watch


Given the choice this would be the watch we’d want to be wearing in a lifeboat. The dazzling array of functions has yet to be beaten. It has: a distance from the boat MOB alarm, GPS, waypoint storage, over 1000 maps, temperature, compass, streaming to a mac or pc for NMEA weather info, barometer and can be a foredeck autopilot to steer the boat. We have used it instead of a chartplotter. It also tells the time. £379

Essential for any sailor’s wardrobe, the Guernsey is the hardest wearing knitwear around with ownerships often lasting through generations. Not only are they warm but water rolls off them and even when a bit worn they still look smart due to their stubborn retention of colour. Knitted in situ on Guernsey. £75

Odeo flares The problem with flares is not in the using but in the getting rid of them. They also have a limited shelf life, last only a few minutes and are hot to handle, not to mention a danger in small rubber boats. To the point where people can even be put off buying or renewing them. This problem is neatly solved by the Odeo electric flare which uses a 3.5 mile (5.6km) visible six-hour flickering laser that can be seen from all angles. The sooner you change, the sooner you’ll be saving. For stockists see the website. Expect to pay around £140.

Wykeham Martin Furling gear In continuous production for over 100 years, this traditional furling gear has been successfully fitted to thousands of boats worldwide. Cast in bronze from the original patterns, the parts are machined, polished and assembled by English craftsmen to produce a beautiful and efficient furling system. Fitted with stainless-steel thrust races to ensure free running and easy sail furling. From £118.78 to £802.71 depending on size.

Boye Cobalt Basic 3 Knife The best accolade for something is how often it’s used. Although our tester has many knives, the Boye is the one he always reaches for when off sailing. Firstly it can be worn on the belt horizontally, very useful for rushing past rigging. The blade, with no steel in it whatsoever, is sharp, tough, cast to shape and very slightly serrated. There’s a sharpening angle guide on the base of the blade and the entire knife is wonderfully tactile. £230


Off watch Bunk-up with a good book ... Black Waters by Julia Jones Published by Golden Duck 296pp

Price £8.99 Dubarry Ultima boots

New things to see at Southampton Boat Show

If imitation is flattery then the Dubarry boot must be feeling rather pleased with itself. Rarely has a piece of footwear been so ubiquitous and so emulated. These were the first and they’re comfy, waterproof and tough as…well, old boots. £239

September 11 – 20

Nanotech SST Environmentally friendly nanotechnology antifoul provides a surface on which nothing can grow and at the same time decreases the drag of the hull through the water.

Planking wax Made from balsa resin, beech tar, wax and linseed oil and used to impregnate and seal underwater leaks and cracks in planking by swelling with water. Very useful on board any wooden boat especially leaky or dried out; works on clinker boats too. It’s only to be used below the waterline however. You don’t want it all over the place. £12 for 230ml tin or £37 for 1000ml

Claudia Myatt Mugs The East Coast artist Claudia Myatt branched out recently with these ceramic and bone china, featuring a range of her designs, and she can personalise them too, to your boat. We noticed these in Cornwall on Eve of St Mawes where Claudia was teaching a floating painting class. It’s got to be china! Plain China: £6.99 +p&p

Oceanair New fabric collection from Oceanair with updated colour schemes for the interior of your boat including blinds, rollers and soft furnishing.


It’s volume 5 of the Strong Winds series, but you get straight into the story even if you have not read the other books. The novel is based around teenage dinghy sailor Xanthe and some very odd goings on around boats on the East Coast, covering Second World War history, Dunkirk Little Ships and pill boxes. A cyber-bullied Xanthe arrives to teach dinghy sailing to a group of young kids, who have their own troubles to add to the mix. The oldies are there too with set views, family feuds and secrets. The descriptions of sailing around the East Coast are very evocative, with tides as well as sailing tactics adding interest for the sailor without being distracting for a non-sailor. This is a great read (and a moral book) with a mix of history and modern living. It is a mystery adventure but shows how a caring attitude can carry the day despite life’s burdens. Liz Wright

Lifedge’s 100% charge and synch cable. A totally waterproof cable enabling you to charge your device under extreme conditions.

Down to the Sea in Ships

Hudson Wight

Living between the Deben and Orwell rivers it’s impossible not to be aware of Felixstowe’s container terminal or not to be fascinated by it and the great ships that dock there. Horatio Clare’s book, now in paperback, feeds that fascination. Modelled on a container ship and its cargo, it’s written in apparently random, disconnected chunks, covering the ship, its people, its ports and passages and occasionally its cargoes, gradually allowing a picture of the strange life of the modern seafarer to emerge. It covers voyages undertaken by the author on two ships. The first is the massive, modern, purpose-built Gerd Maersk, teetering and tottering like a yacht in a heavy sea. The second: an ancient rustbucket serving out her time on a Great Circle route across the North Atlantic from Rotterdam to Montreal, through ice and blizzard, following the wartime Atlantic Convoys, which Clare recalls at some length. Frightening and dangerous, even now, and poorly-paid but summoning the Conradian spirit of the seafarer. Someone once told me it cost one dollar to ship a fridge from China to the UK. And a lot more in human stoicism and sacrifice. Peter Willis

The sea clothing specialist will have two new products to the show: an upgraded Performance jacket and their new 170N Secumar Ultra Racer lifejacket with its pocket for a locator beacon.

MaxMon From MaxMon comes a new remote boat monitoring product using any off-the- shelf Android phone to give you updates, reports, bilge levels, temperature and humidity reports.

B&G Zeus2 B&G have software updates in their Zeus2 series multi-functional displays and Glass helm systems. Plus! See us: stand B108

by Horatio Clare Published by Vintage Books paperback 352pp



Sailing skills: launching and recovering the Jib By Nick Beck and Diggory Rose In our experience of teaching folks to sail, both on our own Traditional Boat Skills courses and through the RYA YachtmasterTM scheme we’ve come across many “methods” for doing everything from making a cup of tea to picking up a man overboard. Some of these are excellent but none of them is always the right way to get the job done. Even the good ones are merely a basic template for approaching the task in a safe and seamanlike fashion. As we often sail with inexperienced crew on Amelie Rose we’ve built up our own “Standard Operating Procedures” and, as you too may sail with inexperienced friends and family, we thought we’d share these – as a guide, not as a prescription.



ith their large mainsails aloft few gaffers sail well to windward without a significant balancing force acting forward of their “centre of lateral resistance”. For most traditional craft this force comes in the form of a jib, often set out on a bowsprit to increase the leverage of this relatively small sail. There’s usually no forestay out there to hank it onto which can make the foredeck a dangerously entertaining place to be when this mainly-unrestrained canvas is hauled aloft. Even the advent of furling gear doesn’t guarantee the safety of the hands up forward as they’ve still got to get it all up there and it’s not uncommon for issues to require them to drop the sail in the traditional fashion. So how to control our wildly flying jibs?


It’s enough of a challenge to get the jib up and working without mistakes in preparation requiring us get it all down again in a hurry. Misled or badly tied sheets and halyards, twists in the sail and even the discovery that the jib was attached upside down have all played their part in Amelie Rose’s current record of four attempts to get it nailed on right. Careful preparation will mean that the job gets done right, first time, every time. The crew too need to be prepared. Each person needs to know not only how to play



Reducing the power

their part, but also roughly how that part fits into the whole picture. This extends beyond the foredeck too. The helm is key to a successful hoist and the Skipper (if blessed with enough crew) should consider taking a step back to watch the whole process, enabling them to catch problems before they become apparent to those focused solely on the task in hand.

Timing and teamwork

Especially when working with folks who are not used to traditional rigs it’s important to make sure that everyone understands the sequence of events, and what the start point is for the activity they’ve been assigned. A seasoned crew will fall to this naturally but with greener hands it’s often necessary direct each action during the hoist (e.g. “don’t pull this until they’ve done that” or even “don’t pull until I tell you to”).

It’s perfectly possible to hoist or drop the jib with the boat pointing to windward and if the intention is to sail off the anchor or mooring then this may well be necessary. Most of the time however we have, and use, our auxiliary engine so are most often likely to set our jib whilst motor-sailing with the main hoisted. This gives us the option of sheltering the whole foredeck behind the lee of the mainsail which will make a huge difference to the power being exerted on the jib at the critical point, when it’s neither up nor down. Unless there’s a good reason not to (an imminent lee shore, boisterous sea-state or lack of experienced helm) we always raise and drop our jib with the wind aft. An additional benefit of this being that if all doesn’t go to plan we’re already taking the sting out of conditions on the foredeck, reducing the impact on the crew up there. Other ways of reducing the power include controlling the jib itself. In lighter airs once it’s rigged it can be rolled into itself as it is pulled out on the traveller reducing the likelihood of it filling with wind or water. As conditions liven up consider putting the jib “in stops” as this allows you to hoist an essentially furled sail. (See Stopping-up a Jib.)

How we do it

Here are our Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Jib Hoist with mainsail up and engine running.


Setting the jib while motor-sailing with the main hoisted gives us the option of sheltering the whole foredeck behind the lee of the mainsail


In detail


Stopping-up a Jib





Hoisting the jib: 1: The traveller is attached to outhaul and inhaul and needs to be hauled in. 2: Attach the tack of the sail to the traveller. 3: Bending on the sheets to the clew of the sail with bowlines. 4: Haul the traveller out to the end of the bowsprit. 5: Hoist the halyard. 6: Make it off with a figure of eight and a half hitch to hold it firm. 7: Pull on the sheets to break out the sail from its woolen stops (see panel on stopping-up a jib, right). 8: Flaking a Halyard (see below).

If a pontoon is available you’ll find it much easier to do this on it as even the smallest jib often has a luff longer than your deck. Traditionally there was much talk about “rotten cotton” being ideal, but lengths of wool are just the ticket and easier to find. Stretch out the luff, then flake the sail leaving the luff visible and the tack just peeking out over the centre of the luff. Starting opposite the luff, roll the sail reasonably tightly until you have a long tube with the luff and tack still showing. A lighter sail (e.g. a drifter) can just be bunched up rather than flaking and rolling but be sure to work along the luff. Tie two or three strands of wool around the centre of the rolled sail passing through the tack (this is where the maximum unfurling pressure will be exerted). Work away from the centre tying the rolled sail every foot and a half (50cm) or so, stopping a good two feet (60cm) from the ends (as this is where the least unfurling pressure will be exerted). Rig the sail as normal. When hoisting be careful not to pull the sail out of stops before you’re ready to go. To fly the sail – just sheet in!

Flaking a Halyard

I’ve seen all sorts of fancy methods employed when flaking out halyards, from figures of eight to beautifully coiled affairs. None of this is necessary as all we are trying to achieve is to ensure that there are no snarls, loops or outright knots heading skyward to jam things up. Start at the end furthest from the belaying pin or cleat. Work along the halyard chucking each handful on the deck behind you in a big unseemly pile. If you find any knots or snarl-ups work them out and then carry on piling. The key is that the next part of the halyard to be paid out is always going to be on top of all the parts that come after it. Hey presto, no more snarls.


Sailing skills: launching and recovering the Jib

Double-check that the Jib is rigged correctly, the bobstay set and the working main mast backstay is hauled down tight. Close-haul the main (in case of accidental gybe). Post one crew on the traveller hauling line, briefed to haul out when told. Post another crew on the bow (inside the jib, behind the lazy sheet), briefed to feed the jib out, rolling the sail around itself as they do, working with the traveller hauler to ensure that the jib is slack enough to haul out but not trailing in the water. Post a third crew at the jib halyard briefed to hoist quickly when the traveller haul is completed, the hauling line made off and the hauler and feeder are clear. Instruct the helm to bear off until the main is shadowing the launch side of the foredeck (very broad reach). Instruct the traveller hauler and jib feeder to crack on. When the traveller is out, the hauling line made off and the hauler and feeder are clear, instruct the halyard crew to hoist away smartly. Once the jib is up, sweat down the jib halyard, sheet in the jib and tension up the rig using the jib purchase until the bowsprit is floating in the gammon iron. Assume course and trim sails appropriately. With fewer crew this method can be adapted for two foredeck hands by getting the jib feeder to come back and haul on the halyard. With fewer than three people aboard things get more interesting and in anything apart from light airs we would consider stopping up the jib so that one hand can operate the foredeck alone.

Dropping the jib

The keys to a successful drop are again preparation, teamwork and power-reduction. Care should be taken to make sure that the jib halyard is completely free to run. Bearing in mind that rope’s natural state is “a


bugger’s muddle” this means flaking it out. (See Flaking a Halyard p9.) A green crew should also always be warned not to grab the clew or sheets before the sail is de-powered lest they find themselves jettisoned overboard if the sail fills. Here are our SOPs again: Flake out the jib halyard. Check for lines over-board, start the engine. Close-haul the main (in case of accidental gybe). Station a crew at the traveller line briefed to bring it in when asked. Once the traveller is back at the stem they should get an arm around the front of the descending sail in order to encourage it to drop in the boat and not into the oggin. Post another crew at the halyard briefed to keep a turn on the belaying pin until asked to drop. When the drop is called they should let it go as rapidly as their palms will bear – without losing control of the halyard. Post other crew on the foredeck briefed to grab hold of the sail once the halyard is running and get it all on deck sharpish. Instruct the helm to bear off until the main is shadowing the launch side of the foredeck (very broad reach). At the correct point of sail the jib will collapse and cease to pull. Instruct the traveller crew to haul in the traveller and then get their arm around the front of the sail from a point behind the stem. Call for the drop from the halyard crew and get it all down quickly, watching like a hawk for large lumps of knotted halyard heading skyward. Short-handed this is all achievable by one person thanks to gravity and (with the jib sheltered) the lack of loading on the traveller once it’s released. Simply release the traveller outhaul and walk backward towards the halyard bringing the traveller in as you do. Release the jib halyard and haul the jib down (moving forward to capture the jib first at the tack). ★


Bringing the jib in. 1: Post crew on the foredeck to haul in the traveller from the end of the bowsprit. 2: Flake the halyard so that it will run free through the masthead block. 3 and 4: Helm bears away to take the drive out of the jib and the traveller is hauled back to the bows. 5: The halyard is let out under control and the foredeck crew haul in the sail... smartish.


The keys to a successful drop are again preparation, teamwork and powerreduction... at the correct point of sail the jib will collapse and cease to pull

About the authors:



Nick Beck is a commercially endorsed RYA YachtmasterTM Offshore and YachtmasterTM Instructor. In 2009 he left the world of Investment Banking IT to start an adventure holiday and sail training business (Topsail Adventures) aboard Amelie Rose, his Luke Powell replica Scillonian pilot cutter. Since then he has introduced hundreds of people to the wonders of traditional sailing.





Using a Wykeham Martin

The Wykeham Martin (6) furling gear is often viewed as a tricky piece of kit, but there are ways to get the best out of it. To begin with put plenty of furling line around the drum. Enough turns will ensure that it can be rolled away with a couple of rolls of sheet holding the sail together. 7 and 8: We found that using dyneema in the luff in lieu of a luff wire really helps to maintain even tension across the sail when you furl it. The dyneema is stitched into the luff; it makes the sail easier to handle as well. 9: You need to keep some tension on the furling line and so we use a simple “furling angel” this as shown is a shackle on a carabiner which gives just enough weight to stop the furling line from jumping and falling off the drum. These are the secrets to success with your Wykeham Martin.


Having trained as a shipwright Diggory Rose first went to sea as a deckhand on the sailing trawler Leader in 1998. He has since pursued a career as a sailor and skipper of traditional boats too numerous to mention. Diggory is an RYA YachtmasterTM Instructor and Examiner and has a keen interest in the history, role and purpose of traditional craft from all around the world.

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Navigation: the basics Latitude and longitude By John Clarke, Principal of Team Sailing Dividing the earth; meridians and parallels and how they can be used to pinpoint any locations. Degrees, minutes and the Nautical Mile. And how the grid scale on a nautical chart uses these measurements to enable the navigator to judge distances

The globe divided

For navigational purposed the earth has been drawn as shown in figure 1. Charts use Latitude and Longitude, because we need to know where we are on the featureless surface of the sea. Therefore they have the Latitude and Longitude grid printed on them. And there needs to be a start point for determining the latitude and longitude of a particular point. For latitude it is the Equator, and points are defined as being north or south of the Equator. Zero degrees for points on the Equator, and ninety degrees north or south for points at the north or South Pole. For longitude it is the line running north or south which runs through Greenwich (see the opposite page to discover why Greenwich was used), and points are defined as east or west of the zero-degrees Greenwich meridian. So, to determine a position on the earth it is simply necessary to see how far north or south of the Equator, and how far east or west of the Greenwich meridian the point lies. And they are measured in accord with figures 2 and 3.

Defining distance

From figure 1 it will be obvious that as the linces onf logitude aren’t parallel you cannot use the difference between these lines to measure distance, when you want to plot your position at sea. Very close to the North Pole (or South Pole) the distance between say 10 degrees west and 20 degrees west is tiny, whereas very close to the equator it is probably something like 600 miles.

Latitude is measured in: Degrees (60 minutes) Minutes Decimals of Minutes N or S of 0°

Longitude is measured in: Degrees Minutes Decimals of Minutes E or W of 0°


But if you look at the lines of latitude in figure 1, you will see tthese are parallel, so the distance between say 10 degrees north and 20 degrees north; and the distance between say 40 degrees north and 50 degrees north is the same. Thus we can use degrees of latitude to measure distance on a chart. The measurement of distance is internationally recognised as the Nautical Mile (NM). (At approximately 2026 yards it is 1.15 the length of the statute mile, or 1.4 kilometres.) One degree of latitude is equal to 60NM, and one minute of latitude (one sixtieth of a degree) is equal to 1 NM. Being able to measure distance in degrees of arc over the earth’s surface is why sailors and airmen use the NM as opposed to the statute mile, which is a purely arbitrary measure of distance. Having this handy grid scale at the side of the chart means you can instantly judge distance, in any direction, in miles or fractions of a mile from your chart using any handy measuring tool – such as your thumb; invaluable on a heaving chart table (and a possibly heaving navigator).









Mercator projection

There is a problem though for navigators in representing the three dimensions of the earth on a two-dimensional surface, and this has been overcome in different ways. The one which most sailors are familiar with is the Mercator Projection. If you look at figure 4 you will see how it works. The earth is made rectangular. Now there are two effects from this. Firstly, it makes objects nearer the North Pole look bigger than they are. And secondly it makes the lines of latitude more spaced out the closer you get to the poles, (this is why when you are measuring distance you must measure off the latitude scale close to where you are). And there is one important drawback of this type of chart – it is accurate only up to a range of about 600 NM, fine for sailors but those who deal in bigger distances need to use different types of chart, outside the scope of this series of articles. Next month we’ll be looking at how to measure using a chart and explain about variation and deviation. ★



Mercator’s projection proved to be one of the most significant advances in cartography; it heralded a new era in the evolution of maps and charts and is still their basis today Gerard Mercator

Gerard Mercator’s maps gave 16th-century geographers a new way of looking at the world. His creations used a novel projection system and were partly based on the portolan charts used by sailors since the 13th century. These charts, Mediterranean in origin, use compass bearings and distances and were noted for their relative accuracy by pilots and seafarers. In the late 1500s the world was opening up to exploration and trade creatung the need for sailors to sail offshore using parallels (rhumbs) on their compass bearings, though the science of navigation was still in its infancy. Mercator aimed to present the known geography of the world within a “correct” chart to be more useful to sailors. This “correction”, took the constant bearing sailing courses on the sphere (known as rhumb lines) and mapped them as straight lines on the plane map. This advance is what characterizes the Mercator projection. Of course by opening up the globe – to lay it flat as it were, his projection created massive anomalies in the size of land masses towards the poles – for instance making Iceland the same size as Borneo, when in reality it is about one-fifth in area (see below). Using Mercator’s projection navigators were able to transfer their courses and headings onto a flat piece of paper. As they measured distance in degrees of latitude it did not really matter to them that polewards land masses seemed to grow in east-west width - though the fact that this made wealthy northern countries look larger than they really are is not lost on students of economic geography today..


Mercator’s 1569 World Map: it introduced his projection, but the content was also partly based on the ‘portolan’ charts which featured navigational observations by sailors at sea


Mercator’s map was the result of more than just ingenious insight into the existing types of projection where the artistry of the map maker seemed as important as his accuracy in days when distances were comparitively vast. He’d proved himself as a skilled instrument maker and most importantly as an engraver, using relatively new copper engraving techniques that allowed much more detail to be put into a chart. He was born (as Gerard de Kremer) in Rupelmonde, Flanders (Belgium) in 1512, and at the age of 15 enrolled at Hertogenbosch’s monastic school where the monks taught him penmanship.. He later moved to Duisburg, now in Germany, following a period of imprisonment for religious heresy. As a young man he studied with one of Holland’s most eminent mathematicians Gemma Frisius, who persuaded a local goldsmith to let him to use his workshops and tools to make globes. By the age of 24 he was entrusted to engrave Frisius’ 15in (38cm) globe. He produced his first plane map, of Palestine, a year

later. His first world map was drawn when he was just 26. Mercator developed a method (relatively speaking) for mass-produced globes using papier-mâché cores. Up until this point globes were individually made by hand, engraved or drawn onto massive wooden or metal spheres. He designed 12 printed gored panels that could be affixed to the surface of these lighter-weight spheres, to be hand-tinted by artists, with metal caps at either end. Today 22 of these globes survive. In 1564 he was appointed Court Cosmographer to the local duke, for whom he created maps and navigational charts. Although his charts did not sell in large numbers Mercator’s methods later proved the best way to represent our globe’s roundness onto a flat surface. His projection methods were improved and now he is synonymous with the way almost every atlas in the world looks. Appropriately it was Mercator who coined the name “Atlas” for a collection of maps, after the Greek myth, shown in the frontis plate of this first atlas. ★





Greenwich has been the universally-adopted Prime Meridian – the zero-degree line of longitude from which all others are calculated - since the1884 International Meridian Conference in Washingon; before that pretty well all seafaring nations had their own Prime Meridian, often passing through the capital city, but most charts, even those published by other nations used Greenwich as their prime, largely because most seafarers used the British Nautical Almanac, first published in 1767, to calculate their positions. Other work centred on the Royal Observatory enhanced Greenwich’s status, notably the Board of Longitude (1714) set up to find a reliable method of discovering longitude at sea, and eventually, in 1765, recognising John Harrison’s chronometer. The timeball on top of the Royal Observatory, designed to be visible to ships on the Thames, was set up in 1833. ★



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Around the yards The new Gweek? We’re in Cornwall, the East Coast, Australia and Holland to see what is happening in the boatyards Freemans Wharf

Down to Cornwall with Amelie Rose (see p74) where we heard that Freemans Wharf, in Penryn is now the new Gweek Quay. The yard has around 45 mud berths and room for another 40 or so boats on its hard-standing, between the stone quay and the B2392. The yard’s manager George Moore gave us a quick tour which included a quick mouthful of dust from the shot-blasting tent housing the 47ft (14.3m) LOA Coryphee, an iron yawl of the Victorian era, built in 1896 by Forrestt and Sons in Wivenhoe. The 1788-founded shipwrights had expanded from Limehouse on the Thames and built a dry dock in Wivenhoe in 1889. She is being restored by Richard Marshall and he was hoping to finish by this autumn! Freemans is owned by Pendennis but George says it lives up to its name with a calm attitude to boatbuilders coming on site to work on berth holders’ boats – which was why Gweek Quay was so popular. While CS was there Ashley Butler (formerly of Gweek Quay) arrived to work on Paul Goss’s Fife II cutter Ayrshire Lass. This heritage design was restored nearly a decade ago and apparently they used Sika in her topsides seams which is now bulging out slightly – so Ash was getting ready to redo the job with traditional putty. Isn’t she a beauty (right) when she’s sailing?

Svea – the lost J Class, build continues

Meanwhile in Holland a new J-Class emerges from the shed of Claasen Shipyard. This is the long-awaited “lost” 136ft (41.5m) LOA Tore Holm design Svea which he drew in 1937. The yacht timber specialist John Lammerts van Bueren found her plans while he was researching an 8-Metre project in 1999 (Tore Holm died in 1977). Svea’s probably the most radical of all the J designs with a little blister of a deckhouse and very swept features. She will join a fleet of eight (J8 is undergoing sea trials as we go to press). Her build (as Tiger Jay) was stopped when her last owner pulled out but the word is that a new owner is just about to take over the work and will launch her. The project is managed by Andre Hoek Design Naval Architects. More at


Above: Ayrshire Lass is looking good despite her years. She was built in 1887. Left: sailing in 2008 shortly after a major restoration removing her cabin to be original. Right: Freemans Wharf and George Moore, manager

Freemans lives up to its name with a calm attitude to boatbuilders coming on site.... Svea - probably the most radical J design with very swept features


Suffolk Yacht Harbour

Lynher partly replanked at Mashfords this summer. A lot of the work on her port side has been done but there is still a long way to go. As one of Britain’s historic ships she might be a good candidate for lottery funding or for someone who is sympathetic to her workboat past. Below: Barbara Bridgman, who runs Mashfords with husband Dom

Lynher at Mashfords

Mashfords, at Cremyll in Plymouth is the current home of the Tamar cutter barge Lynher – built in 1896 at the local James Goss yard. The 51ft 2in (15.6m) LOA bulk barge was based for many years at Calstock in Cornwall – she was only fitted with an engine in 1924 when she was carrying stone from Treluggen to Plymouth for the dockyard buildings and quays. Later she had sunk in the mud of the River Lynher and was mentioned in the book Lost Ships of the West Country. She was rescued and returned to sail by Charlie Force in 1889 and used for several years as a charter vessel, earning her keep by taking young people and school groups sailing rather than with a holdful of limestone to make quicklime for the acid Cornish farm soil. After a decade or so Charlie passed the Lynher on and she came into the hands of a Devon-based nurse who, after valiant work replacing planks and keeping the boat in the shed, has had to admit defeat. She is now awaiting someone to take her on and restore her to her former glory.

Suffolk Yacht Harbour at Levington has spent the summer months replacing its boatyard sheds with two new high-tech workshops fitted out for applying modern paint processes, and increasing the space available by about 50%. The new paintspray shop is 130ft long, and can provide a controlled environment, with blown heating raising temperatures up to 40ºC, with negative air pressure to extract fumes as they are created. Under its self-confessed “classic boat obsessive” managing director Jonathan Dyke, about half of SYH’s yard work is carried out on classic boats – a recent example being Stiletto, a Whisstocks-built 33ft (10m) Kim Holman design with double carvel planking . An enlarged joinery shop is another feature of the yard rebuild. One of the first classics booked in to benefit from the new facilities over the winter is the Fife 8-Metre Charm of Rhu.

Couta in a container Tim Phillips at Sorrento in Victoria knows all about Australian Couta Boats. He has rescued and restored just about all the surviving original examples and then built new ones to the traditional designs and building practices. His latest 28’ft6in x 10ft6inx 3ft (8.7x3.2x0.9m) design fits at an angle into a standard 40 foot container. Huon Pine ribs and laminated ring beams remind you of a Mosquito bomber. She comes fully rigged, your choice of sail maker, and a 15 hp Yanmar. The 50% internal ballast is packed alongside. All timbers are native Australian or plantation grown in Africa. Price ex Melbourne is A$ 133,500 plus about $4,000 for shipping. Check this against your currency and reach Tim at


Around the yards Send us your boatyard news:

Cambria at SYS

The 1928 Fife beauty, built under the 23-M rule came to Hampshire last August for a restorative refit at Southampton Yacht Services on the River Itchen. Cambria is one of the most original Big Class yachts sailing on the circuit, and captain Chris Barkham is proud of taking interested guests through her cabins pointing out the composite construction and superlative workmanship that defined the Scottish craftsmen working for Fife nearly a century ago. Cambria was being used as a student “house” on the river in Brisbane, Australia, when she was discovered and restored with a glassfibre skin to protect her pitchpine, teak and mahogany hull. She was restored to racing condition and came to the UK for the America’s Cup Jubilee in 2001. Since then she has raced and wowed the crowd mostly in the Med. For this refit Barkham, as project manager, working with a team of up to 27 craftsmen, including the full-time crew, removed the glass skin completely, removed her entire interior and has done extensive work on the hull. And, he reveals, he bought the teak for the job much earlier. “We started looking at teak after the last refit when we surveyed her hull and began to plan this refit. We started purchasing the timber at the end of 2012, to give the teak two-plus years of air drying. We bought 23

boards ranging from 23ft to 30ft (7-9m) length and 80mm thick. We have one left! We also had four stunning mahogany boards 30ft by 4ft (9m x 1.2m x 65mm), from the same tree. “We didn’t replace (the steel) frames, just sections of the lands, where the planks are fastened to the frames. We repaired any section we found to be more than 20% degraded. “The glass did an amazing job on protecting her over 20 years. We could have found trouble, especially in her backbone, but the sheathing kept her in excellent condition. “The problems treated this refit were caused by high moisture planks in contact with the steel structure, resulting in decay of both materials; where the wood was dry there were no issues. So 85% of the steel work and 100% of her backbone are original as are the first five planks either side – all in teak. “Planks are harder to guess but from the galley aft she is 70% original furniture and fittings. Of her era, size and class she is one of the most original certainly next to Altair.” To prevent future degradation the team painstakingly replaced 6,400 fastenings, using tufnol isolation washers between the stainless-steel bolts and steel frame. “Tufnol is stronger in compression than other choices such as nylon,” says Chris. When will she relaunch? “We’re hoping for an October splash,” he grins.

Right: Captain Chris Barkham is still smiling after nearly a year into the restoration project. The cockpit (straight) laid planking, incidentally will be replaced to match the swept teak deck

Left: that counter! Right above and below:46 planks were replaced and 75 planks were repaired representing about 40% of the hull


“The glass did an amazing job on protecting her over 20 years. We could have found trouble but the sheathing kept her in excellent condition”

An old friend Iron Wharf Boatyard: Salote The Iron Wharf Boatyard in Faversham in Kent is a wonderful example of how a boatyard should be. There’s a very relaxed atmosphere which suits those of us whose budgets don’t always stretch to a yard-run restoration; though there are plenty of good shipwrights and craftsmen on site. To be honest launchings of long-term projects are quite rare but we were delighted to see Salote (which once belonged to the editor) being relaunched by Andy Reeve in July. This 30ft (9.1m) mahogany on oak yacht is the largest and last of John Ley’s Scarborough sloops. Built in the Yorkshire harbour town, most of these pretty stepped-deck designs were double enders – and most are also still around, which is testament to his design and build approach. Salote has been restored with a new laid deck (teak over ply), new rubbing strakes, three new planks, 17 frames, four new deck beams, seven quarter beams, a beam shelf repair, 4 lodging knees, new keel bolts, new cockpit and saloon cabin sole, substantial re-fastening of planks under the waterline and a new 20hp Beta diesel engine, plus stainless-steel water and fuel tanks. Much of the work was done by Abingdon & Skabardis Marine Carpentry Ltd. She’s now waiting for sails and we hope to report on her fully soon.

Above: the stem is back in after being removed to access rotten steel in the keel plate. Clockwise from left: steelwork frames are all refastened using tufnol washers to isolate the bolts from the frames. Her cross beams can be seen; Chris’s wife Anna in painting mode; the forepeak is now a white out!


Refurbishing a teak laid deck Part 1: Removing & replacing a plank By Richard Johnstone-Bryden Teak laid decks can really enhance the appearance of any modern or traditional boat. However, by virtue of their role, laid decks are subjected to more than their fair share of wear and tear which inevitably causes problems that will have to be dealt with either as emergency repairs or as part of a boat owner’s long term maintenance plan to preserve its watertight integrity.

Fig 1

From time to time it may be necessary to replace one or more teak planks within a laid deck. Potential causes include the removal of a redundant deck fitting, the discovery of rot caused by a badly installed piece of equipment, or some form of major impact. A router is normally used to remove the affected plank(s) although a chisel can also be used despite being more brutal. The process begins by extracting the fitting and inspecting the sub deck. This will determine the overall scale of the job. If the sub deck, which usually consists of marine plywood on wooden boats, is damaged you may have to either fit a small patch or replace an entire sheet or sheets of plywood. Alternatively, if you are working on a modern production boat you may have to carry out some form of fibre-glassing repair to the GRP sub deck. Once you have established what if any repairs have to be carried out on the sub deck you can consider how much of the laid deck needs to be removed. This will be influenced in part by the position of the nearest joints. From a practical and aesthetic point of view it is always better to remove an entire plank and cut a new one to fit the existing joints.



Figs 2

Before the plank(s) can be removed, you will need to take out the surrounding sealant and any fastenings that are holding it in place. A craft knife is run very carefully along each side of the old sealant before a small-bladed chisel is gently inserted underneath to enable its extraction by simply pulling it out of the seam. This should be done with extreme caution to ensure that you only remove the old sealant rather than any of the surrounding wood. Afterwards, if there are any remnants of the sealant along the sides of the seam, use a bit of sandpaper to remove them. Then, clean out the seam with acetone to remove the wood’s natural oils from its surface; this will improve the potential strength of the new sealant’s bond to the rebate.

Figs 3

You will need to remove any fastenings that have been used to hold the teak planks in place. Begin by using a mallet and chisel to carefully prise off the wooden plug covering the fastening.

Fig 4

In this example, the fastening was in a good enough condition to be unscrewed.



From a practical and aesthetic point of view it is always better to remove an entire plank and cut a new one to fit the existing joints







Refurbishing a teak laid deck: part 1

Figs 5

A router provides the most effective means of removing the damaged plank. A fair batten will be required to act as a guide for the router during the removal of the teak plank. It should be secured to the laid deck along one of the seams using either nails or screws. By fastening it to one of the seams it will not leave any lasting marks. Equally, to avoid any damage to the interior, it is worth picking a point above one of the deck beams just in case the nail or screw goes right through the sub deck. The exact dimensions will be determined by the size of the router’s base and the extent of the planking to be removed.





Fig 6

Once the batten is securely in place it is time to set the depth of the router. This will be determined in part by the thickness of the planks. For planks with a thickness in excess of 8mm it is better to route out the plank in more than one pass. For example, if the planks are 12mm thick it is worth removing the planking in two passes at a depth of 6mm each time. This will reduce the chances of the router jarring and removing more wood than required. If you want to avoid adjusting the position of the batten for each plank that has to be removed simply attach an additional wooden block of an appropriate width to the base of the router to compensate for the next plank’s position.

Figs 7

Once the batten is in place and the depth of the router has been set, simply start from one end of the section to be removed and work your way steadily along the length of the plank with the router.





A fair batten will be required to act as a guide for the router during the removal of the teak plank. By fastening it to one of the seams it will not leave any marks



Figs 8

Having removed the damaged plank it is time to establish the required dimensions for the replacement and either buy “off the shelf ” from your local timber merchant or machine a suitably sized piece of teak. Once the length of teak has been cut to size it is time to mark out the required rebate on one side of the plank for the caulking. Therefore, the replacement plank has been laid in position to ensure the rebate matches the ones on the adjoining planks.

Figs 9 9


The most effective method of cutting the bulk of the rebate is to use a router. As can be seen the rebate has been cut slightly to the waste side of the indicated lines. A small bull nose plane is then used to trim the remaining excess.

Fig 10


On completion of the rebate the plank is now ready to be secured in position. In this example, bedding compound has been applied to the plywood sub deck prior to the plank being laid in position. To improve the strength of the bond, the teak was wiped with acetone to remove the wood’s natural oils from the plank’s lower surface. While the bedding compound cures, the plank is held in place by a series of small wooden blocks that are screwed down along the seam. The under side of the wooden block should be covered with parcel tape to prevent it sticking to the teak planks. Part 2: caulking – next month With thanks to

The International Boatbuilding Training College’s Senior Instructor Peter Graham, Tel 01502 569663 Email:


Tools: The Drehknüppel By Des Pawson, ropemeister How not to cut your hands: tools and techniques for pulling fine line tight, from the man who has made a lifetime’s study of rope and ropeworking methods



The Marlinespike Hitch

Twist spike over and behind

Save your hands

The rigging of ships and the making of sails entails much pulling and stretching of ropes and small stuff – the working tight of whippings, seizings, stitches, servings, lashings and all sorts of bindings in both fibre and wire. When it comes to pulling tight the fine line, your hand soon develops blisters and cuts, if you put any kind of force into the job. Off course you could cut lengths of bicycle inner tube and slide these over your fingers or go to the trouble of making tubes of leather – which would work if you were making half-hitches round a ship’s wheel. But for whippings and seizings often a bit more of a pull is wanted. The simplest thing that can be done is to wrap a few turns of the line round a stick or spike and heave, The German Navy uses a DREHKNÜPPEL, a stick with a hole to anchor the end of the line prior to wrapping the line round itself, and in itself provides something to pull hard without harm to hands. In Marrihanm in the Aland Islands I saw on the Pommern a variation on this idea used by their rigger known as ‘Little Brother’ (Fig 2). He had a wooden rod with a slot on the end that he used in a similar way for tighten whippings and seizings. The handle was already served tightly with marline to give it more grip, the slot was easier to catch the fine line that was to be tightened. He also used a piece of steel tube (Fig 3) with a slot in one end and a couple of holes at right angles at the other end through which a spike would go to give a grip when twisting . He used this to pull seizing wire tight. He called both these tools in Swedish “dreaar”which translates as “heaver”. I find that the steel tube with a slot works well for this sort of job and to pull short ends from a splice or such like (Fig 4). The American Austin Knight in his Modern Seamanship (5th ed 1910) shows an iron pipe heaver which has holes at one end and a bar handle at the other, rather than a spike used when splicing wire rope. This would have worked in much the same manner. Rather than just wrapping line round a marlinespike and heaving, sailors have developed a splendid knot – the marlinespike hitch (Fig 5). This is best made with the tip of the marlinespike, but any other long strong thin thing such as a screwdriver will do. A quick flick of the wrist and a knot that will not slip in one direction is made. Having heaved as tight as possible, either with the spike in your hand taking all the strain, or levering the spike against the edge of the rope or spar to get extra purchase, it is just a matter of pulling out the spike and the knot disappears. ★ More ropework techniques in the next issue.



Flip loop over

3 Push spike through


Pull spike down

Classified Ads - Find or sell your boat... 1931 16 ton Scottish Fifie 'SWEET PROMISE' Built as a Scottish Fifie motor fishing vessel in 1931 by Weatherheads of Cockenzie. Length 42.62 feet


Her present owner has had her for over 20 years. Sweet Promise had a three and a half year rebuild and restoration which cost 165k from 2006 to 2010 including lots of new planking and frames, complete new laid deck, new rig, all new systems. 4 berths including large double, full standing headroom throughout. BMC diesel recently rebuilt with new shaft and prop. All sails and spars new in recent years. A superb boat with a rich history, in stunning condition.


International 30 Square Metre K21 ‘Aeolus’ Reimers design, built in Sweden 1989,41’ GRP hull, teak deck, lead keel, Proctor spars. Fast and beautiful boat, surprisingly sea kindly, winner of many local Regattas and Classic Events. Sleeps 3/4. Afloat in Penzance. £35000 ono, contact Richard Sadler - 01736731500

Selling your boat with Classic Sailor?

Who’s a clever boy then?

SPECIAL LAUNCH OFFER on the November and December issues Three styles to choose from: 5x2 either 160 words or 80 words and picture £180 5x1 either 80 words or 30 words and picture £95 3x1 30 words £40 We are also offering free entry onto our website Let us sell your boats. Email ads to Include your highest quality jpg or tiff picture ( 300 dots per inch) and a description and contact details. We know this feature will be popular and we are accepting submissions from all over the world, so it is on a first come first served basis. We will check your contacts but cannot be responsible for errors. Please send in ads by the 20th of each month for inclusion in the next issue. We take major credit cards and you can call us on 07495 404461 and speak to Catherine for further details.

Over the Yardarm Guy Venables calls the shots on the standard Martini mix.


There is a story, well a blatant lie dressed up as a joke, that states that during the Second World War the American life rafts on board their naval craft were supplied with all the standard emergency survival gear and a cocktail shaker, some gin, Martini and ice. The reason behind this was that as soon as you needed saving all you had to do was to start shaking a Martini and someone would soon come along and tell you that you were doing it wrong. It’s probably the most famous cocktail and could be one of the simplest but for the fact that, like cooking, the simple things are often the hardest to make. Stir or shake? It doesn’t really matter. I prefer shaken as they suit a lively and fast delivery but the main thing is they have to be as cold as possible. Use lots of ice. Adding more ice hinders the ice melting as it cools the liquid down faster. Keep the gin in the fridge (vodka martinis are a lesser drink) and ideally the glasses in the freezer. (If you don’t have a freezer get your ex-wife to stare at them by casually asking her if they were her mother’s.)

Calendar Forgotten Fighters: WWI at Sea, Until November 2018, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. Open 10.00–17.00 daily The exhibition uncovers the individual stories of reservists, WRENs, pilots and submariners involved, illustrating the vital importance and impact of the Royal and Merchant Navy throughout the First World War on our nation. Their war raged on the sea, beneath the waves, in the air and also on land.

Send us your events! of the recent Ravilious exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery.Eric Ravilious was just 39 when he died on service as a war artist in the arctic in 1942. He is best known for watercolours of washed out hues featuring the South Downs but he also painted several maritime scenes.

Nelson – The Sailor’s Story

Voiles de St Tropez

Saturday 24 October Cutty Sark Studio Theatre, 7.45pm (60 minutes) £17.50 “Amidst Trafalgar’s shot, smoke and din, the crew of the Victory strive to destroy the Combined Fleet of France and Spain. In this original play we find a homeless Falklands veteran shivering in the cold below the column in Trafalgar Square, while above Nelson muses on the world today. One-man play written and performed by Nicholas Collett.

26 September-4 October, South of France One of best regattas on the planet


Talk Like a Pirate Day Saturday September 19: global. (When someone asks you: “Be ye ready?” Correct them with: “Are”... You’ll be flying the flag for grammar, but also talking like a pirate.

Eric Ravilious - a Life in Pictures Friday October 16 Cutty Sark Studio Theatre, Greenwich. 7.45pm, 70 minutes, £17.50 Illustrated lecture by James Russell, curator

It doesn’t take the brains of an archbisop to realise that we are new at this and so can we ask readers to let us know of events and upcoming happenings which are of interest. Details to - thanks.

In Classic Sailor November Keep the gin in the fridge and ideally the glasses in the freezer.

Go with the Flo

Tobias Smollett

Going with the Flo for 120 years as it happens... As we celebrate the 12 decades of Florence - Falmouth workboat still being raced in the west-country port.

One of our greatest sea authors - arguably the first writer of the sea novel and still read today. His influences were many but Smollett’s naval career as a ship’s surgeon at the ill-fated seige of Cathagena gave him sharp insight on military bungling which is matched by an artist’s eye for the moods and ways of the sea.

To Bembridge, with Cobb Two Harrison Butlers navigate the twisting channel into Bembridge Harbour on the Isle of Wight for a seasonal gathering involving a couple of their skippers’ favourite cooking items - the Cobb barbecue.

And of course more... But let us know what kind of articles you like!

The thing that most people skim over is that Martinis get you VERY pissed. There is nothing but alcohol in them and served just right they taste of slightly vanilla cold water. You have to drink them quickly to stop them getting warm. The cocktail parties of the past were deliberately only two hours long. By the time you’ve spent two hours drinking Martinis most people were too drunk to hear. (“The Three Martini Lunch”, a song by Graham Parker sums up the perils of more that two at midday as a haunting warning.) It’s no coincidence that Bond first invented the Vesper Martini to drink away grief and I will only serve two to guests then pretend I’ve run out of ice, or Martini, or the house. Be wary of trendy young bar staff when out drinking Martinis. One of the most perilous phrases you will see on a novice cocktail menu is the phrase “Our modern take on the timeless classic.” Firstly because they’ve the sheer gall to think that they can improve on nearly 100 years of cocktail mixing by adding asparagus and a tea bag to a glass of warm gin and secondly it puts them in the position of not having to make it right, or even any good because they’ve made it up in the first place and once you’ve spat it out in disgust and complained bitterly they can claim “Actually it’s MEANT to taste like a week-old housefire.” This is why I rarely trust a barman under 50. ★ CLASSIC SAILOR


The last word: Sam Llewellen


Escape from North Africa

he customs men at the harbour office in Hammamet shrugged greasily. The yacht had overstayed its visa, they lied. It was necessary to impound it. We bunged them a couple of fifty-euro notes, and they changed their minds. We left before they could change them back again. Outside the wall it was blowing Force 7 from the ENE, which was also our course. We reefed down and plugged towards Sicily, hard on the wind. The seas were a couple of metres high, packing-case shaped. By the time the watch changed at midnight we were 80 miles off the land, Lampedusa was on the port quarter, and the wind was up to Force 8. The wheel kicked as the bow went up on a wave, blew to leeward, came back on to the wind, blew to leeward, and did it again. It was a strenuous rhythm, and very dull. Visibility was nil. The mind began to float. This is the narrowest part of the Mediterranean, so the crossing is short, but the currents and the breezes are accelerated by the venturi formed by Sicily and Africa. Other families had left North Africa that night, in derelict fishing boats and sagging ribs. They had had to bribe their way out too - not with fifty euros to bent border guards, but with their life savings, shovelled over to psychopaths who did not care if they and their children lived or died. In the scorching wastes south of the African coast ancient trucks lie rotting, full of the skeletons of good people seeking a better life. Gadaffi became Blair’s poster boy because he had agreed to pen up would-be migrants in camps, out of sight, out of mind. Now Libya has no government to speak of, and the plain truth

is pouring across the Sicilian Strait. The navies were out looking. MOAS, www. – a charity based in Malta a hundred thrashing miles off on the starboard bow, has a floating migrant aid station somewhere out here. But it is as black as the inside of a cow, and lethally rough, and when things go wrong, help is likely to be too late. These waters are no strangers to evil. The nominally Muslim Barbary corsairs enslaved thousands of Christians. The galleys of the French tortured and murdered thousands of Protestants. Cigarette boats still scream at midnight across the Straits of Gibraltar, loaded with radars and smack. But this is something special. I tack the boat. The darkness is total, but as I sweat a bartaut staysail sheet I am squinting into the nothing, looking for the first glimmer of spray on the bows of a loaded raft. I am thinking of hands belonging to hundreds of choking refugees grabbing for the boat’s rail, hearing in my mind shrieking women, watching children sinking away into darkness. This boat I’m sailing is 35ft (11m) long. If we somehow got them aboard they would swamp us for sure. We are all in this together in more ways than one... A figure appears in the hatch. It is Linda, my relief. “Anything?” she asks. I open my mouth to say yes, quite a lot, really. Then I shut it again, and give her the course, and stagger below and crash on a downhill bunk. Next thing I know there is daylight, and on the horizon the low grey line of Sicily, and the wind is dropping fast. As far as we are concerned it is over. For the families over the baby-blue horizon it is just beginning. ★

It is as black as the inside of a cow and lethally rough. When things go wrong, help is likely to be too late


“The plain truth is pouring across the Sicilian Strait”


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