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Older GRP designs are the equivalent to wooden boats 30 years ago For this month’s big picture
Shipwrecked sailor, Yogaff, new OYT boat, Falmouth marina plan, John Lennon, and a strange raid in the Netherlands. Plus new series: Classic Coast is your chance to share your favourite places
COVER STORY Ten great GRP boats
People of the sea
John Rhys Davies
Folkboats, Twisters, Vertues and more. Long-keeled GRP boats make a sensible choice if you want a simple sailing life Meet Bill Hocking, at 87, Britain’s oldest working fisherman “Boats keep me sane” admits the Lord of the Rings actor as he films aboard a Dunkirk Little Ship
AC survival guide
Spies at sea
Rowing: the St Ayles Skiff
Designers: J Francis Jones
Around the yards
On Watch: Kit for Christmas
Guy Venables in Bermuda on the America’s Cup jamboree Stella success, S&S in Denmark and the Classic Motor Boat Club Mike Smylie on the Coble (or do we say cobble?) J-Class tender restoration, small steam launch, Cambria comes out, Sailmaker Lawrence, a barn in Suffolk and back to Harker’s Yard
From ‘Riddle’ to Ransome, real-life tales of espionage afloat The success of the build-it-yourself community row-boat Best-known for the Kestrel class, he had many individual boats to his name, and a secret career as a yachting columnist Gifts for your loved-ones (including the boat) plus calendars
Over the Yardarm, Calendar and Next Month
Sailing skills: Reversing
Surveying: what to look for
Guest column: Lucy Woodall
Practical: Restoring a Mirror dinghy
Folkboat to France
Practical: Palms ancient and modern
The last word: Lucy L Ford
SUBSCRIBE! For yourself, or for a gift
Your letters and feedback - keep them coming! Certificates.... or hands-on experience? Federico Nardi’s pick of GRP classics: Knud Reimers’ Bacchant IV Sailing through seas of pollution
Leo Coolden bought a rotting old Folkboat, restored her and then set sail to discover the harbours along the Brittany coast Claudia Myatt worked her passage to the festival on a pilot cutter, drew sketches, drank cider, made music and hitched a ride home
Whooper – what makes her a winner?
The venerable Laurent Giles sloop has been winning races all summer. Owner Giovanni Belgrano tells us how it’s done
Drinks, Coming events and a preview of December’s Classic Sailor Boats aren’t meant to go backwards but sometimes they have to The tell-tale signs to check before you call the surveyor A simple but satisfying project to start with: you can’t go too far wrong! Des Pawson on the sailmaking hand-strap for pushing needles When it comes to oilskins, ‘voluminous yellow’ is not a good look Check p39, and look on the website for our current offers
For news, offers, updates... somewhere to go between issues CLASSIC SAILOR
Photo: Onne van der Wal
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Editorial Dan Houston
Was the romance of a wooden boat partly because she was a bargain to buy?
an you remember getting into boating? Chances are a wooden boat made sense because you could pick one up in quite good condition for a few thousand pounds, and that is still true. I remember buying Salote, a 30ft (9m) 1953 Scarborough Sloop at a fabulous bargain price – shared between three of us. The dream was to sail away, anchor in out of the way places, escape London at the weekends and, having worked on a schooner recently, not having to swallow the anchor completely, or at too young an age. The reality, of course, was different. If I didn’t understand the discipline of tides fully before I began sailing her then the river Thames would teach me, properly, with just the right amount of drama to make sure that I was keen to enrol on that night school course and learn about tidal diamonds and how to interpolate the rates of the stream. Did I say we went, unceremoniously, aground on our very first voyage? We even abandoned the boat, with a heap of anchor chain left out, on a late autumn night and faced a muddy trek to civilisation across the drying heights of the Swale. Next morning the boat was fine of course. Looking back it feels like I was a bit green, although I’d been confident enough around the rig of a Tall Ship and also in taking charge of smaller vessels. To be honest I knew about tides too, I just thought that I could wing it. No one got hurt so it was a good way to learn; you can’t wing it. Somewhere between the romance of owning, or part-owning our own boat, and the reality of sailing (or sometimes not sailing) and keeping up with the upkeep of an old wooden boat, I learned new ways of looking at the world. Sailing off on your own certainly teaches you to respect nature, and while it’s hardly all sunsets and secluded bays it’s a great way to acquire a skill and to grow, as a person.
How much this had to do with wooden boats per se is difficult to judge. During those years we cruised with friends as well, almost always in glassfibre modern yachts and the experiences are just as valid. Last year I was lucky enough to be in Italy, visiting a guru of the wooden boating world – Federico Nardi, of the Cantiere Navale Dell’Argentario, a well respected yard for restoring some of the finest classic wooden boats around. But Federico was distracted during my visit. He was online going through one boat after another saying the great bargain in sailing at the moment was the plethora of fabulous seaworthy designs from the early stages of GRP (glass reinforced plastic). “These are great boats, and now coming down in price to €10,000 or €12,000 (£8,600) and you can sail around the world in these boats. They are seaworthy, they built them like wood back then – with thick hulls to be super strong. And with a long keel they can be balanced and sailed with one or two, in comfort... or more!” His enthusiasm was infectious. And you can see – from his latest find on page 23, that he is making a great point. So I think it’s time to embrace all those classes of boat which have been regarded as outsiders by many wooden classic boaters before now. After all when I acquired Salote she was 36 years old. Many early glassfibre designs are way older than that. Perhaps it’s because their condition has not declined as markedly as a wooden boat that we feel they are still that modern plastic fantastic thing, to be slightly shunned on the notion of some inverse snobbery over a wooden boat. The main thing in messing around in boats, old or new, is to actually get some messing done. And hopefully our feature on page 46 will enthuse a few to get going and get afloat with some of the bargains that are out there. Let us know how you get on.
He was online going through one boat after another saying the great bargain in sailing at the moment was the plethora of fabulous seaworthy designs from the early stages of GRP CLASSIC SAILOR
Eye Opener: A Fresh Breeze off a Starboard Tack â€œA Fresh Breeze off a Starboard Tackâ€? is by David Bareford, one of the featured artists in the 36th Annual International Marine Art Exhibition at The Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport. The exhibition celebrates the timeless beauty of
66 CLASSIC CLASSICSAILOR SAILOR
the sea and ships with contemporary art created by awardwinning artists from around the globe. The exhibition includes works by more than 50 invited contemporary masters and continues until the end of December.
CLASSIC CLASSICSAILOR SAILOR
Signals In other pages: John Lennon as sailor; Service heroes build a Cornish gig; Navy seeks crew; An odd raid in the Netherlands NORTH SEA
possessions apart from his passport and credit card. The boat was uninsured – “If you’re sailing solo the insurers won’t touch you with a bargepole”. Harrier of Down, a Folkboatderived Folksong 25 designed by Eric Berqvist, was in fact Julian Mustoe’s second boat to be lost. The original Harrier, also a Folksong but with a modified turtle-back deckhouse and a
junk rig, was wrecked off Brazil in 2004, partway through a circumnavigation in the wake of Charles Darwin’s voyage of scientific exploration on the Beagle. The new Folksong was bought in Argentina a few months later and the voyage continued, eventually taking 11 years and providing material for a book, The Voyage of the Harrier, published in August. When his boat lost her steering, Mustoe, a retired architect, was on his way to Bergen as part of a proposed tour of the Baltic ports associated with the medieval Hanseatic League. Since returning to the UK, Julian Mustoe has been staying with friends near Diss, Norfolk, trying to come to terms with his loss, get his affairs back in order and recover from the ordeal. A crowdfunding appeal has been launched on justgiving, to help “a remarkable and courageous man” who has lost all his possessions, to buy a new boat. As we went to press, it had already topped £6,500. Details at harriershipwreckappeal.weebly. com. The Voyage of the Harrier is available via Amazon.
the Festival will now be held as a bi-annual event” with the next one in 2017. The Solent Gaffers’ committee has now issued a date for 2016: 2-5 June – and promised “races, including the Yarmouth scows,
competitions, fun on the water, shared meals and some shoreside entertainment. We want to fill the harbour with fun. This will be a private event, open to all OGA members and to nonmembers with gaff-rigged craft.”
Sailor shipwrecked during rescue tow When the steering failed on Julian Mustoe’s 25ft yacht Harrier of Down in the North Sea, he sent a radio message to the Shetland Lifeboat, and in doing so initiated both media headlines (in which he was derogatively described as “an 82-year-old pensioner”) and a chain of events which led to the total loss of his boat, which was also his home. Mustoe, an experienced sailor and circumnavigator, was on his way to Bergen, Norway, on 7 October when a stainlesssteel block in the steering gear fractured, leaving him without means of control. He rejected the initial offer of an airlift as he didn’t want to abandon his boat, and saw no need to. He was then picked up by the Norwegian patrol boat KV Bergen which took his boat in tow. He went aboard the Bergen and was given a bunk, where he slept for seven hours, awaking
to discover that the Harrier was sinking. “I could see my lovely little boat struggling for her life,” he told an interviewer. “Slowly she sank lower in the water. One last time her bow came up out of the water as if she was gasping for breath. Then her hull slipped beneath the surface.” The cause of this is still unexplained, but Harrier went down with all of Mustoe’s
Left: Julian Mustoe aboard Harrier of Down. Right: The last moments of his ‘lovely little boat’
Thayer to be remasted
Yogaff to remain yearly
The ﬁnal stage of the 1895 schooner CA Thayer’s rehabilitation began in October when she was moved from San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park to the Bay Ship and Yacht shipyard in Alameda for ﬁtting three new masts. Next year she will return to the Park where riggers will bend on a new set of sheets and make her sail-ready to mark the National Park Service’s 2016 centennial year. CA Thayer, a National Historic Landmark, was built on Humboldt Bay, California, to carry lumber down the Paciﬁc coast from a mill in Grays Harbor, Washington. On the verge of sinking, she was extensively restored in 2006.
8 CLASSIC SAILOR
Confusion about the future of the Yarmouth Old Gaffers Festival has been allayed by the Solent branch of the OGA, which has confirmed that the rally will remain an annual event, at least on the water. The shoreside part of the festival, however, which is run by a separate committee in the town, is now planned to take place every other year, with the next one in 2017. Fears were aroused when the “Yarmouth Old Gaffers Festival Committee” posted an online message saying that it was “excited to announce that
OCEAN YOUTH TRUST SOUTH
NT NEPTUNE AT 50
New ship seeks volunteers
Where’s your classic coast favourite?
Ocean Youth Trust South has a new sail-training ketch, Prolific, and is seeking volunteers to help with her refit, and also to sail aboard her. Prolific, 85ft (26m) on deck, with 26 berths, was built in Norway in 2005 to a hybrid design, partly based on its herring fishing vessels of the 19th century. She is a bermudan ketch, with a bowsprit, and was previously a young person’s training vessel in Norway. She takes the place of the trust’s long-standing ketch John Laing which was acquired in 1990, and will now be sold. Her extra berths give the OYT more room aboard and the trust plans to use these for additional group leaders and extra sea staff. “We can really invest in training new sea staff: there will be space for people
like our refit volunteers or any particularly impressive young people to be invited to sail as trainee volunteers, perhaps for extended periods – an amazing opportunity for individuals to develop their skills,” says the Gosport-based trust. Prolific is described by the trust as “a stunning vessel with real beauty and genuine character.” Originally built as a tribute to Norway’s 19th-century herring-fishing vessels, she combines historic design and modern construction. She is currently lying in Southampton, where, subject to confirmation, she will be refitted over the winter. Volunteers are sought to help with the refit work. “We'll hope to finish the refit perhaps as early as January and then sail as much as possible to get to know
OYT South’s Prolific: “a stunning vessel with genuine character” – and more berths for volunteers
the boat before we have young people on board at Easter,” says Caroline White for OYT South. Email webmaster1@oytsouth. org, call them on 0845 365 6781 or see the website oytsouth.org
Marina threat to Falmouth quay Plans to build a marina in and around Falmouth’s historic Custom House Quay have run into stiff local opposition. Falmouth Harbour Commissioners, through its leisure arm, Falmouth Haven, wants floating pontoon berths for 60 boats, plus an outhaul facility for 20 craft nearby. They have been described as “an exciting development” and
“helping the regeneration of the Custom House Quay area”. But there are plenty who doubt that the area, home of the historic Chain Locker pub, is in need of regeneration, and the plans have been called “a threat to the “legacy of historical maritime Falmouth”. Boatbuilder Luke Powell has posted a petition against the plans on his facebook page.
Louis Vuitton World Series America’s Cup 2015 From Guy Venables in Bermuda: With the smoke rising straight up from the ‘twin towers’ of Hamilton’s diesel electricity power station, day one in Bermuda brought no wind at all and the first day was cancelled. A light breeze drifted across the Great Sound on day two and anyone who found wind leapt ahead but it was Super Sunday that had all the foiling excitement with three double-point races instead of two, Artemis colliding at speed with a roaming umpire boat and despite hasty repairs and stripping off the code zero sail still winning the day. Bermuda results: 1 Artemis Racing, 2 Emirates Team New Zealand, 3. Oracle Team USA, 4. Land Rover BAR UK, 5 SoftBank Team Japan, 6 Groupama Team France
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Trust’s Neptune coastal conservation campaign, we at Classic Sailor are inviting you, our readers, to tell us your own favourite bit of coastline. Where do you particularly love to visit, under sail or on shore? Or perhaps get a thrill whenever you sail past it? Unspoilt cliffs, bays, beaches, headlands, estuaries, river fronts – and not forgetting the ‘built environment’: favourite ports, harbours, lighthouses, shoreside hostelries and landmarks. Just send in a few details – the name, location (co-ordinates if you like) and why you like it so much. It doesn’t have to be National Trust-owned, and you don’t have to send in a photograph though if you do we’d be delighted. Nominations will start going up on our website as they come in, and appear in future issues of the magazine. Since the NT’s Neptune project was launched in 1965, over 600 miles of coastline has been bought and secured, though the NT began acquiring coastal land long before then – the earliest acquisition was Dinas Olau in North Wales, donated in 1895. All told, it now cares for 800 miles of coastline. Email your coastal favourite, with hi-res photo if you wish, to email@example.com Below: Morston Quay, North Norfolk
Gig build by heroes A unique boatbuilding project to help wounded, injured or sick serving and veteran forces personnel to learn boatbuilding skills is under way at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth. The Great Big Cornish Gig Project, funded mostly by the Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant Scheme, with support from Help for Heroes is enabling the service personnel to build a gig which they will eventually row out to the Isles of Scilly to take part in the 2016 Word Pilot Gig Championships. The project was launched in June and is supervised by professional boat builder Andrew Nancarrow, who has built many pilot gigs. “We aim
to have the boat finished by the end of February 2016. There’s a great atmosphere here – they learn a lot but it’s more like a social club.” Mike Selwood, Project Manager at NMMC says: “The real inspiration is Al Henderson, a Royal Marine undertaking a rehabilitation boat building course in Penryn. I knew he’d been through tough times, and whilst being introduced to his mentor, the idea of doing something for the community of wounded veterans came to me. “If, at the end of May 2016, we have opened up new opportunities to wounded military personnel, inspired a new audience to the heritage behind these Cornish boats and
built a gig, we will have achieved everything we aimed for.” Jock Easton of Help for Heroes says: “We’re delighted to be part of this. To offer
The Royal Navy needs 4,000 more sailors, with higher skill levels, or it will be unable to man the fleet when Britain’s new aircraft carriers arrive, warn experts. Defence cuts – losing 6,000 sailors in the 2010 review – are leading to a serious “looming manpower” shortage which would make it impossible to send ships to sea fully manned says Vice Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham. Defence experts say the Navy may have to bring back sailors who have left the service or recruit from abroad. Operation Faraday is an ongoing RN initiative to hire 1,000 specialists in engineering roles, from Commonwealth nations and beyond. A spokesman said: “We are now looking for the first time at trying to bring people in at a sideways level – from Petty Officer rank (middle management) upwards. The Navy is considering bonuses to try to attract the right people. They realise medicine and law are professions, and know about bankers’ salaries, but aren’t aware that engineering is the second highest paid profession, after medicine, following graduation.”
As John Lennon’s 75th birthday was commemorated on 9 October, it emerged his Double Fantasy album, finished shortly before his death in 1980, owed its inspiration partly to a wave of creativity released by a voyage from Rhode Island to Bermuda in the 43ft Hinckley yacht Megan Jaye shortly before he commenced work on the album. Lennon, who by then had taken up dinghy sailing, credited a storm at sea during the 700-mile voyage with galvanising him back to action, as reported in a recent biographical book by Ken Sharp. “The storm churned up 20-foot swells while gale-force winds whipped the boat for two days... John was certain he was facing an untimely death at sea. At the end of the first day, the crew and captain were incapacitated by illness, forcing John to take the helm... After being struck with severe panic, which he likened to stage-fright,
a recovery pathway to our personnel through this unique opportunity and to be part of the gig rowing scene is quite exceptional.”
Service personnel hard at work on the gig at the National Maritime Museum
Navy short of sailors Sailing helped John Lennon start over
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John Lennon at the helm of Megan Jaye: “I lost my fear and began to enjoy it”
he rose to the occasion, and steered the ship through the storm. ‘Once I accepted the reality of the situation’, John told assistant Fred Seaman after arriving in Bermuda, ‘I lost my fear and began to enjoy the experience, singing and shouting old sea shanties in the face of the storm’. “John told Fred that the last time he had felt so centred was in 1961 when the Beatles were playing to packed clubs in
Hamburg and Liverpool. ‘I knew then that nothing could stop me and that the Beatles would make it big sooner or later. It was the only time in my life that I felt truly in charge of my destiny’. Now John felt that he had once again grasped this feeling of personal power.” The tale is recounted in Starting Over: The Making of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Double Fantasy, by Ken Sharp, published by Gallery Books.
If you find yourself at the front of the fleet, you stay there for one minute, then turn back to the committee boat bringing up the rear REEUWIJK, NETHERLANDS
Relaxed raiding, sunflower-style, with Rik Just outside Gouda in the Netherlands is a small boatyard on the shores of the Reeuwijkse Plassen, a series of interconnected lakes and waterways, writes Claudia Myatt. 'Jachtwerf Rik Homan' has pontoon moorings, a large workshop and two holiday chalets built on stilts over the pontoons. As well as the usual storage, launching and repair work, Rik also builds beautiful boats, both sail and motor, most of which are based on his prototype Elisabeth, a doubleended 6.8m gaff cutter. For many years Rik kept a Cornish Crabber at Heybridge Basin on the Blackwater so he has strong links with the UK Old Gaffers Association and the traditional boat sailors of the East Coast. Each year he invites a small number of Dutch and British small boat sailors to gather at his boatyard on the first weekend in October for a convivial end of season 'Reeuwijk Raid'. This year, for the 12th raid, two boats came across the North Sea, both of them lugsailrigged 12ft east coast Smack Boats on a double-decker trailer, one owned by Pete Elliston and Sarah Adie and the other by Clare and Pete Thomas. Rik had arranged for those of us who had come boatless to crew for others or borrow from his own fleet. I was lucky enough to join the ‘ladies’ boat’ with Rik's sister Eliane and Dutch OGA friend Else on board Elisabeth. Saturday was a ‘race’ round the lakes – though this was not racing as we know it with all that stressful jilling around on the start line, shouting and handicap rules. Rik's style of racing is the gentlest form of the sport, barely a race at all, and I thoroughly recommend it. These are the rules:
1. There is no start line; all 25 boats moor sunflower style round a single buoy, then when Rik blows a horn we disentangle ourselves, set sail and the ‘race’ begins. 2. If you find yourself at the front of the fleet, you stay there for one minute then turn back to the committee boat bringing up the rear. The committee boat keeps count, and the boat who returns to the back the most number of times is the winner. This keeps the fleet together when going through lifting bridges, and also means that morale stays high as you have no idea who’s winning! 3. The race is suspended when going through the lifting bridges, and resumes informally once we're all through. 4. Any non-mechanical means of propulsion are allowed – sail, oar, sculling, tiller waggling,
quanting (or even, in the case of the Dutch cargo barge, harnessing the crew and pulling the boat along the towpath of a canal between two lakes). 5. No handicap system applies, in spite of the fact that boats range from tiny lugsail dinghies to 26ft cruising yachts. The lake is very shallow, formed like the Norfolk Broads from old peat diggings, so the large yachts have a challenging time in the shallows and keeping their masts clear of trees in the gaps between lakes and islands. The warm sunshine and light winds enhanced the convivial racing style and meant that we were able to have a picnic and relax en route with no apparent detriment to our performance (to our surprise we won the race; mostly because Elisabeth is a fast boat and knows exactly what she is about even when
Top: The sunflower style start. Left: relaxed racing, using any non-mechanical means. Right: A mix of Dutch and English vessels
her crew are too busy chatting, making up songs and drinking wine to pay attention to sail trim). We stripped off layers of fleecy tops and boots to soak up the unexpected sunshine. A tall racing dayboat overtook us slowly, her skipper relaxing in the cockpit with a foot on the tiller and a cheerful tune coming from her concertina. That's my kind of racing! Saturday night Rik's partner Edith had laid on a feast for us all; we ate, drank and played music until late. Sunday morning was another hot day with a promise of a little more wind after a calm and misty start. The plan was to sail a circuit of seven lakes, with a stop for an ice cream halfway round. We began with a drift and a row, occasionally switching on Elisabeth's quiet and efficient electric inboard engine for an extra bit of power through the narrows. We had the ice creams at an island and ate a picnic, to the sound of a squeezebox from Edith on board Rik's cruising gaffer Pagan. Unlike the Broads, the Reeuwijkse Plassen was not busy with motor cruisers. In non-tidal waters, the electric engine comes into its own. By the end of Sunday afternoon the boats were back at Rik's yard and soon back on their trailers. I hadn't expected some of the most enjoyable sailing of the summer to be on a small open boat in October! The lakes were a delight to sail, and it's easy to see why the Dutch have developed small boat sailing to such a fine art. Rik's boats are comfortable, beautiful and designed for good performance under sail. The Reeuwijkse Plassen is accessed through the canal system at Gouda or you can trail and launch your own boat. For more about Rik Homan's boatyard and designs, his website is www. jachtwerfrikhoman.nl . CLASSIC SAILOR 11
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How to Survive:
The America’s Cup Guy Venables returns from Bermuda with tips on how to socially navigate an AC event
FYI Never has the sport of sailing been so rife with such confusion and technical misunderstanding so here’s a quick glossary of some of the terms used.
“If you are a man, it’s important not to take your wife to the America’s Cup as the competitors are all fit gorgeous young men. If you are a woman, it’s important not to take your husband, for the same reason.” Godfrey Church, America’s Cup presenter.
n order to watch and photograph these magnificent and complex boats and crews first hand it is imperative to be on a boat. Working out from the docks of each event there’s usually a particularly ugly local boat used for taking stag parties out to sea to serve them weak cocktails and get them off the high street. It’s usually a stinking old trawler adapted with plywood to make it resemble a pirate ship that is then painted matt black and fitted with a huge stereo and a couple of sparless masts. If you can, get on this boat. That way you ensure it will never be in the background of any of your photos. To be right in the action however, you might be able to get on a press RIB. For the AC45s to be flying properly there’ll need to be plenty of wind. This will mean that there’ll be plenty of waves making it impossible to photograph them because you’re on a RIB. Nikon and Canon have invented lenses with buttons marked VR or IS (VR: vibration reduction and IS: image stabilizer.) What these clever little buttons do is to empty your battery of power before the races start. If you want a decent photo of the event simply get on shore, dry yourself off and look around for one of those huge posters of the crews happily crewing away. Take a photograph of this at your leisure and photoshop the advertisers’ letters out later. Then you can enjoy the stalls and demonstrations along the seafront. In Portsmouth you’ll find pickpocket demonstrations by local kids, stone skimming at £1 a go and the local hobby of showing mobile phones to people from
the Isle of Wight. In Bermuda the stalls sell Rum Swizzles, Rum Dark and Stormies, rum milk and Rum Lollypops. Activities included introducing people to each other and pointing out rich people’s houses. In Gothenburg you could try your hand at the naked unisex sauna or play rotten herring roulette. You may want a photograph of yourself with Ben Ainslie. Ben is the only actually recognizable sailor in the event but as they are all thin, fit and handsome, if you spot one of them, just get a photo standing next to him and nobody back at home will know the difference. In fact there’s so much merchandise being sold it’s often difficult to tell actual crew from normal punters. Anyone will do.
Lee Ward: not sure who he is. Probably the bloke who won the first America’s Cup. (Get Jodi in ads to look this up.) Lifting Breeze: The event’s official cocktail incorporating the best booze from each three places involved, namely Bermuda, Portsmouth and Gothenburg. In equal parts Gosling Rum, Carling lager and Absolut Vodka. Stir with ice and throw away. Broad Reach (U.S. slang): The clumsy lunging groping attempt at kissing event models (or broads) once anyone makes it over the finish line. Foiling: A vital pre-race ceremony. As most of the crew are classed as clinically insane, many of them put a layer of tin foil under their helmets to stop the “Cosmic rays” messing with their brains. (One helmsman in Gothenburg forgot his and crashed into a rock and another in Bermuda crashed into an umpire’s boat.) Lay line (or Ley sp.): As explained above the crew are made up of mostly deranged lunatics. Some of whom believe in the magic of imaginary Lay Lines and will not cross them even on the water. There are even lights on the boat that come on when they get near to where they think they are. Getting in Irons (slang): As it happens so often it has now become common parlance on The America’s Cup tour. The crews go out at night, get drunk and end up in fights and then in the local jail cell (or in irons) for the night. Pop a Wheelie: Put your back out while grinding the winch. AC45: This is the name of the boat type. “AC” stands for: “Almost a Catamaran” and the 45 is the coding, or how many crew that it usually takes for it to be sailed properly. Code Zero: Each crew member has a button on their phone, usually the zero, which they press in an emergency when their Ritalin or anti-psychotics are running low, known as “going code zero” or “nilling.”
CLASSIC SAILOR 13
Signals: Association news Stellas, Sparkman &Stephens and classic motor boats
Stella summer sees success in the Solent Star performer among the Stellas this season appears to be Tim Wood and L’Etoile who travelled to Cowes to take part in the British Classic Yacht Club’s Panerai Classics and, although one of the smallest boats in the fleet, took third place overall among 18 boats in Class 4. Tim, whose Avocet Yacht Services is based in Suffolk, was too busy maintaining other people’s Stellas earlier in the season to launch L’Etoile, but more than made up for it in early September at Levington’s Haven Ports YC Regatta where he secured wins on both days. The racing was quite close – on Sunday first beat saw the lead changing all the time with four of the five participating boats leading at some point.
The first three races of the points series were part of the Suffolk Yacht Harbour Classic Regatta in June, where Stellas enjoyed their traditional class start. For once in recent years the weather was not too bad. Slightly overcast and not warm for the Saturday with modest southerly winds, whilst on Sunday the wind and sun came out, providing two good days of entertaining racing. A total of six boats raced with a further three coming along for the social. Winner of this year’s points series (aka the Stella Worlds) is Philip Waring and the crew of Stardust. General secretary John Sparks is standing down at November’s AGM. He comments in the SCA’s latest newsletter “I have
now owned Lys (No 96) for twenty-five of her fifty years. I am starting to redo things I renewed when I first bought her. I now only have myself to blame when things are difficult to take to pieces! I have seen the popularity of Stellas rise and fall
S&S Association in Svendborg The 2015 AGM of the S&S Association was held in July in Svendborg on the beautiful Danish island of Fyn, and followed a customary format: arrival of boats, a drinks reception and dinner near the port on the Friday, a day of racing followed by a gala dinner on Saturday, the AGM itself and boatyard visit on the Sunday. There is never any shortage of crew for the racing as those
14 CLASSIC SAILOR
from further afield enjoy the opportunity to sail on other S&S designs. The enduring interest in Olin Stephens’ superb designs is, after all, what binds the membership together. The weather was wonderful this year, and the racing was ably run by the SvendborgAmatørSejlklub. At 10:00 the start went reasonably well (with one or two early starters) and the course went
S&S boats enjoying racing ar Svendborg
and at present they seem to be going through a period of slack demand with quite a few boats currently on the market.” There are four boats at present listed for sale on the association’s website, stellasail.org, including the famous Polaris.
through a beautiful seascape with views of surrounding islands and interesting buildings such as Walsted’s Boatyard, site of many births of S&S designed yachts and the host for the AGM itself, and Valdemar Castle, the location of a Sunday afternoon excursion. At the gala dinner on Saturday evening, the results of the annual regatta were announced and the Global Challenge Cup was presented to Simon Torvaldsen from Australia for his achievement in the blue water ocean classic Freemantle to Geraldton and Return. Simon was this year’s guest speaker on the subject of his yacht – an Australian built S&S 34 Constellation sloop – and the race itself. The S&S Association is a worldwide club of owners of sailing and motor craft designed by the New York naval architects, Sparkman and Stephens Inc. It was formed in the UK at the 1993 Cowes Classics Rally by four devoted
Tim Wood and L’Etoile at the Panerai Classics Photo: Guido Cantini
owners of S&S designed cruiserracers, and quickly expanded. Membership is now around 270 and, although mainly focused in the UK, Finland, the Netherlands and the USA, spans fourteen other countries and five continents. To connect the widespread membership the Association publishes a yearbook containing members’ contributions on subjects such as blue water cruising, racing successes, featured designs, technical and renovation projects undertaken, and lots of pictures. Regional groups organise rallies and other social gatherings, however the main event in the calendar is the AGM, an international rally which moves to a different country each year. The S&S Association continues to welcome new members from around the world. From Louise France. Association websites: www.sparkmanstephensuk.info www.sparkmanstephens.info
Smylie’s boats Cobles
Motor Boats well met Like so many other good ideas, the Classic Motor Boat Association was set up in 1998 by Keith Jarrett, Rod Champkin having chewed the cud over the ubiquitous beer or two with other like-minded enthusiasts attending the BCMBR meeting on Windermere in August that year. The intention of the association was to gather together enthusiasts of classic motor boats of all types and sizes and enable members to run and display their boats. In the following years the membership grew steadily and seventeen years on it is now approaching 300 members with many owning more than one boat. These are mostly trailable sports boats and generally range in date from the early 1950s through to the mid 1970s with makes that are rarely heard of now outside the club members, Albatross, Delta, Yarecraft, Healey, Moonfleet, Danvercraft and many more. They are the boating equivalent of classic cars and as much attention is lavished on these old boats as with such classic cars. The power comes from a variety of sources, both inboard
engines, adapted originally from cars of the same era, and early outboard motors. Alongside traditional mahogany sit aluminium and some early fibreglass boats such as the Moonfleet range and later Deltas. Whilst you can spend a lot of money on a classic boat, you can on the water for as little as £1,500. The wealth of specialist knowledge and the enthusiasm within the club allows enthusiasts to help each other with restoration projects. The CMBA is now recognised as probably the leading authority in classic boating of the era and they are actively encouraging members to widen the scope and include larger, slower craft, river launches and displacement cruisers. They can already count a little Fairey Fawn, an early Shetland and several Huntsman within the membership collection. With members young and old, the length and breadth of the country, the calendar is full with events taking place somewhere around the country almost every weekend through the summer. From David Knight www.cmba-uk.com
like cobles as there’s something quite quintessentially English about them. Maybe it’s because of the varied coastline they work from, or the fact that the way they are built doesn’t quite fit into the techniques associated with traditional boatbuilding, or just their provenance from the early dawnings of English history, but there is something somewhat pure at heart in their being. The embodiment of skill, beauty and practicality. On the other hand there are those that say they are neither one thing or another: neither a keeled vessel nor a flat-bottomed one. That, in my mind, makes them exactly what I said above. A coble is usually at home along the English east coast, their main stomping ground being anywhere between the two great river estuaries of the Tweed and Humber. A mixture then of golden Northumberland beaches and the river inlets along with the more rocky shelving of the Yorkshire coast with its fewer landings, and not to forget the short Durham coast. Their original design is said to have come about from their modus operandi, i.e. their working specifically off a beach, to cope with the surf when coming and going. They have a keel to maintain seaway up front to deflect the oncoming waves at launch and a ramplank as the main strengthening member in their flat bottomed aft end that generally comes to the beach first when coming ashore. They are single-masted open boats, ranging in overall length from about 20 to 40ft, depending on their usage (though they were themselves measured by length of the ramplank). In the main they have a transom though the mule was a smaller doubleender whilst a plosher was a large double-ender built for the herring fishery. And often with two masts. Most cobles – it’s pronounced to rhyme with ‘noble’ in the north and ‘cobble’ down south of their home grounds – were lug rigged though the earliest examples such as mentioned in the Lindisfarne Gospels of 860AD were presumably rigged with a large square sail. The smallest were often just propelled with oars. They worked various fisheries such as setting long lines or creels and working various forms of netting. When motorisation was introduced, initially they were deemed unsuitable to receive engines because of the flat bottom. Nevertheless an ingenious way was found round this by building a tunnel through curving the ramplank. Others set an engine with a shaft having a universal joint so that the prop could lift out of the water into a housing. Today the most spectacular place to see cobles is at the North Landing, Flamborough Head, a forty-degree landing. Others can be seen right along the coast, and some have ventured far and wide, into other parts of the globe. They remain unique and flourishing.
The way they are built doesn’t quite ﬁt in with the techniques associated with traditional boatbuilding CLASSIC SAILOR 15
Around the yards A very rare J-Class tender, Fife’s Cambria, a small steamboat, a bargain Contessa, a legendary sailmaker, barn-sharing and gigs WINDSOR, THAMES
Tender care for C&N Gelyce The name of Camper and Nicholson may be familiar to many of us but as the oldest leisure marine company in the world they were responsible for producing and managing yachts for the world’s richest people, writes Jane Percival. When a young apprentice, William Camper started his career in Gosport in 1809 building fast schooner yachts, he went on to take over the lease of the yard in1824 and was later joined by a 14-yearold shipwright apprentice Ben Nicholson. The company of Camper and Nicholson was formed in 1863, financed by William Camper and the Lapthorn family who operated an adjacent sail loft. Thereafter followed a 30-year expansion programme and with the arrival of Ben Nicholson’s three sons came the final name change to Camper & Nicholsons.
As part of their incredible range of racing yachts, Charles Nicholson designed four J-Class yachts, the first of which was the only wooden example, Shamrock V – which was funded by Sir Thomas Lipton for completion in 1930. J-Class tenders were design of very long, fast motor launches, capable of 20 knots with a 105hp engine, which would enable owners of these large yachts to travel to and from their yachts in speed, comfort and some
Contessa 26 rescued Glassfibre classics are like wooden boats were 30 years ago and sailaway prices are often below the level of needing to take a loan – especially if you are thinking of getting afloat with a couple of mates. Take this tidy looking Contessa 26 which we stumbled across at Downs Road boatyard in Maldon last month. “We found her in a shed, where she
16 CLASSIC SAILOR
had been sat for a few years,” Downs’ proprietor Jim Dines said. “There was eight inches of pigeon crap on the decks but once we’d cleaned that and given the boat a bit of TLC she looks good and has all her kit. All her kit does not yet include an engine but a boat like this at the sail away price of £6,000 is a bargain. And someone will snap her up soon. See our feature on p46 for more inspiration of these great boats.
Above: Gelyce before treatment began Below (literally): Colin and Stepen get to work on her bottom
elegance. They were developed from 1912 onwards by Camper & Nicholson, to accompany their J-Class and other yachts. Gelyce is one of only three surviving 50ft examples of the type – the other two are Herring Gull, which is currently for sale in Florida, owned by Peter de Savary, and a second in a museum in Bordeaux. Her name derives from those of the wives of the three Nicholson brothers, Gertie, Lucy and Constance. She lay for many years at Peter Freebody’s yard on the Thames, but now has a new owner and has moved into
the care of Colin and Stephen Messer at Classic Restoration Services, Windsor. The C&N archivist has been able to confirm that she was indeed the tender to Shamrock V and in her 84 year history has been re-engined and renamed several times. The original Green aero engine was changed to a Daimler 6cl in 1937 and by 1939 she was utilised by the Ministry of War Transport and appears in the small craft service list between 1939-1944. The new owner aims to restore her to original condition and enjoy exhibiting her at classic rallies both here and
Sisters in steam
Etna is a new steam launch designed by Paul Fisher for Roger Heise, Chairman of the Steamboat Association of Great Britain. She is 26ft 8in (8.13m) long, by 6ft 3in (1.91m) in the beam and weighs approximately 3970lbs (1800kg). The hull was one of the last boats to be built by Farrow & Chambers in Grimsby and is diagonally veneered over cedar strip plank. The fit-out was by Douglas Marine Ltd at Hesketh Bank, Lancashire. The boiler is a LIFU type 3-drum WT Designed by Alan Ritchie and built in 2010 by Wessel GmbH &
Chairman’s conveyance: Etna was built for the SAGB’s Roger Heise
Ritchie Engineering at Xanten, Germany and the engine is a 15 IHP LIFU style type. Paul reports “Her hull has some unusual features for a steam launch in the tumblehome in the topsides aft with a forward raking transom shown off by the incredible woodwork of John Chambers.” Her sister-ship Michelle (same aft end but schooner bow) is being built by Mike Bell.
“The primary product of Harker’s Yard is neither oyster smacks nor rowing gigs. It’s confident, skilled young people – our craftsmen and women of the future”
Waller and Wood share a barn SOUTHAMPTON
Cambria comes out After an in-depth restoration which included taking off her old glass and resin sheathing, replacing some planks, dismantling the interior, re-furbishing her steel frames (see CS1) and repainting every inch of the venerable 23-Metre, Cambria emerges from the
Southampton Yacht Services shed in early October looking like a new boat. Captain Chris Barkham and crew plus a team of specialists have given her a new lease of life and she will wow the crowds on the classic circuit next year. She’s already left the UK.
James Lawrence Brightlingsea sailmakWe popped into Brightlingsea recently to visit the famous James Lawrence sailmakers loft. And it was interesting to see a few traditional sailmaker’s benches around the edges of the polished wooden floor. “That is still how we do it,” Mark Butler, the boss, says, “there’s actually no better way of working on a sail when you are doing work by hand.” This is where they have done the square sails for TS Royalist, Tenacious and Grand Turk and the list of their barge, wherry and smack clients is too numerous to mention. Mark’s expertise is with gaff rig and he made the sails for the 19-Metre Fife design Mariquita when she was restored, and has just received her 3,300sq ft
(306m2)mainsail here for some re-stitching after its eight season. “We have three of the largest mains in the world here now,” he told CS. “As well as Mariquita we have both mains of Mariette (the Herreshoff 108ft/35m schooner).
On the floor is a sail in build for Nell, a GL Watson gaff cutter restored in France which is being hand made to look right for her period with 18in panels in period cream Dacron, and leather, brass and rope details.
Mark Butler runs James Lawrence in Brightlingsea
Boatbuilder Nigel Waller has moved out of Woolverstone Marina and relocated to the Harkstead Hall Barns complex, a few miles inland on the Shotley peninsula, where he’s joined forces to rent a large barn with Tim Wood’s Avocet Yacht Services. For Nigel, who is noted for winning every race his Itchen Ferry Fanny of Cowes enters, it represents a huge increase in covered space which is at present mostly taken up with a Stella currently being renovated for Bruce Johnson. The hull is being sheathed, which may put the boat outside the class (it’s to be discussed at the AGM) but will allow Bruce to trailer-sail her for cruising. Tim, whose own Stella L’Etoile performed well at this year’s BCYC regatta, has been doing a keel-up rebuild of a 1936 Dragon, Shenvit, for a client. It’s almost completed – “We’re aiming for a quick pre-Christmas sail,” he says.
Gigs and graduates Gig production is continuing apace at Harker’s Yard, the Pioneer Trust’s base in Brightlingsea. Elettra, No 15, left the yard in October, bound for the Marconi Rowing Club, while Nos 16’s moulded hull was coming off the plug, and the backbone of No 17 was laid. Meanwhile, there’s also a gratifying turnover in apprentices. The first batch of Level 3 apprentices have now gained their certificates, and most have taken up jobs in the industry. Abby Molyneux has gone to Dennett’s boatyard on the Thames, while Jake Anderson has gone to Australia to take up a job in Melbourne. As our correspondent Julia Jones, who has been keeping a blog on the yard over the last year, observes, “The primary product of Harker’s Yard is neither oyster smacks nor rowing gigs. It’s confident, skilled young people – our craftsmen and women of the future.” CLASSIC SAILOR 17
The Post Email or post letters and replies to the editor – see opposite; we’ll make sure responses to queries are forwarded on.
I see that Guy Venables has discovered the Sailing Vicar (CS no 1, p70). In this, he follows in the footsteps of our Drascombe Association resident cartoonist, ex-Chairman Bob Heasman, who regularly mines a rich seam of ecclesiastical inspiration in DAN - the quarterly Drascombe Association News. Many members suggest that Bob’s Sailing Vicar is based on myself – the Tilly hat, spectacles, beard, and skippering of a Dabber could indeed point to that conclusion – but Bob himself prefers to remain non-committal. I offer, with Bob’s permission, two of his contributions for your entertainment. Congratulations on your first issue, Chris Beeson (but not THE Chris Beeson I’m the other one!)
I was out with the SetSail charity event on Amelie Rose, Agnes and Merlin in Guernsey in June and am looking for more opportunities to sail on the pilot cutters and gaffers. Setsail aims to connect local children with their maritime environment and inspire them through a sailing experience; their aims were more than met this year in my opinion. 18 CLASSIC SAILOR
I spent a fabulous, if not slightly exhausting five days helping to create that inspiring but fun filled experience upon the high seas for our volunteer crew. After helping them all into life jackets; no mean feat, we sailed the area between St Peter Port and Jethou. Other than one day of poor weather we sailed with three groups each day, encouraging them to helm and set the sails. They navigated to local landmarks such as the chimneys at St Sampsons and the Brehon Round Tower, giving them the opportunity to explore their offshore environment and have some fun. The willing crew came from a variety of backgrounds, some from schools, some youth groups and some with stories that made me personally count my blessings. Luckily laughter with friends and a bit of healthy competition between boats rallied spirits and excitement infected even the coolest teenager. After sailing modern yachts, samson posts and no camcleats took a little getting used to, but with a lighterman’s hitch and a few pointers on sweating the gaff under my belt I soon felt useful. During this week I found a community and traditions I was not expecting, as well as an amazing sailing experience. Characters, music and a reality of life exists in this world. I’m now keen to explore every nook and cranny
Taeping and Red Gurnet
I am hoping that CS readers could assist me in locating the owners of two Alan Buchanan-designed boats – Taeping and Red Gurnet, both of which were designed and built for the family. I am Alan’s daughter-in-law, married to his eldest son, Richard and have been sorting out the Estate after Alan died earlier this year. I am nearly at the end of this task but there is an oil painting of each of these boats and I was wondering if the current owners of the boats would be interested in acquiring them. I have trawled the internet to see if I can find any mention of these boats but alas, no luck. I got in touch with Ian Welsh
of the Buchanan Owners Association and he suggested that I contact Classic Sailor. If you have any ideas, I would really like to hear from you. Hoping you can help. With kind regards, Marion Buchanan
and would be grateful for new opportunities to cruise and race with gaffers, details available... Rebecca Sykes, via email Please write via CS
Just ask – nicely please A new magazine always has difficulty in finding its readership [and we know from calls that there are newsagents which don’tn yet stock us]. But most will also order it in for you, if you just ask… Also we are happy to send out current copies for the cover price, plus . Contact us at email@example.com
Svea the “lost” J being wheeled out of her BloemsmaClaasen shed
In 1999, while researching the archive of the great Swedish naval architect Tore Holm, I discovered what to my mind was his ultimate masterpiece; a stunningly beautiful J-Class yacht. Designed in December 1937, this is the only J-Class yacht to have been designed after the super J Ranger. After discovering the lines, I sent a copy to Elizabeth Meyer (who had restored Endeavour and Shamrock V) who reacted electrified and soon we set of to Sweden meeting friends and exploring the idea to form a syndicate to build her. In the end it was not to be but Bloemsma, part of Claasen Shipyards in Holland, set off to build her anyhow and finally found a new home for her. When I first laid my eyes on the design, I dreamed of the day that she would come out of the shed to reveal her overwhelming and stunning beauty and that special day came 16 years later on September 25th 2015. She is to be launched and finished in time for the 2017 J-Class extravaganza in Bermuda. For more information and news visit: http://claasenshipyards.com John Lammerts van Bueren, Netherlands
There is one man in Britain who is the epitome of your beliefs and that man is ME, but no mention anywhere in your ﬁrst issue...
Letter of the month The type of people in your editorial
In your introductory editorial you write: ophy. In the USA, Blue Water Sailing has recently “I have often thought of boats as a bridge, to link published a long article about my life’s work. the areas of humanity in our planet, and also to As you know on Wednesday we had a big bridge a way out – to get into the far backwaters celebration of the 60th anniversary of my which still exist beyond the fetters of our urbandeparture from Falmouth. Guest of honour was ised mind. They are a way of getting to new places Rory McDougall, who sailed his self-built 21ft – whether that is to meet people, or to hide away; Wharram Tiki around the world. Another special the boat, especially the small cabin boat, is still a guest was Glenn Edney, a New Zealander, who conveyance out into extraordinary experiences. has been using a 38ft Wharram for 10 years in Much is said about the Pacific to study how difficult it is oceanography and to keep a boat now. whales, sailing How the moorings regularly from New and other costs are Zealand to Tonga. He prohibitive. But we has a Masters Degree know people who and is here writing do it with reasonable a book on Ocean modesty of means Consciousness. and we want to show Another special how it’s done.” guest was Tino There is one man Rawnsley, a former in Britain who is the charter skipper of James and partner Hanneke Boon at the 60th celebrations square riggers in the epitome of your beliefs, that man is ME, Caribbean, a master but no mention anywhere in your first issue. boat builder, who recently bought a second-hand Let us consider. Two weeks ago I received a 31ft Wharram Tiki and after a quick restoration copy of Tom Cunliffe’s new book In the Wake of job, is sailing it with joy, with all his family around Heroes where on page 126 the chapter is on the the South coast of Cornwall. hardships of my first transatlantic voyage in a Importantly for ‘We Band of Heroes’, is that we self-built 23ft 6in (7.1m) catamaran. That voyage are all supported by fantastic sailing women. began from Falmouth sixty years ago on 27 In the photo the centre piece of our celebration September. At the moment of writing this letter, is the first hull of the 23ft6in Mana 24 (the same 60 years ago I was sailing into the Bay of Biscay size as my first Tangaroa design 60 years ago). with the help of two magnificent German You may remember this trailer sailer is to be an women, I was out there in the Bay of Biscay IKEA style kit boat, all you have to do is to learn fighting my first gale. how to make simple epoxy fillets to join the parts, Right now I am reliving, re-feeling that gale. and learn how to sheath with fibreglass fabric. All I often think that Solent or London yachtsmen, the skilled woodworking and measuring tasks who still dominate the British yachting scene, have have been taken care of. never forgiven me for my sexually happy two GerWith the Mana 24 design we are reaching out man girl crew (passports marked ‘Enemy Alien’), to the public of Wild Campers, private dreamers, or that I came from the ‘working class’ North of people whom the current yacht magazines ignore. England and was not part of their elite clique. People who want to get out on However now, in my old age, 10 years ago I the water for the short free time joined the Association of Yachting Historians on allowed to them in the modern its foundation, and am welcomed by its ‘someworld, people who cannot what elitist’ membership. Last week I met Nigel afford the high cost of modern Irens at their meeting in Dartmouth, and disyachting, in fact the type of cussed Yachting World and his getting mixed up people mentioned in your with the American Gunboat catamaran people. editorial in Classic Sailor. Several years ago, due to my work in the Pacific James Wharram, Cornwall I was made a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society. In 2012 the Ocean Cruising Club awarded Write for some fizz me their ‘Award of Merit’. In France I am called Each month our letter of the the ‘Father of Multihulls’. This year the French month will be sent a bottle of magazine Multicoques/ Multihulls World asked de Bleuchamp Champagne me for a special exposition on my design philos-
7 Haslar Marina, Gosport, Hants. PO12 1NU firstname.lastname@example.org Editor Dan Houston email@example.com
+44 (0)7747 612614 Art Editor Stephen Philp Sub Editor Peter Willis firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial assistant Gill Moon Contributing editor Guy Venables email@example.com Columnist Andrew Bray Advertising Catherine Jackson firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)7495 404461 Jodi Whitby email@example.com +44 (0)7478 275399 Lynda Fielden Lynda@classicsailor.com Publisher Tim Allen Chairman David Walker Classic Sailor Ltd Published monthly: ISSN 2059-0423 Subscriptions See our latest deal at classicsailor.com
CLASSIC SAILOR 19
Classic Sailor full page Oct 15:Layout 1
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Andrew Bray No certiﬁcate will ever prove your real ability to sail.
wonder how many of Classic Sailor’s readers are qualified to take their boats to sea, or come to that to lake, to estuary or to river? And how many of them have been pulled over by a harbour patrol or the river police or anyone wearing a uniform and been asked to provide evidence of their ability: a licence perhaps, or some form of qualification? It is, of course, a ludicrous question, although it happened to me once on the Thames when I was trying out a large dory with the splendid name of Slop Along Placidly. Placidly is just how I was slopping along but this was not enough for the river police who came alongside. My sin was not to display an appropriate sticker to prove that I’d paid my river dues. Much to my shame I had not, and suitably admonished I headed back to shore with my outboard tucked firmly between my chines. Ludicrous or not I wonder whether the day is approaching when we will not be permitted to go to sea (read estuary, lake or river) without an appropriate qualification. Now I know, as I am sure all of you do, that no qualification, however rigorous the testing, will ever prove your real ability to sail. I am now old enough to have been referred to as ‘an old salt’ recently in one august magazine, which I take as something of a compliment. I went to a sailing school at an early age, which taught me the basic mechanics of wind and sail but it didn’t teach me how to sail. That came later, acquired through experience and by rubbing shoulders with and sailing with other experienced sailors. Their experience rubs off like a patina and in time I absorbed this knowledge and modified it for my own use. Then comes that magic moment for any sailor when that most important skill of all, wind sense, becomes intuitive. The same goes with understanding tides, navigation, handling lines, anchoring and the myriad aspects of seamanship that are found a million miles away from the bound blue volumes of the Admiralty Manual of Seamanship. I learned seamanship on the deck of a small cruiser in mid-Channel in a rising gale, in the muddy backwaters of the East Coast and on the deep blue of the open ocean. And, most important of all, now that I’m back to my roots in sailing, pottering in the creeks and channels of the South Coast, I am still learning. I am the proud possessor of a fine certificate issued by the Naval Section of the Cadet Force at school that declares me to be a Leading Seaman Instructor. I have another, which took several attempts to achieve, that states that I have an O-Level in Latin. But perhaps the most ornate of them all, in a fine, dark blue, hard cover is the one that certifies that I’m an Offshore Yachtmaster, further stamped “qualified to instruct”.
Then comes that magic moment for any sailor when that most important skill of all, wind sense, becomes intuitive
Now the first of these certifies that I can tie a bowline and other bends and knots and that I understand the mechanics of a Robinson Disengaging Gear. The second of these does not mean that I can speak Latin, far from it, although as a writer it has proved extremely useful from time to time. As for the Yachtmaster Certificate it proves that I was able to pass an exam at a certain level, both theoretical and practical. What it does not do, and this should be borne firmly in mind by anyone taking the ‘Zero to Hero’ or ‘Fast Track’ Yachtmaster courses, is to show whether or not that candidate really knows anything about practical sailing and seamanship. That comes only with many years of experience. This old salt is worried that paper qualifications are becoming accepted as more important than hands-on experience. CLASSIC SAILOR 21
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by Federico Nardi of Cantiere Navale dell’Argentario
Bacchant IV “It was blowing hard... she was elegantly slipping along, with soft lightness through the short Baltic chop.
ears ago during a race series in Sandhamn, one of the many class boat, she can easily sail with an exaggerated angle of heel without islands off Stockholm, a boat crossed to leeward of us. It losing speed, spilling wind at the same time, but remaining neutral (on the was blowing hard and the absolutely beautiful sloop was helm) and well under control. The mast is stepped on deck (alas!) and has a carrying an Olympic jib and full main; she was actually masthead rig. Seen from a Mediterranean viewpoint the sail plan is low and elegantly slipping along, with soft lightness through the long; the result is a boat that loves a fresh breeze. short Baltic chop. As chance would After more than 30 years of boats made with the have it when our 6-metre fleet returned anti-aesthetic holed aluminium gunwales we can fully BACCHANT IV to port we found the sloop moored right in front of us. appreciate the streamlined hull enhanced and beautified LOA 35.6ft (10.85m) It was a Bacchant IV, designed by the well known Knud by the wooden gunwale. Beam 9ft (2.7m) Reimers. About 100 Bacchant IV’s were built in Sweden, Interiors are well finished in the perfect tradition of Draught 5.6ft (1.7m) 2 starting in 1964. The yacht is a typical offshore cruiser boats of this length. Going below, to starboard we have Sail Area 689 sq ft (64m ) with a classic look. The long-keeled glassfibre hull was a the galley with the two burners, and the sink amidships Displacem’t 14,110lbs 6,400kgs perfect solution as it allowed all the onboard systems to be under the companionway. The settees are forward and placed low down and at sea the boat moves ever so sweetly. symmetrical (on some versions they would slide out At sea beauty prevails over practicality and comfort; how can you compare of the way), the head is walk-through with the WC to port and basin to an Aston Martin DB5 “Volante” (coincidentally both the Bacchant IV and the starboard, the forward V-berth is lengthy and comfortable, and everywhere Aston Martin were made in approximately the same quantity and in the same space is available for stowage. period) to a present day Fiat? It is worthwhile keeping an eye on the primary Scandinavian used boat With a 9ft maximum beam, a waterline length of 31ft and a displacement websites, a Bacchant IV at €20-25,000 will soon appear. For an Aston Martin of 14,000 lbs with a 46% ballast ratio, the Bacchant behaves like a metric you’ll have to spend a million Euros, and that might not be enough. Translated by James Robinson Taylor
Designed by Knud Reimers, left, Bacchant IV has a long-keeled hull – “a typical offshore cruiser with a classic look”. About 100 were built in Sweden
CLASSIC SAILOR 23
Guest column: Lucy Woodall The seabed appears to be the ultimate sink for our waste.
ecently there have been many reports across the media about ocean plastics. Accumulations of this floating litter have been referred to as ‘garbage patches’ or ‘debris islands’ or even the ‘Plastic Trash Vortex’ that are collecting in the ocean gyres. Although these terms do not necessarily conjure up an accurate mental image of what can be seen, they vividly suggest that marine litter is a growing challenge. For clarity let me explain there are no ‘islands’ of rubbish; however the density of litter does increase as the sub-tropical ocean currents circulate. Even if you are sailing in these waters you might not notice this increase as most of the rubbish fragments into small pieces and can float just below the surface. You may have spotted this debris while sailing and have encountered it while walking on beaches, even remote ones. Sailors have a rich history of collecting some of the most important data on marine litter. For example Captain Charles Moore on the SV Alguita first termed the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ after he sailed across it in 1997; there are regular monitoring programs using the SEA Semester vessels SSV Robert C Semans and SSV Corwith Cramer, and during the Newport stop-over of this year’s Volvo Ocean Race an ocean summit to explore this challenge was held. However as sailors we will all have seen some rubbish while at sea. The size of it varies considerably, from shipping containers that if hit could sink a boat to rope that annoyingly gets caught in propellers. Indeed the last time I sailed across the Atlantic I saw a large fridge-freezer, which was fortunately visible from a distance away. I renewed my interest in marine litter when, while I was in my laboratory, I unexpectedly saw small thin fibres of bright colours such as red, blue and purple, under a microscope while I was looking at marine sediment. Let me rewind. I am a marine biologist and I had just returned from a two-month research expedition in the south-west Indian Ocean, studying seamounts (underwater mountains) in deep sea (approx 2,000m). I was examining the mud, for small worms, when I found the fibres. Surprised by these bright colours I wanted to discover what they were so I led international collaboration that confirmed many of these fibres were plastic. We showed that rather than being an isolated occurrence, plastic fibres are ubiquitous on our deep-sea floor. In fact these microscopic portions of plastic were what other researchers had been searching for, for 10 years. Previous research had shown plastic litter and microplastics found in
the surface water were not accumulating in line with the increasing manufacture and disposal of plastics, and so the seabed appears to be the ultimate sink for much of our waste. Over 80% of the waste in the ocean is from land sources, and much of that is due to mismanagement of it on shore… but why does all this matter? Surely because we use plastic for food and drink packaging, it must be safe? Well maybe not… The thing is, after disposing of a piece of litter it begins a path through the environment. If the
Rather than being an isolated occurrence plastic ﬁbres are ubiquitous on our deep-sea ﬂoor. These microscopic portions of plastic were what researchers had been searching for, for 10 years
litter is thrown away onto the street, it could go through drains, sewers and into a river and end up in the sea. During this path it will start to degrade very slowly, by getting knocked against other objects and even by the sun’s UV rays. Once in the sea, it will also be colonised by microorganisms that will live on the surface. Over time small fragments and fibres break off, creating microplastics. We have probably also seen the photographs of birds’ stomachs filled with plastic rubbish, and the plastic entangled turtle. These impacts are not limited to the larger creatures, the same effects are felt by the microscopic marine organisms impacting life up through the food-chain. And in addition the plastics act like a sponge to chemicals found in the top layer of the water. These chemicals can then leach out along with others from the manufacturing process when the microplastic is ingested. So what can we do? Despite some proposals for massive engineering ocean clean-up schemes, we know as sailors the oceans are very vast, so clean-up projects would at best provide a shortterm solution or just a publicity opportunity. It is much more sustainable to ensure that less plastic is released in the oceans each year. We can ensure that we are part of the solution by disposing of plastics properly on land and at sea, and by considering when they are the ideal material or when something might last longer. Thus we are all part of the solution for future generations of sailors. CLASSIC SAILOR 25
A FOLKBOAT TO FRANCE
Folkboat to France Having restored, renamed and relaunched his Swedish Folkboat, Leo Coolden set out to sail her, solo and sans engine, to Brittany. It proved an eventful voyage...
stood on the deck of my tiny wooden vessel, sails flapping, with a mooring line in my hand, and wondered what on earth I was doing. Passers-by were giving me odd looks, as my mind wandered and I tried to put my position into perspective. Two years before, I had bought my little Swedish Folkboat with a dream of adventure on the high seas. Shortly afterwards, thanks to a boat-load of rot, I lost a chainplate and snapped the mast, and ended up hauled out by the muddy creek in Gweek, Cornwall. I spent nearly a year there, begging, blagging, and borrowing â€“ a year of living in ramshackle sheds and leaky boats, with copper nails in my bed and epoxy in my hair. Finally though, I renamed the boat Lorema and relaunched her, gloriously, straight into the mud.
26 CLASSIC SAILOR
One year on from that undignified launch, and Lorema and I had been honeymooning in Ireland and boatbuilding back in Cornwall, but that was all just preparation for this day. Now the boat was full of my worldly possessions, and I was about to head south, alone, with no itinerary or return plan, and nothing but the power of the wind and a hefty sculling oar to propel my little home. So as I stood there, ready to cast off from the wall in Falmouth, I couldnâ€™t help wondering if I was really ready â€“ I had stowed charts, spares, a full tummy, and far too many tools. I had charged the batteries, packed the biscuits, talked to the parents, left the bicycle in safe hands, woke with a moderate hangover, and even glanced at the forecast, but surely, I must have forgotten something? The most important thing, of course, was that I had thanked and said good-bye to the many wonderful
people who were so generous and inspiring to me during my time in Cornwall. With them in mind, I took a deep breath and flicked my bow-line over the bollard. I backed the jib, gave the wall a good kick from the stern, and Lorema bore away and took off like a bird through the crowded anchorage. As I sailed into the Fal estuary, I
Heading south, alone, with nothing but the power of the wind and a hefty sculling oar to propel my little home
was joined by some friends Aiden and Ellie in their little gaff cutter, Katla. They were heading south and were engineless too, so we arranged to cross the channel together and look out for each other. We had a slow start, beating into a sea breeze, but once we cleared the Lizard peninsular the wind came around until we were on a perfect broad reach. With dolphins riding the bow wave and my home-made wind vane looking after the tiller, I made supper and watched the sunset, full of the joy of a new adventure, and happy to see my friends sailing so close to me for this first leg. The Channel was crowded, as usual, and we spent the night dodging dozens of brightly lit blocks of flats as they chugged along at twelve knots, taking mysterious cargoes to obscure ports, unconcerned about sleepy sailors in small boats.
Above: About to pick up a tow from Amelie Rose. Opposite: The author at the helm of Lorema
A FOLKBOAT TO FRANCE
Above: The Ile de Groix “stands out in my memory as being particularly pleasant”
In the morning (clear of the shipping lanes, thankfully) the wind died and we were left bobbing around on glassy seas. Katla was still close, and we shared occasional profanities towards the wind gods over VHF, but the sun was shining and the day was sweet. When we got a little breeze we headed towards l’Aber Wrac’h, but it didn’t last long and we were left sculling the last few miles towards the harbour as the sky began to darken again. We were making slow but steady progress when the fog started thickening, and so when the Luke Powell pilot cutter Amelie Rose came over the horizon and offered us a tow, we gratefully accepted. Beers were promised, lines were thrown, and three wooden boats steamed into the river under the power of one engine. I may seem like a traditionalist, but I certainly appreciate the convenience of a good old stinky combustion engine at times...
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It was late when we finally tied up in l’Aber Wrac’h, and we were pleasantly surprised to be greeted by a whole flotilla of boats filled with inebriated Cornish-folk, who had stopped for the night on their way down to the traditional sailing festival at Douarnenez. I joined their convoy the following day, through the terrifying Chanel du Four with 5 knots of tide, to arrive that evening in Camaret, where I looked mournfully at all the huge wooden fishing boats dragged up onto the beach to rot away, a striking and humbling sight. I found some local cider, and (to my famished delight at nearly midnight) what appeared to be some kind of wholesome soup, but which was in fact quite a strong rum punch - which my empty belly accepted with, if not gratitude, then resignation. The convoy continued blearily the next day, although with no wind there was a lot of towing
and rowing going on. I put down my oar pretty quickly and took a line from someone sensible enough to have an engine, but some boats sculled all the way to Douarnenez, to their credit (although I believe they missed the free wine at the festival’s opening ceremony). The regatta passed in a haze of baguettes and wine and cider and paté, and of course a little bit of sailing. It deserves an article to itself, so I won’t go into too much detail – suffice to say there were many beautiful boats and good people, or the other way around, and the whole thing was a lot of fun. After Douarnenez had finished, I had no aim other than to follow the sun south, and so I continued to sail in convoy with Aiden and Ellie for a while. We headed through the Raz de Sein, listening to French radio, and then spent a night anchored off Audierne, a wonderfully pretty little town with windmills
A FOLKBOAT TO FRANCE
and cobbled alleys and a little lighthouse next to the tranquil beach. We tore ourselves away and continued the next day to Benodet. However, fickle winds meant that we arrived later than planned, in the dark, with an ebb tide streaming out of the river mouth. The wind had picked up quite a lot from behind us, but even so I could only just make it through the narrowest part of the river. I must have been making 5 knots through the water but less than one over ground. Katla, not far behind and already reefed, came to a complete standstill. Luckily, they were able to shake their reef out downwind - something I could never do with my bermudan rig. We found vacant moorings for the night and slept sound. In the morning we headed up river, and later picked some mussels and cooked them in wine and garlic on the beach, with buttered potatoes and wild samphire â€“ delicious!
The following day, I left Katla in the anchorage and sailed another 8 miles up the narrow river, to where it opens out into a large shallow pool, overlooked by lonely little houses and many river birds. After a swim I had to beat back but with the tide ebbing it felt like I was making 30 degrees to windward, which was hugely satisfying.
As I surfed down a wave approaching the island there came a terrifying crack from my tiller
From Benodet, I sailed amongst some of the many beautiful islands of south Brittany. Ile de Groix stands out in my memory as being particularly pleasant, with a friendly harbourmaster (who appreciated sculling and so let me stay for free!) and an excellent patisserie. I waited for some bad weather to pass there, sitting in a dark pub, subjecting unfortunate locals to my attempts at their language, and trying to join in card games whose rules I couldnâ€™t begin to fathom. From Ile de Groix I had an exciting sail to Ile Huat, encountering a nasty cross tide, steep seas, and strong winds. As I surfed down a wave approaching the island, there came a terrifying crack from my tiller. It was still just about in one piece, so I hove-to and took three reefs to balance the boat better, keeping a nervous eye on the nearby lee-shore. I checked out the small harbour but it was so
Above: Lorema at anchor
Above: Leo and Lorema at St Martinde-Re
tiny that I didn’t actually have enough room to slow the boat down, so I thrashed around it at breakneck speed, and left again with a few concerned looks. Once anchored in the lee of the island, I found the cracked part of the tiller inside the rudder stock and made a short-term repair with a steel splint. Ile Huat itself is fairytale-picturesque, with long white beaches, no cars, and one tiny village which contains the mandatory boulangerie and not a lot else. Like many of the places I have visited on this trip, I could happily have spent weeks there, but the journey always beckons, and the mystery of the next port usually gets the better of me. This time, I was eager to sail on to Normutier, to visit a friend who lives there. The next leg south was a good one, but the anchorage in Normutier seemed to have more swell than the open ocean, and so I foolishly tried to beat up the narrow and long channel
30 CLASSIC SAILOR
into the drying town harbour, against wind and tide. It was going so well, and I was so close, just starting to make the last tack, when all of a sudden I felt that dreaded squelching, rising, coming-to-a-standstill feeling. I tried to push off with my sculling oar, and I even set a stern anchor, but the tide was ebbing fast and I quickly realised that I would be stuck there
I could happily have spent weeks there but the journey always beckons and the mystery of the next port usually gets the better of me
for a while. I knew there was only mud below, at least, and so set about making some lunch before the galley assumed a 45º angle. What I didn’t know was that the promenade, next to the channel, fills up with people strolling to the beach just after lunchtime. As they gathered to watch my misfortune, I quickly jumped over the side and started scrubbing the hull purposefully as the water dropped. Whenever somebody asked if I was okay, I replied in my cheeriest French that “this is how we normally park our boats where I’m from,” and that I didn’t know what all the fuss was about. I’m not sure if I got away with it, but I was certainly well known in the harbour when I made it in on the next tide. Having spent some time catching up with my friend around the sleepy and leafy ‘Presque-Ile’ of Normutier, I made a nice new oak tiller, replaced my standing rigging, and
A FOLKBOAT TO FRANCE
squelched out of the mud again to continue the journey south. A few days later I was about to leave another port, St Gilles Croix de Vie, when an English friend of mine called me and told me that he was only one hour away, on his bicycle! I told him to get pedalling. One last glass of pastis with the locals before he arrived, and then we quickly dismantled his bicycle and squeezed it into the forepeak, in order to catch the tide. Unfortunately the lumpy seas turned his stomach and he spent most of the trip prone, but he is kind enough to say that he had fun anyway. We arrived at St Martin-de-Re in the blackness of the night, and slipped quietly in between the tall and ominous walls of the 18thcentury harbour. The town’s many fortifications were built in the religious wars to defend the Catholic island from nearby Protestant La
Rochelle, but these days the only invaders are large squadrons of tourists. However, it is a charming little town, full of bicycles and bars, long legs and short coffees. After some caffeine and a look around, my friend departed on his preferred two-wheeled mode of transport, and I watched the forecast and made preparations for the next stage of my voyage – across the Bay of Biscay towards La Coruña. Finally, the man inside the computer promised favourable North-Easterly wind for a few days, and I set sail again, nervous and excited. However, as I tried to get out from behind Ile de Re, the wind was still in the west and the tide was setting east. Several long tacks brought me back to the same anchored fishing boat, whose occupants eyed me with puzzlement, and I wondered if I would ever leave France. But on and on and eventually out of the narrows, and as I continued west,
Above, top: Douarnenez – “many beautiful boats and good people.” Left: the promenade at St Martinde-Re. Right: “How we park where I come from.”
the wind veered north-west and then north, and I was away, across Biscay on a broad reach – Galicia here I come! As the coast disappeared over the horizon, I reflected on what great experiences our nearest neighbour, France, had given me. Since then I have had some exciting and wonderful cruising through Europe and across the Atlantic, but Brittany and Vendée still stand out as exceptional in my mind. The country is steeped in sailing history, and the landscapes and towns are beautiful and welcoming. In my experience the people are proud and honourable, and amazingly friendly. The English might be treated with a mild disdain at first, but a spirited attempt to speak French goes a long way and ensures that a single-handed sailor will always find some genuine friends, or at least a few people to laugh at his appalling accent. Vive la France! CLASSIC SAILOR
FETTLING A FOLKBOAT
Folkboat Lorema – the rebuild A pulled chainplate and a broken mast got Leo started on ﬁxing the faults and failings on his new boat
bought Lorema impulsively in Cornwall a few years ago. One of the first times I took her sailing, a chainplate pulled out of the hull and the mast snapped. The nearest boatyard was Gweek, at the very top of the wonderful Helford river. Over the next ten months, I replaced the topside planks, the transom, most of the deck, deck beams, beamshelf, and so on. I changed some ribs, steam-bending green oak to fit the shape of the hull, and I added some extra strong frames for the chainplates to fasten through. The chainpates themselves I put on the outside of the hull, which is unusual on a folkboat, but stops water ingress and rot in this vulnerable area. I also decked over the cockpit, which gave me a lot more storage and also meant that I couldn’t get swamped by any malicious waves. I used two enormous deckbeams from a nearby project to make a new bottom section for my mast, which was glued on with a 12:1 birdsmouth scarph for maximum surface area. The boat came with an unrepeatable name, so I renamed her Lorema after my inspirational Grandmother and relaunched her, gloriously, straight into the muddy creek at low water. During my time in Gweek I enlisted the help and advice of numerous fellow boatbuilders, friends, and passers by, and I wouldn’t have survived the winter, let alone finished the rebuild, without their amazing generosity. www.sampsonboat.co.uk
Right group: All about the transom: the old one was removed, top left, and used for the pattern of the new one, bottom left. The new transom ﬁtted, top left, and ﬁnally, engraving the name
Left: A happy sailor, aﬂoat and at home 32 CLASSIC SAILOR
FETTLING A FOLKBOAT
Left:Replanking; plank ends were joined with long scarphs, glue and rivets
Right, clockwise from top left: This new deck beam had to be made in two parts to ďŹ t around the existing structure; new sidedeck takes shape; knots replaced with plugs and graving pieces; planks fastened and nearly fair; tapering the planks together at transom
Left: The bottom section of the mast was made from two deck plank offcuts (yes, massive deck planks!), glued back to back.
Right: A bit of bilge paint and varnish works wonders! CLASSIC SAILOR
Claudia Myatt packs her journal and her sketchbook and catches a ride on pilot cutter Eve of St Mawes to the biennial festival of sail and music at Paimpol. Sunday 9 August St Mawes – Helford River Cold and drizzly – welcome to Cornwall. We can hardly see Eve of St Mawes out on her mooring as we gather on the St Mawes quayside with our heap of luggage. Here’s the line up for our passage to Paimpol: Debbie Purser (skipper and owner) Claudia Myatt (volunteer mate) Chris, Liz and John (charter guests/crew) Once we’ve assembled on board there are introductions, stowage, tea and cake, safety briefing and a sail over to Helford River for the night. I’ve sailed with Debbie twice before; Chris and Liz are sailors but have never sailed Eve. John has never set foot on a boat before, and is trying to get to grips with the idea of a week sharing a small cabin with four women who are all old enough to be his mother. The thought crosses my mind as it does so often at the start of a sailing trip: “Why am I doing this?” Monday 10/Tuesday 11 August Helford – Lezardrieux. Forecast: SW 4/5 occ 6 becoming 3 (nothing like what we actually got...) 0915 Monday Depart Helford River. Drizzle, lumpy seas and not enough wind to start with. Seasickness strikes, unsurprisingly. Liz and Chris knew what they were in for, but poor John has a hard time. To his credit he keeps going, bucket in hand, and nobody misses
their watch. Later, the sea calms and wind dies; engine on and curry for supper. As a change from drizzle, there’s heavy rain, then at dawn on Tuesday the wind comes back, a fresh easterly as we approach the coast. Eve’s jib is not roller furled, so raising and lowering it in a lumpy sea involves good timing, teamwork and a steady hand on the helm – qualities in short supply at 5am when everyone is soaked and tired. Tuesday, 1245: anchor on the Trieux river for breakfast/lunch and to ship bowsprit. Have a grim time trying to get stuck anchor up in wind and heavy rain but succeed with teamwork, tenacity and cursing from soaked and exhausted skipper. Relieved when we finally tie up at Lezardrieux marina and weather brightens to a light drizzle. Decisions, decisions – shower first then a drink at the bar, or drink first?? Hooray, Amelie Rose has arrived (Eve’s big sister, also on charter). Diggory Rose is skipper, Phil Beer is on board, so there will be music under AR’s awning later. I love being safely tied up in a marina with a drink in hand, watching familiar boats come in, their crews in the same wet and exhausted state I was in earlier. Wednesday 12 August Lezardrieux A day in harbour and occasionally it stops raining. Eve’s rigging is draped with wet oil-
Eve of St Mawes is a 38ft replica pilot cuttter, built by Luke Powell, owned by Adam and Debbie Purser of classicsailing.co.uk
Pilot cutter, pens and p skins and we enjoy a day of leisure. More new arrivals gather – Island Trust’s Pegasus, Phil Codgell’s Our Boys, Polly Agatha, a Brixham trawler or two. John is bemused – do all sailors know each other? After an introduction to traditional boats he will have a shock if he moves to modern yachts in the Solent. He is unlikely to find himself late at night sitting next to one of his music heroes who is playing fiddle on the stern of a pilot cutter. Thursday 13 August Lezardrieux - Paimpol Occasionally not-drizzling for our parade of sail through the rocks and inside Ile de Brehat to Paimpol. Frustrating that the weather is hiding this stunning coastline, still veiled in mist, but we are kept busy tacking through the Chenal de Ferlas in light winds with strong tides. Later, the weather clears and the sun almost shines as we enjoy a sail 34 CLASSIC SAILOR
d paints to Paimpol in open water on the approaches to Paimpol. Ahh yes, this is why we do it! Boats of all shapes and sizes surround us, under sail or anchored in the bay. Stressful few hours getting into Paimpol harbour: boats converge from all directions but the lock is full of square rigger Kaskelot. There is no room to manoeuvre in the outer harbour and the tide starts to ebb during the hour and a half it takes before we finally lock in. Modern boats trying to access the marina through the same lock have no idea of the handling qualities of heavy traditional boats. All we can do is keep the panic fender handy. “I say, back off can’t you!” shouts the skipper of a modern yacht who has ducked in front of us and is now about to feel Eve’s bowsprit in the small of his back. As we have a Brixham trawler inches off our stern, and boats close on either side, Debbie’s reply is unrepeatable. CLASSIC SAILOR
Sunshine at last! Boats hoist sails and ﬂags and the harbour ﬁlls with colour With remarkable coolness under the circumstances, Debbie brings Eve through the melée and into a tiny Eve-sized space alongside the quay without mishap. We’re too late for the free crew drinks reception so I pour her a very large gin and tonic. Let the party begin! Friday 14 August Paimpol Cold and rainy for most of the day, clearing later. Why oh why didn’t I bring my seaboots? Travelling by train meant limited luggage space; it’s August and I won’t need them, I thought. Wrong. I vow not to make that mistake again as I squelch around the harbour in soggy trainers. The festival is in full swing, the quayside full of stalls, people, marching bands, street theatre, noise and good cheer. This is my last night on board Eve – it’s crew changeover tomorrow and everyone is leaving. I have 24 hours to find a berth home and somewhere to sleep tomorrow night. I’m keeping an eye out for boats who may have space. Saturday 15 August Paimpol Sunshine at last! Boats hoist sails and flags and the harbour fills with colour. I sketch, listen to music, drink cider, take in the atmosphere, work out what’s happening where and which acts are playing on which stage. There is music everywhere – you’re always within earshot of one of the main stages or roving bands. It’s fantastic, a feast to the senses, though it does make informal music on boats impossible.
Once the official music starts the only place to jam with friends is late at night in a harbourside bar, if you can find space. Most of the time I wander round between the main stages and listen to anything that catches my fancy. The range of international musicians is impressive, but I did go and watch the Young ‘Uns from Hartlepool – very talented, thoroughly recommended. The crew of Amelie Rose were there as the band have played with Phil Beer on tour and he wanted to show his support. I’ve found a bed and a passage home – hooray! Had the good fortune to spot gaff ketch Donna Capel from Falmouth, owned by John and Jo Davison. I met John and Jo at Brest in 2012 when I was crew on board schooner Vilma. We were rafted alongside Donna Capel for the duration of the festival and they were good 36 CLASSIC SAILOR
It’s extraordinary – the moment the band starts a tune everyone knows it and starts dancing. We are encouraged to join in and nobody minds when we get the steps wrong
company; there was always a party on the go on their immaculate and spacious decks. Luckily, John remembered me (I obviously didn’t behave too badly at Brest) and offered me a berth home. I move my gear from Eve to Donna during the afternoon and take lessons from my new shipmates in the mysteries of lighting the Taylor’s paraffin stove. In the evening crewmate Paul from Donna Capel drags me off to the ‘Fest-Noz’ – a mass Breton dance-in. It’s extraordinary; the moment the band starts a tune, everyone knows it and starts dancing. Children, teenagers, mums and dads, oldies, they all know the steps (which are generally simple) and the open air dance floor is full within minutes. We are encouraged to join in and nobody minds when we get the steps wrong. Many of the dances are done in a long line, either with arms round shoulders or little fingers linked. Eventually the line has several hundred people, weaving around the crowded dance floor. There’s plenty of time to get to know the step pattern and the process is hypnotic, uplifting. I stagger back to my bunk late, full of cider and in love with all things Breton. Sunday 16 August Paimpol Final day of the festival. Cool and overcast; the quaysides are so crowded that the best place to sit is on Donna Capel’s deck (She has seats! With cushions!) taking in the atmosphere. There is plenty to see; small boats, some in fancy dress, sail or scull between the moored boats. An aerial acrobat performs elegant mid-air ballet amongst the rigging of a Breton lugger. Musicians perform on the quayside or on the deck of the larger boats and a permanent oyster and cider party is underway on the corporate charter boat Belle Etoile next door. Here’s a piece of useful information you may never need – the Breton for oyster is ‘istr’. I was
Donna Capel, 52ft, a 1943 Ostend ﬁshing boat was rescued and part restored by Terry and Martin Heard, completed by the Davisons
offered some but declined; as a non-seafood eater Brittany is wasted on me. I ought to be making the most of the last evening and find some music, but it’s so much effort shuffling amongst the crowds that I don’t go far – there’s plenty going on this side of the harbour, I have a bottle of cider in hand and I’m feeling mellow. Tomorrow it will all be over. Monday 17/Tuesday 18 August Paimpol – Falmouth. Forecast: light variable winds Set off around 8am with other boats, lock on freeflow and no jilling around needed this
time. The passage home is going to be very different too as there’s not a breath of wind and the sky is blue. How typical – the Brittany coastline is looking spectacular just as I have to leave it behind. My addition to the crew means the watch routine becomes a very relaxing one-hour lookout, hour at the helm, three hours off. Jo keeps us supplied with good meals, and by early Tuesday morning we’re approaching Donna’s berth at Falmouth marina. A sleep, breakfast, shower and tidy up brings my nautical hitch-hiking adventure to an end. CLASSIC SAILOR
Paimpol approaches: tricky but worth it With a twisty channel and strong tides – think about popping into Lezardrieux marina first by Diggory Rose
aimpol is the sort of out-of-the-way place that the average yachtsman probably wouldn’t think to visit outside of the festival, but that is to do it a disservice. The port has an ancient connection to the whaling trade and in the town there is an excellent maritime museum detailing this along with the development of the port itself. Lying at the head of the Anse de Paimpol, the town is not hard to get to but the fierce tidal conditions locally make it seem formidable. Indeed looking to sea from the mole at low water is startling; the sea is nowhere to be seen! On Amelie Rose this year we sailed to Brittany for the festival leaving from Falmouth. Our course was pretty well south-east with the breeze easterly making it a shy reach across the channel. The accepted wisdom is to try to time arrival at first light, thus giving the navigator the best opportunity to establish landfall with plenty of daylight. We left Falmouth at 1800 and were off the French coast around breakfast time the following morning. The strong tidal streams hereabouts cannot be ignored so try to aim to be uptide of your chosen Above: Eve of St Mawes seen from Amelie Rose Right: Festival scene in Paimpol basin
38 CLASSIC SAILOR
The accepted wisdom is to time arrival at first light for the best opportunity to establish landfall landfall (and upwind if possible) so that you can bear away when your position is confirmed. Tides here can be as fast as a small yacht can motor so be warned! In order to preposition ourselves and to be sure that we arrived in Paimpol at high water, Amelie Rose headed for Lezardrieux as a first port
of call. There is a very welcoming marina here, sure to find a berth for a pretty boat and crucially, unlike Paimpol, entrance can be made at any state of tide. The Anse de Paimpol will provide an anchorage to visitors crossing in westerly weather but with the breeze north of east and the attractions of cold beers in friendly waterside bars, this is an option many yachtsmen will take. We used the Admiralty Small Craft folio which provides more than accurate pilotage information for this part of the world, together with the Shell Channel Pilot written in Tom Cunliffe’s inimitable style. At festival time, a pre visit to Lezardrieux will pay dividend as you can then sail in company with other like-minded types which helps identify marks and give a good idea of the pilotage as it pans out. The final approach to Paimpol (see Claudia’s sketch map on page 36) is easy enough and enhanced in the company of the festival fleet as it follows a winding but well buoyed channel in the west of the Anse de Paimpol to the lock in the town proper. This is open 2 hours either side of HW and, at the top of the tide, is free flow in to the basin. Bear in mind of course that virtually the whole festival fleet arrives on the same tide. The procession in is spectacular but can lead to frustration and frayed nerves as the local fishing fleet will turn up at the same time too. Be prepared to enter to the waves and cheers from the spectators on the quay, and to be distracted heavily by the bombards and brass instruments of the local musicians. This is after all what Paimpol is about!
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Harkstead Hall Barns, Harkstead, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP9 1DB 07766 040012 demonyachts.co.uk 26/10/2015 11:31
ON BOARD WHOOPER
THE WINNING WAYS OF
WHOOPER Many a classic sailor looks at Whooper racing by with a tinge of envy, but winning consistently is all about preparation, training and commitment, owner Giovanni Belgrano tells Dan Houston
It’s time to tack, I can open my eyes and see Cowes Roads and the Royal Yacht Squadron, celebrating its 200th anniversary this week, through the bouncing vista of spray. I’ve worked out the moves of getting across the coachroof now, but it’s still slightly awkward, as we shove backwards against the cabin sides, pulling our legs through the guardwires, sometimes getting limbs tangled – like lovers disengaging to rush for the phone. Then you’re lying across the coachroof, under the swinging boom, and the trick is to haul yourself across using the far handrail, pull the knees against your chest again and then turn and shoot your legs forward and through the opposite lower guardwires before plonking onto the side deck and hooking your neck
Right: Bowman Andy Day turns aside as the spray of a Solent chop spatters the foredeck. Left: Whooper with her modern racing rig; carbon boom and Dyneema sails – they are long lasting according to skipper-owner Giovanni Belgrano. 40 CLASSIC SAILOR
at with the crew out on the windward rail I’ve had to shut my eyes. It’s to give the corneas some respite from the constant sousing of seawater spray, thrown up by Whooper’s cantering upwind progress through the Solent chop. The spray is also in my nostrils, up the sleeves of my light summer waterproof and trying to get into my hood and down my neck. Which it will succed in doing in a couple of tacks’ time. Luckily I didn’t wear boots, even with my good all-weather salopette trousers velcroed over them at the ankle – they’d be full of water too, by now. My shoes can’t get any wetter, but it’s OK, they work as well as if they were dry.
“The boat was on the edge of her limits that day” CLASSIC SAILOR
ON BOARD WHOOPER
JAMES ROBINSON TAYLOR
When racing you want to have systems and drills completely under control; no-one even has to think about what they need to do. “That way, we can keep our eyes out of the boat”
The spinnaker moment just after our start, showing how the spinnaker pulled its halyard over the mast winch. We nearly ran over it. Giovanni fixed the problem by taking the halyard through a jam cleat on deck. 42 CLASSIC SAILOR
under the upper guard wire. It should take a few seconds; a few bruises are to be expected. I’m sure it’s not always like this on Whooper, Laurent Giles’ 39ft (11.9m) shoal-draught centreboard sloop from 1939, and I could tell instantly by the attitude of the crew that this is a great boat on which to be sailing. And look, she’s this season’s boat! A few weeks back she won the Gold Roman Bowl – the IRC’s jewel in the crown – in the Round the Island race, for the second time (2004 was the first), and she has been cleaning up at the British Classic Yacht Club regattas and other events… so to be aboard is a privilege; the damp is merely literal, my spirits are high. There are a few old boats now, which are sailed like new boats. With rebuilt structures owners put modern racing gear onto them and watch the speed dialling up. It’s not an approach that appeals to everyone and for some the idea of putting carbon and Dyneema into an old boat is anathema… yet we almost always allow ourselves Dacron sails… So I’ve been intrigued about how Giovanni Belgrano, Whooper’s owner since 2001, has got her onto such winning form. And he has a great expression: “We want to keep our eyes out of the boat.” What he means by this is that when racing you want to have your systems and drills completely under control; no-one even has to think about what they need to do according to each manoeuvre. “That way,” he explains to me later, “we can keep our eyes out of the boat – looking for wind shifts, other boats, anything else that will affect us.” It doesn’t always go right. During our start a few minutes earlier in this 15NM race around the cans off Cowes, we had a moment when the spinnaker halyard slipped on the winch and it looked like Whooper was going to run over her own sail. The boys put another turn on but with 25 knots of breeze and gusts of 30 it was always going to be hard work! Speaking later (maybe because he saw how wet I was!) Giovanni said that the boat was on the edge of her limits that day. The move may have cost us a little time but it had not stopped us from winning (again) putting five minutes between ourselves and Clarionet, a 1966 S&S boat of the same length which is also raced very competitively. Giovanni has since put a block on the deck with a jammer and winches so that the spinnaker could not pull its halyard out again. “It’s too dangerous for your fingers on a winch to have that happen again, I know others who have been hurt like that,” he said. “We also have some little Velcro strops on the sail so that we can hoist it rolled up – the IRC doesn’t allow us to use wool anymore but this will work well.”
It’s an approach he has used consistently over the years to improve the boat’s safety and performance. “One of the first things we did,” he remembers, “is to change the genoa sail for a blade jib that has no overlap – that improves tacking time, and improves the tacking angle by three or four degrees, because we can now lead it inboard of the shrouds and the sheeting angle is much better than with the old genoa. “In 2002 Harry Spencer made me a new spruce mast. The old Columbian pine one was too heavy. That new mast is like a musical instrument – you can tune it! Originally Giles would have given her a decent mast though so I was taking her back to her old self like that. And I cleaned up the interior – we have a galley now rather than the domestic kitchen, which had grown over the years. “She was sheathed in the 1980s but only on the outside, so inside the boat still breathes. She is built of pitch-pine planks on oak frames and they are 100 per cent pre-war, although we replaced several rusting iron floors with laminated wood ones. Her deck was also replaced with two layers of plywood – before I got her; it’s heavy but it’s watertight. “We changed the iron keel for lead. Again that was on the original specification but when Woodnutts built her it was just before the war so they had used iron. “We tidied up the rig and removed quite a lot of the clutter from her and my view is that she is a simple boat and more in keeping with how she might have been when she was launched. We replaced the blocks with Harken and we use Anderson winches and we do have a carbon boom for racing at IRC events with our black dyneema sail… She’s still Whooper you know? And she always was fast. I was told about her being in a race in the Channel where she averaged 10 knots! For classic events we use our wooden boom and Dacron mainsail. “The Dyneema is a good racing cloth – there is no loss through it. It’s the same material that they use in the Volvo Ocean Race and it lasts three times as long as a normal sail. It holds its shape well and that is a benefit because we don’t get overpowered so much; Whooper can get overpowered very easily but the new sail means we are not on our ear so much. “The carbon boom is also very light – about 9kg compared to the wooden one at 24kg I think. Plus it’s stronger.” It’s fascinating talking with Giovanni, whose day job is as a structural composites engineer – mainly in modern boats. He was principal structural engineer for Emirates Team New Zealand in the last America’s Cup. And he understands materials at a molecular level and applies the science to make his beloved old boat behave better on the water.
ON BOARD WHOOPER
He is also keen on getting the best from that can manoeuvre on a dime but we really himself and his crew. For instance he moved improve by doing that. Our boat handling the stanchions outboard by 50mm so that the and systems get organised early in the season crew can sit about 100mm further out – on so that at the beginning of the season we can the very edge of the deck. “It’s more comfy for already have our eyes out of the boat. them too,” he avers (and “Many of these boats are with only one race to go by dry-sailed now, they have I didn’t feel really qualified smooth bottoms whereas We went out to to comment about that, we have antifoul and we stay the start line the in the water all season. So dear reader). The key to getting a race we have to try harder and evening before crew up to speed is to practice. prepare better. It’s like the old Royal Naval that really is the and pinged our diff“And tradition with gunnery (or erence. It’s a question of anything else); you do it again place on the line preparation and execution and again until you have the to get everything running as manoeuvre so smooth that it smoothly as possible. Before becomes second nature. Plus you keep yourself the Island race this year we had a coach, sharp to ways of improving. Andrew Palfrey, who came to join us for two So Giovanni races on Tuesday nights with days. That was fantastic – we all improved a the Island Sailing Club, and does as many local humungous amount – we learned a lot really events as possible. quickly. People accept having a coach when “We start sailing in April and we join the they play tennis or golf… why not for sailing? spring series at Warsash. We often find that We also take video from a RIB and watch painful. It’s after winter and we are with boats ourselves to see how we are doing.” 44 CLASSIC SAILOR
Above left: Giovanni at the helm. Right: sailplan showing fractional rig and lines showing her shallow underwater proﬁle
Whooper 1939 LOA: 39ft (11.9m) LWL: 30 ft 10in (9.41m) Beam: 9ft 6in (2.9m) Draught: 5ft 5in 1.7m, Board up: 4ft 4in (1.3m) Sail Area downwind: 1453sqft (135M2 )
Giovanni tells me he got into racing at his childhood home in Genoa, racing dinghies, (International) 420s and then 470s up to national level before he came to England to study engineering at the Southampton Institute in 1979. “And I like cruising too,” he says. “We take Whooper out for the weekend or just for Sunday lunch with the family and it’s fun. I would like to cruise her further – to Ireland maybe. I would not do the Fastnet though – she isn’t up to more than coastal racing, but a cruise to Ireland, where you can pick your weather window, that would be good to do. “When you are racing it is hard to find and keep a good crew. We are all amateurs and we have to fit our sailing into our busy lives but as we improve it gets better and that makes it fun. It’s fun to win but you have to work at it. “When we first did Round the Island we were 300th and then next year we were 100th and so on. This year we went out to the start line the evening before and pinged our place on the line with the GPS and worked out a tacking plan and I’m happy to say we could look at our track and it was exactly like the plan.”
Plastic? Fantastic! 10 g Seaworthy designs, many inspired by the Folkboat, combined with the material benefits of
here I was, at this year’s Classic Regatta Anglo-Breton (CRAB to its friends), lucky enough to be crewing on a race round the Île de Bréhat in a Twister 28. A beautiful, seaworthy and speedy boat, that happened to have been built in GRP - which stands for glass reinforced plastic. Purists might ask what a GRP yacht was doing amidst this fleet of classics. Surely they should all be wood? So how come a ‘plastic fantastic’ was gatecrashing such a gathering? Well; the times they are a-changing. While the British Classic Yacht Club (BCYC) still restricts membership to owners of wood or steel yachts above 30ft and designed before 1970, CRAB opens its events to two groups of classics: boats built as one-offs or limited series in wood, steel, or aluminium to pre-1968 designs and later yachts designed pre-1974 and built in GRP. Chairman Bruce Thorogood explained: “Boats built as one-offs or in limited series are considered classic unless there’s a reason to exclude them. For GRP production boats, the design needs to 46 CLASSIC SAILOR
be approved by the organisers. Many GRP yachts [designed before 1974] were still traditional looking, being derivatives of designs that could have been built in wood.” Then, just to ram his point home, Bruce told me: “To my mind it is absurd to reject all GRP boats when it has been the major boatbuilding material for over half a century and many very fine designs have been built in GRP. I think hull material is irrelevant; it is all about style and quality.” And when it comes to size, CRAB accepts a minimum length of 24ft 8in (7.5m) for Channel events and 17ft 8in (5.4m) for inshore regattas; so smaller boats like Vertues, Folkboats, Twisters, Contessa 26s et al can join in the fun. Like many other bus-pass holders, I started sailing and racing in wooden yachts. These were the norm in the postwar years up to the late 60s, although now they will all be termed as ‘classics’. There was a beautiful Robert Clark 60-footer called Lara; my grandfather’s pride and joy. Then a Solent Sunbeam, closely followed by a graceful International One Design (IOD). A bit later, it was cruiser-racing on a South Coast One Design
(SCOD) then the Sandy Balfour-designed and Berthon-built 36-footer Matchless. Shortly after, I horrified my parents by setting off (at the age of 22) to cross the Atlantic in a 25ft (7.6m) Buchanan-designed Wind Elf Mk 2. But when I came back down to UK earth and took up boatbuilding, I plunged headlong into the GRP age. Everything was changing, fleets of new production boats were flooding the market. And of course many of these are now old enough to be found at CRAB and other classic regattas. So why shouldn’t today’s sailors with a yen to sail a classic consider a GRP yacht rather than a wooden one? And for that matter, why might they prefer a GRP classic over a far more commodious modern AWB (average white blob)? The most obvious reason is that a classic has a special charm, looking and sailing very differently to a modern lightweight. And a GRP one is likely to cost far less to restore (if this is indeed necessary) and maintain than a wooden one. True; its engine, rig and electrics might need replacing at some stage. So seek out a re-engined example or allow for its cost when haggling. Then its topsides
0 great GRP classics GRP production make an attractive sailing package, writes Peter Poland
Opposite page: the Nordic Folkboat – the design which started it all Left: original lines of the legendary Laurent Giles Vertue, famed for its seakeeping qualities
and decks may need cutting back, fairing and painting. But these expenses tend to be long-lasting compared to the annual rituals on a wooden yacht. An onset of osmosis can be a minor hassle compared to the cost of a yard’s labour to replace planking, frames, ribs, deck beams etc should a wooden hull become structurally unsound, rotten or have a prang. Purists who have the wherewithal or who are skilled DIY chippies won’t be put off by this cost. But many more will. GRP Twister owner John MacMullen once told me: “Beware the danger of being ruled by your emotions and optimism. A classic in sound condition is a beautiful thing. A ‘dog’ will cost you a shed load of money. Know your market. Does the cost of the work and equipment needed make sense when added to the purchase price? Doing it yourself – if you have the skills and can spare the time – gives you huge leeway. Paying a boatyard may ruin you!” James Stock, my Twister skipper at CRAB 2013 and 2015, summed up the dilemma well: “I favour GRP for a classic yacht – but with lots of wood embellishment – on the grounds of
managing maintenance and cost. But thankfully there are those with deep pockets sailing classics constructed in wood who are the custodians of fine boats.” He admits to enjoying the comments of passers by who pause to admire his Twister’s sheerline, elegant proportions and varnished bright work, saying: “It makes the hard work with a varnish brush worthwhile.” So if you fancy joining the fray in a GRP classic and accept 1974 as a cut-off design date, where should you start? The likely candidates cover two types of yacht. These are the long keel developments of earlier cruisers and of the iconic Nordic Folkboat; then the later and sportier fin and skeg yachts (such as early Swans) that hit the market in the late 60s and early 70s.
“To my mind it is absurd to reject all GRP boats when it has been the major boatbuilding material for half a century”
The Folkboat, derived from a 1940s Swedish design competition, has become the most influential of all yachts, going on to spawn countless GRP long keelers. The brief was to design a cheap, fast, attractive and seaworthy racer that could also double up as a capable family cruiser. The eventual result was a combination, carried out by Tord Sunden, of the best aspects of the final favoured four into one 25ft 2in (7.68m) yacht. And they called it the Nordic Folkboat. Bow and stern overhangs balance sweetly and a keel ‘cutaway’ forward reduces wetted surface while a rounded underbody and slackish bilge – which induces initial tenderness – produces a hull that stiffens up dramatically in a breeze. A 50% ballast ratio, displacement length ratio of 249 and lovely lines help; so she sails and handles beautifully under full sail while AWBs are busy reefing. Initially Nordic Folkboats were built of wood with clinker planking. Then, in 1977, the class allowed GRP as an alternative construction. Around 1,000 of these have been built so far (they are still in production). However even its greatest fans will concede that this delightful and potent CLASSIC SAILOR
PRODUCTION CLASSICS The Contessa 26: based on a Folkboat, she’s pretty, seaworthy and still has wide appeal
little package leaves much to be desired when it comes to comfortable accommodation. So in 1966 Sunden came up with a solution. The International Folkboat One Design is longer overall 25ft 9in (7.87m) and on the waterline 19ft 10in (6.04m) and weighs more (2150kg). It also has an even higher ballast ratio and a higher sail area/displacement ratio to enhance light airs performance. Add a self-draining cockpit and an outboard well or small inboard engine and you have a far more versatile yacht. To prove the IF Boat’s appeal, over 3,000 have been produced. Down below, the IF Boat boasts far more usable space than its original Nordic ancestor. A forepeak with two 6ft-plus berths, longer settee berths in the saloon, a small heads, a rudimentary galley and improved stowage space all add up to make a feasible family cruiser; even if headroom is only 4ft 8in (1.4m). And of course its performance, sea-worthiness and easy handling make the IF Boat as accomplished on a race course as she is thrashing through heavy weather on a long cruise. One owner summed up its appeal, telling me “I have owned my boat for 17 years. I was invited to crew on one and allowed to helm; and from that moment I was smitten. She sails easily in 48 CLASSIC SAILOR
very light winds and doesn’t really need to reef until Force 6. The helm is beautifully balanced throughout… I have yet to meet a sailor who didn’t appreciate sailing one. However all boats are a compromise. The IF Boat has low freeboard and a long keel, which means she makes virtually no leeway even in strong winds. The trade off is that she is a wet boat in a swell and does not have standing headroom below decks. However I am 6ft 2in tall and am quite comfortable in her, with a choice of three bunks that I fit.” Meanwhile, over in Lymington, Jeremy Rogers was planning to make an even more versatile long-keel GRP cruiser-racer. He was already building cold-moulded wooden Folkboats with masthead rigs when, together with an owner of
“She sails easily in light winds and doesn’t neeed to reef until F6. I have yet to meet a sailor who didn’t appreciate sailing one”
one of these, he decided to take the GRP route and produce a modified and modernised variation. Rogers told me he butchered one of his cold-moulded Folkboat hulls to make the plug, cutting out the transom, inserting wedges into the open hull and pushing the sides outwards. It creaked and got wider until it looked right. He then levelled and lifted the sheer, allowing for the addition of small moulded bulwarks. This raised the freeboard and increased the overall length. Then he and designer David Sadler tidied things up, adding a low profile and attractive roof (incorporating a keyhole companionway) and straightening the keel base (to facilitate drying out). Hey presto – in 1966 the Contessa 26 was born. The first of the class, Contessa of Lymington, cost her owner £2416 and ten shillings. David Sadler took No. 5 while Vernon Sainsbury (the business angel who funded the project) bought No 6. The Contessa was an instant hit and orders flooded in. The total of boats built exceeds 400. Now as then, the Contessa 26 has wide appeal. Some win races such as the Round the Island; and others voyage across oceans. Given her globe-girdling reputation, it was a shame that when I tested a Contessa 26 I had to make do
Left: International Folkboat – all the virtues of the original, but a bit bigger Below left: Van de Stadt Invicta 26: straight and fast sailer, good accommodation, a little gem Below: The Elizabethan 29, a countersterned Kim Holman design
with a wet, windy and cold winter’s day on the Solent rather than sliding into a palm-fringed bay in the Caribbean. But she didn’t disappoint. She was a total delight to sail. She’s pretty, seaworthy and offers easy handling, speed aplenty, stability and adequate accommodation. True, the space and headroom down below might be less than on similar length long-keeled yachts that I have sailed, such as the SCOD, Nicholson 26 and Wind Elf; but everything is there and works. Much the same applies to Van de Stadt’s take on a GRP Folkboat derivation. His Invicta 26, introduced in 1964, probably influenced the Contessa that hit the scene two years later. Rogers admitted to me that he liked the keyhole companionway detail. However he didn’t replicate the Invicta’s characterful split level roof, so missed out on a bit of extra headroom. Van de Stadt also flattened off the keel base so the Invicta dries out on the level. Down below, the accommodation is a success. Instead of shoehorning two berths into a small forepeak, Van de Stadt designed saloon settee berths that slide into trotter boxes. As a result, the forward area is given over to a heads and stowage. Two quarter-berths aft make for comfortable
sleeping while the amidships galley and chart table are practical and easy to use at sea. Given the modest volume inside any Folkboat derivative, this layout has much to recommend it. At the risk of sounding heretical, I prefer it to the Contessa’s. There were two versions of the Invicta; the Mk I and Mk II. The latter has a slightly raised deck line which increases interior space. It also has a smidge less sail area than the Mk 1, which was aimed more at the keen racer. Either way, the Invicta is a cracking little yacht and would grace any classic gathering. What’s more it sails straight and fast. A little gem. British designer Kim Holman also joined the early charge into GRP long-keeled cruisers. His Elizabethan 29 and Twister 28 designs both ruled the roost in Junior Offshore Group (JOG) crossChannel races in the 60s and you will now find them, when allowed, joining the fun in today’s Classic events. And when it comes to sweet lines and elegant profiles, neither lowers the tone. Holman always designed lovely looking boats, and these two are prime examples. The Elizabethan went afloat in 1960. Unlike many Folkboat-style long-keelers of the day, she
eschewed the functional transom stern. Instead Holman gave her a graceful counter (hence the extra 3ft of overall length) and this balances perfectly with her bow overhang. He also gave her a split level roof, which increases headroom at the aft end of the saloon. Thanks to these traditional traits, she really does have the look of a classic, albeit a plastic one. Down below she has enough space to fit in an enclosed heads amidships with settee berths in the saloon and twin berths in the forepeak. The galley and chart table live aft at the foot of the companionway. All in all, it is a practical layout and comfortable at sea. I spent many happy days (and nights) as a junior crew member thrashing a Liz 29 around the Channel on JOG races in the 60s. As in many early GRP boats, her interior finish is functional rather than fancy. But everything works. And her sailing qualities are as you would expect – exceptional. If anything. Holman’s Twister 28 is even more desirable as a GRP classic yacht. When I was crewing on the Liz back in the 60s, the Twisters were our nemesis. We could usually outsail them on a reach or a run; but when it came to a beat – especially in heavy weather – it was a different CLASSIC SAILOR
PRODUCTION CLASSICS It’s a Twister! Kim Holman’s design, with standing headroom, is “closewinded and quick... the near-perfect small GRP classic yacht”
story. The Twister’s extra waterline length, beam, draught and weight gave her power that we could not match. Our counter stern may have been prettier, but we got fed up with watching her less refined transom. Holman designed and built the first wooden Twister for himself in 1964. She was nigh on unbeatable. Then Tylers began to build GRP hulls and various yards finished these off, adding a wooden deck, superstructure and interior. Finally, in 1970, Tylers developed an all GRP version that sold in large numbers. The Twister I have sailed on regularly is one of these and was beautifully finished by Universal Shipyard on the Hamble. Her owner James Stock told me; “if you want a Twister, buy an all wood or all GRP example. The wood deck on GRP hull versions can involve a lot of maintenance work.” It is hard to quantify the joy of steering this boat. The helm is relatively firm but you don’t need to do a lot with it. A Twister knows where to go and sailing it upwind can be a delicious single finger job. It naturally follows the wind and if you wrench the helm too much, you just put on the brakes. It’s closewinded and quick; very quick. The accommodation is equally pleasing. 50 CLASSIC SAILOR
There’s nothing unusual about the layout (which offers standing headroom): twin berth forepeak, amidships heads and hanging locker, saloon settee berths with trotter boxes, spacious navigation area (standing room only) and galley aft. The overall sensation is ‘snug and comfortable’; mainly because the bilge is deep so you step down into the interior. All in all, it is a very pleasant place to be. Especially if you are in a well finished example with plenty of woodwork. So combine the Twister’s comfort with its easy but fast sailing qualities and lovely looks and you have the near perfect small GRP classic yacht. About the only drawback is the price. These yachts are much in demand, so they don’t come cheap.
“Maybe you relish the sensation of guiding a well-balanced and stable hull through the waves rather than fighting the helm”
Equally desirable but significantly larger, Kim Holman’s Rustler 31 is effectively an overgrown Twister and has a big following. And rightly so. Built by Russell Anstey Yachts, the Rustler is an all GRP sister to the equally popular North Sea 24 (its LWL) which was built by several yards, including Uphams and Tucker Brown. With its RORC compliant 24ft (7.3m) LWL, beam of 9ft (2.7m), draught of 5ft 6in (1.6m) and powerful ballast ratio and DLR, the Rustler is an archetypal long keeled cruiser-racer. The first boat – Rustler of Arne – was co-owned by Russell Anstey and Kim Holman and together they sailed her from the Canaries to Barbados. Then she went to Grenada to be chartered. Anne Hammick completed two Atlantic circuits in Wrestler of Leigh and wrote about ‘Ocean Cruising on a Budget’. Along with its wooden sister the North Sea 24, the Rustler picked up pots galore in offshore races. And still makes a wonderful long distance cruiser and classic yacht event competitor. It’s one of the most elegant classic GRP yachts and sails like a dream in any weather. The Alan-Hill designed Cutlass 27 is worth a look if a GRP long-keeler of similar size to the Twister
Above: The Rustler 31, another Holman design, perennially popular Right: The Cutlass 27, budget-price alternative to the Twister
but a bit less pricey appeals. Launched in 1967, it sold in good numbers, although it never acquired the Twister’s star status. Nonetheless, the racing specialist magazine Yachts & Yachting tested one when it came out and wrote: “The helm was extremely light and sensitive... irrespective of the angle of heel or point of sailing, the yacht might as well have been running on rails... altogether, sailing the Cutlass was a delight.” Accommodation is conventional for its era, although finish varies because several were home-completed by DIY builders. So check carefully. But if you find a nice one, it will give you classic long-keel sailing and a steady motion at sea on a modest budget. Perhaps the most iconic long keel classic cruiser of this size is the Vertue. Indeed when I was planning my Transatlantic trip back in 1968, this little beauty was at the top of my list. I had read epic tales of ocean crossing derring-do such as Humphrey Barton’s book Vertue XXXV, so this was my ideal boat. But there was one problem. Secondhand Vertues cost a bomb in those days. However if you now like the idea of joining the classic circuit in one of these tough little Jack Laurent Giles-designed masterpieces, you don’t
have to buy a wooden one. Several of the GRP Vertue 2 class were built by Bossoms Boatyard. An ‘extra plank’ had already been added to earlier wooden models’ topsides to give a bit more room down below and there were a few other small changes to facilitate GRP construction. But it is still quintessentially a Vertue, with its legendary sea-keeping qualities. It would certainly not look amiss in a classic fleet. So if you want to enjoy your own classic yacht – whether wood or GRP – what should you take into account? Firstly, you need to accept that you will not be getting a wide-bodied hull with a spacious aft heads (complete with shower) and you won’t be able to enjoy a secluded stern cabin with your spouse or partner. If you need these features, look elsewhere. But perhaps you have sailed enough to realise that you don’t spend half your life in the loo and that secure single berths are best for sound sleeping on a yacht at sea. And maybe you enjoy sailing a fairly heavy long-keeled yacht with a moderate beam and relish the sensation of guiding a well-balanced and stable hull on its way through the waves
rather than fighting the helm or recovering from broaches. In which case a modern wide beam lightweight probably won’t be for you. What about maintenance costs? All boats siphon money out of your pocket; and by and large older ones are the greediest. In the ‘classic field’ a GRP classic offers the best of many worlds. Of course it will still cost cash to run and keep up to scratch; but rarely as much as a wooden one. Yet you still have the satisfaction of owning a yacht that sails like a classic and attracts admiring glances wherever you go. And now – thanks to CRAB and other enlightened clubs – you can sample the unique atmosphere and camaraderie of classic yacht get-togethers and regattas in a GRP yacht. As modern volume production designs continue on their remorseless way towards plumb ends, wide beam (often carried well aft), shallow hulls and slender fin keels, I foresee a rosy future for classic yachts and the cheerful folk who love them. That – if you’ve been counting – came to nine fine glassfibre designs. So what of the 10th? This is where you, our readers come in. Help us fill the ‘vacant plinth’ with your nominations: send emails to email@example.com with your favourite production classic – perhaps your own boat? CLASSIC SAILOR
PEOPLE OF THE SEA
Bill Hocking At 87, Bill is Britain’s oldest working fisherman, still laying lobster pots with his 15ft boat off the Cornish coast. He talked to Phil Russell about the ‘Great Mackerel Klondyke’, the sinking of his boat and more.
think I can count on one hand the people I have known for whom I have huge regard, respect and would trust my life with. Two of them happen to be fishermen; one was the coxswain of the Padstow lifeboat, the other is Bill Hocking who is 87 years old, married for 63 years, living in Downderry, Cornwall, and still fishing for a living. I first met Bill back in 1973 when on leave in Downderry from the RAF. My mother and father-in-law had a small business there and an invitation to go potting with Bill was an opportunity too good to miss. Working his small wooden motor boat off the beach, Bill had 200 pots close to shore and although this boat was only about 15ft (4.5m) it was well equipped with a pot hauler, echo sounder and a steadying sail. Watching Bill handle this boat was sheer poetry. It was like an extension of himself, nothing hurried, everything deliberate. Working on your own in this environment leaves no room for error – one clumsy move and you’re over the side with your pot. Bill however doesn’t like shellfish and he’s not very keen on fish either, he always takes strawberry jam sandwiches and a banana to sea as he said that the jam sandwiches taste the same coming back as they do going down! So why would he ever want to get up at 5.30 nearly every morning, in all weathers, to torture himself in the wind and rain? Personally I have no idea, but the fact is that Bill started fishing out of Looe in 1944 and has always fished. Like some obsession he can’t imagine life without it and in fact prefers to be at sea, he says. Apart from a brief spell in the Navy as a medic during national service (where he was able to wangle night time fishing trips whilst able to get some kip during the day) he has done nothing else. The early days were spent night drifting for pilchards. Vast amounts were caught until they were all gone, then the boats were fitted out for trawling to catch an assortment of fish – lemon sole, whiting, skate and monkfish. During the summer months up to October, 52 CLASSIC SAILOR
Bill handed his boat Ella over to another skipper to do what Looe became famous for and that’s sports fishing for shark, while he did his potting off Downderry and became known as “Downderry Bill”. I loved my short period spent fishing with Bill off Downderry and I recall one time sitting at the rear of the boat sorting crab and lobster when I caught a wry grin on his face which soon developed into a hearty chuckle
Working on your own leaves no room for error – one clumsy move and you’re over the side with your pot as he popped the crabs into the keep pot. “What’s so funny?” I enquired. “Have a look under your smock,” he said. I looked down to see the biggest cock crab you ever saw with claws raised only half an inch away from my wedding tackle and as a castration was not in my future plans I moved the offending crustacean ever so gently away.
Strict laws concerning the size of lobsters which are allowed to be landed are in force, so as each one is removed gently from the pot it is measured, the small ones go back over the side and as Bill says: “That’s the trouble with the small ones, they never are very big!!” The ones to keep get a little kiss and are thanked, a rubber band is placed over the claws and they are put in the basket. Lobsters are handled with care as they can bleed to death before you get them ashore and become useless, an awful waste, so never buy a dead lobster unless it’s been pre-cooked. I asked Bill about some of the hardest times. He recalled the days of the cod war when boats from Scotland were banned from fishing off Iceland and invaded the waters of the western approaches. This was during the time when mackerel fishing became known as the Great Mackerel Klondyke. Boats of all sizes were pressed into service to enjoy the abundance of these fish that had suddenly found a place in the market. Several hundred stone were landed daily and all these fish were caught on hand lines by crews that had become used to the abundance of the bounty. It was not long however before the Scottish
1978: A cold and grey dawn with the first haul of the day as the crew eagerly awaits the catch to gut and sort. Bill assumes his position behind the winch as it groans with the weight of the catch.
The truth was that if Bill went to sea then so did everyone else; if he didnâ€™t, only the foolhardy went
PEOPLE OF THE SEA
It’s the business of fishing that claims your soul, coming and going, and each day the quest for more
and foreign boats became aware of the riches being landed in the West Country, so, banned from the Icelandic waters they soon turned up on the doorstep. Not little fishing boats but multi-million pound trawlers that had to earn big money to keep them and their crews. They literally hoovered up the fish and delivered them to the Factory Ships from the Eastern block that stationed themselves in the sheltered waters. This situation of course could not be sustained for long and soon they depleted the stock so it was no longer viable, hence the demise of the mackerel in abundance. The local boats, measuring anything from 15ft to 60ft earned a nice living fishing for mackerel and often overloaded with fish, it was like the pilchard days all over again as boats arrived at the fish quay at Looe loaded to the gunwales and it was during one of these trips with the Ella on auto pilot that she rammed the Polperro fishing boat Compass Rose. Bill of course escorted the boat back into harbour fortunately, without any casualties, Such was the rush to get to shore and unload the catch that sorting fish was done with all hands into small medium and large, the quayside would be packed with boats all trying to do the same thing and this process would continue into the night. There was always an early start the next morning so until the unloading was finished and the boats readied for the next day, that was the time when the crews could then get some sleep. 54 CLASSIC SAILOR
In the early mornings well before dawn, the crews gathered on the quayside as they have done for hundreds of years. If the weather was bad then the big question would be: “Who is going first, if at all?” They say there are only two types of fishermen, the needy and the greedy and Bill said he had no doubt about which category the others thought he was in, but the truth was that if Bill went to sea then so did everyone else, and likewise if he didn’t go, only the foolhardy went and even then that was very unusual. It was in the middle of the night when Bill’s crew from one of his boats, the Natalie, arrived on his doorstep soaking wet. “Err, morning Bill, we have lost your boat off the Eddystone.” Fortunately no-one was drowned, but as I
Bill recounts his trawling days as he packs up the lobster pot lines. He’ll spend the winter fixing the pots and making new ones, repairing the boat and servicing the engine and “come the end of March all will be ready, I will go back to the place where I belong and that’s the sea”.
talked to Bill about the incident it was clearly painful. He became thoughtful and seemed to hold back for a moment. He said that several thousand pounds were spent on trying to recover the wreck but sadly without success, so maybe this is where the passion is. He told me he should have been a farmer because he likes beef but it’s the business of fishing that claims your soul, the boats become part of you, the people, the handling of the nets, the smell of the sea and the business of coming and going and each day the quest for a little more. Bill is 87 now and still works 40 pots in the summer months, in fact he has just this month (October) laid up his gear for the winter. When he was 70 he had a stroke which he says ‘slowed him up a bit’ and he finds walking a little more difficult so now his boat is kept at Looe which means he no longer has to use a dinghy. He says he belongs at sea and finds the long winters tiresome, but he finds things to do and he supports his son with his wealth of experience which is not something you can buy in the chandlers or download from your laptop and he should know; he has just got his first computer and he hates it. Bill lives for his fishing, he is happy, he has enjoyed a lifetime doing it and can’t understand why anyone would do a job they hate or don’t find enjoyable, it makes no sense to him. He has no intention of stopping doing something he has loved doing all his life. And there is no reason to. I am sure he will be doing it for ever, wherever that might be.
CLASSIC SAILOR ON LOCATION
Silver star of the screen “I suppose boats have kept me sane.” Actor John Rhys Davies – Gimli in the Lord of the Rings ﬁlms – talks to Dan Houston while ﬁlming with a Dunkirk Little Ship in Brittany.
eaders may have noticed that our letter of the month begets its writer a bottle of de Bleuchamp champagne. The marque is British owned and run by Rupert Smith who asked CS to help find a suitable boat for his latest Bond-inspired short film, A Spectre Calls, sponsored by and featuring his fizz, starring Welsh actor John Rhys Davies, directed by Howard J Ford and out in December. The film is set in scenic Britanny and needed a castle and a boat for a dastardly plot where Rhys Davies plays a fascist count who runs... a champagne house. We got onto our contacts in France and soon heard from Msr Gerard D’Abboville President of the French Patrimoine Maritime et Fluvial Out for the count: Izabella Malewska, left and Melissa Woodside, far right act with JRD in the ﬁlm A Spectre Calls
56 CLASSIC SAILOR
– historic fleet of 900 vessels – and newly owner of the 46ft (14m) Dunkirk Little Ship Cairngorm – built by James Silver on the Clyde in 1937. This led to a pre-screening invite and a chance to meet and interview JRD as he is known. During that event he revealed he had bought two powerful outboards for his Shark Cat fishing boat from Rupert Smith... which had turned out to be about as useful as anchors. They are now firm friends. So the man behind Gimli (and countless other roles of the silver screen), he’s a bit of a sailor then? “The sea compels me,” he replies in his rich Burtonesque tones (he’s Welsh but brought up in Africa and went to Truro school in Cornwall)... “like most of us, I love the romance of it and my favourite character in literature is Odysseus. I am writing a set of poems
CLASSIC SAILOR ON LOCATION From far left: John with Gerard aboard Cairngorm in Britanny. The actor was impressed by the former French paratrooper’s ability to keep the boat in great condition but said we could put him down if he ever bought another wooden boat
about how he comes back to Penelope after years of being at sea. When he left she was 14... and I’m imagining his return and how they get on after the separation and he suggests they go off in a boat cruising together... “I always liked the idea of going to sea – when I was seven I built a raft where we lived in Dar Es Salaam and I remember my mother’s horror when I had got it into the water and was on my way, though probably only a few yards off the beach. And I did start to learn to sail, with a dear girlfriend in Cornwall and I remember family holidays in small cruisers on the Norfolk Broads. And I do like most of the boy vices, I go Scuba diving whenever I can and I have a pilot’s licence. But I have sort of given up flying now. My hearing in my left ear is getting bad and my night vision is now pronouncably poor.
With flying, if you want to experience sheer terror then fly over the sea when there is no moon and it’s a dark night. The first time you do that you have no idea whether you are flying straight; you can convince yourself that the plane has dropped a wing and you are flying on your side. That’s when you have to trust your instruments, so there is a certain pucker factor to flying... but for years as soon as I got a little bit of money as an actor I would buy flying lessons. “I had a bad accident flying when I was in King Solomon’s Mines (1985), filming in Africa and six of us were being piloted in a small Piper which crashed in the bush. I needed five surgeries to my leg which was nearly guillotined off in the accident. I still remember the smell of the petrol; luckily there was no fire.
CLASSIC SAILOR ON LOCATION
If I ever buy another wooden boat you have my permission to blow my legs off and put me down “We were nine hours drive from Harare and I am lucky to be alive, but one good thing about that accident is that it gave me a willingness to play the fool. Even with 13 hours of flying at that point I was doubtful our plane could take off from the short bush runway, but I took the pilot’s word that he could do it. Now I don’t let myself be overwhelmed by the “expertise” of others. And if they cannot easily explain how something can be done then I use my own judgement. It does not really matter how expert they say they are, I find that people who know what they are doing can usually explain it in simple terms – whether they are a pilot or a lawyer. “And that is a life lesson, as important now as it was for all the ancestors who came before us – it’s about how we make a true judgement between risk and reward in the ongoing process of living. “I went back to learning to fly after that but an old friend, a former Navy fighter jock also gave me good advice when he told me it wasn’t the Battle of Britain anymore, so make sure you know about the plane, its condition and its safety, study the weather, ask yourself if you have had enough sleep, taken any cold remedy... anything like that and if there is any doubt at all then don’t go. That applies to boating as well as flying though when flying you have so little time to react, and things can unravel so damn quickly, but you certainly need to know your plan when you are going afloat; it’s really a case of being well prepared.” John owns a few boats, including a 26ft Glacier Bay cat which he bought in Vancouver after she’d sank at her moorings. “She was eight years old and I shipped her back to New Zealand (he has homes in New Zealand 58 CLASSIC SAILOR
JRD with Gerard, Cairngorm’s owner in Britanny, Rupert Smith is on the right. Good golly it’s Gimli, below.
and the Isle of Man), and I spent money to get everything to work but then left her on her moorings because I am never there and she got into a bad state again and so this last summer I took her out and had her spruced up and I think I will try to get afloat in her soon. But I suspect I have that medical condition that many boating men have where you have some money and you buy a boat that you don’t use because you are a bit scared of it. “I have a smaller catamaran dayboat and I really wanted to do the New Zealand Waikato River Seagull race – 88 miles over four days – but I got this boat out with the Seagull working and I was in the harbour and found I could not get her to go head to wind, the engine wasn’t man enough. It was embarassing to have to call my father-in-law – who was out sailing that day and hear him say he’d been ‘interested in all the circles’ I had been making in the water! “I suppose boats have kept me sane. In my line of work you are in a hotel for ten weeks, and usually with plenty of time off-set, and for the first few days you can explore the local area but after that for many actors it’s a case of meeting people in a bar and I have seen so many people go to pieces like that. “So when I was filming in Malta I bought a £500 speedboat and my son Ben came out and we circumnavigated the island, or for the Noble House mini-series I was in a beach house in North Carolina and found myself a boat where I could go down the Intercoastal and turn left to that waterfront café...” John is full of respect for boats like Cairngorm and says he gets goosebumps just to think of her role at Dunkirk. “My hat goes off to Gerard, a special man who knows how to look after her. But I once part-owned a 1967 oak on oak Italian cruiser with twin V-16 Cummings engines. She was beautiful but she cost us about $170,000 in upkeep... I soon sold my share. It was like dating a gorgeous Italian woman you just gave a credit card to. If I ever buy another wooden boat you have my permission to blow my legs off and put me down.”
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SAILORS AND SPYING
Sailor-spies, sleepers, From ‘Riddle’ to Ransome, yachtsmen and espionage seemed to go together in the years
n 1903, Erskine Childers’ novel The Riddle of the Sands set the yachting world alight. The reading public was fascinated by his tale of recreational sailors stumbling upon a German plot to invade Britain; the novel’s brilliant descriptions captured the stresses and practicalities of keeping one move ahead of a devious enemy, while manoeuvring a small yacht through treacherous seas and shifting sandbanks, in foul conditions. Patriotic readers dreamed that they too could do their bit for King and Country if such a situation presented... The novel engaged ordinary yachtsmen because Childers himself was a hands-on cruising enthusiast who had explored the Frisian coast in his own Vixen, subsequently using chunks from his log, almost verbatim, in the novel. His characters, ‘Davies’ and ‘Carruthers’, were similar in skill-set and instinctive patriotism to many readers, who felt they might well have investigated had they encountered a ‘Riddle’ set-up in real life – some 60 CLASSIC SAILOR
did offer their services for intelligence gathering, as international tension simmered. The novel impacted on proper spying too. In 1910 Captain Trench and Lieutenant Brandon were ostensibly on a ‘walking tour’ although their real task had been to map out defences along the North Sea coast; a Lieutenant Peel (codenamed Orange!), waited on a yacht flying the Norwegian flag, moored at Delfzijl in Holland to receive their reports – subterfuge ignored international boundaries, and information had to reach MI6 somehow. In court the Riddle of the Sands was brandished by the defence, and Brandon freely admitted he had read it three times, which caused much merriment. The men were sentenced to four years’ incarceration in a German fortress but they were lucky: had it been a few years later they could have been shot. So what was the actual situation in relation to Edwardian yachtsmen and spying? Of course international racing sailors were in the thick of it: they had witnessed at first hand the menace of
Germany’s hugely expanded naval fleet, whose gleaming new war ships provided a magnificent display of belligerent force at the great show regattas – a direct challenge to the notion that “Britannia ruled the waves.” The need for accurate information was acute: military engineering and design had been developing swiftly, especially within the naval arms race, but where advances had once been published openly, nations now strove to conceal their precious, hard-won technologies. This information clampdown created an urgent need to know what was being withheld – a need which could now only be met by illicit means. Hence there was serious recruiting of undercover agents to collect vital intelligence. It was an increasingly dangerous game, played for very high stakes. By 1914, with war seemingly unavoidable, ‘spy fever’ raged, both in Germany and in England. Even in 1910, one newspaper had declared that Germany’s military and naval activity was “never more marked ...she is getting ready
SAILORS AND SPYING
secrets & subterfuge leading up to and during and after the First World War, as Clare McComb reveals.
Right: Silver Crescent, photo by Dr Moore who left before his fellow crewmen were arrested for spyng. Above: the trial of Captain Trench and Lieutenant Brandon Opposite page: Erskine Childers at the helm of Vixen
for something and for somebody”. There were protestations that the nations were friendly, but there were many secrets lurking behind the smiles. In 1912 four English amateur yachtsmen in their 1886 50ft ketch Silver Crescent were arrested under suspicion of espionage, with sketches and photographs which included German fortifications. Dr Moore, a crew member who had returned to London before their capture, retorted that these charges were ridiculous, although it had been a “standing joke” before they left England that they might be taken as spies. He declared “Stone, the chief photographer, wouldn’t know one end of a warship from another and, although he is an extremely good yachtsman, would be utterly incapable of acting as a spy!” Then came the Riddle-of-the-Sands phrase: “what I really think is that there must have been something at Eckernförde which we stumbled upon....” Significantly, Dr Moore claimed that although his friends had indeed been making, and taking, drawings and snapshots, these were only of tourist
views “as public as Beachy Head.” Of course nothing could be proved and they were released, but ‘spy fever’ continued to rage in both England and Germany. Another spy scandal involved Lord Brassey, famous for circumnavigating in his steam-assisted three-masted topsail-yard schooner, Sunbeam, who was accused of spying at the 1914 Kiel regatta. He himself claimed he was sculling alone in a small dinghy to take some “exercise”, and had headed for what he called “a nice patch of clear water behind
There were protestations that the nations were friendly, but there were many secrets lurking behind the smiles
a boom” because the harbour was “rather lumpy” with all the launches and excursion steamers moving about. He denied vehemently that it was to inspect the off-limits Imperial submarine harbour – although such interest might have been explained by his being editor of the world famous Brassey’s Naval Annual, which published the most up to date international technical naval information of its day! The elderly Lord was accosted but soon released while the “arrest” caused shock and merriment when reported in newspapers around the globe. Even without Brassey’s expertise, many experienced yachtsmen had an excellent eye for significant detail as is proved by a recently rediscovered log of the 1909 Fred Shepherd designed Owl. Her non-spying crew found themselves caught up in the sights and politics of war while heading home after a cruise to Denmark: on July 30th 1914 they met and sailed right through the British fleet – columns of battleships and light cruisers, covering a front of “8 to 10 miles and the distance from van to rear not less than 10 CLASSIC SAILOR
Owl today, below, and pages from her log
miles ...we were near enough to leading cruisers to notice all guns run out ready for action ...the sight of this fleet, its position and direction, made us suspicious of coming events....” They were patriotic Brits, thus not spying on their own ships, but wrote up a log in sufficient detail to have been very useful to the German navy, had it fallen into their hands. Meanwhile MI6 had been in operation since 1909, formed by the one-legged (Sir) Mansfield Cumming, who signed documents as ‘C’ in green ink and was the real-life prototype for Ian Fleming’s ‘M’. He was a keen yachtsman – along with several fast motor craft he owned Barbara, an 1896 sloop, and Cobalt, an 1898 4-ton lugger, both Payne designed and built. After the war ended he had a 2-ton lugger, Pickle, which he kept until he died. In 1914 he was a member of the RYS and the Cruising Association, as well as Rear Commodore of the Motor Yacht Club, thus a very experienced and high profile sailor, although he would have made a rotten spy! 62 CLASSIC SAILOR
The Intelligence Service was recruiting very different types from the Riddle of the Sands yachtsmen. An ideal agent had to be skilled at blending into the background, while having an unquestionable reason for being where they were. Ideally they would speak the local language without accent, and be able to spend an evening in cheery company while giving out minimal
Cumming used to stab a knife into his wooden leg without warning, and reject any wouldbe agent who ﬂinched!
information. In emergencies they would not flicker an eyelid - Cumming used to stab a knife into his wooden leg without warning, and reject any would-be agent who flinched! Spies needed to be personable and able to think on their feet; they also had to cope with what was often a lonely life, away from their families, with very little income and often bored for much of the time – quite unlike Childers’ narrative. One famous sailing secret agent was Arthur Ransome. Documents released by MI6 in 2005 revealed he was recruited in August 1918, and given the codename S76; in 1919 he and his wife Evgenia (formerly Trotsky’s secretary)were involved in a million roubles in diamonds and pearls being smuggled out of Russia to support the communist cause abroad, after which they settled with his wife in Estonia. Here he enjoyed coastal voyages in Slug, an open dinghy, and a keelboat Kittiwake.
C/O LAKELAND ARTS TRUST
Left: Arthur Ransome during his Russian period Below left, Ransome’s yacht Racundra
Right, above: Johnnie Martin’s yacht Wanderer. Below: Aboard Wanderer, from the family album
In 1922 he and Evgenia cruised in Racundra which had been designed for them by Otto Eggers of Reval and built in a local boatyard in Riga. Whether sailing was linked to his secret service role at any point is not clear, and of course spying was conspicuous by its absence in Ransome’s autobiography. “Working undercover” meant just that, both before the war and after. Our key agents in Germany escaped undetected and most did not brag about their success. My grandfather, Johnnie Martin, was a spy in Norway, which I only know for certain because of the few anecdotes he shared after the war ended. In 1914 he was British Vice Consul in Christiania, but also co-owner of Jac Iversen’s boatyard in Son on the Oslo fjord. He had married Jac’s sister, although she and the children were safe in England living with his family, and his letters from that time reveal him travelling up and down the coast, pretending to be on holiday: he later explained he was sketching the dimensions of
sheltering German merchant and military ships, using a pencil concealed in his pocket. Norway was neutral but the destination of her raw materials and her trade relationships were of critical importance. Johnnie had many quiet meetings with mine and paper mill owners, keeping them on side. At the same time he wrote of visiting a man in Son who everyone tells me now was a probable German agent, so he was keeping tabs on his counterparts too, spy versus spy. Had he been caught it would have been very serious because even consular status would have been no protection. Officials were suspicious - Johnnie told of defusing one very awkward line of questioning by deliberately falling backwards in his chair, which distracted the official interrogator. (Of course the official British line was that any abuse of diplomatic status was ungentlemanly and un-British.) But it is in Johnnie Martin’s pre-war sailing that you can see he was probably an active agent, long before 1914. His log after 1909 is a revelation – he sails all over the place, often singlehanded,
mooring next to Sam Eyde, the richest industrialist in Norway, more than once, and delivering a Colin Archer pilot boat, now converted in to a yacht, to a wealthy ship-owner, Mr Jebsen, in Bergen. Why a diplomat and boatyard owner is working as a shiphand does seem somewhat strange! After August 1911 we find him living on board the Wanderer, a 37ft long, 13ft 6in beam ex-pilot boat where he entertains Captain Montague Consett (British naval attaché to Scandinavia) on board, supposedly socially. Of course it would be impossible to eavesdrop on conversations while at sea – and war was coming. 1912 finds him setting off for the mighty Kiel Regatta in Wanderer with his pregnant wife and father in law, to crew Bunty, the British 6-metre entry, in the One Ton Cup. Unfortunately (for his cover) they win, but he slips quickly back to Norway away from the pomp and circumstance, presumably bringing crucial information (from a waterline-eye view) of all those gleaming warships lined up to celebrate German triumphs. Apparently CLASSIC SAILOR
SAILOR SPIES Right: Gustav Krupp and the Krupp munitions works
Carl Lody, right, a crewmember of the Kaiser’s yacht Meteor, was tried, left, and executed by firing squad at the Tower of London in 1914
there was dead silence when Bunty won, and he heard later that German officers had, rather ambiguously, toasted “1914” at the celebratory dinner; however dingy little Wanderer kept well out of the limelight while the rest of the crew soaked up their begrudged glory. It is very probable that he was a ‘sleeper’, embedded in the Christiania (Oslo) diplomatic sailing set, able to pass as Norwegian when he wanted to, with a surveyor’s eye for both military and civilian boats, and willing to “do his bit” as opportunity arose, for his country. German spies were less fortunate, but they too often had seagoing connections. Phil Max Schultz operated from the houseboat Egreton on the River Yealm near Plymouth in 1911 – from whence he was detected and jailed. Carl Hans Lody, a junior lieutenant in the German reserve navy had, according to the press, been a prominent figure at the July 1914 Europeweek regatta in Norway, serving on the Kaiser’s yacht Meteor. Sent, with an American 64 CLASSIC SAILOR
passport, by Germany to spy on Naval assets in Britain he was quickly detected by MI5 and apprehended after less than five weeks. He confessed and was executed by firing squad in the Tower in November the same year. Others were to follow. Some information gathering was attempted in plain view. Perhaps the worst example was Herr Gustav Krupp, celebrated owner of the great racing yacht Germania, as well as a huge engineering and munitions empire, who made what was perceived as a spying tour round British industrial complexes in the summer of 1914. Unsurprisingly, due to “unaccountable mistakes” he constantly found
Germania was impounded as a prize of war, though she had arrived, by invitation, to compete in the now cancelled Cowes Week
himself “either at the wrong works or delayed in train journeys” to such an extent that he left “having been given many lunches but no secrets.” After hostilities broke out, things became deadly serious: Germania was impounded as a prize of war although she had arrived, by invitation, to compete in the now-cancelled Cowes Week. Most successful spy stories, nautical or not, are kept secret by their very nature and, as the press put it after 1918 “the real scoops are never heard of.” Hence it is impossible to state exactly how far yachtsmen served as spies during World War One. However we can say that, given the opportunity, if they could have, they would have done their patriotic bit as seaborne secret agents. Whether they served in the RNVR’s armed trawlers and motor launches sweeping up mines, ramming submarines and latterly keeping the convoy routes clear, or as secret agents, British yachtsmen, in all their service afloat, ensured that the patriotic spirit of the Riddle of the Sands lived on.
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ST AYLES SKIFF
Self-built success of It was always a community boat – now the design has found favour again all over Scotland – and elsewhere, reports Chris Partridge
boat designed to revive an old Scottish coal miners’ recreation has become a world-wide rowing phenomenon, with coastal communities racing in boats they build themselves. Fife-based boatbuilder Alec Jordan was looking for a way of promoting the kits he makes for home construction when he discovered a forgotten tradition of coastal rowing in the Kingdom. A century ago, miners used to construct their own rowing boats and race them in hotly-contended regattas. Alec had heard the story when he moved to East Wemyss to set up the business, and joined the local rowing club. “It was there they told me about the old miners regattas,” he said. “I discovered they built their own boats from timber they knocked off from the collieries.” The standard must have been high, he says: “In the 1930s the laird brought his university eight up to be trained by the local rowers.” It was his lightbulb moment – a rowing boat kit would be affordable and easy to construct by amateurs. Perhaps coastal communities would be interested in building and racing their own boats just like the miners of yesteryear? The nearby Fisheries Museum in Anstruther was interested in having a replica of a Fair Isle boat, to lines taken from a derelict hull. “The Fisheries Museum came along and asked me to supervise a build, and I asked them what they were going to do with it when it was finished. They looked at each other, clearly not having thought that far ahead,” he recalls. The boat was designed by Iain Oughtred, who was asked to make her fast, seaworthy and pretty. It would also be cheap, costing less than £4,000 to get onto the water, but that was not the main aim.
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Lines were drawn by Iain Oughtred, kits were developed by Alec Jordan, below left, and the skiffs are found just everywhere, from Scotland to New Zealand, below and right respectively
of the St Ayles skiff It had to be a good-looking boat if people were to be inspired to build it – this was not going to be a utilitarian, built-down-to-a-cost type of boat
Below: St Ayles Skiffs always make a good showing in the annual Great River Race on the Thames
“It had to be a good-looking boat if people were to be inspired to build it,” Alec says. This was not going to be a utilitarian, built-down-to-a-cost type of boat. It had to be a boat that people would love and be proud of. At this point others became involved, including Edinburgh solicitor Robbie Wightman who enthusiastically sold the idea in the area, and an Englishman who had retired to the Highlands to build boats of outstanding craftsmanship, Chris Perkins. Alec says: “He said he was bored, motored down the next day and helped with the build.” It took about six weeks, and the prototype was launched in October 2009. The prototype was demonstrated round Scotland and generated enormous interest. Communities began to raise money and look about for barns, scout huts and empty workshops in which to build their boats. When the first boats began to be launched and were seen on the water, the idea began to take off exponentially. In 2013 the first World Championships were held in Chris Perkins’ home town of Ullapool, attracting more than 30 skiffs including boats from the US, the Netherlands and even England. To date, a total of 227 kits have been sold; 165 in the UK. Clubs have sprung up round the coast, and skiffs are being built by charities to give disadvantaged kids a chance to create their own boat and get out on the water. “It works on two levels,” Alec says. “Because it is built by the clubs it works for the men’s sheds and they are very proud of it, it isn’t something they just bought. And at launches you get the local pipe band and everyone turns out to watch.” It isn’t given to many to start a new movement and watch it spread round the world, but Alec is unassuming: “I just happened to be there with the right idea at the right time.”
J Francis Jones, n Less famous than some, he was Yachting Monthly’s columnist ‘Canvas’; his aim as a designer
aldringfield, a small village down river from Woodbridge, boasted a post office, a shop, a pub – the Maybush Inn – a boatyard, a yacht agency and J Francis Jones, yacht designer and surveyor.” Only the pub and the boatyard remain. Jack Jones, who was my uncle, died in October 1990, twenty-five years ago, when he was already almost a forgotten figure. Alan Gurney, who wrote these words, had come to Waldringfield as Jack’s apprentice in the early 1950s. Some years later he left for the US to design sensationally-fast offshore racing yachts. CR 'Kim' Holman also came to Jack in Waldringfield. He stayed there seven years before establishing his own business in West Mersea. As a very small child in the 1950s I was rarely allowed into the studio at the top of the Old Maltings, that tall Georgian house a step across 68 CLASSIC SAILOR
the road from the boatyard, but I can still dimly remember the atmosphere of serious, concentrated work; the drawing boards, the measuring instruments and the view high above the anchorage and across the River Deben. Jack Jones, born a century ago in 1915, and his younger brother George (my father, founder of the yacht agency) were farmer's sons who weren't interested in farming. Somehow, when they were boys, they had discovered Waldringfield and spent all their free time pedalling the ten miles backwards and forwards from their home in Witnesham, until their father supplied them with a redundant chicken hut which they could use as a base. He then put them in the care of the local boatman, Jimmy Quantrill, and left them to get on with learning to sail. Eventually they became the owners of a long, slim, clinker-built dayboat named Hustler. This happy time of childhood ended abruptly in 1933 when their father died as the result of an accident. Jack was eighteen with hopes of higher
education; George was just fifteen and yet to take his school certificate. It was a time of agricultural depression in East Anglia and although their older brother struggled to continue in farming, the two younger boys found themselves effectively homeless and penniless. Jack went to Birmingham where he found work in engineering design. “One of the reasons I was able to be a designer of any kind was simply because I could carry a mass of mathematical formulae and scantling figures in my head.” He found water too and there's a slightly comic photograph of him sailing an 8ft pram dinghy on Edgbaston reservoir. It was a far cry from the beauties of the Deben and Jack soon began to comfort himself in exile by drawing boats. As far as I know, he was self-taught, learning from books and by experiment. He became a keen reader of Yachting Monthly (then edited by Maurice Griffiths) and was soon contributing to the current design controversies regarding “metacentric shelf ” theories; the desirability (or not)
GREAT BRITISH DESIGNERS
, naval architect
was to respond to his clients’ wishes, and he was ‘Uncle Jack’ to Julia Jones
Michelle, Jones’s third design, a 41ft ‘cod’s head, mackerel tail” sloop that got readers of Yachting Monthly excited
Michelle’s sail plan, Jack’s ID card and the Old Maltings at Waldringﬁeld, with the Maybush pub to the left
J FRANCIS JONES
Above: Tantina II, Gordon Buchanan’s 1961 31ft cruiser racer. Far right, the reverse-sheer Kestrel class was Jones’s most prolific design. Right: Oystercatcher, the Jaunty 19 from which his ashes were scattered on the Deben Bar
of canoe sterns and whether ‘tabloid’ was a useful term to describe small, 20ft (6m), cruising yachts. The magazine published two or three new designs every month which were discussed, queried and criticised by the readership – discreetly encouraged, or even prodded – by the editorial staff. I've not been able to trace Jack's first two published designs – a 15ft 'sloop yacht' and a 17ft 'sailing dinghy' but it was his third, an ambitious 41ft sloop named Michelle that got the correspondence columns going. She was described as a “cod's head, mackerel tail” ocean racer and was included, anonymously, in the last issue to be put together by Griffiths before he was called up into the RNVR in the autumn of 1939. Anonymity is always tantalising, especially in a world where readers might expect to recognise “the latest Griffiths” or make knowing comments such as “Hullo, Laurent Giles going stable; what a world!” The magazine’s regular columnist ‘Canvas’ staked his personal bet on Michelle being by Giles – until young J.F.D’E Jones admitted designing her in a letter on the correspondence page. Michelle was modern, ambitious and challenging. She provided a consistent focus for discussion between ‘Canvas’ and the magazine’s correspondents throughout 1940. However, what readers could not know was that it was Jack who was writing ‘Canvas’. These were difficult times when magazines were even more short-staffed than usual but also 70 CLASSIC SAILOR
fuelled by an urgent desire to keep going: to assert that there would be a return to normality and to the freedom of the seas. “To become absorbed in the story of a well-planned cruise or in the plans of an attractive little dream-ship, is to preserve a calm outlook on a life that appears to have gone crazy,” wrote Griffiths. By 1941 Jack too had joined the RNVR. Canvas’s columns ceased and Jack's last contribution to the letters page was written from HM HDML (Harbour Defence
Anonymity is always tantalising and what readers could not know was that it was Jack eho war writing ‘Canvas’ Motor Launch) 1024 whilst “bobbing around the Thames Estuary”. Years later he admitted to my mother that his main reason for writing it had been for the pleasure of adding AINA. (Associate of the Institution of Naval Architects) to his signature. “What a publicity hound I was!” I can only hope that his newly achieved status was some comfort to him in the months to come. Jack and ML1024 were based at Sheerness. In February 1942 she was blown up by an underwater
explosion and Jack spent four months in hospital. He was transferred to HMS Fort William to recuperate and by August 1942 was well enough to be put in charge of HM RML513 a Rescue Motor Launch which formed part of the disastrous Dieppe Raid. Jack was again seriously wounded. John Waller, vicar of Waldringfield, told me of his fortitude as he strapped himself to the wheel of his vessel to bring her safely home. Although Jack was sufficiently recovered to be part of the 1944 Normandy landings the damage was permanent. He used a further period of sick leave to produce Faun, a 17ft 9in fixed-keel boat for weekend sailing. She was “designed for two young officers” and was published in February 1945. Already people were looking ahead. Jack’s final months in the Navy were spent on shore duties at HMS President. He left in the late summer of 1945 and within a month he had seen the house he had always wanted – the Old Maltings at Waldringfield. It remains a mystery to me how he managed to buy it. His mother (my grandmother) moved in too and as soon as my father, George, had been demobbed, he and another ex-RNVR friend set up the East Coast Yacht Agency in the converted stables at the back. Many people experienced a sense of urgency to get on with careers that had been interrupted in 1939 or begin work on projects that had been no more than dreams for the last six years. There
GREAT BRITISH DESIGNERS The Fleur de Lys motor yacht class, built by Dagless of Wisbech, Cambs and marketed through George Jones’s East Coast Yacht Agency, varied between 50 and 57ft
was also a clearly felt desire to ensure that this new world would be more socially inclusive than when peace had returned in 1918. Jack's next published design (in February 1946) was for a 16ft sailing sharpie commissioned by Yachting Monthly for amateurs to build as quickly, simply and inexpensively as possible. Jimmy Quantrill, meanwhile, was busy fitting out Hustler. Within the next few years an eclectic range of designs began to emanate from the Old Maltings. I've heard it said that Jack lacked a house style. I don't necessarily agree with that statement but, even if true, I don't believe he would have regarded it as a criticism. Jack was resolutely unimpressed by designers “who turn up the same boat time and time again” although he could see there was more money to be made that way. His aim was to respond to his client’s requirements and to achieve fitness for purpose as well as satisfying his own aesthetic sense of balance and proportion. The first half dozen post-war designs that I have traced from the Waldringfield studio are nothing if not varied. They are Taras, a beamy cruising yacht copiously equipped with bookshelves for a professional writer and his companion to cruise to the Mediterranean; Mary, a small cruiser designed for estuary sailing but also capable for going anywhere on the Narrow Seas. Jack understood the East Coast. The owner of Le Frais, a 1952 JFJ cruising yacht wrote “She sailed like a dream. You felt that Jack Francis Jones had
designed her to go to windward up the North Sea” – and he probably had. In 1950, as soon as Mary was off the drawing board, he was at work on Maria Christina, a 32ft (9.7m) tunny fisher for use between Trinidad and Tobago. Then there was a centreboard sloop intended for game fishing off the coast of Portuguese East Africa; a 36ft survey vessel to be based in Ipswich, followed by a Guernsey pilot cutter. As a child I sometimes wondered why Uncle Jack
Jack believed reverse sheer could be invaluable in small cruisers as giving extra roominess in the cabin was so insistent that we should refer to him as a naval architect rather than a yacht designer. Belatedly I think that I'm beginning to understand. One reason Jack’s achievement may have been prematurely forgotten is his failure to be associated with an iconic yacht. His pupil, Alan Gurney, will be remembered for the ocean racer, Windward Passage and later for Chay Blyth’s Great Britain II. Kim Holman is cherished for his Stellas and Twisters. Jack's nearest approach to
popularity was the Kestrel class, small, attractive, clinker-built sailing yachts, 22 or 24ft (6.7 / 7.3m) LOA with a combination of fixed keel and centreplate. They were designed for use in the Thames Estuary but soon spread further, with a notable contingent in the Irish Sea. The first of the Kestrels was (appropriately) Deben, designed in 1955 and built by Ernie Nunn at Waldringfield, immediately under the eye of the designer, looking down from the top windows of the Old Maltings. Jack had quickly come to believe that while the fashion for reverse sheer was something of a fad in larger yachts it could be invaluable in small cruisers as giving extra roominess in the cabin. Accommodation layout and general people-friendliness are among the distinctive features of his designs. The prime quality of the Kestrel was its responsiveness and easy handling. My youngest brother, Ned, has a Kestrel 22, Gingerbread Man. She was built in Hull in 1962 and her planking is not what it was. Her sailing qualities are un-dimmed, as I know to my cost when in Peter Duck I’m lumbering in her wake as she tacks easily though a crowded anchorage, effortlessly justifying her name. When I asked Ned how he would sum her up he said “she sails like a dinghy” – precisely what she was designed to do. The Kestrels were translated into glassfibre and given twin keels in the mid-1960s but otherwise all the classes for which Uncle Jack was responsible CLASSIC SAILOR
J FRANCIS JONES
Memories of Celandine by Vicky Platt Stewart Platt’s daughter Vicky (above, in the striped shorts), was a young teenager when her father switched from their 1936 smack yacht Campion to the J Francis Jones-designed Celandine
was so excited by Celandine right from the start. I was the free labour at the age of 12-13 who did all the boards for the lockers. I could weave into the corners in the cockpit and foc’s’le lockers and no-one could see my handy (or perhaps unhandy) work. My father did the whole interior – he was pretty good at woodwork. I was disappointed that my father didn’t want a taller rig (this was to reassure my mother, the non-sailor – well, she sailed but she really didn’t like it) but I was in love with Celandine from the beginning.
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And she didn’t leak! On Campion I used to have to sleep with a tarpaulin over my sleeping bag because the skylight leaked onto my bunk in heavy rain. Celandine seemed like a real sea boat – the increase to 37ft from the 28ft Campion was grand. Celandine’s hull is slippery and she seemed to glide easily under sail – even with less sail than I had campaigned for. Steering was always a doddle and in fact she didn’t seem under-canvased. Her flared bow with a raised bulwark was just the job in a Wallet or North Sea chop. Her stern deck was brilliant for working on fish – spinning and gutting mackerel. She was very comfortable down below with her solid wood stove. She felt modern but with the lamps lit and just a little electric lighting she still had that glow of yesteryear.
– the Sole Bay and Haven motor sailers, the Fleur de Lys motor yachts and the majestic Inchcape motor-sailers from the Eyemouth boatyard in Scotland were built in wood. Within the context of the 1960s and 70s yachting expansion this was limiting and financially unsustainable. Jack went into partnership with Peter Brown, the third of his talented pupils, but eventually it became necessary to sell the Old Maltings and move into more modest premises on the Ferry Quay in Woodbridge. The chronic pain from the wound Jack had received at Dieppe was worsening and his taste for the good life as represented by good wine, good food, art, books, music and generous presents to his niece and nephews meant that he regularly spent more than he earned. The business relationship soured. Surveying had always been an important bread-and-butter part of the business but a steadily selling-class of production yachts would have bought an invaluable royalty stream. Designing in the older way, one boat at a time, meant starting afresh with each new project and also experiencing the financial glut and famine of the creative artist. I believe, however, that it was those individual commissions that represent the core of Jack's real achievement. They were not headline makers – like Windward Passage or Great Britain II – but distinctive, solidly-built, cruising yachts of great sea-kindliness and personality, loved and trusted by their owners.
GREAT BRITISH DESIGNERS Avola, 1965, 33ft, now owned by Brian and Lorna Hammett
To take but three Corista, built by Whisstocks in Woodbridge in 1952 for Philip and Plat Allen was Jack’s first major commission of this type. The Allens were members of the Royal Cruising Club and had sailed thousands of miles during the 1930s in their Maxwell Blake-designed Mirelle. After the war they wanted something significantly larger but were still capable of being sailed by themselves with only occasional help from a crew member. Jack produced a 46ft (14m) 27-ton cutter which the Allens were confident would be easily manageable by the two of them. She was – and they and Jack became lifelong friends. Avola, a gaff-rigged cutter, built by the St Osyth boatyard in 1965, was designed by Jack for David Wyn Roberts an ex-commando who had been one of the first ashore on the beaches near Avola during the invasion of Sicily in July 1943. Jack heard of his plans to buy a gaffer and announced “I’ll build you one that’ll sail properly.” Avola has been owned by Brian and Lorna Hammett since 1980 and is celebrating her 50th birthday. In a normal year she sails between five and seven hundred miles and has visited the Baltic on three separate occasions including a three-thousand-mile circumnavigation taking in every one of the nine surrounding countries. Avola is conspicuously comfortable below with
full head room throughout; she sails well to windward (“better than many Bermudan cruising yachts,” says Brian), she has never missed stays and acquits herself well in the OGA races. The Hammetts had previously owned another J Francis Jones boat, Beagle, which was originally built for Dick and Rozelle Raynes, first of the little Jaunty 19s – of which more below. “He was a very,
“He was a very very good designer” said Brian “He designed his boats to look after their owners” very good designer,” said Brian. “You sit in his boats and not on them. He designed his boats to look after their owners.” That’s a statement with which I believe the connections of Celandine, the third of my memorable Jack Jones yachts would agree. Celandine was designed for a close family friend, Stewart Platt, and built by Ian Brown’s yard in Rowhedge in 1967. She is 15 tons, 37ft (11m) LOA and remains eye-catching to this day. Maurice
Lines for the 37ft Celandine, 1967, perhaps the prettiest JFJ design
Griffiths described her as perhaps the “prettiest” of Jack’s designs, though Jack himself was more disparaging calling her “a bald-headed ketch for a bald-headed skipper”. During the 1970s my father George and brother Ned sailed many miles with the Platts on Celandine and there is no doubting her seaworthiness, her sailing qualities and also her versatility. Stewart Platt’s memoir My Three Grey Mistresses contains some vivid descriptions of successful trawling from Celandine and I can’t help wondering how many comparable modern yachts would put up with being used in this way. Superficially one might see Jack’s designs as growing larger and even slightly clunky when compared with the neat little boats of the late 1940s but this would be simplistic. Jack was doing what he had always done – trying to give expression to his clients’ dreams. I’ll admit that I’ve not yet managed to warm to his 1970s Sun Cloud but when I look at the half dozen Jaunty 19s built for my father to sell in the late 1960s – well, my heart lifts. Oystercatcher, the last of them, was built for Charles Coles, then president of the Game Conservancy at Fordingbridge, and is now owned by my brother Nick. I suppose they’re runabouts, good for a picnic or a sleepover with dogs and small children: you can explore the inland waterways or put a net across a creek. It was from Oystercatcher that Jack’s ashes were scattered, twenty-five years ago, crossing the Deben Bar. CLASSIC SAILOR
On watch: Christmas shopping
Wenger Alhingi multitool
The thing that many multitools don’t address is that, in a hurry, you can’t be sure which tool you’re opening. Wenger covered this by making each separate tool distinguishable just by feel, enabling you to open the correct one in the dark. It’s also very well made, well designed and sturdy. Expect to pay around £89 (or quite a bit more for the brand new, but not that much better, SUI1 model) www.wengerna.com
Kobo aura H2O
In a world where small is beautiful the Kobo Aura H20 e-reader is a particularly useful boatie’s gadget being that it is a book collection of potentially immense proportions and many titles are free. As well as buying books from them you can rent books from your library, thereby putting your money in the public good – and it’s waterproof up to five metres for fifty minutes. Preferred by many who’ve tried both, over the ubiquitous Kindle. £140 www.kobo.com
A decent cup of coffee can be a hard thing to find on a boat. Plunger cafetieres smash too easily and the plastic ones don’t work. Anything else is a little big. Then in steps Aeropress and saves the day. Working on the idea that the best cup of joe also fires steam through the grounds this clever machine requires nothing but boiled water and makes the best coffee on the sea. Ideal for a crew of 3-4 as it’s not very big. Portable, very tough and we love ‘em. £24.99 Aeropress.co.uk
Gopherjo drinks carriers
We put these lovely handmade swinging drinks and glasses carriers through their paces. Perfect for handing up through the hatch at the end of a long day then hanging on the boom. Each design is carefully considered as to which booze it carries, either sporting a cooler, shot glasses, rummers and there’s even a double bottle holder for making a martini complete with two martini glasses (pictured). Not only that, but quite a thing with which to step onto other peoples’ boats. From £60 to £250 for the enormous (and not so useful on a boat) Methuselah. www.gopherjo.com
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Gill i5 Headwind jacket
When it comes to clothing, a good test of kit is what you grab first. The headwind from Gill was a “go-to” jacket from the start as it’s water repellant, super lightweight, cool when it’s hot, warm when it’s cold (due to an impossibly complicated thermal gate system that shrinks and expands with the temperature) and is perfect for a mid-layer section or simply as a jacket. We’ve tried many jackets like it but this one is the business. Now on sale for only £65 www.gillmarine.com
We love the construction and finish on these trawler lamps from Den Haan. They are the aspirational lamps for many wooden boat owners but will grace any long keeler. The burners are larger than most oil lamps and with their white reflective shades you get enough light to read by, and the tank gives you 30-plus hours of burning time. 255mm by 450mm. 96.96 (+VAT) www. classicmarine.co.uk
This is a great Christmas present – from the Arthur Beale chandlers shop in London. It’s a wooden copy of the old ship’s log board, where the watch leader would record the helmsman’s direction each hour and the speed of the vessel using pegs on a compass rose and on a linear scale on the board. The ship’s dead-reckoning position would then be plotted on the chart. This comes as a kit, with colouring pens to make your own board unique. Great occupational therapy and a talking piece on those long passages! £49.50 www.arthurbeale.co.uk
MarineGiftCards.com, a new website selling egiftcards for marine products, launched at Southampton Boat Show. The site offers a new, convenient way of gifting marine products and services to family, friends and loved ones.They aim to be a one-stop shop for many of the top marine brands. To celebrate the launch, MarineGiftCards.com is running a prize draw to win Henri Lloyd Elite kit (worth £820) with other prizes of Henri Lloyd egiftcards with values from £25 to £100. Anyone who signs up to the site and subscribes to the MarineGiftCards.com newsletter will be entered into the draw.
Rheinstrom in gunmetal
Who isn’t a fan of the basic mechanical sea toilet? And here we have one from Rheinstrom in Germany which has a ceramic bowl with gunmetal and stainless steel parts which will last years. We know liveaboards who swear by these. It’s an expensive present but dummy y dummy copy dummy copy using pegs £1609.78 www.leesan.com
How many times have you lost a sponge or bailer out of the boat? This is a clever idea to keep that sponge in place in your tender or dinghy where it can always be to hand. There are different designs, for washing, say. Seems simple but it works! £6.99 www.bungee-spongee.com
Compiled by Guy Venables
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On watch: 2016 Calendars Some favourites for Christmas time
Calendar of Wooden Boats
Boat portraits by Benjamin Mendlowitz; one of our favourites –12 by 24in (300 X 600mm) £23 www.woodenboatscalendar.com
Claudia Myatt’s Year Planner
A great stocking filler! A2 size cartridge paper with an image to keep afterwards £8.50 inc p&p www.claudiamyatt.co.uk
East Coast/Classic Yacht
Den Phillips’ beautiful black and white art shots on A3 gloss paper £21.50 inc p&p www.DenPhillipsPhotos.com 76 CLASSIC SAILOR
Beken Classic Calendar
Classic Shots from the doyen of marine photos on A2 size 200gsm gloss paper £21.98 inc p&p www.nauticalia.com
Over the Yardarm Guy Venables starts a seasonal selection with some superior gins
nno Gin is made in the garden that is Kent and the first gin to be made there since 1800. It is crisp, balanced, citrus and spicy. It’s a particularly classy gin that feels measured, elegant and long. It’s our top choice for a gin and tonic as once it’s fizzing it really opens out the flowers and samphire that goes into the superb botanical selection. For some people I’ve poured it for, it’s simply the best gin they’ve tasted. £34.95 www.annodistillers.co.uk And now for something completely different. Greek Gin. Amazing soft Greek gin. It smells of Greece, with hot pines , licorice, angelica root, rosemary, herbs and charcoal. (These aren’t flouncy tasting notes. It’s what’s in it.) We even sometimes sip it neat with a little ice it’s so good. But sadly goodness comes at a price. That price being a flight or sail to Greece. Athens to be exact. The Clumsies Bar in Athens to be exacter. You can’t buy it here. A well deserved and rare five plus stars in Difford’s guide. theclumsies.gr for directions. If you are near, go there. No idea how much it costs. Produced in the former warehouse vaults of Camden Lock, Half Hitch gin is made with a gin base that is blended with tinctures of Malawian black tea, pepper, hay, English wood and bergamot. It’s the black tea that stands out and even gives it a darkened colour. Perfect with a bit of Fever Tree. The name, they tell me, was inspired by the knots used to tie barges to the lock in the past (so presumably they’d drift away down the canal). Gold medal at the Gin Masters 2015. Bloody gorgeous and terrifically British. £39.95 www.halfhitch.london Thomas Dakin Gin. Orange and horseradish are two of the many flavours that exude this classic and huge small batch gin from Manchester. If you’re a fan of the classy side of gin, it make the best Martini we’ve mixed this year. £29 Buy it and others ar shop.ginfoundry.com or pop into Harvey Nicks if that’s how you roll.
Greek gin. Amazing soft Greek gin. But it comes at a price – a flight to Athens and The Clumsies Bar
Calendar Arthur Beale events Martyn Mackrill 9-21 November: A small exhibition by the well-known marine artist, upstairs at the quirky central London chandler. The Cruel Sea, 3 December, 6.45, advance booking required. Noggin the Nog (it’s an Arthur Beale tradition, dating from 2014, this year with Captain Pugwash) 5-6 December upstairs at the shop during opening hours: videos, hot chocolate 194 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8JB arthurbeale.co.uk Cruising Association talks From Pin Mill to Rømø: the cruise of the Drascombe Longboat Badekar, by David Jillings 11 November, 7pm, CA House, Limehouse Basin, London E14 8BT CA members £4.00; others £7.00 Round Britain in a Gaffer, Tim and Liz Dodwell We join Tim and Liz on their cruise to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Old Gaffers Association aboard their Pilot
Send us your events! Cutter, High Barbaree 24 November, 7.30pm, Parkstone Yacht Club, Pearce Avenue, Poole, BH14 8EH. Free for CA and Parkstone YC members, others £3 donation requested; no booking required. The Northwest Passage Challenge: two summers in the High Arctic, by Jimmy Cornell 2 December, 7pm, CA House More talks and details, theca.org.uk Ipswich Maritime Trust talks evening The boatyard at Waldringfield by Mike Nunn (Mike’s father, then Mike himself ran the yard from its beginning in1921) – together with Arthur Ransome’s honeymoon cruise by Brian Hammett 2 December, 8pm, Waterfront, University Campus, Ipswich.Pre-talk supper 01473 214004 ipswichmaritimetrust.org,uk London Boat Show, Excel 8-17 January Send events to email@example.com
In Classic Sailor January
L’Hermione’s Atlantic voyage We join the majestic French replica of an 18th -century frigate on passage to New York
Silverleaf and chrome plate Chinda – designed in Scotland, built in Whitstable, discovered in Cowes and restored in Southwold – is a bit more blingy than the usual Roseneath-built motor yacht
Dusmarie’s links to Gallipoli
Interpreting the weather forecast
Former Colchester oyster smack converted to a yacht, and her war hero owner
Rain later, good... but the weather has patterns, cause and effect, and there’s more information in the forecast than you think
And of course more... Our regular columnists. Issue 4 already! CLASSIC SAILOR
Sailing skills: Boat handling under engine. Part 2 Continuing our series on handling long-keel boats under engine, let us begin to look at some techniques that will see us out to sea with the minimum of fuss, beginning with that nemesis of all long-keel boat skippers; reversing. By Nick Beck.
n last month’s issue we discussed ways to extract ourselves from our alongside berth without undue drama but still we’ve got to work our way out to the fairway buoy before we can stow our fenders with confidence. If ever you feel the need to hear some entertaining stories of derring do and lucky escapes just mention the “R” word to a group of traditional boat skippers. (What is the collective noun for that I wonder? An “argument of skippers” maybe?). A common feature of these tales will be the idea that unpredictability is the only predictable response to engaging reverse gear. In truth I suspect that we find it harder to predict the outcome of throwing our engines into astern mainly because we spend so little time doing it and so have less experience of how the forces acting upon the boat will cause her to react. This problem is exacerbated by our boats being designed to go forwards and their propulsion and steering systems being set up with this in mind. My reversing epiphany was somewhat forced upon me when Amelie Rose and I found ourselves in Rye whilst filming The Hungry Sailors for ITV. With the channel barely wider than her bowsprit is long and the TV cameras recording every move 78 CLASSIC SAILOR
I found myself required to reverse her for the best part of a cable in order to get parked up. Until then I had been firmly of the opinion that “she doesn’t do reverse” and yet with a light breeze on her starboard bow she proceeded to head aft, as straight as an arrow and as mannerly as any Lady to the manor born. Since then, experimentation with a range of boats has revealed that whilst most long-keel vessels are certainly recalcitrant in reverse and will tend to over-react to the mildest of imperfect circumstances they are certainly not as unpredictable as we generally opine. Before we dive in to the practical let’s have a think about the various forces acting on our lady and how they change when we sling her into reverse:
A centre-line propeller running in reverse will tend to “paddle-wheel”, forcing more water down one side of the keel than the other and resulting in an opposing “prop-kick” that will force the stern sideways through the water. This effect is proportional to the engine revs and is strongest when the boat is stationary in the water, decreasing as water flow builds over the keel and rudder. In reverse the propeller will also
Amelie Rose safely dried out in Rye after the Author’s reversing “epiphany”.
be pulling the boat along, rather than pushing it and in the case of a fixed bladed prop will be working less effectively as the blades are designed to push water backwards not forwards.
Wind With all these forces acting on our reversing boat no wonder she can be a mite unpredictable.
Most traditional sailing boats will have more draught at the aft end of the keel than at the forward end. Indeed many will have a rounded or cut-away
stem further reducing their grip on the water at the bow (which is also why the pivotpoint is closer to the stern on these boats). Combine this with the action of dragging the boat backwards through the water and the bow will tend to blow off quite rapidly, continuing to do so until it is directly downwind of the propelling force. This effect is known as “stern-seeking” and can either be incredibly useful
It’s a brave skipper indeed who chooses to reverse with both wind and tide on the bow – thought should always be given to where the tide will be taking us
A simple reverse unaffected by wind or tide. 1) Starting with an angle to offset the prop-kick 2) As the speed increases the prop kick diminishes and steering improves 3) Steerage achieved, though a little tiller may help to keep any remaining kick at bay.
or astoundingly annoying depending on where you’re trying to get to. If ever you need to hold the boat in position for a while (say whilst waiting for a bridge lift) then slinging her stern into the wind with a touch of aft engine as required will make for an easy life. Trying to hold a boat head to wind in a tight space is a job for bored helms who don’t like to enjoy a nice cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit.
The relative positions of the rudder and propeller in a typical long-keel vessel mean that in reverse we have no ability to divert the flow of water coming from the prop (see “prop-wash” in issue 2). This steals a key element of control from us when travelling backwards. The rudder on traditional designs also tends
to be quite massive for the length of boat. The pressure on the tiller caused by pushing this whole thing backwards through the water can catch out the unwary helm – especially due to the increased speed required in order to grant the boat steerage in reverse.
As noted in the previous article on “the getaway” (issue 2) the action of the tide flowing past our rudder and keel can either give us control with minimal movement across the ground or require us to be travelling at breakneck speeds in order to win steerage. It’s a brave skipper indeed who chooses to reverse with both wind and tide on the bow and thought should always be given to where the tide will be taking us whilst we establish control over our direction.
The effects of wind on the opposing bow to her Prop kick. 1) There’s no need for angle to start as the wind stops her from pivoting 2) She may crab sideways a little though as she picks up speed 3) Soon she’ll be yours to command.
aking all of the above into account our first thought before heading backward is centred on what the tide will do with us whilst we’re manoeuvring. With that discounted (or approved of) we can then turn our focus to maintaining control of the bow. A little breeze on the opposing bow to our prop kick may actually serve us well as it will tend to somewhat counteract the effects of the kick. Wind on the same bow as the kick however and we’ll almost certainly abandon the idea as we will struggle to keep the boat from stern seeking. If the wind is abaft us it’s time to praise the gods and move on to the next conundrum. Next we consider our prop-kick. How much a boat will kick before control is established is something that only experience can fathom. Some boats (especially those with offset props) may never quite straighten up (at least until they hit suicidal speeds). Amelie Rose will kick through about 20 degrees and, if the effect is useful, can be encouraged to do more by pulsing the throttle (maximising the kick whilst minimising acceleration). Altering the boat’s
initial angle to account for the kick is what we’re aiming for so that as she establishes her grip on the water she’s heading in the direction we’re after. As mentioned above, it’s possible to exacerbate the effect of the kick so overcooking the initial angle is often better than leaving it raw. Once we’re all set it’s time to hit the power. An observation here is that “fortune favours the brave”. The most common mistake that I see whilst teaching is that of being tentative with the power. Far from being “careful” this results in the boat taking longer to gain steerage which maximises the effects of prop-kick and may even result in her never attaining steerage at all. The objective is to get the boat up to her minimum steerage speed as rapidly as possible. On Amelie Rose in reverse this is somewhere between 2 and 3 knots – a speed which feels positively frightening – and which requires the helm to be very well braced indeed should they decide to deflect the rudder from amidships. It’s also possible that putting the rudder on full lock against the prop-kick may help negate the
CLASSIC SAILOR 79
Sailing skills: Boat handling under engine, Part 2
With no wind to speak of but tide from aft. 1) No attempt made to offset the prop kick 2) The tide assists her in gathering steerage 3) She’ll now steer but will be ferry-gliding backwards and will need to address the tide directly.
With the wind on the same side as her Prop Kick she will almost certainly “Stern Seek” – fine as long as you have the room. 1) Prop kick pulls her stern around and the wind starts to blow the bow away 2) As she gathers way the bow continues to be blown off 3) With little bow now visible to the wind and plenty of way on she should answer nicely.
effects faster, but again this will vary from boat to boat. Immediately steerage speed is attained it’s time to kill the power and then steer to safety, bearing in mind that if you undercooked the initial angle she may now be heading towards an incident. Killing the power kills the prop-kick, and providing you have your maths right on steerage speed should now put you in control of her direction. Once you have established that she’s answering the helm you may find that popping the engine back into tick-over reverse will keep the way on without causing excessive kick-derived deviations to your course. If she just won’t answer then you have a choice: pile on the revs again to get more speed (assuming that the fresh dose of prop-kick won’t drag her into more danger) or use a burst of forward to stop her and then return her to the starting position for another try. If she reacts to the helm then you can proceed, remembering that the boat is now being “pulled” along and will tend to take a wider arc around corners than she would if driving forwards (as you have no prop-wash to encourage her into a turn, and the hull is just trailing along behind you rather than cutting a groove for you to
follow). Remember too that any breeze on the bow (for instance as you come around a corner) is going to have much more of an effect than expected and may even steal steerage back from you. My advice, for what it’s worth, is to get her turned around as quickly as possible. .
Practice makes perfect
A last piece of advice: Learn to do this now; don’t wait until you have to do it in a tricky spot with the entire harbour watching you! Next time it’s a fairly calm day with a slack tide and you’re in no hurry to get anywhere why not find a patch of water with a trot of moorings or something down the side so that you can measure her progress and see whether she heads straight to where you ask. Stop the boat with your “guessed at” angle to negate the kick. Give it as much throttle as you dare and get her up to speed. Kill the throttle and establish steerage. Now re-engage tick-over and (if you’re lucky) show all those folks who say our boats don’t go in reverse how wrong they are. Next month, as we head towards Sunturn day, we’ll take a look at ways to turn our little ships around – without needing the width of a football pitch in which to do so.
About the author: 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.
What do you think? Unless there’s endless room this is why we don’t reverse when the wind and tide are both on the bow. 1) As the manoeuvre starts the prop kick will show the bow to the wind 2) As the wind blows the bow off the tide is now working on the whole of the keel – accelerating us sideways with virtually no control 3) We’ll be very lucky to attain steerage speeds before the wind and tide carry us into danger.
80 CLASSIC SAILOR
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The turn of the bilge Buying a classic: preliminary inspection The role of a marine surveyor within the boat-buying process can be a more complex affair than you might expect. In this new series Aidan Tuckett explains how to get the most out of it.
ast month we looked at buying boats in general and the need to get as much information as you can before committing yourself. To recap, the process of making an offer and paying a deposit usually ties you into completing a sale unless you find issues that show the boat to be significantly different from how she was advertised. Even if you do find such issues, surveys and haul outs still have to be paid for, so it’s worth making as thorough an initial assessment as possible before you make any commitment. Even where the boat turns out to be in fair condition for its age and type, it’s all too easy to underestimate the amount of work needed to restore and maintain a classic, so the preliminary inspection described here should help you get a feel for what’s really involved. Starting with the materials, any organic substance will break down over time. For wood this can be caused by rot, marine borers, electric currents caused by dissimilar metals or, for less durable species, simply by prolonged immersion in water. Metal fittings and fastenings can return to their natural
oxides or erode if they are not protected. Oils, paints and resins can, and will, deteriorate from sunlight. The quality of the original design and construction determines how these factors interact in a marine environment to determine the life expectancy of a wooden boat. With good maintenance an owner can extend this, or with hard use and abuse, cut it short. A full restoration, if it really is one, can turn the clock back to launch day, and as a rough rule of thumb if that hasn’t happened in about forty years, a wooden boat is unlikely to have much material value. Our job is to estimate what stage the boat might be in that process by sampling. When you first get aboard, look for where water can lodge – cracks in the deck seams or the coachroof joinery or gaps in the covering board. We want to find places where rainwater and the spores it carries might lodge. Use your fingernails or a coin to lightly drum painted surfaces – you don’t need to dig spikes in at this stage. Keep in mind the ability of past owners to carefully fill and paint over rotten areas and especially look out for the edges of these areas where
Even when a boat turns out to be in fair condition it’s all too easy to underestimate the amount of work needed to restore it 86 CLASSIC SAILOR
For sale: no material value.
Coachroof: joinery opening up and rain following.
Plywood: it always rots – sooner or later.
Galvanic action: wood softened around metal fastenings.
Refastening: new roves next to old.
If it’s hard for you to get in there it was also hard for past owners, so the chances of ﬁnding problems are higher
Ideal world: a complete restoration.
Coverboard: rot under fresh paint in the frames where they come through the coverboard.
Replanking: new planking and epoxy sheathing on an old boat .
Hidden spaces: poorly ventilated space under the counter of a 1930s motor launch.
Stern tube: softening and seepage around the stern gland.
fillers, putties or poorly fitted graving pieces are parting company from the original wood. Look at paint coatings more generally and take a view on whether they have been maintained since new, or slapped on the week before. Look particularly closely at any plywood structures - as a material this has no margin for deterioration. Going below take a sniff to see how musty the boat is. Rot needs spores and damp to get started. Temperature is also a factor but not a useful one in the warm, damp of the British climate. Poorly ventilated spaces are where it thrives, so keep in mind those places where the deck or coach roof looked dodgy and seek out those same places beneath deck. If it’s hard for you to get to them it was also hard for past owners, so the chances of finding problems are higher. Again you don’t need to spike the timber – eyes, nose and a thumbnail will tell you enough. A digital camera with a flash at arms length into tight corners can tell you more but make sure you keep the wrist strap on. Look at the deck head, using your fingers to drum the surface. Get hold of the deck beams and see if you can move them at their ends. Use the camera to get a few shots behind the beam shelf – these are all areas where fresh water can find its way below and start rot. Moving further down, the bilge of any boat has a plenty
of information. Dryness is a virtue but rare in old boats so assuming you are afloat, take a look around the pump sump – does it have a float switch and does it look as if it is cycling the local waters on a regular basis? Have the heels of the frames become softened from years of immersion? Has anyone ever been in there with a paintbrush since she was built? Also take a look at where seacocks and stern tubes are fitted. Damp wood will conduct the tiny currents that can be generated by the electrical potential between one metal and another. Over the years this will cause the wood to lose its strength and become soft. There is of course far more to surveying wood – the state of the fastenings, the caulking, hogging, gribble infestation – all things that would take at least a day to check on a boat up to about 30ft length and a second day beyond that. But with this guidance you can at least make a better-informed decision on whether to take things forward. You should not look for perfection – there will inevitably be some degree of foregone maintenance, this aside from aging. The question is whether the work needed to put things right can be managed within your resources. Next time we’ll look at other hull materials, including GRP and steel, and ways to test systems and fittings. CLASSIC SAILOR 87
Repairing a Mirror dinghy Part 1: Stripping back by David Parker David and his inner fix-it chimp get sucked into a project which proves to have many advantages for the beginner in boatbuilding – small scale, simple to get started...
rticles which start with a question really annoy me so here goes: What have old wooden boats got to do with monkeys? Let me explain. There’s a very popular book used by elite athletes and other hugely successful people called The Chimp Paradox. Written in an erudite and entertaining way by a consultant psychiatrist it describes the conflict in us all between our inner rational ‘human’ self and a basically bonkers inner chimp who wants to start fights with everybody. Perhaps I have put that a bit too crudely but you get the point. However its author has missed a key variation which affects certain sad boat owners. It’s the inner ‘Fix-it chimp.’ This primarily infects deluded people who take on projects often involving wooden boats. They are then consumed by these projects, it takes them ten times longer than they thought, costs five times as much, and when eventually finished they then vow never to do it again …
until the next time. So it was while innocently looking on the sailing club notice board that it happened to me again. The advert was about an old wooden Mirror which had been previously owned by the Scouts and was now being advertised for sale. It needed work and I had enough on my plate with my other assortment of boats. I had no intention of taking on another restoration project. I started to walk away when my ‘fix-it monkey’ woke up. “Sounds like a nice little project,” says the monkey sitting on my shoulder tugging at my ear. “Go away,” I reply – or printable words to that effect. “It’s local, wouldn’t hurt to have a look,” says monkey. “I have had enough of doing up wooden boat to last me a lifetime,” I say elbowing the monkey which then kicked me in the back of the head. “It’s only a dinghy, what’s the matter with you, you big wuss!” screams monkey. The upshot was that twenty-four hours later I rocked up on my drive with another old
This isn’t David’s Mirror – it’s one of the 70,000 others out there. We put it in to provide some inspiration – and to make you smile
This is what the boat looked like when I bought her, although I did some initial repairs before I took her out for a sail
88 CLASSIC SAILOR
wooden boat on a knackered trailer and monkey was throwing tools out the shed at me so I could get started. From the sail number it transpired the Mirror dinghy was probably almost 45 years old. And the reason of course why the monkey won was that there is something special about these boats. They just seem to make everyone smile. The Mirror dinghy is of course one of the most popular sailing dinghies of all time. Since it was introduced in 1962 well over 70,000 have been built. It was designed by the legendary Jack Holt using a construction method developed by Barry Bucknell who hosted a popular DIY TV show at the time. The building method pioneered was the ‘stitch and glue’ technique whereby the seams of the plywood panels were held in place using twisted copper wire while the
joints between them were then made permanent using glass fibre tape and resin. The design was originally promoted by the Daily Mirror newspaper which wanted a boat in kit form that was simple enough for home construction using basic hand tools. What resulted is an iconic craft which has given joy to millions, is sailed all over the world and has also been the training craft of many Olympic sailors. As a new boat it is still available as a kit, a complete wooden boat or in GRP form. So if therapy hasn’t worked and you remain compelled to take on any boat restoration project then you could do a lot worse than with a Mirror dinghy to get it out of your system. (You never will once you start though.) Indeed when it comes to renovating or restoring any older craft it is advisable, if
Each part of the project can be broken down into stages and if you make any mistakes they should not be too costly or difficult to rectify
Preparing the hull
you are not that experienced, to start with a smaller project first. A dinghy like this is ideal because things can be kept on a manageable scale in terms of investment in time and costs. It is quicker to get started too than if you are trying to tackle a new build straight off because you are already working on a completed hull so you don’t need to build a stock or jig and buy all the necessary materials. Each part of the project can be broken down into stages and if you make any mistakes they should not be too costly or difficult to rectify. There are a lot of options to choose from if you are interested in a Mirror and there are a huge number of secondhand boats out there – they are a very economical way to get afloat. They are even cheaper if you are prepared to take on one which requires more work.
Many repair techniques shown here are applicable to a host of other jobs on craft both large and small and of course are relevant to new builds too. This old Mirror must have taught many youngsters to sail over the years and had the scars to prove it. I didn’t realise quite just how many scars until I started working on it and then it felt like I had something of a real old sailing war horse on my hands. When I first went to view the boat I could see that it had obviously been well used and been looked after with best intentions in a way that had the boat’s best interests at heart. A few things concerned me about the way some of the work had been carried out, although with its varnished spars, worn but warm interior, faded sails and sun bleached red halyards this little boat certainly had character. After 45 years and being a training boat too, I’m sure if it could speak it would have many stories to tell. When I initially took her out sailing she took on some water but I thought this was from around the centre board case. The second time she went out more water appeared... and kept appearing for a couple of days afterwards. It transpired that quite a lot of water had entered the buoyancy tanks and was sitting there. Worryingly it was also trapped inside areas of the boat and was being held there by strips of glass cloth and resin used in remedial repairs inside the hull. Even more worrying was that my knife went straight through the hull in one place where the rot had started to set in. I got the boat off the trailer and gave it a thorough looking over and from that inspection it looked like I had caught things just in time. Here’s what me and the monkey did.
1 The water inside the boat could only be coming from one place – the outside. I removed some paint from suspect areas of the chine to discover that the original tape was coming away from the joint where the glued had failed. This problem was repeated in other areas.
2 If you have ever wondered what rot looks like in a wooden boat when it starts this is it. The glass tape around the bulkhead was coming away but was also trapping water underneath.
3 Here you can see water literally flowing out of the buoyancy tanks when I lifted up strips of internal repair tape … and this is when it had been standing on my drive for two days after sailing her.
4 I inverted the boat and started burning off the hull paint in the area of the rot. I discovered some wooden patches and filler, not a problem and to be expected in an old boat. I was concerned about the dark area of plywood laminate which had gone soft. I let this dry out thoroughly and then cut away a small section of it.
CLASSIC SAILOR 89
Repairing a Mirror dinghy: part 1
5 The boat had had quite a few layers of paint over the years but with the uneven surface it was difficult to establish just what was sound and what was not. I decided to strip the hull of paint completely.
6 A lot of filler and fairing material had been used which I also removed so I could clearly examine the state of the plywood underneath.
7 After removing the paint with a hot air gun the whole hull was then sanded down with a power sander using 120 grit sanding pads.
8 I wanted to assess the overall condition of the hull before removing any fittings but now they could all come off before progressing to the next stage.
Repairing the keel When the boat was originally built it was clear that the bottom panels had been jointed with fibreglass tape before the keel was fitted. It would have been possible to leave the keel in place while I tried to redo this joint, but it would be preferable to remove the keel to do the job properly. However the internal fixings for the keel had been fibreglassed in and the aft one was inaccessible in the sealed transom bulkhead. The only effective way to remove the keel was to cut through the fixings and then reattach it when the new keel tape was in place. I did not have a specific tool ideally suited for this job so I made one out of a hacksaw blade attached to a short aluminium strip which served as a handle to make a lateral cut (the handle strip was in fact part of a leftover keel band). I used a flexible bimetal high speed hacksaw blade with 24 teeth per millimetre and an aluminium strip measuring approximately 400mm x 12mm x 3mm. I then drilled the hacksaw blade in four places and similarly the handle and riveted the blade in position leaving about 90mm (3Â˝in) protruding at one end to provide the cutting part.
2 The keel band fixings were removed. Here it can be seen that as well as glass tape under the keel, additional strips had been used at the sides of the keel to hull joint.
3 I used paint scrapers as thin wedges to open the gap as I progressed with the cut.
4 With the fixings cut through and the keel removed the area then had to be thoroughly cleaned before the new tape could be applied. (See next month)
Next month David and the Inner chimp will be taping the seams and looking at sheathing repairs. CS January issue on sale December 3. 90 CLASSIC SAILOR
1 The homemade cutting tool was a hacksaw with a handle made of alumium strips riveted to it.
5 When the new tape was in position the keel area was then abraded and all the bonding surfaces primed with epoxy.
I did not have a specific tool ideally suited for this job so I made one out of a hacksaw blade attached to a short aluminium strip for a handle
7 The keel was carefully placed in position along the centre line of the boat and excess epoxy scraped away.
8 Masking tape was used to secure the keel in position while the initial bond was allowed to cure.
9 An epoxy fillet was later used on each side of the keel to reinforce the joint.
6 A thickened mix of West System 405 Filleting Blend epoxy was applied to the base of the keel.
10 The fitted keel back in place bonded firmly along each side with epoxy fillets. Excess epoxy was cleaned away with a spatula when the filleting bead was completed.
CLASSIC SAILOR 91
Tools: Palms Ancient & Modern Pushing a needle through sailcloth is no easy matter; the proper tool, a sailmakers’ palm, makes all the difference. This leather, glove-like band, ﬁtted with a metal plate and used to push the heavy needles, is the quintessential tool of the sailmaker. By Des Pawson.
nyone who intends to do much heavy hand work on traditional sails may wish to invest in a heavy sailmakers’ palm, ideally both a seaming and a roping palm. It is said that you can, at a push, seam with a roping
palm but you can’t rope with a seaming palm. A heavy palm will need to be broken in like a pair of army boots. The basic principle is to soak it in water for a couple of hours before bending and moulding it to you own hand and then
working with it in this state until it really fits you. The lighter weight sailors’ palms and the ‘Dutch style’ are more flexible, but even then when a palm gets moulded to your hand, try not to lend it out! Whichever palm you choose check that, when you hold the needle between your thumb and forefinger, the needle rests squarely on the angled iron. Watch out because some of the very cheap “Dutch style” palms being offered for sale today are made in Pakistan and the wedges of leather used to give the iron the right angle have been inserted incorrectly. However it is not a major task to take it apart and remake it. Many sailmakers who use their palm for hand work all day, every day, sewing
Sailmaker using a palm, from David Steel Elements of Sailmaking 1794.
miles in a career, will often modify their palm, shaving an irritating piece off, or adding a little soft leather padding here or there, indeed sometimes rebuilding it completely. If you are without a palm, a small coin with a few dents bashed into it, sewn through four holes to a band of leather, could get you out of a tight corner and you would be revisiting an 18th century sailmakers’ palm.
A Spanish palm circa 1719-56. From the simple beginning of a disc of metal with indentations, sewn to a piece of leather, a wide range of styles have evolved. In the 1920s one British maker offered 30 differing styles and that does not include the offer of a left or right hand model for each style.
92 CLASSIC SAILOR
Soak it in water for a couple of hours before bending and moulding it to your own hand and then working with it for a couple of hours until it really ﬁts you Sailors’ palms: Top Liverpool style, seaming (left ), roping (right). Below: the most basic sailors’ seaming palm. Many styles and variations exist within these categories, built up with various layers of leather and rawhide, and different qualities and styles of irons. Different areas of Europe developed their own distinct styles, most of which tend to be lighter and echo the earlier style of palm with a disc with indentations and lugs by which it is attached to the leather part; these are sometimes called “Dutch Style.”
Below: a selection of European palms. Seaming palms: The roping palm, which has larger indentations on the iron and the leather is raised round the thumb, where a turn of the twine is often taken to get an extra pull to tighten the stitches. Roping (sewing the rope round the outside of the sail) takes a larger needle with thicker twine and is heavier work.
Roping palms: lighter and cheaper palms usually sold in the past as ‘sailors’ palms’. Today some of these have their iron held in place with a plastic moulding rather than the rawhide used in the past.
CLASSIC SAILOR 93
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Chadrak has gained the 22 square metre Championship both in Sweden and UK. In 2015 she has been equipped with a new spruce mast, brand new stainless steel and dyneema rigging Chadrak comes immensely equipped and with a fantastic suit of sails. £27,900. t 01752 823927 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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Sulya is a very pretty long keel Morgan Giles classic, 1955. Honduras Mahogany on CRE Oak backbone. Alloy spars s/s rigging. Complete restoration, traditional style retained, with modern comforts. Lying Inverness. (20mins airport/train) L/0 30ft W/l 26ft Draft 5ft 6ins.Good survey 2011, OIRO £20,000. 01997 421909 firstname.lastname@example.org
1931 16 ton Scottish Fiﬁe ‘SWEET PROMISE’ Weatherheads of Cockenzie. Length 42.62 feet Her present owner has had her for over 20 years. Sweet Promise had a full rebuild and restoration which cost 165k from 2006-10 including 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.
Day boat from Ullswater
Glassﬁbre hull, timber trim, thwarts and foredeck, a pair of oars and has a running Stuart Turner vintage engine complete with copper fuel tank! She needs a new home. David Baldry, Open to offers. Call 017684 86514 for more details.
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Laurent Giles Vertue built by Cheoy Lee in 1963 to Lloyds 100A1. All varnished teak hull with yacht laid teak decks, Yanmar diesel and updated rig. One of the most immaculate Vertues on the water, she has been impeccably well maintained and is very well equipped. Holland £26,000
43’ Camper and Nicholson built by C&N in 1960 to Lloyds 100A1 for offshore racing. Honduras mahogany hull on rock elm frames. Volvo 50hp diesel, 8 berths in very smart yet original interior. Much work in recent years including new deck and bottom end. Fast, capable and powerful yacht, a true pedigree of her era. Devon £89,000
38’ Colin Archer type gaff cutter designed by Percy Dalton and built in ferro cement by a professional shipwright in Falmouth. Inspected during build and ever since by the same surveyor, has worked as a coded charter vessel. Spacious, comfortable and very safe, an ideal long distance yacht at a very sensible price. Devon £28,000
44’ teak bermudan cutter built in France in 1936. All Burma teak hull on oak frames with flush teak deck. Much structural work done in recent years, including stem and stern posts and a new mast. A very eye catching yacht which has been extremely well cared for over the years. Cornwall £65,000
35’ Buchanan Saxon Class built by Priors in 1961. Honduras mahogany all copper fastened. Complete new rig in 2014, Beta 25hp diesel. 5 berths in newly rebuilt interior, a comfortable and safe yacht with several trans-Atlantic passages under her keel. Dorset £33,000
16’ Varnished launch designed and built by Nick Smith of Christchurch in 2010. Still virtually as new, this immaculate launch is a complete package in perfect order. Vetus 11hp diesel, custom made road trailer and all over cover. Serviced, antifouled and ready to go. Chichester £19,500
Holman Sterling built by Uphams of Brixham in 1961. Mahogany on oak hull, 5 berths with full standing headroom. Perkins 29hp diesel. The Sterling is a much loved classic cruising yacht, very easy to handle with lots of space below decks and well behaved at sea. Exceptionally good value yacht. Essex £9,750
30’ Percy Mitchell motor sailer built to very typical Mitchell lines with a pronounced sheer. Planked in larch on oak, recent major refit including new teak deck. Beta 43hp diesel. Surely the smartest example of this type of boat, perfect for family cruising and exploring. Afloat and ready to go, Cornwall £27,000
Another fascinating collection of traditional and classic yachts only from Wooden Ships. Call for true descriptions, genuine honest values and a service from people who know their boats.
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19m Luxemotor motor barge, 2003 Essex. OIRO £175,000
52ft Fleur du Lys by Dagless 1961 Essex £69,500
86ft Thames Sailing Barge,1926 Steel, Essex POA.
41ft Silverleaf by John Bain 1935 Suffolk. OIRO £50,000
32ft Gaff Ketch 1903 Kent £19,950
35ft Berthons W.Solent Edwardian Yacht Essex OIRO £40,000
Heard 28, 1984 Gaffers & Luggers Essex £29,500
South Coast One Design 1961. Sussex £11,500
1959 17m Dutch Mussel Cutter Essex £45,000
Dunkirk Little Ship, Osborne 35 1937 Essex POA
19’ Golant Gaffer 2007, Essex £6,950
As new 25ft Gostelows Gaffer 1935 Essex £19,950
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Dover Marina Nelson Zimmer 22 £50,000
Cape Cutter 19 £14,950
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Finesse 24 £8,500
1965 call Suffolk
Whisstocks Landfall Ketch £38,000
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Frances 26 £16,750
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Memory 19 £12,500
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East Anglian One Design £10,000
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The last word: Lucy L Ford The Christmas list
or Christmas, the skipper gave me a voluminous pair of bright trussed up like an over large yellow chicken, until the pain in your bladder is so yellow, waterproof dungarees. A perfect match for the bright excruciating that you just have to… go. yellow, ill-fitting wellingtons purchased the year before. Whilst The ‘heads’ on our boat is on the starboard quarter, and you can guarantee I might admit to domestic proportions that are more ample that when ‘the time’ comes, we will be healed over at 45 degrees on the oppothan are convenient for the skipper’s middle-aged fantasies – site tack. ... But will he flatten out the boat for your comfort and convenience? these would have fitted an elephant! No! Once you find yourself jammed in this stinking Doubtless they were purchased from the ‘bargain cupboard, the boat is slamming around so much that Might oilskins in a range of rail’ at the Boat Show. you have to brace your feet against one bulkhead “They’ll be just right for going out on the foreand your back against the other. You then realise that more feminine colours than deck.” before you can relieve the agonising pain, you will someForedeck? Doesn’t he realise that I’m overdosing ‘voluminous yellow’ encourage how have to get off these dreadful yellow dungarees. on adrenalin by the time my head appears above the No, voluminous, bright yellow waterproof dungamore women to go sailing? companion way, and for five years I had panic attacks rees were not exactly top of my Christmas list. Dan whenever he put the main up as well as the jib? buoy; flares; emergency ladder; man overboard sling; “Foredeck …yes dear … how very thoughtful …such a lovely colour!” life raft… might have been. In fact, anything that might calm this aquatic I have wondered whether having oilskins available in a range of more induced insecurity that borders on neurosis: a map showing all the life boat feminine colours than ‘voluminous yellow’, might encourage more women to stations… anything, just not, voluminous, bright yellow waterproof dungarees. go sailing … what about pink? Not that I am particularly fashion conscious but But there is of course an almost endless list of very expensive elecwaddling down the pontoons in three sizes too big of ‘bright yellow’ is hardly tronic ‘toys’ and other things which you can buy for him: chart plotter; Navtex; bow thruster; new engine; propeller; GPS; radar… the cat-walk experience that I dreamed of. Thus over the years you contribute vast sums of generosity to However my main objection to heavy-weather sailing gear is this monetary ‘hole in the water’. Then, when at last that it was designed by men, who have absolutely, no idea you find that you have completed the skippers’ how impractical all that clobber is, when a woman “needs-must-have” list; what does he do? needs the loo! Imagine sitting through those long …He goes and sells the bloody boat! 12-15 hour sea voyages, for hour upon hour,
98 CLASSIC SAILOR
The next classics 10 fantastic production GRP boats, Folkboat to France, Whooper's winning ways, Britain's oldest fisherman, Sailors as spie...
Published on Apr 26, 2019
The next classics 10 fantastic production GRP boats, Folkboat to France, Whooper's winning ways, Britain's oldest fisherman, Sailors as spie...