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14/12/2015 18:04

Contents COVER STORY The fine art of charter


Jack London: to sea on the Snark


We witness the launch of a Carriacou sloop, find a Morecambe Bay prawner in Cardiff, meet the new owner of a Broads boatyard, and more...

Fairey’s designer


Association news


Liveaboard, lifeboat and Little Ship


Classic Coast


Bargebuilder to the Queen


Smylie’s boats


James Dodds: wood, water and oils


The Post


On Watch: New Year shopping


Off Watch and Over the Yardarm


Basics of Navigation: Tides


Boat skills: ferry gliding


Surveying: engine and rigging


Restoring a Mirror dinghy: time to turn it over


Des Pawson’s six-knot challenge


Calendar and Next Month


The last word: Artist of the Month



Signals: Golden Globe goes again


What kinds of boats would a classic sailor sail? The ed muses... 50 years after the original round-the-world race won by Robin Knox-Johnston, it’s to be rerun, using period boats and equipment

Around the yards

Invitations to race with pilot cutters and on a Brixham trawler The legacy of shipbuilding: Wivenhoe, Essex Tenby Luggers: only two remaining Let’s hear it for the Rival 34

Andrew Bray

“And then the engine stopped...”

Guest column:

The three most useless things on a yacht restoration

Nardi’s nods

Swan 36, “firstborn of a highly rated family”

Victoria visits the Veerse Meer

Sue Lewis and partner take their gaffer to the Low Countries for a Festival in Ostend and some strange racing in the Netherlands


17 19 21 22


Running a smack


They’re the hefty and fast historic east-coast fishing boats. But what does it take to own, keep and sail one?

The long and short of keels

Why, if long keels are traditionally thought of as the best, are fin keels so popular? We look at the pros and cons of both types

He wrote of adventures, and he went on one, with his own boat, his wife and the dream of following Slocum. But then it all went wrong The life and work of Alan Burnard Floating home Trimilia joined the Return to Dunkirk Mark Edwards built Gloriana, and lots of more modest craft

The distinctive East Coast artist, currently with a major exhibition, talks to CS about his work, his origins and his inspiration Kit to wear, kit to fit to your boat and something to love Good books... and Guy Venables encounters a rum cove Why they do what they do, and using tide tables and tidal curves A neat trick if you can do it... read this and you can! They’re over half the value of the boat... if they’re in good condition

She... may be the mirror of our dreams

British take on a Sparkman & Stephens hull design, the She 36 was – and still is – hugely popular. Peter Poland finds out why

Pick the date, pick the place, pick the boat. We help you find the best adventures, from pole to pole, pilot cutters to Broads classics


Part 3 covers work on the interior

Or is it seven? In all the excitement we’ve lost count Events for the coming month and year, and what’s in our next issue Ran Ortner, surfer and seascape specialist





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Editorial Dan Houston

What kind of boat would a classic sailor sail? She’ll be the one he swears by


elcome to the world of the classic sailor! We are still they are pretty much indestructible in normal use. Of course they still need quite a new magazine – this is our fifth issue and while a lot of TLC or a proper refurbishment every so often, and they are just like we are about good seaworthy boats we are also about wooden boats in that. a traditional approach to sailing generally. That said, In fact I wonder if boats like that will not become more sought-after as what kinds of boat would a classic sailor sail? they get older. The two things that should concern a classic sailor most Classic sailing is most often associated with wooden boats. That covers are hull and rig integrity. Those heavy GRP hulls are looking very stable, a wide range of styles and also materials; a speed-strip built boat is often sometimes 50 or so years on; wooden boats after 60 or 70 years of hard use considered to be wooden and at her core she usually benefit from a total rebuild – a point is made of inch-thick strips of timber... But made by Robin Page about his The two things that should concern eloquently she relies entirely on resin and often glassfibre smack Alberta on page 34. Meeting owners of older GRP classics is a as well for her strength and seaworthiness; a classic sailor most are hull bit like meeting owners of wooden boats 30 she is really very different from a traditional and rig integrity years ago; they have an old boat they are pascarvel (smooth planked) boat and also from a sionate about. Chances are they got her for clinker (planks overlapping) boat. Those two a bargain price and yet she works as well as her rig and sails allow. So will last designs of boat are often considered the true classics because there are we therefore cover any boat? Well I must say I gulped when Peter Poland many of each type which have lasted a long time. made his case for the She 36, on page 28. That fin and skeg and the reverse A wooden boat built like that can last a long time because she is built like sheer make her look awfully modern... But then I realised that my old 1953 a great big Meccano set. If she gets rot in one place she can be taken apart Scarborough sloop was 36 years old when we got her, and the She design is just there and put back together with a new piece. 40 this year. The main value of boats is how their owners swear by them. In But as glassfibre boats have been getting older we see value in their the end what you want is a boat that will look after you. If she looks good as longevity too. Many were built by builders who were used to the scantlings well then that is an excellent bonus! of wood, with thick hulls and heavy long, or longish fin, keels. It turns out

Edward Penfield’s famous World War I poster of an emancipated woman rowing in a heavy sea was conceived to encourage donations and help from volunteers in the USA’s 1918 War Work campaign. Penfield (1866-1925) is considered by many to be the father of the American Poster. His message here is clearly as much about rights (and duties) for women as it was for the war effort


Signals A celebration of the 1968/9 round-the-world race, and a recreation, using long-keeled boats of the era, without digital aids 2018

Golden Globe to be rerun 50 years on It is on many bucket lists, but what does it take to sail solo around the world? Time and commitment certainly – which is where many of us fall down, a good well-proven yacht, and a budget of around £70,000. The last two are within reach of a large number of us, which explains the strong tug that the 2018 Golden Globe solo round the world race is having on the sailing community, writes Barry Pickthall Within nine months of announcing this 27,000-mile event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first race and Robin Knox-Johnston’s epic voyage to become the first to sail solo non-stop around the world, 30 sailors have paid an initial $3,000 AUS to enter, and another 150 have intimated that they want to have a go too! The race, like the original Sunday Times Golden Globe Race back in 1968/9, could not be simpler. Depart Falmouth on June 14 2018 and sail solo non-stop around the world via the five Great Capes and return to Falmouth. Entrants are limited to using the same type of yachts and equipment that were available to Robin in that first race. That means sailing without modern digital technology or benefit of satellite navigation aids. The choice of boats are good solid tradition production yachts between 32ft and 36ft overall designed prior to 6 CLASSIC SAILOR

Above: Race founder Don McIntyre, and, right, some of the 30 (so far) entrants who attended a pre-race conference in London

1988, with full-length keels and rudders attached to their trailing edge. These include: Aries 32 Baba 35 Biscay 36 Bowman 36 Cape Dory 36 Eric 32 (replica of KnoxJohnston’s Suhaili)

Nicholson 32 MK-XI OE 32 Rustler 36 Saga 34 Saltram 36 Tradewind 35 Vancouver 32 & 34 Westsail 32 “This anniversary edition of the Golden Globe Race is

a celebration of the original event, the winner, his boat and that significant world-first achievement,” says Australian race founder Don McIntyre, adding,“Competitors will be sailing simple boats using basic equipment to guarantee a satisfying and personal experience. The challenge is

“Simple boats using basic equipment to guarantee a satisfying and personal experience. The challenge is pure and very raw, placing adventure ahead of winning”

Above: back in the day... Robin Knox Johnston’s mother and father look tense with worry as their son bids goodbye on his long voyage around the world. Above left: Suhaili was an unlikely winner

pure and very raw, placing the adventure ahead of winning at all costs. It is for ‘those who dare’, just as it was for Robin. “They will be navigating with sextant on paper charts, without electronic instruments or autopilots. They will hand–write their logs and determine the weather for

themselves. Only occasionally will they talk to loved ones and the outside world when long-range high-frequency and ham radios allow.” Interest has been so strong that McIntyre, who had chosen a Tradewind 35 to compete, has been forced to give his place up and take over

the helm of the event as Race Chairman. The entry list includes French veteran Eric Loizeau, a disciple of Eric Tabarly, and 70-year-old Jean-Luc van den Heede who holds the current record for the fastest westabout solo circumnavigation. There are six from Britain including sailing mad Susie Bundegaard Goodall, the sole women entrant so far; sailing instructor Tim Newson; Somerset farmer Ian Reid; Liverpudlian adventurer Chris Jacks, and international architect Graham Applin who is breaking a world cruise in his Swan 57 currently in Fiji to get a boat and take part. Other countries represented include America, Austria, Australia, Brazil, Estonia, India, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Palestine, Russia and Switzerland. The Race will be run under the auspices of the newlyformed Royal Nomuka YC, Tonga, with HRH Crown Prince Tupouto’a Ulukalala acting as Patron. The Royal Cornwall YC will be responsible for the start and finish. At a conference for competitors held at the Little Ship Club just before Christmas, entrants were still getting their heads around what they can and cannot take onboard. No digital watches of course. “But why can’t I take my iPod” asked French entrant Antoine Cousot. “Because it is digital,” replied McIntyre “So what do we do about music?” “You take tape cassettes.” “Does that mean I can only listen to 1960s music?” chimed in Tim Newson. Aged 35, he was not even a twinkle in his parents’ eyes when Robin Knox-Johnston became the first to sail solo non-stop around the world.

For further information go to


The ill-fated voyage of Donald Crowhurst and Teignmouth Electron is one of the sailing world’s most tragic stories. Crowhurst was under obligation to leave and join the race way before he was ready. She was not seaworthy enough to do the race and he ended up committing suicide. A film of his story is due out this year.

Pilot of the deep range Bernard Moitessier decided when he had passed Cape Horn that he would just keep on going. The Frenchman was on the way to a spiritual connection with and evocation of the sea.

And the winner was? Robin Knox-Johnston shot to international fame with Suhaili the beloved old yacht he still sails as he tramped around the world at 3.5knots. As a true gentleman he gave his winnings to the Crowhurst family. CLASSIC SAILOR


Signals An exquisitely restored 8-m cruiser racer reaches London, but another yacht fails to find the Falklands... and the Drascombe is 50 8 METRE CRUISER RACER

Altricia’s headed for the Boat Show The sleek McGruer classic 8m cruiser-racer Altricia is set to make her debut at the 2016 London Boat Show in January fresh from a full restoration by the master shipwrights of Mylor Yacht Harbour’s Marine Team. Altricia emerged from her Mylor shed in time to complete sea trials where she proved herself as swift and technically brilliant under sail as she is beautiful – a full fifty years after she took her maiden voyage on the Clyde. She is the shining apple of the eye for her distinguished seafaring owner Peter Methven OBE who will join Mylor Yacht Harbour’s

Marine Team to show her off on stand G150 at London’s ExCeL exhibition centre from January 8-17. Visitors coming to admire Altricia will be welcomed on board for a guided tour. They can also enter an exclusive prize draw for the chance to win a winter’s shore-storage at Mylor Yacht Harbour near Falmouth. Altricia is a 40ft (12.2m) McGruer classic yacht, built of African mahogany in 1965 to the 8-Metre cruiserracer formula. She arrived at Mylor Yacht Harbour in 2013 and in the seasoned hands of shipwrights Chris ‘Ollie’ Oliver and Reed Downing

initially had everything below her waterline repaired. “We have the skills to match any vessel – ancient or modern – but to be entrusted with a rare classic yacht like Altricia is a real privilege,” says Mylor Yacht Harbour’s

managing director Roger Graffy. “Our master craftsmen have decades of experience between them and a project like this allows us to nurture younger talent to make sure we take those brilliant classic skills into the future.”


Rescuer is rescued From rescuing fallen airmen in the Second World War, to a much-loved ferry service, Rescue Motor Launch (RML) 497 has now been acquired by the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) at Portsmouth where it’s planned she will provide harbour tours. Head of Heritage Development at the NMRN, Nick Hewitt, said: “I am absolutely thrilled that the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has supported us in acquiring RML 497. She’s an amazing survivor, full of original features and still fully operational, which is incredible for a wooden warship built for ‘hostilities only’ service during the Second World War. “When she comes to Portsmouth she’ll be entering a whole new phase of her long life, and I’m sure our visitors will be just as excited as we are to step 8 CLASSIC SAILOR

aboard her and see Portsmouth’s amazing naval heritage from the deck of a real warship.” An HLF grant of £90,600 was secured for the project, with both the NMRN and the Coastal Forces Heritage Trust (CFHT) raising £5,000 each. Stuart McLeod, Head of HLF South East, said: “These vessels’ daring missions during the Second World War is a little-known part of the UK’s naval history. Thanks to National Lottery players, this investment will bring the best surviving example of a Fairmile to Portsmouth, creating an exciting new attraction for the Historic Dockyard and ensuring

the contribution of those who worked on this vessel is much better known.” The Coastal Forces made an enormous contribution to Second World War in every aspect of war. Gathering vital intelligence and sinking enemy vessels were just two of her operational roles. CFHT’s aim, as a charity, is to preserve the history of the Royal Navy’s Coastal Forces. Acting Chairman of the Coastal Forces Heritage Trust, Trevor Robotham, said: “The Trustees of the Coastal Forces Heritage Trust are delighted that RML 497 has been acquired by the NMRN.

Rescue Motor Launch (RML) 497 will soon be providing tours around Portmouth Harbour

Above: Altricia with owner Peter Methven in Falmouth waters for sea trials before her journey to London

“The Trust has contributed financially to the saving of the boat and will act as specialist advisers to the NMRN on its display to the public and on the wartime construction and use of this type of boat. “Constructed to the same Fairmile Type B design as the Motor Gunboats and constructed by the same company, the boat is one of only a few remaining examples of this very famous wartime design.” RML 497 was sold off at Itchenor, West Sussex, after the war in 1947 and in the same year entered service with the Western Lady Ferry between Brixham and Torquay as Western Lady III. During 2007 Western Lady III left South Devon but returned in 2009 when she was purchased by Greenway Ferry to once again grace the waters of Torbay and Dartmouth, carrying many thousands of passengers. She was renamed Fairmile, after the firm that built her, and in 2013 was returned to her wartime colours.



Stunt goes wrong as yacht breaks down A publicity stunt by Maximo Kirchner, son of the Argentine President Cristina Kirchner to sail the Argentinian flagged yacht La Sanmartiniana into Falklands waters, backfired when the yacht got into difficulty. It was abandoned and had to be rescued by the Falklands’ Patrol Vessel Protegat, in late October. Falkland Islands Government (FIG) Attorney General Peter Judge confirmed to the local paper Penguin News that if the vessel is unclaimed it will ultimately become the property of the Crown. Asked if FIG will be entitled to a reward

commensurate with the value of the yacht if the owners wish it returned, Mr Judge said: “No. We cannot currently quantify the amount but the Government (Receiver of Wreck) will be able to recover all fees and costs and the rules of salvage will also apply.” La Sanmartiniana was towed to Stanley by Falklands Patrol Vessel Protegat and is now under the jurisdiction of Receiver of Wrecks Mick Floyd, who will have to assemble, “the jigsaw, establish the owner and go down the proper route.” It is likely to be a lengthy process. The yacht which allegedly belongs to the Argentine

La Sanmartiniana at dock in the Falklands. Argentina wants her back but there is the matter of salvage...

Peronist political group La Campora headed by Argentine President Cristina Kirchner’s son Maximo Kirchner, was found on October 7, in the Falklands Outer Conservation Zone (FOCZ) 143 miles from the Islands. The nine crew of the yacht had abandoned her on September 17 in the vicinity of Isla de Los Estados (Argentina). They had safely transferred to a fishing vessel after the yacht reportedly had mechanical problems.


The ‘whingeing wife’s’ tale As the Drascombe Lugger approaches its 50th anniversary, its creator’s widow has revealed the part she played in its design. And the original Lugger is now in the yard of Drascombe builders Churchouse Boats. The 18ft 9in Lugger was designed by John Watkinson, in response to his wife Kate, who refused to sail on the large yacht they owned. In a recent letter to Simon and Sharon Harwood, owners of Drascombe builders Churchouse Boats, Kate – who heads the letter ‘”A Whingeing Wife’s Tale” – writes: “John

said he would design and build a boat which I would enjoy. I thought it was a lovely idea and told him the specifications which I required.” These included a dayboat, as “I wanted to go home to my bed at night”, and a loose-footed sail “which wouldn’t clout my head when I wasn’t looking”. John spent the winter of 1965-66 designing and building the boat which he named Katharine Mary. Kate loved her and she was admired by others – so much that John took her to the 1967 London Boat Show.

Katharine Mary, the original Drascombe Lugger


Mayflower’s in for repair Mayflower II, the replica ship from Plimoth Plantation, the living history museum in Massachusetts, is spending the winter at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut for the second phase of a multi-year restoration programme leading up to the 2020 anniversary of the Pilgrims’ original crossing to America, writes Craig Milner. The 160ft ship, which was towed by tug to Mystic in December, is historically significant from a British perspective as well as an American one. She was built in Brixham in 1955 and paid for with British donations. This winter’s efforts will focus on replacing the half-deck area completely, as well as working on the tween deck and topmast rigging, before she returns to Massachusetts for the busy tourist and educational season during the summer and fall of 2016, culminating with the Thanksgiving holiday in November. Her captain, Whit Perry, is leading the collaborative Mystic team of maritime artisans and shipwrights who are doing the work.

Peter Methven is a serial restorer of old wooden boats. As we went to press his latest yacht Altricia was being set up for show at the London Boat Show. (see opposite page). Peter has had a yacht at the boat show before, when he restored Dilkusha, his beautiful West Solent Restricted class to the show in 2004.

The Disney Conservation Fund has given Dr. Godfrey Merlen a Conservation Hero Award, for his efforts to protect Galapagos penguins. Godfrey has given 45 years to protecting the wildlife and eco-system of the Galapagos Islands and started a whale sanctuary. He was nominated by Washington University who say his ability to work across cultures and organizations, and generously share his diverse skills in art, science, sailing, natural history, and conservation problem solving have made him key to the Penguin Project’s success.



Around the yards From Cornwall to Cardiff to the Crouch to the Norfolk Broads to Carriacou, West Indies; building, moving, buying, launching... CARRIACOU – ST BARTHS


All hands to launch the new Carriacou

It’s not everyday a hand-built boat gets launched by hand as well but this was the latest sloop from the yard of Alwyn Enoe, of Windward on the island of Carriacou in the West Indies. Free is the first boat built by Alwyn’s son Cal; to launch her the boat’s supports were gradually cut down by axe, bringing her onto her side on rollers. While women cooked over open fires to prepare food, dozens of people arrived to lend a hand to get the 42ft (12.8m) boat into the water by muscle power alone. It’s a tradition that goes back at least 120 years on the island which at one time was famous for its boatbuilding. And the launch involves a blessing by a priest as well as the slaughter of a lamb – for good luck. Free was then sailed to St Barths where the West Indies regatta celebrates these local boats in May. 10 CLASSIC SAILOR

Above, left and right: a few final pushes are required to get her into the water. Rollers are a tried and tested way of easing her in as well as ropes out to blocks anchored offshore. Below, l and r: Last minute preparations

“I didn’t want to have to look for a new job and I love this place and I know its potential, so I bought it... I’ve got plans to expand and promote it” yard NATIONAL MARITIME MUSEUM FALMOUTH


The Great Big Cornish Gig Project (Signals, CS3) is continuing to make progress at the National Maritime Museum, Falmouth. Wounded, Injured and Sick (WIS) Veterans are helping to build a new Cornish pilot gig that will be given to the Help For Heroes Gig Team to compete in the Pilot Gig World Championships on the Isles of Scilly in May 2016. Project manager Mike Selwood said, “We have managed to get together a dream team who along with our veterans will take until next April to build the gig which will become the H4H gig team’s first new boat.” Andrew Nancarrow, one of Cornwall’s foremost gig builders is leading the team, supported by Dan Scully from Falmouth Marine School, and Al Henderson, a former

The restoration of the 108-year-old Morecombe Bay Prawner Charlotte has passed a milestone with the removal of her 1.8 litre 65hp Ford Escort engine at the Restoration Zone of the World of Boats in Cardiff Bay. The engine took up about a third of the below-decks space when Charlotte was in the ownership of the four local brothers, who thought it necessary to push the tides of the Severn Estuary. After the death of the last of the brothers, the 22ft Charlotte was bought by the World of Boats in a partnership with the Bristol Channel Old Gaffers Association, whose members are providing the elbow grease to bring her back to her original condition. The project is looking at a complete replanking, and redecking under the lead of shipwright Matthew Goode.

Cornish gig project progresses

Work by wounded veterans, building a gig for Help for Heroes is continuing at the Falmouth National Maritime Museum

Royal Marine, who sustained serious injuries in Afghanistan resulting in the loss of his leg. “Al has become an excellent woodworker and in many ways is the inspiration for the project,” said Mike. “Many of the guys have discovered skills that

have lain dormant since school woodworking classes.” By Christmas, the build had reached the stage of shaping and fitting the gig’s knees. You can follow its progress at facebook/ Great Big Cornish Gig Project.


Lifting out Charlotte’s unfeasibly large engine

“I liked the boatyard so much – I bought it”

As a schoolboy George Elliot had a passion for boats and took every opportunity to be near them, writes Maurice Gray. At the age of fifteen he he took a Saturday job at Ludham Bridge Boatyard, at the hub of the Norfolk Broads, and thoroughly enjoyed every moment – even though his tasks were basically making tea and sweeping up. When George left school he was offered a full time job with the yard and could see the potential even at such a young age. He got to know every aspect of running a business

Prawner Charlotte


Petticrows relocates

George Elliot overlooking his boatyard at Ludham Bridge – he plans to double the number of boats the yard services

and gained a lot of knowledge during the next fifteen years. When the owner suddenly decided to sell the boatyard due to ill-health George faced the possibility of losing his job. Instead, he raised the money needed to buy out the yard. “I didn’t want to have to look for a new job and I love this place and know its potential, so I bought

it,” he explained confidently. “I’ve got plans to expand and promote this boatyard and have the full support from loyal customers.” With his partner Laura Bassam running the office and admin, he took over the business officially at the end of the summer season 2015, and already has new customers coming through the door.

Expansion has forced world-class Dragon builders Petticrows to relocate to new premises in Burnham-onCrouch, Essex. UK. Since 1 January 2016, Petticrows has been operating from Dammerwick Business Park, just two kilometres from its previous location. The new purpose-designed development will allow for more efficient structuring of production, and is more conveniently located for road and rail links. The new workshops will include a fully insulated building for laminating and cosmetic work, and a light and spacious fitting out and rigging shop, as well as stylish new offices and reception area. The move will also help Petticrows strengthen its new partnership with Rannoch Adventure to build cutting-edge ocean rowing boats in association with Charlie Pitcher, the solo transatlantic Helping to identify Petticrows world record holder. CLASSIC SAILOR 11

Signals: Association news Two great races, with chances to take part in them

Join the Bristol Channel race To mark the landmark 80th anniversary of the Cock of the Channel Race, first held in 1936 by Barry Yacht Club in South Wales for Bristol Channel pilot cutters, the Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter Owners Association (BCPCOA) and Barry Yacht Club are inviting any gaff-rigged yacht or workboat to join them in specially lengthened edition of the race, round Lundy and back, starting at 12 noon on Saturday 30 April. The Bristol Channel pilot cutter is often acknowledged as the best design of a sailing boat, for speed, manoeuvrability and short-handed handling. The were originally used to ferry the pilots out for navigating the merchant shipping bound for the channel’s ports through up to 8-knot strong tides and shifting sands. The original cutters that are due to line up for the start are Alpha (1904), Mascotte (1904), Olga (1909), Peggy (1903), Breeze (1887), and Dolphin (1909), which will be racing for the original Cock of the Channel trophy. Also lined up for the fleet is the Luke Powell pilot cutter yacht Agnes, and Spirit of Tradition cutter Jan Roelan.

There will be several trophies and prizes for this anniversary race, with winners being presented with half-models to mark their occasion. For more entry details email Tim Pratt at If you don’t own an original pilot cutter, but are looking for a chance to take part in this historic race for these most classic of workboats, this year’s race presents a golden opportunity. The 125-mile race from Barry, round Lundy and back via the West Helwick buoy promises challenging racing in some of the world’s most testing waters. This is an iconic race for the iconic pilot cutters that are often considered the pinnacle of design for a working sailing boat. At the moment there are still spaces available for guest crew to compete in this anniversary race on board Luke Powell’s 46ft modern pilot cutter Agnes, to join the fleet of up to six original pilot cutters, and other gaff rigged yachts and workboats. To book your berth on a historic boat for this historic race contact Adam Purser at Classic Sailing +44 (0)1872 580022 or visit

The annual Cock of the Channel race pits Bristol Channel pilot cutters against the waters they were designed for

Passage race on Provident

Provident, sailing off Dartmouth – an opportunity for 12 local teenagers


A dozen 16-19-year-olds from Devon are being offered the chance to race aboard the Brixham Trawler Provident this summer. The race, from Dartmouth to Gosport, will form part of an eight-day voyage aboard the 70ft LOA (21.3m) 1924 ketch and is being organized as part of the Royal Dartmouth Yacht Club’s 150th anniversary celebrations this year. The race is being organized by the Association of Sail Training Organisations (ASTO) as a Small Ships passage race, with vessels with young crew from across the UK. The Royal Dart is hoping to recruit its young crew from the South Hams district and there will be a couple of days training and practice before the start on August 22. The race and cruise are normally valued at £800, and the club wants would-be crew to fund raise part of this (£300+) themselves. Provident is part of the Trinity Sailing Foundation. See more about her, and them, at, and on page 48.

Smylie’s boats

Classic Coast

Tenby Luggers

T Wivenhoe, Essex Wivenhoe has responded remarkably gracefully to the loss if its shipbuilding industry. The former shipyards along the upstream quay have been replaced by nicely-designed and scaled houses which blend well with the existing terraces of Regency cottages. The more industrial-scale development at Cook’s Yard downstream is a bit more love-it-or-loathe-it, but it’s clean and simple and gives plenty of open space from which to admire the River Colne. This Essex town was once a centre of fishing and smackbuilding. Yacht-building also featured, along with winter lay-ups, as the fishermen found work crewing gentlemen’s yachts in the late 19th century. Nowadays yachts still find a berth in the half-tide mud along the Quay, and one sad smack, the Victory has lain there for years, steadily declining, its name becoming more ironic with every passing season. Mud is a big feature hereabouts – the Wet Dock at Cook’s Yard, Above: The upstream view of Wivenhoe’s riverfront, with the Cook’s Yard development on the right. Right: The Nottage Maritime Institute is a major factor in the survival of Wivenhoe’s maritime heritage

now home to the remnants of the fishing fleet, presents a fascinatingly hillocky landscape of the stuff at low tide. There’s a suitably quaint waterside pub, the Rose and Crown, and several more up the twisty little streets. But the pride of Wivenhoe, the relic and repository of its not-dead-yet maritime heritage, is the Nottage Maritime Institute, founded in 1896 by a yacht owner, Captain Charles Nottage, who recruited his crews locally and wished to provide them with a means of self-improvement. Nowadays it is part library, part museum, part night school, with RYA courses and much else besides. There are talks, film shows, and – getting back to Wivenhoe’s roots – boatbuilding courses, based on clinker dinghies and taught by Fabian Bush and John Lane. Peter Willis

What’s YOUR favourite Classic Coast location? Tell us about it; email

ucked into a quiet corner of Pembrokeshire, Tenby was once the greatest fishing harbour in Wales and its Welsh name of Dinbych-y-pysgod (little fort of the fishes) gives a clue to the ancient provenance of this. Back in the 17th century Pembrokeshire was noted for its immense stocks of fish with, according to George Owen, its coast “enclosed with a hedge of herring”. Oysters were also prolific in the beds off Caldey Island and off Stackpole Head to the west. Small shallow-keeled boats were developed for dredging these shellfish although they also were used off-season for a number of other activities – mostly fishing (long-lining, trawling, drifting for herring and mackerel and lobstering) but also servicing shipping in the bay and a touch of the smuggling. After Tenby became a somewhat ‘fair and fashionable’ place, they found a lucrative business in taking trippers out around the bay during the summer, and even over to Caldey to visit the monks. Artist Charles Norris spent much of the years 1805-1858 in and around Tenby and his evidence shows that these luggers were initially some 20ft in length, clinker-built with two square sails and sporting a small wine-glass transom. As the lug superseded the old square sail, so did the construction method. Carvel building allowed a greater length, a wider transom, more buoyancy aft and a small cuddy in the forepeak, giving a smidgeon of shelter whilst fishing. Plans of the clinker-built boat registered M170 (said to be Three Sisters/ Seahorse built by James Newt in 1886 but disputed by some) show a solidly built vessel on a massive keel, heavy floors, upright stem, raked transom, with a very short cuddy, three rowing thwarts and one in the sternsheets, lug main, foresail on bowsprit and very small mizzen-sprit set on a bumpkin. The rudder was outboard of course, and some photographs of latter-day boats show the decking extending well over half of the boat and rigged with a single pole mast. Nevertheless these boats continued to be referred to as the luggers whilst those smaller ones – at under 20ft - became the punts! In 1891 there were 49 luggers and seldom did the numbers exceed this. Thomas George was the last of the family of renowned local builders and he was succeeded by Patrick Wickland. Some had engines added and some became pleasure boats as the fortunes of Tenby fishermen faded. Many of these were those converted to gaff half-deckers. Into the 21st century only two originals are rumoured to exist (one being clouded in fog, the other at Pembroke Dock awaiting restoration and likely to be the one mentioned above). Furthermore students at the Mitec College in Milford Haven have one under construction although wrangles between various government funded authorities have resulted on the project being on hold for some time.

Only two originals are rumoured to exist, with another under construction at Mitec College in Milford Haven CLASSIC SAILOR 13

The Post Email or post letters and replies to the editor – see opposite; we’ll make sure responses to queries are forwarded on. Wearing right diguise ...and box set mania Congratulations – unlike many other magazines, I seem to be finding interest in every page of your new sailing magazine. It’s proving to be a feast for the eye as well. I don’t know how you’ve managed it, but even the adverts are a pleasant sight! Long may it continue. When reading Guy Venables’ advice on the etiquette of yachting, my mind was cast back to the OGA’s 50th anniversary celebrations in Cowes. Appreciation for the kind and generous sponsorship of the

The editor with the photographer Emily Harris offering her own opinion on his sartorial appearance at the OGA’s 50th

Hall and Woodhouse brewery was obvious. Some bloke was particularly memorable because he’d also got the aesthetics just right for the occasion. He’d gone to the trouble of wearing a simple sweatshirt – printed to look like a very smart blazer with collared shirt and tie. Anyway – as you’ve mastered the art of making things look widely appealing, as well as relaying info of interest, I wondered if you’d be supplying a box to help some of us disguise our magazines. Anyone who has tried to store magazines on a bookshelf will know they tend to keep falling over until they mysteriously disappear (into the bin?). My wife has noticed that I’m avoiding creasing the CS pages and I just bought the back issue of CS No 1. She’s starting to worry about a tendency towards ‘magazine collector’ status. Could anything be more anal? Such a box is needed from the outset so that old issues might quickly be perceived as being worthy of a bookshelf box rather than the bin. An index every so often might be a nice touch as well. Tom Taylor, Heathfield, Sussex

Oops! Some bloke... I think it might have been me! Good idea about the box file. Ed

SEAGULL ADDICT I feel after two years of being in the closet (shed) about my addiction I must come clean to you, the sailing community and my long-suffering wife. It all started two years ago when my brother-in-law gave me a seagull 40 featherweight outboard – perfect to go on the back of our little sailing dinghy. A few afternoons firing it up on our recycling dustbin got me to grips with starting and fettling this curious old machine. The smell of the 2-stroke mix, the ‘putt putt’ of the engine and the challenge of man vs machine got me hooked. Then our local paper had an ad: “Seagull £30”. I thought “That’ll be useful for spares”... oh what a fool am I! It came


Harrier memories

I read of the sad loss of Julian Mustoe’s Harrier in the December issue. But I am pleased that he completed his journey ‘in the wake of the Beagle’. Quite by chance I met Julian in February 2006 whilst he was on that journey. I’d called in to Puerto Deseado, on the coast of Argentina, to top up Cracklin’ Rosie’s fuel tank, on my way to Cape Horn. Harrier was hanging on a buoy

along with another one: a ‘Silver Century’ that the seller gave me. I now had a full set. What more could a man need? I went to buy a piano at auction... bad mistake. “Three seagull outboards guide price £20 to £30”. On return from the auction they were hidden under a blanket in the shed. It was official… I was addicted. I think all of us men have an inner child that loves to collect things. It started with Beano mags, Corgi cars, musical instruments and now outboards. Help, Father Dan. What should I do? My wife doesn’t understand me and my children write about Daddy’s obsession with Seagulls in their school: “What we did on our holiday” essays. Desperate from Dorset

Trevor’s Twister Cracklin’ Rosie ashore for a scrub at Puerto Deseado

Above: you’ll soon find that you need more than one Seagull outboard...

in the tiny bay just inside the river mouth. Julian invited me aboard for drink and a yarn and told me of his plans, the most immediate of which was to drive up the river which Charles Darwin had explored by boat. I was invited along but the four-wheel-drive vehicle Julian had arranged to hire had developed a fault. I decided to scrub off instead. Members of the little Nautical Club at the head of the bay had been welcoming, friendly, and had given me leave to come alongside their pier. It was about half-tide when I made my approach. I misjudged the slope of the beach and went aground about two metres off the pier. The tide was falling fast. She wouldn’t budge. I leapt into the dinghy with a long line and an anchor, dug in the anchor some way along the shore, rushed back, tied the line to the spinnaker halyard and winched. She leaned away from the pier. A line from the pier back to a sheet winch soon had her braced almost upright. I rigged a couple more lines for safety then sat for a moment, in the cockpit, perspiring a little. When the water was down to

She was my first boat and I have never wanted to change her. She is everything I want at 68 and is a superb sea boat in all conditions... knee deep I started to scrub. Two people I’d met in the clubhouse the previous evening strolled over and congratulated me on the clever way I’d tied up so I had easy access all round! There was no-one around to say farewell to when I left, so I waved to Harrier and the parade of penguins on the far shore! Trevor Clifton, Southsea

Who’s going to Brest?

I am currently organising an ‘OGA fleet’ to go to Brest and onward to Douarnenez next July. To help do this I am running a website page at brest-and-douarnenez-2016 We have no funds to advertise this facility beyond the OGA but would welcome outsiders to join us and come along. Your readers might be interested or they may want to try their luck at registering direct at the Brest website. Ben Collins, French Liaison, Old Gaffers Association UK

Any non-Gaffers who fancy joining the OGA fleet are welcome to write or email via Classic Sailor – we’ll forward any messages received. Ed

Top GRP designs: Rival claims pour in

7 Haslar Marina, Gosport, Hants. PO12 1NU

In CS 3 we invited readers to nominate their favourite GRP classic designs. We had many votes for the Contessa 32 last month but this month it is the turn of the Peter Brettdesigned deep hull Rival 34. Over 170 were built, the majority still in commission. See more at

Everything I want

Obviously I am biased but I nominate the Rival 34. I bought my 1973 R34 Tantine in 1997 and sail her from a swinging mooring on the Exe estuary in Devon. She was my first boat and I have never wanted to change her. She is everything I want at 68 and is a superb sea boat in all conditions. Not a greyhound admittedly – particularly in light winds – but then many of that vintage were not. As soon as the wind reaches a proper F4 she quickly takes up her first 15 degrees of heel on a beat – considerably increasing her waterline length and hull speed – and then tucks in her shoulder, stiffens and flies. I have sailed her to Brittany, the Channel Islands and Scillies Editor Dan Houston

+44 (0)7747 612614 Art Editor Stephen Philp

many times and locally between the Solent and the Falmouth area. Much of that has been single-handed with wind and autopilots to ‘lend a hand’. Jeremy Lenton, SV Tantine We also had votes from many other owners, including Vincent Heugen, Netherlands (owner of Sans Rival, photo above); Steve and Cathy Lacey (Wild Rival, winner of the 1976 OSTAR); Leo G Eggink, Netherlands; Alan Green ( “iconic”); Andrew Jarvie: (“Sailing in Scotland I should know”); Carolyn Hey (“exceptionally seaworthy”); Catherine Rees (“beautiful lines, loves a good blow”); Glenda and Phil Day (“exceptionally robust”).

Letter of the month I enjoyed reading Leo Goolden’s account of cruising in Brittany aboard the lovely Folkboat Lorema, (CS3 P.26). My partner Ellie and I were very pleased to see our boat Katla’s name in print. However the photo on p.27 titled; ‘About to pick up a tow from Amelie Rose’. actually shows both Lorema and AR sailing downwind in a fair breeze. I know Leo and Lorema’s capabilities well enough that he would have no need for a tow in even the gentlest of airs. I would therefore like to contribute this photo of the evening described. Aidan Begbie, Falmouth

Sub Editor Peter Willis Contributing editor Guy Venables Columnist Andrew Bray Advertising Catherine Jackson +44 (0)7495 404461 Jodi Whitby +44 (0)7478 275399 Lynda Fielden +44 (0)7788 722438 Publisher Tim Allen Publishing director John Clarke Chairman David Walker Classic Sailor Ltd Published monthly: ISSN 2059-0423 Subscriptions See our latest deal at

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Andrew Bray The ominous words: “And then the engine stopped”


once co-authored a book with Des Sleightholme and Bill Anderson. It was titled What Now Skipper? and dealt with all kinds of small-boat seamanship problems. One author would pose a problem, another would attempt a solution and the original author would come back with his answer. You’re probably familiar with this type of nautical quiz in which, as often as not, right at the critical point of an exercise or operation, come the ominous words “And then the engine stopped”. In these days of quick-starting, reliable and smooth running marine diesels this might seem little more than academic but believe me, it wasn’t always so, as I’m sure many CS readers will know. If you’ve ever owned a Seagull outboard you’ll be familiar with the problem or, come to that, an RCA Dolphin two-stroke inboard. The latter were very popular because they were compact, light and produced many horsepower for their size but being a two-stroke they could be difficult to start and worse than this, in order to go astern you had to stop the engine and start it up again in the

opposite direction. Picture the pontoon or quay approaching at several knots whilst the skipper nonchalantly stops his engine and restarts it again. It takes a lot a faith and gives a new meaning to ‘hit and miss’. A friend owned an MFV with a similar system except re-starting involved screwing a blank 303 cartridge into the cylinder head and hitting it with a hammer. “The trouble was”, he said, “that about one in ten were dud.” Meanwhile 20 tons of MFV charged onwards. Des Sleightholme’s Trident 24 Tinker Liz had a Vire engine, another two-stroke. It too was a reluctant starter. One day, as the battery and Des’s temper were running low Joyce, his wife, said “Why don’t you open the forehatch, it worked last time?” In desperation he did just that.“You know what?” he said, “the b***** started straight away”. One of my boats was fitted with a 15hp Sabb diesel, a monolithic Norwegian-made fishing boat engine. Once it was started you had the feeling that it would run forever but starting could be problematic. In cold weather you unscrewed a

stud in the cylinder head, inserted what was called a starting cigarette and tried again. In extremely cold weather you could set fire to this before putting it in. It worked wonderfully. So wonderfully in fact, that when one YM reader, whose boat also had a Sabb diesel, bought some extra starting cigarettes at a Boat Show and decided to open the tin to show them off, the whole lot ignited at once, necessitating a show evacuation, the Fire Brigade, and producing a slightly singed but wiser sailor. “And then the Engine Stopped”: it really happens sometimes. In the early days of ‘Zero to Hero’ Yachtmaster courses there was a lot of scepticism about just how good the students would be at the end of their course. Three of us took out a friend’s boat with a couple of these newly qualified Yachtmasters to test out their practical skills. We set up some elaborate ‘What Now Skipper’ situations and you know what? As we approached the critical stage of one manoeuvre the engine stopped all by itself. Even though those two didn’t believe us for a second I have to admit that they coped admirably.

In order to go astern you had to stop the engine and start it up again in the opposite direction. It gives a new meaning to ‘hit and miss’ CLASSIC SAILOR 17

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Guest column: Ernest Knott The three most useless things on a yacht restoration? Epoxy, stainless steel and an expert

remarkably common to read about a restoration where the keel bolts have been replaced in stainless steel. This should cause alarm bells to ring; neither of the commonly available grades (316 and 304) is a good choice; either could succumb to ‘crevice-corrosion’ in a surprisingly short time; a low-grade stainless bolt is probably not much better than an

but beware any location where it may be in contact with ‘stagnant’ water; wet wood being a good example. And finally, the expert. Just as there are undoubtedly some Admirals you would welcome on board your yacht, there are of course some experts who are an asset to a restoration. There was a lovely 1950s sloop restored a few years ago. The

The point is that once you start to deviate from the original design, you take a risk. Every decision that is not ‘as original’ reduces authenticity ordinary mild steel one, and may even be worse. The general rule is that stainless steel is usually OK in an environment with lots of oxygen available; so on or above deck, and above the waterline on the hull is usually OK. Below water it can work fine as long as the water is free to circulate; so stainless steel rudder fittings are usually fine;

highly-regarded designer’s original plans were in hand; the yacht was tired but largely intact and original. The final result had a redesigned coachroof, cockpit and new interior, an altered rig plan (and stainless keel bolts, to boot!). It ended up hard to justify as a restoration. It’s not just naval architects and designers though; sailmakers, riggers;

even boatbuilders are often guilty of this. “She’ll point much better with a longer luff, you know”… Of course, not all period yacht designs were perfect. But the point is that once you start to deviate from the original design, you take a risk. Every decision that is not ‘as original’ reduces authenticity and may cost more to implement. If you simply go back to the original, at some level it is beyond criticism or reproach. Most of the best restorations happen when the original yacht matches the desires and proposed use of the new owner. A skilled amateur, armed with copies of the original plans, well researched and willing to ask questions as and when necessary, is well equipped. Leave ego to one side and trust the original design, and the results can be outstanding. In a world where authentic restorations which genuinely respect the original yacht are remarkably rare, and even the professionals frequently get it wrong, it is often just necessary to go back to basics.



here’s an old adage about the three most useless things on a yacht: ‘an umbrella, a grand piano and an Admiral’. Well, I’d like to suggest that the three most useless things for a yacht restoration are epoxy, stainless steel and an expert. First, epoxy. It’s a brilliant (if expensive) glue; properly mixed and applied, it has numerous uses and is, at times, practically invaluable. It is also potentially totally antagonistic to an authentic restoration and the long-term future of the vessel. The very reason that your boat is still with us, and able to be repaired and then cherished, is quite likely related to the fact that it is possible to dismantle and repair or replace individual elements of the hull; a key fact that the use of epoxy can undermine. An example: numerous old carvel planked yachts have splines glued into the plank seams, and then are often epoxy coated or even sheathed. “Stiffened her up lovely,” they say. “Dry as a bone now.” What’s not to like? Well, say she needs a repair to the stem or a new plank; suddenly this one-piece hull shell is a major impediment to economic repair. For a small day boat, it could write her off; the repairs are often just too complex and difficult to justify for ordinary budgets and ordinary owners. So, epoxy. Great glue, just consider why you are able to do the job you’re doing, and reflect whether using epoxy will make work in the future more difficult. Stainless steel is another example of a new material which looks like a panacea but can trap the unwary. To work, all grades of stainless steel need a supply of oxygen. The oxygen reacts with the chromium element of the alloy to create a passive but tough layer of chromium oxide, which prevents the corrosion spreading. On a wooden yacht, especially a traditionally built one, there are numerous places that are potentially very low in oxygen, where stainless steel is going to struggle. The most obvious is in the wood keel. It is


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by Federico Nardi of Cantiere Navale dell’Argentario

Swan 36 “The firstborn of a highly rated family and the perfect boat to use year-round in any weather... a pure pleasure to sail”


hanks to Pekka Koskenkila’s youthful enthusiasm, the first Swan A boat in the price range from €30-40,000 is also a good investment (so to was created in 1966. His fascinating and enjoyable online article speak, when dealing with boats!). The 36 is the firstborn of a highly rated family ( is the perfect boat to use year-round in any weather. At 55.5% the ballast cybele-and-swan-36.html) tells the story of his first meeting to displacement ratio is definitely in favour of the lead ballast and this, together with Rod Stephens and the birth of the Nautor yard at Jacobstadt with her low freeboard and modest beam, make her a pure pleasure to sail. Those in Finland. The boat was 36ft long with a 9ft 8in beam, a 6ft sailors who are fortunate enough to appreciate beauty will be fully satisfied. Also draught, and a displacement of 14,300lb with 7,936lb of ballast. note the varnished wooden parts that complete the superstructure and make the We are at the dawn of fibreglass production and her lines Swan 36 a work of art. SWAN 36 are those of wooden yachts from that period. The interior Below decks the settees are to port, with the galley to LOA 36ft (11m) was designed to the marvellous shape of the hull, so the starboard. There are also two quarter berths with the chart Beam 9ft 8in (2.95m) amount of living space is not comparable to today’s yachts, table to port. The head is walk-through between the main Draught 6ft (1.8m) but the layout was drawn by the famous Swedish naval cabin and the forepeak, with its two V-berths. The engine Sail Area 229 sq ft (21.3m2) architect Olle Enderlain who proposed an elegant openis well placed, down low and almost centerline with the Displacement 7,000kgs space interior, including a settee for six. The dining table can propellor just aft of the keel. The fuel and water tanks are be lowered to become a large bed, so seven can sleep aboard. positioned with the same logic and noticeably increase The first Swan 36 was delivered to the English sailor Dave Johnson, who her righting moment. The aluminum mast is properly sized and through-deck, successfully campaigned her in many races in the British Isles. Between 1967 and visible below in front of the forward bulkhead. 1971, 90 Swan 36s were built. This was a transition project for the S&S design There are some Swan 36s on the market, but you must be careful as there can studio, during the innovative period where the rudder was first separated from be problems. The deck often suffers from delamination, allowing water into the the keel and supported by a skeg. She still has pronounced overhangs, the bilge is balsa core; the galvanized metal mast foot may have suffered after 35 years with deep, and the whole structure is incredibly robust. the mast on its back. It is therefore a good idea to involve a surveyor.


In the years between 1967 and 1971, 90 of the Sparkman & Stephens-designed Swan 36 were built by Nautor in Finland. This is Anna Mai, sailing at last year’s Royal Yacht Squadron’s 200th celebrations



Sue, Howard & Victoria to Veere In Part 1 of her Dutch cruise log, Sue Lewis relates how she and Howard Wheelton sailed their small gaff cutter Victoria to Belgium and the Netherlands, with a festival at Ostend, some racing and dressing-up and the reward of a bag of guilders 22 CLASSIC SAILOR



our day-long ‘hops’ took our little 21ft gaff cutter Victoria from Harwich to Ostend last May to reach our summer cruise in the Netherlands. The Ostend at Anchor Festival attracts 175,000 visitors so it makes a good starting point to a season spent the other side of the North Sea – even though sometimes it is a rush to be ready in time. Our shakedown seven-hour voyage was a run down the Wallet (some say ‘up’ as strictly this is part of the Thames Estuary) from Harwich to the River Crouch. It was swift, comfortable sailing in a NE F4 although we had to pump the bilges all the way as we had only been lifted in the day before. Victoria’s 118-year-old double-skinned wooden hull had yet to really take up after a winter ashore so we had had a disturbed night keeping an eye on the pump. She was clinker-built in 1897 for the Colne River Police and sometime early last century they had her “carvelled over”. Goodness only knows what lies between those two layers of wood but as with all wooden boats a winter ashore can be just a bit too long. Why first to the Crouch? Well the East Coast OGA Crouch Rally was celebrating its 30th anniversary at the brand new North Fambridge River Festival so this was one we couldn’t miss. We spent a couple of pleasant days with friends and enjoyed the first race of the season, though we were not a serious contender withVictoria’s heavy iron plate firmly stuck in the up position and her topsail not yet rigged. (Excuses, excuses!) Bank Holiday Monday saw us donning our state-of-the-art life-jackets and setting off to cross the Thames estuary. You can get some choppy seas around the sandbanks here

and a spray hood really would increase our chances if we did end up in the water. We set off from Burnham in a near perfect NW 3 to 4 which pushed us along at up to 7kts over the ground at times. Our usual route across the Thames takes us right across the “S” in Sunk on the paper chart and by 10.15 this waypoint was behind us and we were approaching the London Array wind farm to sail through Foulgers Gat. I’m no wildlife expert but I guess it was a porpoise that escorted us through the Gat, for 30 minutes, romping alongside, crossing

I guess it was a porpoise that escorted us through the Gat for 30 minutes, romping alongside under Victoria’s 7ft bowsprit and reappearing again and again on the opposite side. You can spoil moments like that by trying to capture them ‘on film’ so we just watched, delighted and entertained, as we sailed between the giant grey and yellow turbines. North Foreland safely astern we passed Ramsgate early that afternoon and spotted a few Dunkirk Little Ships returning to harbour in convoy from their 75th anniversary celebrations. For us however it was just too soon to stop – with some tide still in our favour we sailed on for Dover. A brief word about our engine here. Of course there was no engine in Victoria when she was a working boat for Colchester Borough Police. The 7hp petrol engine she now has, a Vire, was fitted in the 1980s, offset on the starboard quarter, and until now has given very little trouble. The biggest nuisance is getting fuel as this can involve a

Main photo: Off South Foreland, watching the ferries going into Dover Right: Sue Lewis, touching up Victoria’s name CLASSIC SAILOR 23


The forecast would determine whether we’d be enjoying a glass of Ricard and moules marinière in France or plugging on for Belgium through the night to beat a blow hike to the nearest service station. The issue this season has been with the exhaust getting too hot. A new impeller has improved the flow of cooling water but still we’ve not been able to run at high revs for long. Three knots max is not really enough in some situations, including this one as we lost the tide advantage approaching Dover. In the end it was a 12-hour passage but by covering those extra miles we reckoned we could steal an extra two hours’ sleep in the morning before crossing to France. Our plan for ‘leg 3’ on Tuesday was Dover to Dunkirk but we needed to keep an eye on the weather. The morning forecast gave light winds for the first 24 hours but increasing later, especially towards the end of the next 24hour period. The aim was to get to Ostend in time for the Ostend at Anchor Festival at the weekend, so the forecast we would receive, once we had a phone signal again near to the French coast, was going to determine whether by that evening we would be enjoying a glass of Ricard followed by moules marinière in France, or whether we’d be plugging on for Belgium through the night to beat a blow. So we set off at 5.50am and motor-sailed across the shipping lanes, clearing the SW lane at around 7.45am without having to change course. Bacon butties in the separation zone and then we did have to take avoiding action for one ship in the NE lane but were clear by 9.40am. We receive AIS data on a small plotter mounted in Victoria’s tiny cockpit and we would not be without it: great to know a ship’s course and speed and to have confirmation when either changes – and of course to have the name of the ship if


we need to call them up. I wonder what the River Police Inspector who sailed Victoria all those years ago would have made of our modern aids. After crossing the lanes our progress along the French coast was slow, and when the tide turned even slower. We picked up a mobile phone signal and an afternoon forecast that the wind would not really pick up until Thursday, so after 11 hours and 42 miles we got to enjoy our mussels in Dunkirk after all. Up early on Wednesday to beat the approaching weather (“NW backing SW 3 or 4, increasing 5 to 7”) we cast off and by 6.30 am the engine was off and we were sailing on up the French coast at 4.7kts. An hour later our speed had picked up to 6kts and it was only 20 miles to Ostend . Unless… There’s a firing range just beyond Nieuwport which we have had trouble with before. They can oblige you to go a few miles out to sea if they are firing, and it can add miles to this passage. We tried calling various stations nearby for information but no one replied so we held our inshore course, crossing the Belgian border around 8am with the sun shining and Victoria’s jackyard topsail set for the first time. At 9am we finally got a

Victoria’s voyage: Below: HarwichOstend. Right: the course of the regatta

Top: Victoria ready for relaunch. Above: at Middelburg. Upper right: at the Van Loon Hardzeildag. Right: Ostend at Anchor. Below: dinner at Dunkirk


Above: Snapshots of Victoria’s police-boat origins. Inspector Poole aboard her, and, top, police-boats on the Colne

reply from the Range Officer on channel 67. “If you are coming from the west to Ostend you may pass – we have a delay”. Now we really had to get a wiggle on because I had told him we were passing Nieuwport and we weren’t really quite there yet – oops! We put the engine on to maintain 6kts and calculated that we would clear the range area in an hour. Once clear we called up again to say thank you and by 11am we were half a mile from the recently re-modelled entrance to Ostend. 26 miles in 5 hours. Conscious that at 118 years old we are one of the oldest boats registered for the Ostend at Anchor Festival and at 21ft also one of the smallest, we decide to enter the harbour in style: Victoria’s topsail stays up and we sail in looking our very best for the cameras. It’s a break from sailing as our role is to remain in the dock and look pretty for the thousands of visitors. Like all owners of classic boats we enjoy showing her off and telling her story to all who will listen so the time passes quickly, helped along by all the food and drink and live music. Once the festival is over we decide to move Victoria into the Netherlands and leave her for a few weeks while we return home. CLASSIC SAILOR 25



Above: racing with the Dutch Hoogaars and Hengsts on the Veerse Meer

Again we have to beat some weather which is threatening so on the Monday morning we leave early. The passage to from Ostend to Middelburg is a straightforward one with a westerly wind, 3 to 4 and plenty of tide in our favour. We sail most of the way to Flushing then motor up the canal to Middelburg – 36 miles and we even arrive in time for supper in the clubhouse. Sure enough Tuesday brings 40-knot winds and torrential rain so our timing was good. We leave Victoria at Nieuwland, a tiny club harbour near to Middelburg with very reasonable rates, and head home by train and ferry. Our return to Holland brought the highlight of our holiday, a traditional sailing boat event with a difference, the Van Loon Hardzeildag (‘hard sailing day’). Our log shows a blowy passage race from Zierickzee to Zandkriek in which we start five hours late , and then a glorious day of racing in period costume on the Veerse Meer, with a cash prize (sort of…). Thursday 16 July: We sail from Yerseke in company with friends on their immaculate 1937 Crossfields-built Morecambe Bay Prawner Maryll and arrive at Zierickzee in time to greet more ‘Old Gaffer’ friends and join in the mussel supper on the quay which kicks off this annual Regatta for traditional Dutch flat-bottom fishing boats. It’s our second visit so we know that OGA gaffers, whether flat-bottomed or not, are made thoroughly welcome.


Friday 17 July brings wind, lots of it. “SW to W 5-6 , 7 in squalls” is the local forecast: not ideal for us but not impossible. At the morning briefing there is coffee in our cups, but gin (from the sponsor Ketel One) in our goody bags. We can set off any time to sail the simple course to Zandkriek but must guess our finish time in advance. I submit an ambitious estimate for Victoria, then we head bravely out along the canal. Not to be! The wind builds, bang on the nose. Our troublesome engine can barely

These traditional Dutch flat-bottomed vessels with their tan sails and lee boards make a splendid sight push us along, the exhaust is smelling hotter and hotter, and we aren’t even out in the waves yet. The rest of the fleet overtake us in the canal, all bigger boats. As they buck and rear in the rough water at the entrance we turn and return disconsolately to the quay. Howard searches online and finds live data from the Zeeland Bridge which tells us that it’s blowing 6 out there, gusting 8, directly into the harbour entrance. This might have been the end of our regatta but five hours and a good lunch later we set off in reduced

though still breezy conditions. Our estimated arrival time was hours ago so we won’t be winning this contest and we don’t quite catch the fleet up at Veere, but by 9pm (beating slowly up the Veerse Meer despite the hour due to engine trouble again – grrr!) we finally call it a day, sail into a small shallow lagoon and drop anchor only a few miles short of Veere. We’ll be there in time for the race tomorrow so now it’s time for supper and sleep. Saturday 18 July: A lovely bright morning for race day so we don’t mind the extra-early alarm call to sail the last couple of miles to Veere. The Dutch traditional Hoogaars and Hengsts used to fish these waters when the land around us was individual islands and the Veerse Meer open to the North Sea. These flat-bottomed vessels with their tan sails and lee boards make a splendid sight and their crews in 1920s and 30s fancy dress don’t seem to mind that we are in the costume of a different period. Howard is resplendent in his uniform as Victoria’s first skipper, the Colne River Police Inspector, and I wear Edwardian style undergarments including bloomers and a wide brimmed straw hat (a Dutchman later compliments me on my “foundation”!). We sail the three laps totalling 21 miles in the sunshine and though we don’t win we are awarded a special prize: a small sack of 46 old Guilders, a tradition dating back to the earliest years of this regatta to reward the preservation of an old boat. A great honour in such fine company.

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She... may be the mirror of our dreams Designed by the Sparkman & Stephens partnership in the mid 70s, and brought to Britain as the She 36, she’s a capable cruiser-racer, comfortable and ‘a bit of a looker’ says Peter Poland



f all the design offices to rise to prominence in the 20th century, Sparkman & Stephens must rank near the top. From cruising yachts to America’s Cup 12 metres (with an unsurpassed record of six winners), the iconic S & S name ruled supreme. Brothers Olin and Rod made their mark in 1931 when their beautiful 52ft yawl Dorade carried off the Transatlantic Race closely followed by the Fastnet. And thus began a six-decade domination of inshore and offshore racing on both sides of the Atlantic. When the mould-breaking Dorade hit the scene, Olin was just 23. While he drew the lines with his unique blend of artistry and science, his brother Rod applied his seaman’s eye to gear, layout, construction and fit-out. Thereafter, commissions cascaded in and thousands of cruising and racing S&S designs hit the slips, going on to enhance the sailing scene with their grace and sailing prowess. Design No. 2166 started life on the drawing board in 1974/5 in the US as the Three Quarter Ton cruiser-racer Northstar 1500, subsequently renamed the Northstar 50 then the Hughes 35. British builder South Hants Engineering introduced another take on Design 2166, calling it the She 36. The S&S website shows its dimensions as LOA 35ft 6in, LWL 26ft, beam 10ft 5in, draught 6ft and isplacement 11,500 lbs. The She 36 brochure says it displaces around 5 ½ tons. The She 36’s fin and skeg underwater lines are as sweet as they come and her profile is enhanced by a sleek low coachroof, balanced fore and aft

overhangs and typical S&S tumblehome on the topsides. From any angle, she’s a ‘looker’. The She 36 I went down to the Hamble to sail belongs to Richard Burnett. When I asked Richard what persuaded him to buy her, he replied, “Back in 1987 I was looking for a Contessa 32 until a yacht broker told me that these attracted a big

premium and – for not much more – I could get a She 36, which wasn’t as well known then as it is now. My teenage son voted we spend Dad’s dosh on a better boat rather than a bigger house, telling me, “Dad, you don’t only get a really good racing boat; you also get a lifeboat!” He was referring to the infamous 1979 Fastnet when

They don’t sell yachts ths way any more (do they?) A 1970s brochure for the then-new She 36



S&S SHE 36


Down below on Richard’s Albatross: ‘A welcoming and cosy environment’. Above: the redesigned dinette; Left: galley; Right: V berths; Below left: ample locker space below the dinette U-shaped settees; Below right: the generous heads compartment




A sleek, low coachroof, balanced overhangs and typical S&S tumblehome – from any angle the She 36 is a looker

Alaine Catherineau rescued the crew of Griffin in his She 36 Lorelei. Catherineau said you could ask the impossible of the boat and he won the RCC Seamanship Medal that year. Richard added, “I also remember the Sadler advert with the headline ‘beat them racing during the day, and then entertain the other crew in the evening’. The 36 met this requirement well. Even if by modern standards the accommodation is a bit cramped, it is comfortable.” Richard has enjoyed occasional races with Albatross, picking up firsts in a couple of single-handed Round the Islands. He has also entered Royal Southern Yacht Club races on a regular basis adding “This year we won the Royal Southern YC cruiser race to Fowey, with just me and an Aussie mate – he taught me to enjoy scotch eggs and a beer for breakfast!” However it’s as a weatherly cruising yacht that Albatross has really excelled. Richard told me “Over the years we have cruised to Ireland, Brittany, the Channel Islands, the South Coast, the Scillies and recently northern Spain. One overnight passage from Santander to La Rochelle was memorable – it was clear with the moon racing the clouds in a F4-5 just forward of the beam. With one reef in the main and a few rolls in the genoa, she was very comfortable and noticeably quicker than with full sail, cracking on at a steady 7-plus knots, steered by the Vicar the whole way.” The Vicar being a Monitor self-steering system (similar to the Aries) and so named, Richard added, “because it never drinks, smokes, swears, sleeps or eats while guiding us down the True Way”.

When I asked how she handled in heavy weather, Richard said the only downside is a tendency to roll on a windy spinnaker run; as is the case with many yachts of that era and shape, including the Contessa 32 (that he did not buy). He added, “Downwind, the rolling can be controlled by swapping the spinnaker for twin headsails – a boomed out genoa to windward and another headsail set flying free on the leeward side [coincidentally, I used exactly the same set-up when rolling down the Trades en route to

It’s as a weatherly cruising yacht that Albatross has really excelled. “With one reef in the main she was very comfortable” Barbados in a 25-footer]. No other criticisms on her performance, which is faultless and vice free.” Richard’s upgrades list As with any yacht of this vintage, maintenance is an ongoing affair. Richard has kept a comprehensive record of the replacements and upgrades he has made over the years. His list will interest anyone considering buying a classic cruiser (GRP or wood) of similar age. He told me he had: Converted from wheel to tiller steering. Why? More room in cockpit and stern locker/lazarette; easier to use with a windvane self-steerer; and less

weight in the stern (kit and helmsman). Fitted a Monitor s/s windvane (“the Vicar”). He also carries an electric Simrad tiller pilot for use with the engine. Fitted a spray hood and dodgers plus, recently, a cockpit tent (“the Conservatory”). Changed the boom from slab reefing to 3 x twin line reefing, so the mainsail can be reefed in stages down to trysail size without having to leave the cockpit. Fitted a furling genoa so they no longer had to “fight the sea tiger” on the foredeck when changing, handing and stowing headsails. Fitted a stowable bowsprit with an additional furler for use with an FFR (furling flat reacher – like a code zero). The additional furler can be moved to a position inboard, astern of the forestay, for a rolled No 4 (as a blade) or a rolled storm jib. Fitted an electric anchor winch and a 35lb CQR and 40 fathoms of chain (stowed below via a sloping hawse pipe under the fo’c’s’le bunks so the weight is low and not in the bow). Made a deck anchor locker. Converted the saloon on the port side to a dinette arrangement, the table of which drops to make a double bunk; the conversion also increased locker space. Upgraded the engine to a 3-cylinder 30hp Beta with a bigger alternator plus a 17in folding two-blade prop which gives very good performance (and will increase speed under sail). Upgraded the batteries to 1 x 60ah plus 2 x 110ah heavy duty deep cycle. Added shore power. CLASSIC SAILOR


S&S SHE 36

Albatross might be all GRP on the outside but her interior has all the hallmarks and charm of a classic timber yacht

Fitted two additional bilge pumps (1 x manual and 1 x electric). Added Ebersbacher hot air central heating plus an additional diesel wing tank which can also feed the engine. Fitted a 30L calorifier including 240v immersion heater for hot water to galley and heads. Fitted a shower in the heads. Converted the cool box to a fridge with a keel cooler. Replaced the DECCA Navigator (“the Knackered Alligator”!) with a Garmin GPS, in turn now supplemented by a Standard chart plotter with AIS (sending and receiving – very useful). Fitted radar. Richard says this has all made Albatross into an even better cruising boat. He often sails singlehanded, without any loss in sailing performance, while Albatross continues to do well in club races. He finished off his litany of improvements and upgrades by saying; “Regarding the hull, the gelcoat on the topsides is original, and very thick!

She has not been painted. However, the bottom was stripped in 1998 by the International agent and the new bottom has been good.” When we pitched up at The Royal Southern YC, Richard and I were joined by Annie and Les Bellan, Albatross’s regular crew for 15 years. Looks belie her age As we approached the boat, my initial impression was one of disbelief. Her looks belied her age of almost 40 years. What’s more as we clambered aboard from the club launch, she didn’t budge. Steady as a rock. Then – having executed the standard limbo dance necessary to clamber over the high bridgedeck and negotiate the steep descent typical of boats of this era – I was confronted by a mass of gleaming joinery. Albatross might be all GRP on the outside, but her interior has all the hallmarks and charm of a classic timber yacht. Come fair weather or foul, this is a welcoming and cosy environment. The galley and chart table areas are extensive and SHE 36 LOA 35ft 6in (10.8m) LWL 26ft (7.9m) Beam 10ft 5in (3.2m) Draught 6ft (1.8m) Sail Area 550 sq ft (51.1m2) Displacement 11,500lb (5,216kg) Brokerage prices c£40,000-£60,000


designed to be used at sea. Masses of stowage and secure working space for both chef and navigator are typical of this generation of yacht, designed for serious offshore work. And the same goes for the saloon. A snug pilot berth to starboard and the owner’s successful modification of the port side of the saloon to a dinette with U shaped settees and lowerable dining table make this a spacious yet snug living area. The forecabin V berths also work well, while the amidships heads compartment (offset to port) is surprisingly voluminous for a yacht of this era. All in all, the accommodation is excellent for a 36-footer. Under power, the new Beta engine gives plenty of poke via the folding prop. And of course the reduction in drag that this affords adds appreciably to speed under sail. I am at a loss to understand why all owners of sailboats (modern or classic) don’t consider one of the new generation folding or feathering props. They are worth every penny. Sadly, however, the weather meant that I had to rely on the glowing reputation of the She 36’s sailing prowess rather then experience it for myself. As the sun burnt off the fog, the wind never got above 5 knots. Which was a big shame because I was greatly looking forward to punching to windward in this fine yacht. In the light breeze that we got, she glided easily upwind and on a reach. And the helm felt just right. I have no doubt that she would have come alive in a decent wind. But it was not to be. Another day perhaps. If you have a yen for a good looking and well-built GRP ‘classic’, you should consider a She 36. I have little doubt that a trial sail will win you over. Albatross’s owner Richard Burnett sums her up perfectly, saying; “I’m still in love with the ‘fibreglass wife’ and wouldn’t change her. I can sail single handed, short handed or with three or four friends; which is all very comfortable. But above all, she gives you that ‘go-anywhere’ confidence.”


Making way to



to making hay What is it like to own and run a smack? The powerful gaff cutters are an integral part of the East Coast’s heritage and many are restored to race. Words: Dan Houston Photos: Emily Harris


t’s a treat to be sailing a smack and I’m really looking forward to being on Alberta, one of the best known and fastest historic sailing smacks of the Essex east coast. We’ve come to Brightlingsea where she was built and is still based and where her current owner Robin Page lives and works. He keeps a vintage Fergie tractor and a red RIB on a trailer – which he can launch off the hard in minutes, and so after a quick coffee, we are soon powering out to the Pyefleet where Alberta is moored in a stretch of water that has been famous for oysters since Roman times. The 44ft (13.4m) smack was built by the famous local yard of Aldous, in 1885. But perhaps more importantly she was extensively rebuilt by Dan Tester, son of the late Barry Tester, for his own use, in 2004, at his yard in Hollowshore on the Swale in Kent. She looks great in her pale grey and brokenwhite livery, with a jaunty yellow cove line to set off her sheer – she is also one of those smacks that look quite slim, and trim, on her mooring. From straight aft her beam of 11ft 9in (3.6m) looks more narrow because her bowsprit takes her profile out longer, extending her sparred length to nearly 65ft (19.8m), and you can already see how she might be a fast boat to race.




Typically to race we need eight on board. But one person who knows what they are doing is worth two who are just OK

John Brett, top, puts a sheet through a clew in a headsail. Matt and Cat prove smacks can be a boat for all the family, middle, and, left, Robin Page with a handy roll of duct tape which is the same colour as Alberta’s decks and coachhouses. 36 CLASSIC SAILOR

We’re soon aboard, taking off the sail covers and getting familiar with her rig. It’s the same as other smacks and other gaff-rig boats, but you’d have to admit, to many the powerful gaffrigged smack can seem like a daunting vessel to own and sail. With a heavy mainsail, held aloft with its solid timber gaff spar, twin headsails – one of which is held out at the end of the impressively-long bowsprit – plus various light-weather sails, like the topsail, these working boats of Britain’s east coast demand an extra level of seamanship. Some, like the Maria, which is also kept locally, are still sailed without an engine. And yet, when you disassemble the parts, it’s really not so much different from a Mirror dinghy, say. Ok there’s more rope and more parts to know but what at first appears to be quite complex and even confusing, is actually the logical progression of taking something like a little gunter or gaff dinghy and expanding the rig. And while some feel that gaff rig looks dangerous, with its heavy spars and gear aloft, modern rope and rigging makes it much safer – and you don’t need to be climbing anywhere in a gale. So while a jib looks as if it needs to be set from the end of the bowsprit by an acrobat, in reality the traveller takes the tack of the sail out to the end of that long timber spar on a simple hauling line. The staysail can best be described as normal, while the mainsail, with its throat and peak halyardsto hoist the gaff jaws and then to peak-up and set the sail respectively, seems complicated at first but actually is also fairly straightforward once you learn the ropes. And that might be one of the main reasons gaff rig is still so appealing to so many: it’s that old sailor’s adage of “learning the ropes”. With gaff rig, there’s just a bit more to learn. For running rigging you have your halyards for hoisting, sheets for sail setting, runners for rig tension and thankfully these are always the same from boat to boat, or at least they should be! Thus a Brixham sailing trawler or coastal schooner may look more daunting, but is just an expansion of the same principle. There’s a good sense of achievement getting to know your way around the deck of a gaffrig vessel and this is why they make such good training craft. The number of ropes is a great way to involve groups of young people, who can get a collective sense of achievement from the teamwork needed to sail a boat like this. Some gaffers run RYA training course sea schools as well – see p46. Also of course, if you take your time, you can get out sailing

comfortably with just one or two crew. For a simple sail out of the River Colne it takes three to get the Alberta rigged and ready to sail off her mooring in just a few minutes. The Beta 25hp dates from 2011 and has an offset feathering prop – it’s just for getting her upwind really, Robin says, “and it’s not that good for manouevring under power”. Racing a gaffer requires more crew because more needs to happen quickly when you turn a mark. “Typically to race successfully we need eight aboard,” says Robin, adding: “But one person who knows what they are doing is worth two people who are OK. I have a list of around 14 people that I can invite and sometimes we have 12 aboard and sometimes it’s only six. “Some owners are a bit more rigid about who sails with them and like their crew to commit to a whole season. But while I do like to race hard I also like to keep it a bit more relaxed and fun and I think you really need to get on with crew and have a laugh.” Robin has owned Alberta since 2012 and before that had another Aldous boat – the Primrose, which he acquired in 2004. She had also been restored at Hollowshore. “I knew the Alberta was a quick boat; she once sailed through our lee while they were changing a jib while racing.” Modernising vs tradition When Robin bought the Alberta she was rigged with a single pole mast which increased the size of her mainsail. Apparently she had been built with a pole mast originally but Robin says there was bit of an outcry among the conservative smacks folk and so he had replaced her mast with a more traditional configuration, with a topmast fidded above the main mast. “The pole mast is faster because there is less windage aloft.” While a pole mast is not a modern improvement to something like a smack it does raise the question of how much can be done to improve rig or other aspects of the boat to make her go faster and win races. “We have modernised these boats,” Robin says. “Using Dacron sailcloth is the most obvious thing but I have hollow spars and I use some Dyneema in the rig too. Our mast weighs about half as much as everyone else’s. It is hollow which also makes it stiffer and was made by John Brett,” who is sailing with us. “We are at a juncture now,” he continues, “there are dozens of ways to make a boat go faster using modern materials and techniques. The question is how far do you go before you change the boat completely and she ceases to be what she was – something historical.”





If you buy a boat which has been restored properly then you know she won’t let you down. You know that whatever the weather throws at you, you will be OK He has touched on a contentious topic here. After all pretty much all smacks are privately owned and while the fleet of 150 or so are a fabulous example of “living history” it is also the owners’ choice as to what gear is used – typically how to make them either safer or faster. This can be tricky because basically smacks being raced rather than fishing are like yachts, and the temptation to make them go faster is strong. Modernising can lead to disinterest among those who still sail traditionally and it’s a fine line to tread between allowing owners and skippers to get the best from their craft and suddenly having half the fleet sailing around with kevlar sails and carbon spars. Richard Titchener, who runs the Sea Change charity and the charter smack Sallie says: “Ten years ago the Sailing Smack Association produced a rulebook to attempt to halt development of boats, and this was adopted by most owners. It is difficult to police and is best seen as a stake in the ground. Sadly people often buy a smack, or any other classic for that matter, and then proceed to alter her (especially in the rig) in the quest for speed – thereby losing sight of what attracted them initially. They would be better advised to buy performance yachts and stay clear of boats that depend for their importance on identification with a period or use, but each generation reinvents the same wheel.” It’s a testament to the owners that the smacks and bawleys of the east coast still look so original – albeit with less scruff and fish guts about their decks and paintwork. The heyday of the smack was in the era of fishing under sail, which had all but disappeared by the time the Second World War

Alberta with her fishing number CK318 at Harwich (date unknown). Her bowsprit is longer now. She is famously featured in the stained-glass Seafarers’ window of St Mary’s Church in Tollesbury, Essex 38 CLASSIC SAILOR

arrived with its need for manpower that took away the crew needed to work vessels like these; many of the boats were consigned to a muddy grave, or fished on under engine with crews of two or three. Smacks are timber boats, and so they demand a level of upkeep – with a commitment of either time or money to keep them looking and sailing well. As we sail out of the Colne past the pretty port of Brightlingsea, Robin explains how he became hooked: “I used to be a keen dinghy sailor, in Mirrors and Hornets, and I progressed to a Beneteau 21, with the lifting keel, and every time I went out I used to wonder what was the point – I was bored stiff. I then raced with Boadicea (the 1808 smack) and we would be in two hours after everyone else – which meant no place to moor. But I loved it and I needed a smack and that is how I started – with the Primrose. “People said if I bought a wooden boat it would be the end of my life... And I set myself a budget of £25,000 but I ended up spending twice that. We did win the Colne Match with her though – which felt like giant slaying. It all depends on what condition the boat is in when you buy her...” Three ways to buy a smack “There are three ways to buy a smack,” Robin continues: “One, buy a hole in the mud for £500 and then rebuild from scratch. Two, buy one part-done and then finish her. Three, buy one that’s been restored properly. “I bought Alberta because she’d been rebuilt properly. If you buy a boat that’s been done you know she won’t let you down. And you know that whatever the weather throws at you, you will be OK.” A boat in good condition is also easier to keep: “I normally end up in a yard with modern yachts around and they are fixing pipes and wires and and systems, and there is not much of that on a smack,” Robin says. “I find I spend less time in there than they do. “She is made of iroko on oak. The hull is very stable so it’s easy to keep up and it does stay fair. We do a bit of fairing every year to keep her looking good.” Totting up the costs of running the boat is important to any owner and Robin is candid about how much it costs to keep Alberta in such good condition. “An important aspect is keeping her on a swinging mooring, out on the Pyefleet,” he says. “There is less rubbing and so less


damage to her paintwork than if we had a pontoon berth. And there are no visitors mooring up alongside to cause damage. “But sometimes we have to get up early on race days to get out to our mooring,” he adds. “The regular cost of the maintained mooring for us is £1800 with an extra £270 for a winter berth in the mud. There is also insurance – she is insured for £130,000 which costs £800 a year. Add to that slipping her for two weeks, at £600 and maybe £500 on paint; £400 on ropes and perhaps something similar towards sails – I sailed Primrose for ten years with one mainsail – and you can see that you get little slack from a budget of £5,000 a year.

“In terms of needing shipwrights I have found that in 14 years I have not spent much at all. But that is because I bought a good boat; one that was properly restored and did not need any work other than staying on top of the basic maintenance. “I know other boats where the owners have spent £60,000 and they still have a knackered boat.” This raises another bugbear of the classic sailing community. When restoring a boat, how much original material should be kept? Often boats are patched up but this is not always the best way to maintain the strength of the structure. It can lead to expensive treatments year on year without actually curing the problem. Many boatbuilders agree

Always a rope to sweat or tail. Here Cally and John sweat the peak after we put in a reef

a total rebuild would save money in the long run, and provide owners with a boat they can race and sail hard, like a new boat. Robin agrees with this, pointing out: “If you look at the boats that are sailed and raced hard they have no original material left in them at all. Alberta is strong now because she was rebuilt. Annual costs of keeping Alberta: Maintained mooring: £1800 Winter mud berth £270 Insurance (value £130,000) £800 Slipping for maintenance £600 Paint £500 Ropes £400 Total: £4,370 CLASSIC SAILOR



The long and short of keel design

It’s axiomatic among classic yacht owners that long keels are ‘best’. So why are fin-keel designs so popular, and are they less safe? Ernest Knott looks at the history of underwater design, and the pros and cons of different keel shapes


ou may not think it, compiling the list of tasks you have to tackle this winter, but the owner of a typical classic has at least one less worry than the owner of a modern fin-keeled yacht. With the tragic loss of four crew from the Beneteau 40.7 Cheeki Rafiki in mid-Atlantic and the more recent failure of the keel of the Oyster 825 Polina Star III (fortunately with no loss of life) amongst a slew of similar cases around the world, more than a few will be tugging thoughtfully at their keels, and it’s likely that more than a handful will find it moving disconcertingly. Quite rightly, attention is once again focused on the emphasis the industry places on hull construction generally and keels in particular. Now, of course, there is nothing intrinsically unsafe about any particular type of keel; properly engineered and built, pretty much any configuration can be fine. There are several benefits that a 40 CLASSIC SAILOR

typical traditional keel confers over a modern fin though. Firstly, with the gentle slope of a long keel it is (sometimes) possible to run aground comparatively gently, and thus transfer far less shock load to the yacht (and its crew). Secondly, with multiple bolts spread over a long length of keel, there is generally a very generous factor of safety, and even if a high proportion have wasted or even broken, there is little risk of the keel detaching completely. Thirdly, a long keel usually imparts slower, more

relaxed steering response. Fourthly, when the rudder is attached to the sternpost it is well supported, and well protected; and the propeller, especially if it’s in a centreline aperture, is better protected too. Finally, there is a good argument that a long keel will damp roll better than a narrow fin; it is a complex argument because long keel hulls tend to be of generally heavier displacement, so the effect of just the keel shape alone is hard to extract, but it’s not hard to draw a general conclusion. A modern fin keel is attached to the hull on a small footprint, and as a result has to rely on fewer bolts that have to work harder; there is far less redundancy. As most east-coast sailors (and a few on the Solent) will know, it is possible to The remains of Cheeki Rafiki’s keel; the remains of the keel bolts are clearly visible in the light-coloured cross-piece


Most yachtsmen who had a notion to venture offshore probably considered the fin-keel type to be totally unsuitable, and to be fair, most were, being very lightly built and probably twitchy on the helm as well Dorade 1929, long-keeled with sternposthung rudder

run aground in a classic on even a hard-packed bottom, and assuming you get off in reasonable order, surprisingly little damage may result. Lead is a relatively soft metal; even quite terminalsounding groundings result in no more than a scuff or local damage if you’re lucky. Broken bolts and compromised keels as a result of an incident or accident are extremely rare and only normally the result of exceptional conditions which couldn’t possibly be overlooked or ignored. The diligent owner of a classic might pull one or two bolts every few years and inspect them, but (especially if they are bronze into lead) they could have an indefinite life span. Owners of GRP boats with long encapsulated keels and no bolts, such as were prevalent in the 1960s and 70s, are probably even better off again; (a rumour about one builder who used lead shot loose in the keel, which could run out if the GRP was ruptured, is probably only an urban myth). Go even further back in design terms and boats that rely solely on internal ballast,

such as some Pilot Cutters, are said by many to have an even greater benefit. Certainly Bill Tilman saved himself and his boat on a couple of groundings by dint of removing all the internal ballast so she floated free. Contrast this with the stories of seemingly innocuous ‘soft’ groundings in modern yachts resulting in loose keels or worse; there are several boatyards around the world now who specialise in re-attaching fin keels to production yachts. The MAIB report into the history of Cheeki Rafiki in particular makes for sobering reading. In modern boats access to the bolts for even a visual inspection

is often difficult; it is usually possible to have a look at the tops, but the bottom ends are often encapsulated or otherwise inaccessible. Most experienced marine surveyors will have encountered so-called ‘J’ bolts; essentially bits of threaded stud, bent into a “J” shape, with the curved part buried in the top of the lead or in the fin. These are effectively ‘non-serviceable’; any problem (crossed thread, corrosion) will present you with a huge task. If you happen to be sweating over a sheared steel bolt buried deep in an iron keel then forgive me, but for the majority of the time, straight bolts with access from either end CLASSIC SAILOR


HULL DESIGN Nathanael Herreshoff’s Dilemma of 1891 with an early form of fin keel and separate rudder

make life much easier when and if they do need attention. An owner might well pose the question then: why, with all the benefits of long keels and the disadvantages of fins, do the vast majority of yachts on the market have fin keels? The answer is interesting and goes to the heart of one of the oldest debates in yachting. The history of yacht hull design in general (accepting that it is racing yachts which drive this) could be summarised as steps to reduce wetted surface area. For decades, reducing wetted surface area, and hence hull drag, was one of the principal goals, possibly the overriding aim, of designers, and those such as G L Watson and Olin Stephens who exploited it more effectively than their contemporaries drew more winners, more often. Olin Stephens is often credited with sparking the general adoption of separating the keel and rudder, but whilst he certainly refined the type, like most things in yacht history, it was really just a reinvention. E H Bentall built a fin-keeler of sorts 42 CLASSIC SAILOR

called Evolution in 1880; Nat Herreshoff produced Dilemma in 1891 with a separate rudder, and the type was commonplace in the 1890s and early 1900s. Initially there were problems generating enough lift from fin keels to prevent excessive leeway. A similar issue with the early separate rudders made for some interesting control problems, but both had been largely ironed out in the 1890s. It wasn’t that yacht designers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries couldn’t make fin-keelers

Why, with all the disadvantages, do most modern boats have fin keels? The answer is interesting and goes to the heart of one of the oldest debates in yachting

work, it was simply that the rules deliberately and effectively outlawed them; after about 1895 in most of Europe they were specifically regulated against by a factor in the rating rules called the ‘girth difference’. Where the rules allowed them and conditions were favourable, such as in parts of the Baltic, they persisted and very large examples up to 60ft were produced and raced with great success into the 20th century. But even back then the disadvantages of the type, from the structural questions they posed to the effect on steering and control, were known and widely acknowledged. Most yachtsmen who had a notion to venture offshore, or even just cruise along the coast, probably considered them to be totally unsuitable; and, to be fair, most were, being very lightly built and often twitchy on the helm as well. If you went sailing in the late 19th or early 20th centuries you were running a very different set of risks to those we face today. Without any realistic method of communication beyond line of sight,

LONG KEELS Long keel with sternposthung rudder, from mid1890s through 1930s and beyond

From the 1890s rating rules outlawed fin keels (above) by exploiting the fact that their girth measurement was longer than that of a wineglass hull (below)

Long keel, cut away forwards, still with sternpost-hung rudder, from late 1950s on

Fin keel with skeg-hung rudder, typical in mid1960s but first seen in 1890s

The 1906 International Rule used the difference between ‘skin girth’ (above) and ‘chain girth’ (below) to produce fuller and fuller hulls

Short chord fin keel with semi-balanced (or spade) rudder, typical in late 1970s

Short chord fin keel with swept bulb and spade rudder, typical in 1990s and later

Very short chord T-bulb keel with spade rudder, modern

summoning help was often impossible. In a world with no radio, telephone, or GPS, let alone an EPIRB, where at best you may have been equipped with a primitive bulky cork lifejacket and perhaps a life-ring, getting into trouble at sea, especially at night or in poor visibility, brought a very real risk of death, and that concentrated the mind wonderfully on the type of boat you went to sea in. The differences between a yacht intended for cruising and one for racing have been the subject of debate for as long as yachts have existed. At various times rating rules have tended to produce racing yachts that were generally regarded as unsuitable for any other purpose (think late IOR or IACC); at other times, rules have successfully brought the two breeds close together, even to the extent that they were indistinguishable (think 1950s CCA or RORC rules). Pure cruising yachts designed with no influence from racing are, and always have been, a relative rarity. Nearly all designers are swayed by the successful racing

The keel-bolt pattern on a Beneteau First 40.7 as seen from the inside. Note that the keel’s attachment points are not tied directly into the structural bilge grid – also this is an exceptionally shallow bilge

yachts of their era; and few people would eschew the chance to travel slightly more quickly, all things being equal. It was specifically an intention of the International Rule of 1906 that yachts built to it could and would go on to have useful lives as cruisers once their racing days were over, and a similar sentiment informed other rules of the period. They in turn had reacted against the ‘mere racing machines’ that evolved under the Length & Sail Area rule of 1886; the rule of the fin-and-bulb raters, extreme scow-like hull forms – short-lived, wet and inhospitable. It wasn’t until just after World War II that the idea began to gain traction again. Dick Carter sometimes gets credit for Rabbit, but van der Stadt was another early pioneer with his Zeevalk and others, and Olin Stephens at S&S and Jack Laurent Giles made significant advances too. Fin-keelers flourished under certain rules which limited sail area; which makes sense when you look at the theory. CLASSIC SAILOR



The resistance of any displacement hull can be considered (in a simplified but basically accurate way) to have two main parts: skin friction and wave-making. At low speeds, skin friction is the main element; then, as speed increases, wavemaking becomes more significant. (Most people are familiar with the explanation of a displacement hull having a ‘hull speed’, determined by the pattern of waves generated around the hull.) The amount of skin friction depends on the wetted surface area and the surface finish of the hull; so all things being equal, a hull with less wetted surface will offer less resistance to movement, and this is especially important at low speed. To win races under most rating rules, which control sail area quite effectively, it was often therefore an advantage to reduce the wetted surface area; the result was less drag whenever the boat was going slowly; all the time in light winds, but also every time it had to accelerate out of a tack, for example. As upwind starts and beats to the first mark 44 CLASSIC SAILOR

became commonplace, ability at lower speeds and out of tacks became more important. As things speed up, wetted surface becomes less significant; we have probably all enjoyed holding off a modern yacht in brisk conditions, when the extra wetted surface area of a full keel is pretty well irrelevant; in fact, a long keel may even be helpful if there is any sort of a sea. Equally, if you have a lot of sail area (as was typically available in the

We have probably all enjoyed holding off a modern yacht in brisk conditions, when the extra wetted surface area of a full keel may even be helpful

gaff era and under many of the rules of the time), wetted surface area is less relevant; if you have enough sail area to drive the hull well even in light winds, it largely overcomes the issue of extra drag. It is only when the amount of sail area is strictly controlled that it really starts to pay. When in the 1950s it became clear that rules were once again of a type that permitted fin keels and separate rudders, then back they came. In reality the advantages under RORC were not clear cut; there were some noticeable successes with boats like Black Soo, but they did not dominate the results and full-keel forms continued to win regularly. But later rules such as the IOR of the 1960s & 70s and then the IMS and now the IRC had and have no such ambiguity, and fin keels, by now highly evolved and very efficient, dominate across all competitive classes. The chord of the fins has continued to diminish in the search for greater efficiency, further reducing the footprint to attach the keel to the hull,


Lines showing the keel shape of Britannia (left), contrasted with...

... the lines and extreme fin keel of the modern Rambler 88

which in turn further ups the ante in structural terms. Throw in the economics of production boatbuilding and the results seem, at least to many observers, inevitable. There is a very coherent argument that the modern breed of fin keels are essentially an undesirable feature for cruising yachts, and that the pendulum of influence of racing yacht design informing cruising yacht design has swung too far in favour of the former. A cruiser-racer of the 1950s was exactly that; a yacht that could be raced or cruised, depending on your crew’s size, enthusiasm and ability, but in terms of hull shape was essentially uncompromised for either. A cruiser-racer of the modern era is more often a compromise one way or the other, and that has brought some significant disadvantages. Directional stability is a complex question, but there is little doubt that for most people the slower responses of a long-keeled yacht, with a rudder hung off the sternpost, are more forgiving and that’s

another potential benefit. A friend recently recalled the shock of his crew, a relative novice who had only ever sailed pretty racy fin-keelers, when he left the helm unattended to sheet in the jib a bit. For the tyro, used to unceasing attention to the steering (by hand or autopilot) that is demanded by most modern yachts, the directional stability of a North Sea 24 came as something of a revelation. The rapid turning ability afforded by a separate rudder and fin keel is largely irrelevant outside a race course or marina, but as we increasingly opt to moor our boats in the latter, it is one of the key factors in their use. Most sailors brought up on modern fin-keelers understandably find having to manoeuvre a typical long-keeler in or out of a marina berth an intimidating prospect. Whilst we can sneer and mutter about the loss of boathandling skills, the fact is that many long-keel hulls are more difficult, especially in reverse, and this is a regularly cited reason why many people don’t even consider a long-keel design.

The secondhand market, especially for early GRP boats, seems to reflect this; if you’ve got a long-keeled boat, be prepared for a long wait to sell. Regardless of how well it will shoulder its way across the Bristol Channel in a F5, most people won’t even consider it because just getting out of the marina seems too difficult. That’s a great shame; most of us know what they are missing. While it makes for great bargains for canny buyers, it seems unlikely to change any time soon. So why does the average production yacht have a fin keel, often with a bulb? Not an easy question to answer. Some of it is probably just fashion, with cost of build and manoeuvrability, plus a genuine desire among builders and owners alike to extract good performance within a given set of parameters – including a limit on sail area for reasons of ease of handling if no other. For the average owner of a classic, especially if it’s a gaffer, no such restriction usually applies. For most of us, the benefits of a long keel outweigh the disadvantages. CLASSIC SAILOR



Chartering a classic boat – or just booking a bunk on one for a week – is the most economical way to experience the pleasures of this type of sailing, whether you’re a newbie or already addicted. We pick out some of the options


f it flies, floats, or fornicates, rent it. It's cheaper,” as Felix Dennis once said, and it’s a painfully prudent truth that many boat owners will have to go some way to agree with. With that in mind we’ve found ourselves dipping into the UK charter market. Whether you’re looking for a party sailing round the East Coast for fifty people on a Thames Barge or wishing to potter around the Scottish islands in a Pilot Cutter with your family there’s something for everyone. Some offer sail training or even RYA certificates at the same time. We have been on many charters and the quote that sticks in my mind from a particularly fine skipper in Greece was this: “On a successful charter there are three levels of connection each charterer can go through. It starts with feeling like a guest, often it goes on to being a member of the crew and if the charter goes really well they will achieve another level of connection, that of going ashore and talking to people on the docks as if they are a proud part owner of the boat. When they do that I am really happy.” So here are a few choice morsels to get us out on the briny without the hassle of owning a boat and with a whole heap of sail training into

offer the RYA Competent Crew course – 21-26 March or 26-31 March, starting from Hamble, sailing the Solent, the South Coast of England and (weather permitting) to France or the Channel Islands, completing the five-day course. Hunter’s Yard: Broads without engines At Hunter’s yard on the Norfolk Broads they offer a seven-day holiday in which you train for five days getting your RYA levels 1 and 2 combined keelboat course and then sail on your own for the last two. The other course they offer that many people will find useful is the two-day Conversion Course, a step by step guide on how to go from a dinghy or half-deck to a full-size cabin boat. This is done in their Broads yachts, lighter built than their seafaring counterparts, with liftup coachroofs for extra headroom when moored, and a tabernacle to lower the mast quickly for bridges. They take you back to the carefree 1930s salad days, when these engineless boats were built – there’s a pole on the side deck for propulsion when there’s no wind, or for the inevitable shove-off from a bank. All in the delightful and safely close-to-land, pub-around-every-corner Norfolk Broads. Prices

New adventures on new w BARRY JAMES WILSON

the bargain. And remember, sail training isn’t just for beginners. There’s always room for nav refreshers, especially now there’s so much tech on the market, and every time we’ve been around charters we’ve always come away with something useful, be it a knot or two, a hint or tip or even a recipe from the galley. Jolie Brise: Competent Crew First, how about one of the most famous iconic classic pilot cutters ever built, Jolie Brise? The world-famous gaff-rigged Pilot Cutter, the last boat to carry the Royal Mail under sail and winner of the Fastnet Race three times, including the inaugural race in 1925. Her Easter cruises 46 CLASSIC SAILOR

are dependent on which boat and level of training but it all looks pretty reasonable. But be warned, nobody sails the Norfolk Broads just once! Trad techniques on more modern yachts Looking for something a bit more modern? Well traditional sailing techniques and methods are taught by most RYA sailing schools. Our regular writer on navigation John Clarke runs Team Sailing from Haslar Marina in Gosport with weekend and five-day courses geared for beginners up to Cruising Instructor levels. Teaching is on a Sigma 38 or Bavarias.

Hunter’s fleet – engine-free sailing on the Broads

Start as a holidaymaker, CHARTER learn the ropes and end up feeling as if you own the boat!

w waters with new friends ‘On a successful charter there are three levels of connection each charterer can go through. It starts with feeling like a guest, often it goes on to being a member of the crew and if the charter goes really well they will achieve another level of connection, that of going ashore and talking to people on the docks as if they are a proud part owner of the boat. When they do that I am really happy.’ CLASSIC SAILOR



Pulling together with Trinity Sailing (above) which operates three historic trawlers, including Provident (right) seen here at Dartmouth


As they say, “there are no passengers on these vessels: everybody is a member of the crew”


Classic Sail: three Morgan Giles yachts Classic Sail runs three identical ex-Royal Navy Morgan Giles wooden yachts out of Chichester on the South Coast. Bespoke charter packages are aimed at groups who might want to improve sailing and racing techniques. RYA courses are also on offer. Classic Sailing Club: points mean sailing Based around Pin Mill and using such fine cruising grounds as the Deben, Ore, Blackwater, Crouch, Thames and Medway, The Classic Sailing Club offers sail training and membership of its fleet so that you can sail in a wooden classic whenever you like. Run by enthusiasts for enthusiasts this friendly membership-run club can offer anything from a Start Yachting course through Competent Crew, Day Skipper, Coastal Skipper, and a prep course for the RYA Yachtmaster. There are differing memberships depending on how much you want to get out of it, and with the day-rates for use of the boats being far less than normal charter fees, this is a very cost-effective way of sailing one of their fine Buchanan-designed classics. Bareboat charter is also available for the better qualified and the whole thing is run on a simple points system. They go on classic regattas here or in the Med and most of all always seem to be having a bloody good time of it.

Classic Sail: I saw three ships

Polly Agatha – a modern replica Pilot Cutter based on the Solent

Trinity Sailing: ‘No passengers!’ If you want your kids to gain the experience that you might already have (or to get them out of the house) the Trinity Sailing Foundation runs residential sail training voyages for groups of young people. No previous experience is required. As they say, “There are no passengers on these vessels: everybody is a member of the crew.” Their fleet is made up of Leader, Provident and Golden Vanity, all built on the River Dart between 1892 and 1924. They are three of the vessels, judged to be of regional and national significance‚ that make up the UK National Historic Fleet. That status ranks them alongside the likes of HMS Victory and Cutty Sark so the kids are steeped in the past as well as soaking up team-building, confidence and competence. Sailing holidays for all of you are also available from Scotland to Northern France, as well as RYA courses, Youth Adventure training and Duke of Edinburgh Awards. Polly Agatha – and a crew house in Cowes If your preferred neck of the woods is the Solent then Polly Agatha is a lovely Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter and is based on the Medina River in Cowes from where she can explore all the ports and havens of the Solent any time of the year. Collection and drop-off can be from any of the Solent harbours. They also have a luxury crew house in the heart of Cowes for those in the party who prefer shore based sleeping arrangements (there’s always one!). They offer from two days to a week to get a feel for how to sail the boat and CLASSIC SAILOR



Amelie Rose

(above) Our resident sailing guru Nick Beck owns and skippers this fine Luke Powell-built replica pilot cutter topsail-adventures.

Girls for Sail

The UK’s only sailing school exclusively for ladies (left), provides sailing instruction in home waters (Cowes), the Caribbean and elsewhere (modern boats) – and with a 10% discount for Classic Sailor readers Right: Sail in Greenland with Classic Sailing 50 CLASSIC SAILOR


Excursions include the ‘eight ports in four days’ challenge, crossing the Channel and a week in the Channel Islands, to name but a few

what it is like living aboard such a beautiful yacht. She’s ideal for individuals or families who just want to enjoy learning to sail, and one tends to learn fast on the Solent as there’s so much going on. Excursions include the ‘eight ports in four days’ challenge, crossing the Channel and a week in the Channel Islands, to name but a few. If you want to take it further you can gain RYA qualifications through Solent Sailing. Leila: charter or youth training Leila, an elderly (1892) gaff cutter of impressive dimensions, sails out of Lowestoft. She is available for some private charter in her schedule, though she also has a training focus on young people aged 12 to 30, Scout and Guides groups, schools or any youth groups as well as older trainees who are disadvantaged, for instance by homelessness, unemployment, disability, and drug or alcohol recovery. For this, by the way, they need more local volunteers and trustees (which is another way to get to sea!). Typically, they will run five-day trips, the minimum for the RYA Competent Crew qualification. They might sail to the Dutch Friesian Islands, to Belgium, France, Ipswich or London – all depending on the wind and the tide.

Leila (this photo and above) offers a wide range of sailing opportunities including straightforward charter trips as well as sail training for the disadvantaged

Classic Sailing: the biggest choice of boats If you yearn for a proper adventure, but want a general overview before you make up your mind, Classic Sailing is probably your first port of call. Adam and Debbie Purser arrange bookings for everywhere from Antarctica to Iceland, on more than a dozen tall ships and wooden boats. They list 250 voyages in 2016, including the Brest Festival, and their own annual Pilot Cutter Review in May in St Mawes, home port of their own Eve of St Mawes. Topsail Charters for Thames Barges If there’s an awful lot of you just looking for a really good time (we’ve seen them used for wedding receptions, stag parties corporate knees-ups and team building) you might need a Thames Barge, the east coast traditional cargo vessels, with their red sails, huge decks and cavernous entertainment areas below. The people who sail these seem to be of a different breed with an infectious sense of fun. The barges are gentle giants, being pretty stable and comfy, so suit people with no affinity for sailing as well as being fun for enthusiasts. CLASSIC SAILOR





The call of the sea Jack London was a celebrated writer when in 1907 he decided to drop everything and sail around the world in his yacht, Snark. By Sam Jefferson


he concept of fitting out a yacht for bluewater sailing and heading out on a round-the-world cruise seems almost humdrum these days, but when Jack London announced that he was planning such a trip in 1906, many thought that he had lost his marbles. London was a writer and one of the biggest celebrities in America at the time. He had shot to fame with books such as The Call of the Wild and The Sea Wolf and his articles commanded huge fees from magazines. The idea of him dropping everything and simply disappearing into the unknown seemed utterly outlandish. Yet the following year his new yacht, Snark, made her departure from San Francisco headed for Hawaii and beyond into the unknown. The plan was to circumnavigate the globe. The decision was a brave one, for in 1907 the concept of sailing a yacht around the world was still considered highly dangerous. Yet the plan was not wholly foolish or naïve. Jack London was a man of dash and dare and although he had made his name as an author with tales of the frozen wastelands of the Yukon, he was actually a highly experienced sailor. Born in 1876, he had grown up in Oakland, California on the shores of San Francisco Bay and his early years were a story of grinding poverty. From an early age he was forced into dead-end jobs to support his family and he sought salvation through the sea. By hiding some of his earnings from his mother, London was able to secrete enough money away to buy a little 14ft sailing skiff and he then honed his sailing skills running errands and supplies to and from the ships that lay in Oakland harbour.

‘And if a man is a born sailor, and has gone to the school of the sea, never in all his life can he get away from the sea again. The salt of it is in his bones as well as his nostrils, and the sea will call to him until he dies. Of late years, l have found easier ways of earning a living. l have quit the forecastle for keeps, but always l come back to the sea.’ Jack London

His next move was a lucrative one. He borrowed some money from a mentor which enabled him to buy a small sloop, Razzle Dazzle, and set himself up as an oyster pirate. Oyster pirates were essentially renegade fishermen who dredged the privately owned oyster beds of San Francisco Bay. This was something of a cause célèbre at the time, as the oyster beds had originally been fished communally but were then sold off without public consent, so there was much Left: Jack London, c1907-1908. Photo taken on board the Snark, the sailboat upon which he cruised the South Pacific for 27 months with his wife Charmian Right: Jack London on the day he sailed for his South Pacific adventure aboard the Snark CLASSIC SAILOR



Above: Snark cook Martin Johnson’s Adventure Map of the South Seas; Left: Snark on the Alameda Estuary in San Francisco Bay Right: Jack London at the wheel



resentment and romanticising over the antics of the pirates. The risks of this pursuit were high, for the oyster fisheries had soon cottoned on to what was going on and guards were posted. The penalty for getting caught was often a bullet in the back or a lengthy stretch in San Quentin Prison. Yet the lure for young London was irresistible. Oyster thieving using an unpowered boat in the dead of night in an area notorious for its strong tides and treacherous shallows turned London into an excellent sailor. His career was curtailed when one of his rivals set fire to Razzle Dazzle’s sails, yet he continued to hone his skills by signing on aboard a sealing schooner, the Sophia Sutherland which took him to Japan and back, supplying him with many details for the plot of his later book The Sea Wolf.

Top: Jack and Charmian at Waikiki, Hawaii, early on in the voyage. Above: At anchor in the South Seas, with a visitor known as the ‘Nature Man’

A happy moment for Jack and Charmian London, in Apia, Samoa

Both Jack and Charmian wrote about their adventures in the Snark

After these adventures, London turned his back on the sea and determined to make it as a writer. Yet he always felt the call of the sea, for it was in his blood. In 1906, he felt confident enough to answer that call once more. By now, he had established himself as a successful writer and it had brought him great wealth. He was 27, still a young man, still full of dash and dare. He had also married an equally adventurous young woman, Charmian Kittredge, and the two goaded each other into making the final leap, as London wrote later. “It began in the swimming pool at Glen Ellen [his home]. Between swims it was our wont to come out and lie in the sand and let ‘Between swims our skins breathe the warm air and soak in we talked about the sunshine. We talked about small boats, small boats and and the seaworthiness of small boats. We instanced Captain Slocum and his three the seaworthiness years’ voyage around the world in the Spray. of small boats. We “We asserted that we were not afraid to go around the world in a small boat, say instanced Captain forty feet long. We asserted furthermore Slocum and his that we would like to do it. We asserted voyage in Spray’ finally that there was nothing in this world we’d like better than a chance to do it. Let us do it,” we said. Thus the decision was made to build a brand-new vessel, Snark, with the express intention of sailing around the world. From the start, however, the project seemed almost cursed (see next page). It didn’t help that London was trying to get the vessel built in the aftermath of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. The city had been devastated and quality materials were in short supply. His foreman was also his wife’s uncle, Roscoe Eames, who proved useless and botched everything. The press started to nickname the boat ‘London’s folly’. Endless delays and London’s own high profile turned his dream project into a laughing stock. San Francisco newspapers would run snide daily bulletins proclaiming: ‘The Snark will sail… Soon.’ Ultimately he took drastic and somewhat reckless measures: staunching the Snark’s leaky hull as best he could, London and his entourage departed San Francisco for Hawaii with the vessel in bits. It seemed the only way to escape. From the first, the trip was horrific. It didn’t help that Snark leaked horribly and the crew, consisting of Jack and Charmian London, cook Martin Johnson, another deckhand and Roscoe Eames acting as captain, also made the disquieting discovery that her petrol tanks were not watertight, meaning that the vessel reeked of petrol and sloshed her lethal cargo around with every roll and scend. Snark soon encountered heavy weather and all of the crew was fearfully sick and became frightened for their lives. London remained cool, however. In his memoirs of the voyage, Johnson recalls that his own nerve gave out after several days of terrible battering by the seas. He confided his fears to London, who replied: “Nonsense Martin, we’re only two miles from land at present.” When Martin asked where this land was, Jack replied with admirable sang-froid: “Straight down, Martin. Straight down.” Once Snark found herself in calmer waters, a new problem emerged: navigation. The serially incompetent Eames – overseer of Snark’s disastrous construction – ostensibly commanded the vessel, but it was soon clear that he could not navigate in any meaningful sense. So Jack took it upon himself to learn. To everyone’s surprise, the island of Oahu was finally located and Snark was once again put in the hands of the repair men. At this point Eames was dismissed after again neglecting to maintain the vessel and a new captain was CLASSIC SAILOR



appointed – a convicted murderer as it happened – and the cruise resumed. The next destination was the Marquesas – an odd choice as it was a destination that relied on Snark defying both prevailing wind and current and it took the little vessel 60 days to get there. The trip was a fraught one; Captain Warren distinguished himself by trying to throttle the cook for allegedly stealing his favourite pot of honey and tensions cannot have helped when they ran out of water after one crewmember managed to empty most of their supply into the bilges. After several days of extreme thirst, the tanks were replenished by a torrential rainstorm and normality returned. Snark was finally anchored in Taiohae Bay on the island of Nuku Hiva. From Nuku-Hiva, she headed for the Paumotus, or Dangerous Islands and got hopelessly lost, the low atolls of the Paumotus being notoriously hard to distinguish. Soon Captain Warren was befuzzled and it did not help that he was the sort of pig-headed old mariner who would not accept when he was wrong. After many hours of drifting about and arguing, Jack took the decision to head straight to Tahiti, where he had mail waiting. Shortly after this misadventure Captain Warren was dismissed and Jack took charge of the Snark himself. The trip had already been full of adventure and incident, but the next destination promised to trump all that had gone before, as the Snark pointed her bows toward the ‘Cannibal Islands’ of the South Pacific. In 1906, islands such as the Solomons still had a justifiably fearsome reputation for cannibalism and many of the inhabitants of these beautiful places still knew the taste of human flesh. At times there was a tangible feeling that the crew of the Snark could end up as ‘long pig’. Jack and Charmian always packed a pistol in their belt when they went ashore. If the islanders frequently unnerved London, his trip also opened his mind and inspired some of his finest writing. His South Sea Tales is inspired by this period and is ‘When I broke the among his finest work. The book is news to Charmian innovative for its time as it depicts the local she was wrecked populace in a far less one-dimensional manner than contemporaries and captures and broken by the more acutely than any other the uneasy knowledge that beauty of these savage islands and how alive the happy, happy and visceral life was among them. Perhaps most astute are his observations about the voyage was uncomfortable relationship between the abandoned’ avaricious white colonisers, pious yet misguided missionaries and the local population. The South Sea trip was meant to be just the beginning of the cruise. London dreamt of threading the Arabian Sea and traversing the Mediterranean and the Atlantic but ultimately it was the savage climate of the south Pacific that did for him. London became afflicted by a mysterious skin disease which meant his hands swelled up and huge chunks of skin fell off. Without his hands he could not write and earn the money to fund the voyage and, after seeking medical advice, he was urged to abandon the trip. It was a devastating decision for London, and he and Charmian were distraught, as Jack recalled: “In hospital when I broke the news to Charmian that I must go back to California the tears welled into her eyes. For two days she was wrecked and broken by the knowledge that the happy, happy voyage was abandoned.” Thus one of the most offbeat and pioneering cruises ended rather abruptly. In the process, London had ensured that he would not only be noted as one of the foremost American storytellers of the early 20th century, but also as a yacht cruising pioneer, who blazed a trail now sailed by bluewater yachtsmen. Yet the disappointment of not concluding the voyage was severe and marked a distinct turning point. His return to land seemed to stifle him and he fell far too easily into a life of heavy drinking and smoking, egged on by his many bohemian friends and hangers-on. His health suffered terribly as a consequence. To London, the sea was life and land seemed to signify suffocating death. Sadly the land won out and he died, aged 40, from alcohol and prescription drug abuse at his ranch in California. Today, he’s seen as one of the few writers who can convey the raw thrill of crossing oceans and raising mysterious and savage lands over the horizon with exhilarating sharpness. For that alone, London’s sailing exploits as well his writing deserve to be remembered. 56 CLASSIC SAILOR

The building of the Snark “The Snark is a small boat. When I figured seven thousand dollars as her generous cost, I was both generous and correct. I have built barns and houses, and I know the peculiar trait such things have of running past their estimated cost. This knowledge was mine, was already mine, when I estimated the probable cost of the building of the Snark at seven thousand dollars. Well, she cost thirty thousand. Now don’t ask me, please. It is the truth. I signed the cheques and I raised the money.” So wrote London in his Cruise of the Snark. In today’s money that is the rough equivalent of a whopping £2m. For that, London got a boat with an engine that did not work, a hull that leaked, a deck that leaked and petrol tanks that leaked. Commissioning problems are familiar to the modern mariner, but seem to have dogged London and Snark in spades. Part of the problem was that San Francisco had just been almost razed to the ground by the 1906 earthquake and as a consequence, skilled craftsmen and good quality materials were at a premium. London paid the price. The Snark was named after one of Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poems and much to do with her build made about as much sense. One of the first-ever custom-built bluewater cruisers, she should have been a fine vessel. She was originally planned to be 40ft long but was extended to 45ft due to the need for an ‘extra bathroom’. This figure was later reduced to 43ft, this being ‘due to the fact that the builder was not on speaking terms with the tape-line or two-foot rule’ as London put it. She was ketch-rigged and shared much with Joshua Slocum’s Spray, sharing the clipper bow, heavy sheer and square stern. Right from the start she leaked. “Man had betrayed us and sent us to sea in a sieve, but the Lord must have loved us, for we had calm weather in which to learn that we must pump every day in order to keep afloat,” London wrote. The reason for this was because shortly after her delayed launch, the Snark was left at anchor and became trapped between two large lumber scows which were also at anchor and dragged down on to the yacht. The Snark was crushed in the middle of this sandwich and her hull was seriously distorted and leaking heavily by the time she was pulled back out of the water. Further damage was inflicted as the yard workers were lowering the vessel back into the water following her repair; the slings they were using to lower her parted, and the yacht was dumped into the mud of Oakland Harbour. In the process, the mountings for her 70hp petrol engine sheared. London was exasperated, but opted to simply depart in a semi-wrecked condition with the useless engine lashed to the deck beams. The Snark sailed reasonably well by all accounts and was well balanced when running, but proved deeply reluctant to heave-to, a major drawback greatly bemoaned by the author. He also listed a litany of other problems – for example much of her metalwork was defective and had a tendency to snap under strain. Once the voyage was called off, Snark was sailed to Sydney by Martin Johnson and sold there. Under new ownership she returned to the South Seas as a trading vessel transporting copra, and there are rumours she even sank to the level of a ‘blackbirder’, essentially trafficking indentured plantation workers – some might say slaves – between islands. Her ultimate fate is not known but she was almost destroyed on a number of occasions by cyclones, and the photos of her last days suggest this was what eventually did for her.


Above: Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark – published in 1876

Left: the building of the Snark in 1906. Snark was among very few designated bluewater cruising yachts of her day Left: Charmian and Jack aboard Snark Right: Snark on the slip Below left: Snark’s flag locker and part of her galley Below right: Drying her sails

SNARK LOA 55ft (16.7m) LWL 43ft (13.1m) Beam 15ft (4.6m) Draught 7ft 8ins (2.3m) CLASSIC SAILOR



Powerful legacy Mike Taylor reviews the work of gifted naval architect, engineer and propeller expert and Fairey Marine designer Alan V Burnard ARINA.


lan Burnard was Fairey Marine’s talented Naval Architect. From 1957 he was responsible for the development of all craft that emerged from the Fairey Marine factory at Hamble Point near Southampton. Significantly, his name will be forever linked with the beautiful and stylish Huntsman 28, one of a range of boats from Burnard’s busy drawing board, which placed Fairey Marine in the forefront of powerboat manufacturing, and offshore powerboat racing in particular, during the 1960s. Born in Staines, Surrey, in 1925, the son of hydroplane designer C W Burnard and great grandson of Victor Etienne Simeon, a marble sculptor, Alan Victor Burnard served his naval architectural apprenticeship at Fleetlands yard in Gosport, helping his father to shape minesweepers for the war effort. By the 1950s the real estate value of the yard had outstripped its turnover; the facility was sold for redevelopment and Burnard found himself looking for a job. He initially considered starting up his own design business; however his father’s ties with Fairey directors Charles Currey and Charles Chichester-Smith found their own reward when Fairey Marine advertised for a draughtsman; Burnard got the job. Working with the company’s legendary hot mould hull-making process Burnard was tasked with turning the drawings of a fast open motorboat by American C Raymond Hunt into manufacturing data.


The first batch of these craft was sold to Bruce Campbell who had sole marketing rights. A fruitless trip to the Mediterranean saw all the craft return to the UK where Campbell arranged for them to be turned into day cruisers and sold as Christinas. Burnard seized the chance to step in and gained permission to shape a fast cruiser bearing the Fairey brand called the Huntress 23. The rest is history. The first was sold to newspaper tycoon Sir Max Aitken, orchestrator of the CowesTorquay Powerboat race and the London Boat Show. More orders followed. Powered mostly by Perkins diesel engines the boats proved their worth in offshore racing. Next from Burnard’s board came the Huntsman 28, arguably one of the prettiest of all offshore cruiser powerboats of her class and time. The result was a stunning collection of race-winning cups and a world renowned reputation. Soon customers would include the likes of film star Debra Kerr and there followed a role in the Bond movie From Russia with Love. Building on this success Burnard went on to design the Swordsman 33, a scaled up version of the Huntsman and the aft cabin Superswordsman 33. Then came the Huntsman 31, with its sharper bow shape, and the GRP-based Spearfish 30 and Fantome 32. Equally at home in his garage/workshop Burnard took the plans he’d produced for a race boat, called Sea Fox, and built it in his spare time. In complete contrast in 1974/5 he designed a 53ft cruiser called Amira, capable of 33 knots, for Sheik Ali al Salem al Sabah, son of the Kuwait ruler. Markedly, another market for Burnard’s work was the Ministry of Defence.

Right: The Fairey Huntress, at speed, with Alan Burnard aboard.

Right: The autoclave at the Fairey works with a well-done hull ready to be served. Far right: Alan with his father in a hydroplane on the Thames


Burnard seized the opportunity and gained permission to shape a fast cruiser bearing the Fairey brand called the Huntress 23. The rest is history.

However, changes in the yard’s fortunes meant the prospect of commuting every day to East Cowes. After enduring some eleven changes in Managing Director in 1982 Burnard resigned, setting up his own design consultancy business at Hamble Point Marina. During this period, a significant opportunity arose when Burnard was contracted by a Kuwaiti boatyard to design and build a range of fast patrol boats. The reward? A Bentley Mulsanne Turbo as his company car. Burnard declined the luxury. In the event the Iraq invasion of Kuwait terminated the contract.

In addition to being a gifted stylist with an eye for shaping superb powerboats Burnard was an accomplished engineer, more than happy designing mould castings for automotive engine parts. He was also a distinguished propeller expert who was often in demand by racing boat customers, his multi-skilled capabilities continuing to draw customers almost till the end. He died on 29th February 2012. Today, the majority of his drawings are held by the Fairey Owners Club whose members continue to enjoy and relish the work of this talented marine architect. CLASSIC SAILOR



Trimilia’s return The former Ramsgate lifeboat, now a floating home for David and Moira Jay, joined last summer’s Little Ships’ Return to Dunkirk. By Peter Willis




ooking at Trimilia, it’s hard to spot immediately that she was once a lifeboat. What you see is a comfortable and elegantlyproportioned live-aboard motor cruiser. But if you look hard there’s a bit of a giveaway in the turn of the bilge and the straight-up doubleender stern. There’s also a clue hidden in her name. Trimilia is a reference to the number of lives – over 3,000 – she saved during her 28 years of operational service. The vast majority of these, 2,800, were rescued in one operation, the evacuation of Dunkirk, and last year, which also happened to be her 90th anniversary, Trimilia took part in the Dunkirk Return, along with her enthusiastic owners, David and Moira Jay. It was also ten years since David and Moira took over ownership of Trimilia and began a decade, so far, of living aboard her, first in Woodbridge’s Tide Mill Marina, and more recently in Ipswich Wet Dock. “We’d already had a boat for three years,” recalls David. “It all started when we were sitting outside a restaurant at Ipswich Haven, and Moira pointed to a boat and said ‘If ever we had a boat, I’d like one like that.’ That was the trigger. It was a Colvic Watson 32 trawler style motor sailer. We invited ourselves aboard for a look round, and within a couple of weeks we’d tracked down a Colvic Watson 29 at Wareham in Dorset.” It required a fair bit of work, but they moved it into the Tide Mill and got on with it. “We ended up spending more time on the boat, just chilling out, than at our cottage. Trimilia was in the next berth – we liked the look of her, even spent a couple of nights aboard, so when her owner put her up for sale, we took the plunge, sold our cottage, bought her and moved on board.

David soon began building up a picture of Trimilia’s history. She was built in 1925, in West Cowes by Samuel E Saunders (forerunner of Saunders Roe Ltd) as the prototype of a new class, 48ft 6in long, suitable for estuary operation. As she was destined for the Ramsgate station, the class was known as ‘Ramsgate’ though only two others were built. She was funded through a donation from the Prudential Life Assurance Company, then celebrating its centenary, hence her original name, Prudential. Built of double diagonal

teak on oak and rock elm, with a drop keel, she was powered by a 76hp 6-cylinder Weyburn DE petrol engine, giving 8 knots, and backed up with a standing lug, mizzen and jib sail configuration and six oars. Shortly before being retired out of service, she was appointed the flagship of the Lifeboat Division Commodore, and took part in the Coronation Fleet Review at Spithead in 1953. Her transformation to Trimilia began when she was sold by the RNLI in November 1953 to MR FHW Haywood, who took her to RR Prior at Burnham-on-Crouch for an extensive conversion. He was chief architect to the City

Main photo: Trimilia crossing the Channel to Dunkirk (photo by Chris Andrew). Inset: Resident owners David and Moira Jay in the wheelhouse with their labrador Tilly



LITTLE SHIP LIVE-ABOARD of London, and David believes his professional decisions can be detected in the conversion. The most significant of these was to raise her gunwales by 10in, which both helped to disguise her lifeboat origins and provided for some well-designed headroom with a new deck and coachroof . He also made a start on the wheelhouse and purchased a new engine, a Russell Newberry PDM4 diesel, eventually installed after the boat was moved, in 1962, to Frank Knight’s in Woodbridge. Unfortunately he died before he could complete the project, and in 1972 the boat was purchased by retired Group Captain Sidney Swain, who added her present two masts, rigging her with a gaff main and mizzen. It was he who renamed her Trimilia. He sold her in 1983, to a colourful local character called Richard Rothery, who lived aboard and, liking women and wine, filled the bilges with empty bottles and corks, while letting her deteriorate before he expired in his car on the quayside. Trimilia was then bought by Daniel Elves, who put her back together again while raising his family aboard her. He took her back to Dunkirk twice, in 2000 and again in 2005, just before family matters necessitated her reluctant sale, to his friends and marina neighbours David and Moira. Inevitably, and even though Trimilia had been a live-aboard for many years, David and Moira had their own ideas about what would make for a comfortable floating home. “We first had a hearth and stove installed, by Harbour Marine of Southwold, and commissioned John Krejsa [legendary Woodbridge shipwright] to build us a galley.” Further work involved completing partfinished projects, or removing and replacing existing fittings. “The ’90s look wasn’t exactly to our taste and we sought to give Trimilia the homely but nautical feel that befitted her age and at the same time offered us the degree of comfort that we desired. Moira became an obsessive collector – and polisher – of all things brass, and we have reupholstered throughout twice already.”


(ex-RNLI Lifeboat Prudential) Ramsgate Class Lifeboat Built 1925 by Samuel E Saunders Ltd, Cowes IoW Length:48ft 6in (14.8m) Beam: 13ft (4m) Draught: 3ft 10in (1.2m) Displacement: 19 tons (28 tons post-conversion) Member of the National Historic Fleet, National Register of Historic Vessels



Left: Trimilia’s cosy saloon; the stove was installed by David and Moira. Right: a corner of the custom-built galley

The one big disappointment – which thwarted their cruising plans and prevented their taking part in the 2010 Dunkirk Return, was the engine – still the 1958 Russell Newberry. It had a habit of temporarily seizing at above 900rpm – just for a few minutes. It took three strip-downs to trace the problem to the No 3 cylinder which had a tight bore at the bottom end. Skimming a few thou off the piston skirt appeared to cure it, allowing a problem-free run-up to 1050rpm. So last May, Trimilia was ready for her trip to Dunkirk – and David and Moira’s first sea voyage in her. At Ramsgate, Trimilia met the current lifeboat, and David handed over a donation from

The volunteer crew who participated in the evacuation from Dunkirk: Back row [l-r] Edward Cooper Ernest Attwood [Mechanic], Alfred Liddle, John Hawkes, Thomas Goldfinch; front row [l-r] Charles Knight, Alfred Moody [Ass’t Coxswain], Howard Knight [Coxswain],Thomas Read [Ass’t Mechanic]. Coxswain Howard Knight was awarded the DSM for the part he played in the Dunkirk evacuation.

How Trimilia earned her name As the Ramsgate lifeboat Prudential, she was one of the few lifeboats in Operation Dynamo to be manned by her own regular crew – the entire crew volunteered for the service and they set out on the afternoon of Thursday 30 May, towing seven wherries and a punt, Carama, owned by the deputy coxswain, all laden with water and ropes and manned by naval ratings. Each wherry ferried eight men at a time from the beaches to Prudential which, once loaded – with up to 160 men at a time, transferred them to waiting transports further offshore. Over 40 hours she helped rescue 2,800 men, and on the Saturday returned home, towing several small craft, including Carama – the wherries all having been lost.

Prudential which he’d persuaded the company to give in commemoration of its sponsorship of the original lifeboat. The lifeboat and its crew under coxswain Ian Cannon accompanied the fleet of Little Ships on the Channel crossing. David and Moira had cause to be grateful for their watchful presence when, halfway across, Trimilia’s engine got up to its old tricks, and cut out. David admits to having upped the revs to 1100 in an attempt to keep up with the faster section of the fleet, but nevertheless was not sure whether to blame this on the filters, and tank sediment stirred up by the unaccustomed level of activity instead. He changed them, the engine restarted, and off they went again, at a more steady 1000-1050 rpm with no further problem. Later examination of the filters proved them to be clean, so there are now plans to skim a little more off the piston. The Little Ships’ reception at Dunkirk was, as ever, spectacular, and for first-timers David and Moira it was particularly moving. “We felt truly honoured,” they say. On the return trip, heavy seas persuaded half the fleet to return to harbour, but Trimilia pressed ahead with the others. Minding their engine, though, they began to fall behind – until the Ramsgate lifeboat suggested they follow it closely on a short cut across the Goodwins. This was where Prudential had saved so many lives in normal service – “She’s back on her old stomping ground!” remarked lifeboat coxswain Ian over the VHF. It was a fitting way to complete her crossing, and to mark her dual anniversary. CLASSIC SAILOR



Mark Edwards: r He built the Queen’s Gloriana, but his bread and butter comes from traditional Thames rowing boats, reports Chris Partridge


or Mark Edwards, work is a public performance. His boatbuilding and hire business is on the Thames riverbank next to Richmond Bridge, under the eye of every passing tourist, dog walker, lunching office worker and jogger. Today, he is applying a coat of green paint to a restored Thames fishing punt, one of a fleet he has just bought. “They are real antiques,” he says, proudly. “They need a bit of new wood but the structure is in good condition. I will hire them out to local fishermen.” The punts are businesslike rather than elegant and have a traditional wet well to keep the catch. Promoting traditional boating on the tidal Thames is what gets Mark up in the morning. He has revived the wherry, the river taxi of the olden days when the only practical way of getting about was on the river, and the rowbarge, the flamboyantly decorated vessels that transported monarchs, statesmen and members of the City livery companies.

Mark Edwards, above on one of his hire fleet and left, at work on his newly-acquired punts. “Real antiques with traditional wet wells. I’ll hire them out to fishermen” 64 CLASSIC SAILOR

Mark Edwards started working on boats as a teenager, with a Saturday job at Richmond, then operated by a family called Blight (pronounced Bligh). He went to university but dropped out to work in the open air at Bushy Park with a remarkable former RN carpenter called Fred Coppard. The submarine “Fred was responsible for my interest in weird things,” says Mark. “Naval carpenters on small ships that had no glazier or blacksmith or whatever would be in charge of the hull, the pumps, of absolutely everything, so he taught me not to be frightened of any trade – if you understand the materials, then creating something is

just a matter of logic. I blame him for things like the submarine, for example.” Yes, a submarine. Edwards was approached by the BBC to help recreate the world’s first underwater boat, built in 1621 by the prolific inventer Cornelis Drebbel. Built like a barrel covered with leather, powered by six oars, it was said to have transported King James along the bottom of the Thames from Westminster to Greenwich. Nobody really knew how Drebbel’s sub worked, if indeed it ever did, but Edwards picked up a reference in a contemporary diary to the way live fish were transported downriver to Billingsgate market in wet boxes with dive planes on the side to keep them underwater as they were towed. So


: river revivalist “If you understand the materials then creating something is just a matter of logic” lot of good qualities for boatbuilders but had fallen into neglect – sweet chestnut. He used to claim that his grandfather (he came from a line of ship’s carpenters going back to Nelson’s time) used to bribe naval measurers to accept sweet chestnut as oak, mainly because it was much easier to work for craftsmen on piecework rates. “But it is also more durable than oak, way more stable and virtually no sapwood in it,” Edwards says. “Of all the indigenous species I have used over the years, sweet chestnut comes up trumps.” The wood was used with great success in 1982 in a new wherry, a 45ft shallop called Lady Mayoress and in a lot of new boats since including his magnum opus, the Queen’s Row Barge Gloriana. Gloriana was commissioned by Lord Sterling, chairman of P&O, to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Mark was originally employed as rowing consultant, to advise on how the new vessel would behave under oars. “It was decided that the vessel should be rowed because the Queen has 24 Queen’s Watermen who have not actually rowed a monarch since the peace celebrations of 1919,” he says. “Foster and Partners, the architects, and BAe Systems designed a 65 ton fibreglass monster, all very beautiful and Drebbel knew that an underwater boat moves faster than a boat on the surface. Adding dive planes to the design meant the sub could be trimmed to be slightly buoyant, and taken underwater by adjusting the planes. To return to the surface, all the crew had to do was stop rowing. Should extra buoyancy be needed, one of Drebbel’s other inventions could be used – a high pressure pump. After some alarming trials, the replica was successfully dived at Dorney Lake (the health and safety people refused to countenance the Thames), the process recorded in the BBC documentary Building the Impossible. Fred Coppard also drew Edwards’ attention to a native wood which had a

The famous Gloriana, above, finished in just 18 weeks. Below: Equally traditional but more modest – the Skerry, Mark’s design for getting children rowing

slick and modern with conference rooms and catering facilities and everything else. The oars would have to be 20ft long, and the watermen are all in their 50s. Sterling knocked it on the head.” Edwards then prepared a proposal for a traditional shallop planked in plywood and fitted out with lots of sweet chestnut. Sterling approved, and the boat was named by the Queen just 18 weeks later. Her first public appearance at the Diamond Jubilee Flotilla was a triumph – her size and the abundance of gilt carving created an enduring impact and continues to do so at all the public events she graces. The Skerry One of Mark’s’ favourite projects has been the Skerry, a modern version of the Thames wherry based on an apprentice’s model discovered in the reserve collection of the National Maritime Museum. The Skerry mounts eight oars, the rowers sitting two abreast on four thwarts, an arrangement that is very suitable for young rowers. Indeed, several have been supplied to Bamber Gascoigne’s charity Skerries for Schools that gets children out on the river. Now Edwards plans to offer the Skerry in kit form, so schools, clubs and charities will be able to build their own. About £6,000 will buy everything needed to complete the boat, from laser-cut planks in plywood, all the hardwood (sweet chestnut will be included), oars and rowlocks. The Skerry looks like an ideal boat for kids. Large enough to get lots of kids on the water safely, but long and slim to make for satisfying performance. CLASSIC SAILOR



Oil, wood & water As the east coast artist James Dodds prepares for his current major exhibition, he talks about his work to Peter Willis

I Above: Cromer Crabber, woodcut Left: Wood to Water, ink on roof panel 66 CLASSIC SAILOR

conic is a word that gets used rather too loosely these days. Yet it is totally appropriate to James Dodds’ paintings of boats. Meticulously detailed, they hang in darkness or an abstract glow, which creates a somewhat surreal, Magritte-like feel. They are at once delightfully attractive and challenging. They seem to represent a heritage which is demanding not to be forgotten. James himself speaks of them as a meditation, and “the balance between the known and the unknowable”. He has a major exhibition, titled Wood to Water, currently on at the Firstsite gallery


“The balance between the known and the unknowable”

in Colchester – just up the Colne river from his home in Wivenhoe and his birthplace in Brightlingsea. We meet as he is preparing for it – in fact the interview is delightfully prolonged by his reluctance to leave his studio overlooking the river to go and get involved in the arrangements for it. So, is it a selling show or a retrospective? “A bit of both,” he smiles. It’s taking place 15 years since his first major exhibition, at the same gallery, which in effect launched his career – a breakthrough in terms of both development and recognition. “It was the first show where I painted a boat in isolation – that was the Blue Boat. I painted

it because I realised I had all this space to fill. I didn’t expect it to sell.” But sell it did, almost immediately. The initial show, reflecting his work to date, had featured human figures engaged in maritime activites such as rowing – rotund, rather Beryl Cook-like people (a comparison which, when I offer it he doesn’t reject – “I’ve always liked her work.”) but by the time it went on tour round the country, it was all about the boats. It ended at the National Maritime Museum Greenwich, which was where I was first, all unsuspecting, confronted with them. To borrow a term from the vocabulary of art appreciation, I

was totally gobsmacked. So that was the first show, titled Shipshape. Since then Firstsite has moved to a new, dramatic (not to say controversial) purpose-built and larger building and once again James was faced with the task of filling some space. His solution is, quite literally, a change of direction and a return to roots. Rather than a perspective view of a boat, the centrepiece of the show is a side elevation of the Colchester fishing smack CK 171, Peace. It is just over 20ft in length, effectively half-size, over five panels. It’s the largest painting he has undertaken and to make it

James Dodds with Winklebrig ‘Breeze’ Oil on roof panel 2015 (130 x 169cm)



JAMES DODDS he resurrected a long-dormant boatbuilding skill, lofting. This is the boatbuilder’s art of getting the measurements for a build by drawing out the boat in chalk on a prepared floor, using flexible battens and nails to hold them in place to create the curves of the hull. “It has been 40 years since I lofted out a boat,” he writes in the catalogue for the show. “It was a Folkboat and I was an apprentice at shipbuilding training school in Southampton. This was the part of the course I enjoyed most. Lofting out this painting reminded me of this time, the concentration and accuracy required, endlessly checking and rechecking measurements, then finally correcting by eye.” Unlike with a real boat, James was working in two dimensions. But his decision to superimpose the fore-and-aft body plans – half bow, half stern – onto the boat’s midship section, creates a sort of dual perspective, and is authentic: many lines were drawn up this way, to economise on paper, or floorspace. Luckily, he now has the space to do this. About two years ago he transferred his painting from the cramped studio on the side of his house, filled with printing machines for his printmaking and Jardine Press activities, to a spacious industrial unit in the redevelopment of the old Cook’s Yard on Wivenhoe’s waterfront. “It’s so nice to be able to look out on the water – the calm rhythms of the tide, and so much space and less cluttered. Nice to be able to just come down here and paint.”

Above: Colchester Fishing Smack, pentaptych, oil on board, 153 x 610cm, 2015. (Lines from Edgar J March’s book Inshore Craft of Britain Sail and Oar. Volume 1)

One of the walls has rails fixed where paintings or works in progress can be hung. This is where the pentaptych of CK171 was created. Today as we chat, James hauls out and hangs up finished works to show and talk about. Up goes one painted on very rough boards. “It’s the roof panel of the family’s beach hut at Brightlingsea. My grandfather built it in 1953 after the previous one floated

Left: Crabber Stern (detail) Above: Falmouth Work Boat, Looking Back 68 CLASSIC SAILOR

away in the floods. All the beach huts floated up and smashed into each other. So he built a trapdoor into the floor of this one to allow the tide to come in and stop it floating about. We told other people about it, but they thought we were daft. We rebuilt it at the beginning of this year – the roof is a lovely quality of sawn timber, pine of some sort.” The painting itself is of James’s own boat, the Winklebrig Breeze, built by Shaun


White 10 years ago. It’s not in the show, though others painted on bits of the beach hut are. It was rejected by the gallery, but it did somehow make it into the catalogue. Then comes a more surprising painting, one with people in it. James takes great pleasure in providing the narrative. It’s of Jimmy Reid addressing the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders in 1971 after the Heath government had refused to continue

“It’s been 40 years since I lofted out a boat. Lofting out this painting reminded me of that time – the concentration and accuracy required”

Left: Jimmy Reid addressing workers at Upper Clyde Shipbuilders

Above: Yorkshire Coble Below: Winklebrig, carved in shallow relief on mahogany

funding the yard despite a full order book. This led to the famous work-in where, under union control, four ships were completed. The red flowers in the foreground refer to the bunch of roses with which John Lennon accompanied a £5,000 donation to the fighting fund. “It’s the first thing I’ve done with people in it for, what, 20 years?” James explains. “The UCS action inspired Solidarność at the Gdansk shipyard, and I did a painting of that when I was a student. Recently my conscience began pricking me, so I decided to create this as part of a tripytych celebrating shipbuilding on the Clyde.” It will go to Essex University. Boat building is at the heart of what James does – his education embraced both it and fine art (at the Royal College of Art), and he is a keen supporter of restoration projects. The local Pioneer Trust is one – Rupert Marks, its founder, is lending the Brightlingsea smack Hyacinth to stand outside Firstsite for the duration of the exhibition. Another is Rescue Wooden Boats at Stiffkey, north Norfolk. The status of boatbuilding has changed over his adult lifetime from an essential industry to, in effect, a private obsession, and an optional luxury. “Boatbuilders have to build what they want and try to sell it,” James reflects. “Painting – it’s become a very similar way of life.”

The exhibition Wood to Water continues at Firstsite, Colcheter ( until 14 February. Possible tour venues and dates are under discussion. ‘Timepeace’, a timelapse film of the lofting and painting of the Colchester smack CK171, can be seen at CLASSIC SAILOR


On watch: New Year shopping

Fisherman’s Jumper

Admiral Scarf

A traditional crew neck fisherman’s jumper for men in 100% pure wool knitted in a chunky loose stitch pattern that makes warm pockets under a jacket, ideal for frosty days at sea or on land. Really good quality jumper (we tested one last year and didn’t take it off all winter) made in Ireland and just look at the low price. They also do a Submarine style. Small to XL £58 (£61.60 for XXL)

Here’s a fancy double-sided reversible scarf reminiscent of the Royal Navy Pussers bedspread made from 100% pure British wool and coming with a cotton drawstring bag. Pricey but when it gets arctic £75 might not seem so bad. It’s the hairy type of wool that seems to repel droplets without being scratchy.

Mahout Jerkins

Leatherman Tread

Ok, we haven’t handled one yet so it might be a bit gimmicky but a wearable set of tools can’t be ignored. Made from high-strength, corrosion-resistant 17-4 stainlesssteel links that include between two and three functional tools each, the Leatherman Tread includes a total of 29 usable features like box wrenches and screwdrivers. The Tread can be customised using the slotted fasteners, so the wearer can rearrange links, add new ones, or adjust for wrist size. Every part of the Tread is functional including the clasp which features a bottle opener and #2 square drive. Other link tools include a cutting hook, hex drives, screwdrivers, box wrenches, and a carbide glass breaker. £139.95 70 CLASSIC SAILOR

The Mahout jerkins have moved on from their popular moleskin and into the very smart and lighter linen. This one in black and claret would be very smart for any old or young gaffer. £140

Roberts Radio R9993

You’ll need Long Wave if you want to hear the Shipping Forecast being broadcast four times a day on Radio 4 – on 198kHz to be exact. The signal is carried far out into the Atlantic and can be happily picked up in northern Spain, for instance. And we’ve been using one of these – at £16.95 one of the less expensive in the range from Roberts. The rotational dial is a bit twiddly, but by twisting the radio as well you can soon pick up the right signal, and then return to FM afterwards. It also has Medium Wave. £16.95

Find My Tool

Obsolescence can be an extremely annoying thing especially when it comes to old and much-loved tools. You lose or break one and find it simply can’t be replaced. Help is at hand with Find My Tool, a site dedicated to the wonderful (and usually far better made) tools of old like this Stanley 71 router. Again, one can waste hours poring over well-cast steel planes and tenon saws. They also have a great range of new tools too.

Salca combined anode and rope cutter

Every now and again an invention that turns up and you slap your forehead and say “of course, why didn’t I think of that?!” So how about the Salca – an anode that is also a rope cutter? It combines stainless-steel blades and a zinc anode body – slot it onto your prop shaft and you’ve got two jobs being done by one item. Only £40. See it at the boat show (stand E028) or at

Marine chronometer

Mühle Glasshütte is a family-run German watchmaker that specialises in marine chronometers as well as rugged watches. This chronometer is batterypowered for the best accuracy and passes the strict DIN 8319 requirement for navigational chronometers. The face is elegant and very readable. Mounted in a stylish yet functionally simple mahogany box. £318

David Rumsey Map Collection

We could spend months just browsing through the David Rumsey Map Collection – just picking an example has taken several days but here’s a section of history from the 1818-22 Ross/Franklin/ Parry expedition’s intrepid and doomed attempt to find the North-West Passage, made even more interesting since the recent discovery of their boats the Terror and Erebus. All maps are printed on high-quality matte archival photographic paper. This one costs £26.50 for 14in up to £137 for 60in.

Compiled by Guy Venables


Off watch: Reads and Rum-tasting

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe

(his only novel) When you combine a boyhood seafaring fantasy with a horror writer you get a gory shock-fest from one of the world’s best horror writers. Cannibalism, betrayal, mutiny, monsters and gore. His insight into sailing is very well researched and interestingly the South Pole hadn’t been reached at the time of writing this book, 1838, so he let rip imagining the place far more interesting than what we now know to be true. Utterly enthralling. New from £6 GV

Cruising Yachts by T Harrison Butler

Solent Cruising Companion

This very successful book has now been re-issued in its third edition, and is bang up to date – for instance it includes a photo of the spinnaker tower in Portsmouth with its awful blue and gold paints, and also includes a photo of the new breakwater just off Cowes. But the key question is, how useful is it? Well, for those who have only a passing acquaintance with the Solent, I would say “very”. It goes methodically through all the harbours in the Solent which one could possibly enter, and its factual information on the facilities in each harbour is second to none. A weakness? It does not make any mention of the hazards to be found there, and they are numerous – the submarine barrier, Ryde sands, the Shingles Bank, to name but three – and the Bramble Bank only gets a passing mention as the venue for a few people to throw a cricket ball at each other at low water Springs. But this is a good buy, despite its hefty price tag of £34.99. JC 72 CLASSIC SAILOR

With clean earlier editions of this classic on yacht design becoming rare it’s great to have a reprint from Lodestar, with forewords by both the late Ed Burnett and Ian Howlett (who prefaced the fourth edition in 1994). There is also a plans supplement and biography by THB’s late daughter Joan Jardine Brown. This edition has a great gallery of colour plates of THB yachts still sailing – including Sabrina, featured in CS last month. But you mainly buy this for the wisdom of a designer who, although amateur (he was an ophthalmologist by profession), was once hugely influential with his analysis of balance and is still relevant for his appreciation and description of handy, good-looking small cruising yachts. £20 DH

Over the Yardarm Guy Venables finds a rum that’s all the better for decanting, as it hides the face on the label I have long been aware that the process of decanting wine into a decanter has many reasons. The un-knockable-over ship’s decanter for instance is suited to those of us of the arm-waving disposition when drunk or if you have a tall dog with a waggy tail and a low table. When, years ago, I used to smoke, I’d decant my cigarettes into a cigarette case. Not only did it give me an air of panache (it was the 80s; everyone was awful) but nobody could tell that I was buying cheap packets of Embassy tens. In the same way I decant wine into a decanter not to aerate it but in order that nobody could see from the label that it is a bottle of red from the Tesco value ‘great with smoking’ range. In this same vein, when I came to pour this particular batch of rum for my regular, disparate group of village lurkers who taste booze with me for this column (who often use such flowery language as “very nice” or “smooth”), I was pouring it in the kitchen without allowing them to see the label so that they wouldn’t recognize the face printed on the bottle. For it was the face of Ron Jeremy, one of the (ahem... apparently) most famous porn stars in the world. Starting a new career in rum making is one thing, but not only is putting your face on the bottle an act of enormous vanity, but a porn star’s face just gives off a very confusing message. We eat and drink with our eyes after all. Especially when this particular face is usually seen not with the... er... calm expression printed on the bottle. Phew! However after sipping the XO, Sam the grocer nodded far quicker than normal and jockey Chris managed an unusually verbose “really very good” (a wordcount normally only equalled when talking about horses) – and it was. It was dry and dark and powerful. To be drunk like a cognac. We then tasted the spiced rum (I usually steer clear of spiced) and were surprised at its peppery complexity. We found the Reserva really very fine, clear, vanilla, nutty finish without too much sugar and perfect for mixing as it stands right in the middle. Top marks all round. All that’s needed is for Ron Jeremy to consider selling clear decanters with each bottle in which we can decant his rum and leave his face it belongs.

Tides: an aide memoire By John Clarke, Principal of Team Sailing Why are there tides? And how to interpret tide tables and tidal curves to make sure they don't leave you high and dry


ides are the rise and fall of sea level caused by the gravitational effects of the Moon and Sun, in combination with the rotation of the Earth. The Moon exerts the greater influence, by virtue of its proximity to the Earth. Thus as the Earth takes 24 hours to rotate on its axis the same point on the Earth’s surface will experience a high tide every 12 hours, as it will a low tide (see fig 1). And by the way, the high tide at the back of the Earth is caused by the spinning of the Earth on its axis, but we needn’t get into that – simply accept it. The Moon orbits the Earth in the same direction as the Earth rotates on its axis, and a complete orbit takes approximately 27.3 days so it takes slightly more than a day – about 24 hours and 50 minutes – for a given location on the Earth to be successively directly below the Moon. There are times in the lunar cycle when the Moon and Sun are in a straight line (see fig 1), approximately every 14 days. At those times the Moon and Sun are both pulling the sea in the same direction, and so the high tide is higher (and conversely the low tide is lower). These are called Spring tides. And again there are two occasions in the lunar cycle (again approximately every fourteen days) when the Moon and Sun are at 90º to the Earth (see fig 2). On those occasions the seas are being pulled in two directions. High tides are therefore lower than at spring tides – and of course the low tides are consequently higher. These are called Neap tides, and they occur approximately seven days after the spring tides. Historically the height of the tide through the lunar cycle was a simple matter of local fishermen observing the level against a stick pushed into the sea bed. But now of course it’s all done by computers. So let's look at a sample almanac entry – Plymouth in 2015 (see fig 4). A number of points of interest crop up. Firstly on the top left of the page there's a reference to the time zone being used, and you will see there that Plymouth is in time zone UT, which is the modern term for GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). But because we put the clocks forward in 2015 on Sunday 29 March, it reminds us that for


1 gravitational pull, sun

gravitational pull, moon

Full moon

New moon

gravitational pull, moon + sun

spring tides neap tides


greater range of tide

smaller range of tide

Moon's gravitational pull

Sun's gravitational pull

3 instance if our watch says the time is 6.30 on a day in May, then really that is 5.30 in GMT. So also, 10.30 GMT equates with 11.30 BST, etc. Looking now at the top right of the page we see that “dates in red are Springs", and that "dates in blue are Neaps”. All that is meant by this is that in any (roughly) two-week cycle of the Moon’s passage round the Earth, on that day marked in red, we have the greatest difference between high and low tidal heights. So let us examine a few of the heights of tide when according to the almanac we are on Spring tides: 7 January, 5.5m (metres)


5 always measured above MHWS, not Chart Datum (as added safety margin)

Mean High Water Springs Height of tide measured above Chart Datum

Charted depth

Drying height

Chart Datum (LAT)

Figs 1 and 2: the way Moon and Sun affect the tides. Fig 3: The ups and downs of springs and neaps. Fig 4, left: Almanac tide tables: The points of interest are ringed in red. Note Spring dates, in red and just one Neap date visible here, the 27th, in blue. Fig 5, above: The relationship between Chart Datum and MHW



6 and 5.2m; 23 Jan, 5.9m and 5.6m; 6 Feb, 5.4m and 5.2m; 21 Feb, 5.9m and 5.7m. And so on and so on. The average (or 'mean' to use the mathematically more correct term) of all these heights is 5.5 metres and that is all that is meant when the almanac tells you that Mean High Water Spring for Plymouth is 5.5 metres; that is the average height of tide at high water when we are at the springiest part of the lunar cycle. So, how deep is the water we can anchor in? Charts show various numbers, and these represent the depths of water at particular points, at what is called Chart Datum (CD) which as its name implies is simply the datum used on charts. However, it does have a greater significance – it is also called LAT (Lowest Astronomical Tide, the lowest that you would expect the tide to fall to), fig 5. Now let’s examine a real situation. We arrive at a point near Plymouth on (say) Thursday 23 April at 11am, and we want to anchor. What is the least depth of water we need to ensure that we don’t run aground at low tide? Our boat's draught is 1.5m. We can find from the almanac the way in which the tide rises and falls at Plymouth (fig 6), and we see that high water is at 08.44 UT (GMT), which equates to 09.44 BST (which is what our watches are set to). We can also read that the height of tide at high water (HW) is 5.1m, and at low water (LW) is 1.1m. If we now fill in the relevant time of HW and the heights of the tide at HW and LW on fig 6, we are almost there. 11.00 BST is just over an hour after HW. So if we draw a line up to the tidal curve at just over an hour after HW, then draw the line left till it intersects the HW-LW heights line, then go up to the depth row, we find it intersects that row at 4.7m. The depth of water above CD at 11.00 BST is therefore 4.7m. At LW it is 1.1m, therefore it will fall by 3.6m between when we arrive and LW (4.7-1.1). Therefore, if we do not want to go

a tidal curve or tidal times like Plymouth. Let us go for example to the entry for the River Beaulieu in the Solent – fig 7, and let’s try to make sense of the information there. The most important piece of information is that which tells us that the Standard Port is Portsmouth – in other words the way the tide rises and falls at Beaulieu is very similar to Portsmouth – which means that we can use the Portsmouth tidal curve for Beaulieu (I’m ignoring the tidal peculiarities of the Solent for this). Notice how in fig 8 we simply delete Portsmouth and insert Stansore Point. Now, in order to find the height of tide at any time of day at Beaulieu we simply need to know the HW time, the HW height and the LW height there. I’ve chosen Stansore Point in the River Beaulieu since that is the place closest to the sand bar that we need to scrape over if we want to enter the river. Looking at the HW time entry on figure 7 it is giving you the following information: HW Portsmouth 00.00 06.00 12.00 18.00 24.00 Stansore Point minutes earlier 00.30 00.10 00.30 00.10 00.30

aground we shall need to anchor in at least 5.1m (3.6m fall of tide plus 1.5m draught of the boat). And normally you would give yourself a little leeway, so I would look for at least 5.6m of water to anchor in if I arrived at Plymouth at 11.00 BST. While tides are usually the largest source of short-term sea-level fluctuations, sea levels are also subject to forces such as wind and barometric pressure changes. High pressure, which pushes the sea level down, can in the Solent lead to a drop in sea levels below that forecast by as much as 0.5m. Secondary Ports If you look in the almanac you will see that there are many harbours which do not have


Fig 6 above: Reading tidal height at Plymouth on a given time and day Figs 7 and 8, top: Relating a Secondary Port to a Standard Port with similar tides

Let’s now decide the day when we’re making this trip, and we’ll choose Saturday 20 June. Looking at the almanac entry for Portsmouth (see fig 9), we find that the high water time on that day is 14.03 UT. This is a third of the way between 12.00 and 18.00, so we can say that it’s approx. 22 minutes earlier at Stansore Point (it is possible to work it out exactly, and any half decent textbook should show you how. But a couple of minutes here or there should not be significant). Now, and only now, do you do the conversion to BST! HW time at Stansore Point is 13.41UT (14.03 less 22minutes), or 14.41 BST. Similarly, you can work out the HW and LW heights, which come out as 3.8m and 0.9m. And now we can do the tidal curve for Stansore Point (see fig 8). If we have a yacht which draws 2.0m, and we want to leave a margin of 0.5m in case of sea swell, then we will need a minimum depth over the sand bar of 2.5m, and reading the almanac we read that the minimum depth over the bar is 0.9m at CD. Therefore, we will need at least 1.6m above CD to successfully negotiate the sand bar and this occurs 5 hours and 10 minutes before HW. In other words, at 09.31 BST (14.41 – 5.10)


Sailing skills Boat handling under engine: Part 4 Ferry-gliding is a great technique for manoeuvring traditional long keel vessels around a harbour. But, as Nick Beck points out, it’s all too often ill-understood. This month he continues his series on closequarters boat handling under engine by showing how it’s done – and throwing in a couple of rope tricks.


ost students that we teach on Amelie Rose have heard of ferrygliding but few seem able to nail it on the first attempt. Like spinning the boat it’s a technique worth mastering however, as it can get you and the boat safely away from many a hairy situation, and it will develop your awareness of how the boat is moving relative to the fixed objects around you. Watching a boat ferry-gliding backwards out of a tight fairway is a sight to behold and

a sure fire indication that the skipper knows their onions. The essential point of the technique is to use the water flow provided by a tide or current to ‘fool’ the boat into thinking that she has steerage without her actually moving over the ground. Of course, there is no fooling going on. If there is enough water flow across her keel and rudder, then the boat does have steerage. Furthermore, with enough tide running; tweaking the tiller, throttle and her attitude to the flow of tide will enable us to move her in any direction that The starting point for successful ferrygliding is to be able to stem the tide: 1) Steer the boat into the tidal stream (which may not be aligned with the harbour furniture). 2) Use a pair of ‘natural’ transits to verify our movement across the ground. 3) Some rudder angle may be required – especially in a cross-breeze. Use the helm now and again to check that steerage is being maintained.


we choose relative to the fixed obstructions around. The difficulty with executing this technique comes in the number of elements that the helm must process and/or manage in order to exert total control over the placement and movement of the boat. These are: • Fore and aft motion of the boat (relative to the ground). • Port/starboard motion of the boat (relative to the ground). • Maintaining steerage. • Boat’s attitude to the tide/ current. • Throttle setting. • Rudder angle.

Stemming the tide

The ideal starting point for any ferry-gliding manoeuvre is to be stemming the tide. By this I mean fully stemming it. Not creeping forwards, sliding backwards or drifting one way

or another, but totally stationary over the ground. A crucial corollary to this is to attain this state with steerage (i.e. if you move the tiller then the bow moves in response). Developing this skill is core to all that comes after. In order to be doing this the boat will need to be facing directly into the tidal set and driving into it at the exact speed of the tidal rate (which needs to be higher than the speed that she needs to gain steerage). These factors can be validated by use of natural transits forward (to monitor sideways motion), abeam (to monitor fore and aft progress) and by occasionally pushing or pulling the helm to establish that the bow moves in response (though the helm must be reversed and then centred again immediately steerage is proven or else she will begin

The ideal starting-point for a ferry-glide is to be stemming the tide. And I mean fully stemming it, not creeping forwards, sliding backwards or drifting sideways

1) Start with the boat stemming the tide (i.e. no ‘Course Over Ground’ – COG). Turn the bow towards the objective ‘showing’ the keel to the tide. 2) Once the keel is angled to the tide the helm must be neutralised. As the tide effect will now be increased more revs will probably be required to stop the boat falling backward. With careful attention to the revs the COG can be adjusted to suit the objective. 3) As we approach the objective the bow is brought back to face the tide once more. Remember to reduce the revs as the tide effect reduces otherwise the boat will start to move forwards. 4) And we’re back to stemming the tide once more.

to move sideways over the ground). Bear in mind while attempting this that trots of moorings and pontoons around you may well not be aligned perfectly with the tidal set and that it may be necessary to pop the throttle in and out of drive to achieve the requisite speed through the water. Wind pressure to port or starboard of the bow may also require some rudder angle and extra power now and again in order to maintain proven steerage. The ‘neutral’ helm position may not be ‘centred’ nor indeed static. Lastly, as we will be juggling with the boat’s attitude to the tidal set in order to move her around, any transits that are used must be off the boat (i.e. don’t use a stanchion aboard and something beyond). Assuming that the tide is running faster than the vessel’s

1) ‘Ferry-gliding backwards’: just as with sideways, we start by stemming the tide and turning the bow towards our destination. 2) As the boat begins to move sideways reduce the revs to just above minimum steerage speed. 3)We must keep checking that we have control by occasionally tweaking the bow back into the tide and watching to make sure she ‘answers’. If she doesn’t, give a little more engine. 4) If we run out of room we can take her back the other way. 5) Keep checking that we still have control. 6&7) A few more revs will get her moving more sideways. And we’re away! CLASSIC SAILOR 77

Sailing skills: Boat handling under engine, Part4

1) Begin by stemming the tide about a boat-length from a buoy that’s sitting in a good strong tidal stream. 2) Increase revs until the boat moves ahead of the buoy. 3) Put the helm over to angle the keel across the tide – using revs to keep the boat moving sideways but not fore or aft. Don’t forget to centre the helm – apart from a quick check now and again to verify that you have steerage. 4) Once well past the buoy reduce revs until the boat is just above steerage speed. The boat will start to move backward. Keep her angled slightly to increase the tide’s effect. Keep checking that you have steerage! 5) As you drop back past the buoy you can prepare to move her back the other way. 6) Once past the buoy angle the bow across the tide and increase the revs to match her speed to that of the tide. 7) Remember not to keep turning, neutral helm will win the day. 8) Nearly there – bring her back to facing the tide and then a few more revs will return her to the starting position. minimum steerage speed it will now be possible to move her in any direction (including backwards) by juggling her keel’s attitude to the tidal set and her speed through the water. To head to port or starboard, push her bow to port (or starboard) of the tidal flow and hold it there. As you do this you will typically notice that she begins to fall backwards even though the engine revs have not changed. This is due to her ‘showing’ more of her keel to the tide – which increases the tide’s effect and can be counteracted by increasing her speed through the water (i.e. a few more revs). A common mistake at this point is to forget to put the tiller back to neutral, thus continually increasing her turn across the tide. This reveals more and more keel, increasing her sideways velocity and also the backwards force exerted by the tide. This is fine if you want her to move more quickly in that direction but remember that it is the keel’s attitude to the tidal set combined with her forward motion against the tide that is doing the work. So, get her moving in the direction you want (established by checking your forward transit) then hold her attitude to the tidal flow by reversing 78 CLASSIC SAILOR

Above: The ‘Boxing the Buoy’ exercise allows you to practice the technique without any paintworkchallenging mishaps.

and then neutralising the tiller. To stop (or slow) her sideways movement simply push the bow back into the tidal flow and reduce the revs until both transits stabilise. All the time you are ferrygliding remember that you must also be checking steerage now and again to validate that you still have control of the bow. If you have a speed log within easy sight of the helm and know your minimum steerage speed then this can help – but the key is to keep conducting the practical experiment of pushing the bow up into the wind for a second to prove that you still have her on the leash. To head forwards is pretty simple, just increase the revs a little, but ferry-gliding backwards deserves a little more exposition. Essentially all you need to do is to reduce her forward speed until she is travelling through the water more slowly than the tide is carrying her backwards. The temptation here is just to knock her into neutral and let the tide do what it may. The problem with this plan is that you will become a passenger on your way to an accident with the tide in the driver’s seat. It’s imperative that you maintain control of the bow

(i.e. keep steerage way) in order to be able to react instantly to any changes in the situation. This becomes particularly difficult when the tide rate is very close to her minimum steerage speed as it will appear that to gain any backward motion at all requires her to lose steerage. If this happens then do not despair for we already have the answer. Showing more of her keel to the tide will increase the tidal effect as we noted earlier, but will still keep her under control. It will also move her sideways of course so in a tighter space you may need to zig-zag from side to side. Lastly, when engaged in a backward ferry glide bear in mind that as far as the boat is concerned she is driving forwards through the water. Do not make the mistake of reversing your helm and starting to steer as if you are heading astern or there will surely be tears before pub-time.

Practice makes perfect

If this all sounds like a lot to take on whilst boating around the confines of a harbour, well, it is. With this in mind why not find yourself a secluded mooring buoy sat in a good tidal flow on a calm day and have a go at ‘boxing the buoy’? Start by stemming the tide

with the buoy on the beam – about a boat-length away. Now ferry-glide the boat around the buoy, keeping the same distance away at all times, bringing her back to stem the tide in the same starting position. Getting it spot on is harder than you might think and it’s a great way to pass an hour or so whilst waiting for a sea breeze to kick in. For an extra challenge, try it in reverse!

Warping and Winding

Back in the days before engines it was commonplace to move boats around inside a harbour using warps, muscles and the capstans that used to be sited at key positions around most quaysides. Today, sadly, capstans are rarely kept in working order, if indeed they are kept at all, and the buzzing of bow-thrusters echoes across most harbours rather than the rhythm of tramping feet and the call and response of a longhaul shanty. Just because we do have engines should not mean that we forget the efficacy of some of these old methods however. Many manoeuvres can be made easier – or indeed made possible at all – by moving the boat around with mooring warps. Winches or powered windlasses can replace those

Warping Back If warping forwards or backwards along a pontoon consider using a second set of bow and stern lines so that she’s always secured even whilst you’re moving a warp. Doubled fenders (see below) are less likely to roll and then pop out leaving you in need of a paint brush… Here the original lines are shown in blue and the new set in red. t’Other Side Haul (with added Spin!) It takes some mighty long warps and a bit of setting up but we used this method to get out of a nasty berth in Ramsgate back when we were filming The Hungry Sailors. Again, the original bow and stern lines are in blue and the new ones in red. The boat is held in a cat’s cradle, braced in all directions by at least two lines. Even short-handed (there were only four of us) the boat can be spun and hauled across under complete control by just tightening and slackening the lines in sequence. Winding the boat The new bow line (in red) needs to be led all of the way around the boat from the bow. If (like Amelie Rose) the rudder is unprotected from the pontoon then consider using a little bit of engine to keep the stern clear. An offpontoon wind would do the same job of course. Doubling Fenders (photo below) Often used when coming alongside a pile, doubled fenders are also a useful aid when moving the boat along a pontoon. Single fenders hanging vertically have a habit of rolling and then flipping up to be dragged along the pontoon where they’re about as much use as a chocolate teapot. Doubled up there’s more weight to pull them down, their lines can be led fore and aft and there’s no likelihood of any rolling going on. missing capstans and the engine can help provide any missing grunt. There’s any number of ways that warps can be used, however three basic manoeuvres get used with reasonable regularity aboard the Amelie Rose: The ‘Forward/Backward Shuffle’ – often used to shuffle Amelie Rose backwards along a pontoon to enable us to escape backwards with a freer exit, occasionally also alongside another vessel that was impeding her exit. The ‘T’Other Side Haul’ – this is a great way to escape if your prop-kick just isn’t working for you or you’re being pinned on by wind and tide. Obviously it requires another pontoon or moored vessel available for you to use and you may need some mighty long warps to get there.

Winding the Boat – an idea nicked from our barge-hauling inland brethren. Essentially it means to spin the boat in her berth using the wind to assist. In our case if the wind isn’t assisting then the tide might be or we can always use the engine to step in instead. Whatever method gets used there are some key lessons that we’ve learned over the years: 1. Don’t untie anything until it’s no longer doing anything. Once, stuck in an inhospitable corner in Ramsgate, we opted to combine a t’Other Side Haul with Winding the Boat, to both escape being blown on and to face towards the exit. The resulting cat’s cradle of warps had everyone scratching their heads a bit but allowed us to spin her and haul her across to the other pontoon with no ‘death or glory’ moments.

The key is to remain in total control of the boat at all times – if you stop hauling on the warps then the boat should stop moving. The easy way to test this is to slacken a warp by a foot and watch to see what happens. If nothing does, great, the warp’s work is done,

but if the boat starts to move you might want secure the line sharpish and think again. When moving forwards or backwards it’s also worth pairing up the bow and stern lines, so that one is always working while the other is being moved. There’s no worse feeling than a bow line slipping from your grasp just as you realise that there’s no one aboard right now. 2. Watch out for the tide. Any manoeuvre that shows more of the keel to the tide may lead to a massive increase in the amount of pressure on the up-tide warps. It’s entirely possible to find yourself stuck in a ‘can’t go forward, can’t get back’ situation as an increasing tidal flow pins the boat somewhere unintended. But also a strong tidal flow may mean ferry-gliding is now an option! 3. There is no such thing as too many fenders. This is really rather self-explanatory! Remember that a typical long thin fender with a sail-tie or two fenders partnered together can be used horizontally to produce a fender less inclined to roll out of position (a typical problem when a “blown on” boat is walked along a pontoon). It’s also worth having roving fenders to hand for any unforeseen contacts. ________________________ Next month: time to get ashore as we look at techniques for coming alongside without frightening the natives.

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? Join in the conversation on our Facebook page: Have any problems with your boat that you’d like us to address? Let us know via Facebook or email us at



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The turn of the bilge Buying a classic: the engine and the rigging 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.


o far in this series we’ve looked at issues that affect the hull and deck structures on a classic boat but when it comes to value, this is only about a third of the total. As a rule of thumb another third will be in the rig and deck hardware and the balance in the engine and electrics, so it’s worth looking at all these systems when you are thinking about making an offer on a boat. There will inevitably be some wear and tear but all should be fit for purpose unless the sales details specify otherwise or they are not listed. So worn sails might be acceptable, but not damage to an aluminium mast. On a sailing yacht, the engine and rig are usually the most expensive items, hence worth checking. Bear in mind there are plenty of other items a good surveyor will find and some, like broken sea cocks or leaking gas pipes, might not cost much to fix but are far more important in the greater scheme of things. Starting with the engine, the ideal is to see it working under load at normal operating temperature. Running an engine on idle, for example ashore with the intake in a bucket of antifreeze solution, is not the same and will simply tell you there is no major damage. An engine should start from cold with one or two attempts

– put a hand on the exhaust manifold beforehand to see if the owner warmed things up ahead of your arrival. Diesels will sound a little clattery when started, especially single-cylinder ones, but should settle down to a reasonable noise level and any smoke clear within a few minutes. Check the mooring ropes are secure and then see if it goes in and out of gear smoothly or if any smoke increases under load. If there is a control panel the warning lights should work and the voltage output should be at least 14.5v for a basic charging system. If an engine cannot be run, try and get an idea of how well it has been maintained. There may be servicing invoices or dates on disposable filters. If owners do their own maintenance, there should be evidence this has happened. See if the alternator drive belt is slack or if there is powdered rubber around it. Engine oil will be black once it has had more than a few hours running, but if it also feels gritty it is probably overdue for changing. Similarly, rusted disposable filters are not a good sign. If the primary fuel filter has a glass bowl, see if it has clean diesel in it. Often boats will lie unused for months or years before they are sold which can lead to water and sludge collecting

Starting with the engine the ideal is to see it working under load at normal operating temperature 84 CLASSIC SAILOR


An old but cared-for engine

Contaminated fuel


Seized engine left unused for several years


Many insurers will expect standing rigging to be renewed at ten-year intervals regardless of apparent condition

Spreader rivets gone

Eroded mast

Traditional rigs can be fixed at home

Oil leak

Weathered mast, possibly too far gone

in fuel tanks, especially with biofuels. Also look for signs of fuel, oil, or water leaks in the bilge – while small amounts might be expected, wholesale loss of fluid should not. Look at the exhaust manifold and expansion plugs for salt or rust stains. Don’t bother too much about running hours, whether on a gauge or verbally from the seller. Excessive wear is unlikely before about 8000 hours which is rare in all but a charter boat. Lack of care and maintenance is the issue for pleasure yacht engines. As a rough rule, with average use and maintenance a marine diesel should last around 25 years. A good owner who allows the engine to warm up properly and keeps it clean and regularly maintained can extend this indefinitely. With no maintenance, any engine more than a few years old is suspect. If you do find serious issues, the only safe and economic solution in a small displacement yacht is to budget around £5k to £10k for an engineer’s rebuild or a new engine. Being let down by an unreliable motor might have made a good story fifty years ago but not nowadays in a crowded marina with a long keeled classic and no space to sail out of trouble. Moving on, the rig is probably the next most expensive thing on board. Sails and running rigging will invariably be worn but they should at least be usable. Winches should turn smoothly with clearly audible, double-clicks as the pawls move. There should be no excessive side play to the barrels and they must be firmly mounted.

Aluminium spars can have worn anodising, but creases, holes or bends (other than if intended in a fractional rig) have to be repaired. Look at boom, gooseneck and furling systems for wear, keeping in mind parts may have gone out of production long ago on older boats so a complete replacement may be needed. Many insurers will expect standing rigging to be renewed at ten-year intervals regardless of apparent condition. This is because wire stays and components will work harden and fatigue over time, even if the boat is on a mooring or ashore with the mast up. Unless the seller can show you a recent invoice, you should assume the ten years is long past. Rig inspections are not a substitute and in any case can only be done with the mast on trestles because most load bearing surfaces will otherwise be hidden. If the mast is up you can at least take a look aloft with binoculars or with a digital camera, but don’t take this as a conclusive test – many things can still remain hidden. Wooden masts are always softwood so non-durable to an extent. Thus bare wood or blackened varnish, or splits are all warning signs especially if they are close to shroud tangs or mast bands, particularly on a built mast. The upside is that a traditional rig with galvanised 7x7 wire, wood blocks and lanyards is a good deal more maintainable than its modern counterpart. Next month, we’ll start looking at a few classic boats, what was found when they were first surveyed and how things subsequently worked out for the owners. CLASSIC SAILOR 85

Repairing a Mirror dinghy Part 3: Interior renovation by David Parker The story continues as the Mirror dinghy is turned over and work on the interior begins


n the earlier article I described how an unprovoked attack from an escaped monkey forced me to take on this small boat restoration project in the first place. Typically once the hard work started the monkey just high-tailed it up a tree and scratched its bits and watched as the external seams of the dinghy were retaped and damaged areas sheathed, filled and faired.


1 Previously the tape from the lower bulkhead seams had been removed from failed joints which had suffered water ingress. It is vital to allow any wet areas to dry out thoroughly before starting any epoxy work


Much to the monkey’s further amusement there was still plenty to do before the hull could be painted. Now it was time to turn the boat over and get to work on the interior. There are two reasons for not coating the exterior until the interior is finished. The first is that once you have gone to all the trouble of giving your restored craft a complete re-paint externally, you


2 The internal fittings were removed – but keep the fixings together with the relevant components so you know what goes where

then don’t want to risk damaging the coating when carrying out any further work internally. Coatings take time to harden and knocking the boat when on the trestles or hurriedly tapping in a prop wedge to stabilise the hull can ruin a nice new shiny, but still soft, finish. The second reason is that if you encounter any unexpected problems when doing the interior you won’t

spoil the new paintwork if you have to add new fixings from the outside for example. On first inspection when I bought the boat, the interior, with its varnished decks and buoyancy tanks, seemed in reasonably good order. Glass tape and resin had been used to strengthen the bonds at the seat panel/buoyancy tanks joints; this is how a Mirror dinghy


3 All the internal coatings were removed; on the bottom panels this involved several layers of paint which were burnt off with a hot air gun


4 The white patches at the taped joints at the top of the seats/buoyancy tanks show areas where the previous resin has not thoroughly wetted out the tape, which weakens the bond

ts s


There are two reasons for not coating the exterior until the interior is finished; you don’t want to risk any knocks, and you might have to add new fixings outside


Removing keel tape 1 Previous repairs had been carried out to the existing seam along the keel resulting in the build up of several layers of tape all of which had to come off to get back to bare wood


4 Removal of the tape showed where previous fixings had been left coming up through the keel. These were cut off with a Dremel and small grinding disc to allow the new tape to be bonded tightly to the surface


2 The old tape was laid in two strips fore and aft of the centre board case. Here the aft section is showed being removed; again a hot air gun and scraper were used


5 The keel seam was thoroughly cleaned and abraded and new strips of tape were cut to length. As on the external seam a tape width of 100mm was used instead of the 50mm tape which had been on originally. This was to help reinforce repaired areas along the keel


3 Where the old tape ran under the aft buoyancy tank it was cut off flush with a knife at the face of the panel


6 First the area to be taped was primed with unthickened epoxy resin


7 The pre-cut strip was then laid in place


8 More epoxy resin was then applied over the top of the tape to ensure that it was thoroughly wetted out


9 A second coat of resin was applied over the top of the tape when the previous coat had just started to become tacky. (If the first coat has been allowed to cure completely it has to be abraded before a second epoxy coat is applied)

is constructed. I was told the upper joints had recently been redone but there were some white ‘milky’ patches along the taped seams which indicated that the resin had not fully impregnated parts of the cloth. This meant that the upper as well as the lower joints would also need to be retaped. Therefore it was best to remove all the glass tape and coatings and start again.


5 The old tape was removed using a hot air gun to soften the glue bonds

To completely replace all the internal taped seams I would have had to strip out the buoyancy tanks and bulkheads. The project would then have become more of a rebuild than a restoration, involving a lot more time and additional expense – something I wanted to avoid. However the fact that I had previously increased the width of the taped joints on the external areas of the keel seam (as described in the previous issue), meant I hoped that I could leave the tanks in place. For some added support I would also use a wider tape inside along the internal keel where I could. With that, and filleting all internal joints for added strength, I would therefore avoid having to strip out the whole boat. The floor of the boat had various layers of thick deck paint and above this all the other wood was varnished. I found the easiest way to remove all the coatings was to burn them off with a hot air gun as I did with the exterior of the hull. A hot air gun was again used to soften and scrape away the old strips of glass


Repairing a Mirror dinghy: Part 3

Removing the toe strap support I wanted to be able to lay the aft section of the keel tape in one section to avoid having a joint area around the toe strap support which might trap moisture. This support also had a small drainage hole at its centre which would further complicate trying to get a good bond around this area. The best solution was to remove the support and then refit it again afterwards. 1 The support had been glued and screwed in place from the outside. As described in the previous issue I had made up a simple tool for removing the skeg consisting of a hacksaw blade riveted to a flat bar handle which could be used for flush cutting. I used this again here to cut through the fixings, and then a long blade flexible shark tooth saw to cut through the glue line


2 The support removed showing where the fixings had been cut through and areas of old paint which had built up in the joint gaps.


3 The support was then cleaned up, abraded and rebedded in position using a thickened epoxy mix. Pilot holes were drilled through the support from the inside as a guide for the external fixings; stainless steel screws were used here

1 Filleting serves three purposes. Not only does it give a strong bond and give a good concave radius for applying tape, but the thickened epoxy will also bridge any gaps in the panel


2 Before any filleting or taping can begin all the old tape and coatings have to be completely removed to give clean, bare wood


3 The stripped back joint areas were first abraded and then wiped down with acetone to remove any traces of grime or grit from the old coatings



tape and resin. Layers of old, thick deck paint will typically require more effort to remove than varnish. Therefore the hot air gun needed to be on maximum heat but when using one you should always take great care to only use heat to soften materials and not burn them. 88 CLASSIC SAILOR

Filleting before taping To achieve the strongest bond along an internal corner joint, a coveshaped epoxy fillet should first be used along each seam line prior to taping. Therefore in this restoration fillets were used along all the internal joints where the vertical faces of the buoyancy tanks and bulkheads abutted the hull. Filleting is often used on new builds and on the last dinghy I built fillets without tape were used because they alone were strong enough. However for the purposes of this article and to keep within existing Mirror class rules, here I would also tape over the joints. Filleting and taping also gives you a ‘belt and braces’ approach for added strength when carrying out a restoration on an old boat. Glass tape can be applied over the fillet when the epoxy mix has firmed up and started to gel but before it is fully cured. Alternatively if the fillet has cured then lightly abrade it before taping.

It is particularly easy to char the wood underneath when burning off varnish. If you do blacken it the only way you will remove the scorch marks is by sanding away the burnt wood - something to be avoided on a small craft made of thin laminate plywood! So when

burning off varnish use a low setting on the hot air gun and play it back and forth across the surface so one spot doesn’t overheat as you take off the varnish with your scraper. If in doubt, use paint strippers instead. Once all the old glass tape and coatings were removed the

satisfying part of getting the repairs done could start. As shown in the previous issue the use of epoxy was a key ingredient in this restoration and when doing any epoxy work, good preparation is fundamental to the successful outcome of the project. The temptation when doing

If you’re working in winter you can bond down to 5º but cure time is extended; ideally for epoxy work the temperature should be 15º so warm an area if you can 4

4 The area was then primed with unthickened epoxy resin


5 The thickened epoxy mix was then applied. When making the mix go for a ‘mayonnaise’ type consistency which will spread easily along the joint but keep its shape


6 Clean any excess epoxy outside the fillet area before it is cured to leave a neat concave radius



any time-consuming restoration is a tendency to hurry things. Avoid this. Ensure that mixing ratios are always correct and you are working with clean substrates otherwise the bonds will fail. Also keep an eye on temperatures and humidity. If you’re working in the winter you

7 For the upright joints where the panel would be varnished West System 407 coloured filleting blend was used

8 If you want to try and find a close match to a plywood or a particular timber shade you can vary the colour of fillets as shown by the lower joint here. The 407 blend was lightened with white microfibres and colloidal silica

can bond down to temperatures of 5°C but remember that at lower temperatures the cure time is extended and amine blush might occur with some epoxy products. However do not attempt to do any coating when it’s very cold. Ideally for all epoxy work the temperature

Taping the joints 1 Before mixing any epoxy prepare the required lengths of the strips of cloth. For the side tanks 50mm wide glass tape was used


2 Using unthickened epoxy, prime both the fillets and the area each side which will be covered with tape


3 Carefully place the tape in position so it spans the width of the joint equally on each side


4 Thoroughly wet out the tape to ensure that all the cloth is saturated with the epoxy resin




5 The panel joints filleted and taped. Ensure that no air gaps creep in where layers of tape overlap in a corner 6 In the lower joint at the forward bulkhead wider 75mm tape was used to give added strength where repairs had been carried out on this area of the hull

should be about 15°C – so warm an area if you can. (Once in the depths of winter I even made a tunnel around an area with plastic sheeting – a fan heater at the end warmed things up adequately.) Bearing temperature and humidity in mind, particularly at

this time of year, keen eyed readers may also note that in the last issue I was doing everything outside and had rigged up a tarp as a temporary shelter. But that was in a warm, dry period before a series of low pressure systems arrived like a drunken gate-crasher to the garden CLASSIC SAILOR 89

Repairing a Mirror dinghy: Part 3

Strengthening the centreboard case The centreboard case in any old wooden dinghy is always vulnerable to wear and tear and this is often where a leaky joint will start. Epoxy fillets are the ideal way to seal and strengthen these areas. Fillets alone are perfectly strong enough if the repairs are carried out properly but on the Mirror once again the joints were taped as well. In my experience though it is a better and stronger job to use fillets without tape, rather than just tape without the fillets. The cove shaped fillet will bed in to the joint far more tightly right

along its length rather than trying to work tape in at a sharp right angle. As you will see below, when the filleting was done two strips of tape were used separately over each longitudinal joint. It may be tempting to put a wider tape over both joints but where you have a double joint like this it is easier to use two narrow strips of tape rather than one wide one. The problem with the latter is that the upper and lower edges of a wide tape joint tend to pull the centre seams preventing them lying snugly against all joint faces.

1 The lower joints on a centreboard case take a lot of strain; it can be seen here that the tape was already starting to come away allowing water to seep in at this point



5 The area is primed and a fillet of epoxy put along the lower joint using a regular microfibre/colloidal silica mix. Note this lower fillet joint is also taken around the front and rear of the case

2 Take care to get right into the joints to clean and scrape them thoroughly; this is where muck and debris can accumulate



6 Coloured filler was used for where the sides of the case meet the lower frame because I would be varnishing the plywood here

3 Stripping the coating off the whole case was the only way to inspect it thoroughly



7 The fillets were taped with a 25mm tape over the upper joint and a 50mm tape over the lower joint.

4 The case has now been cleaned and abraded. It was at this point that I put in the tape for the keel because it meets the end of the centreboard case and I would then fillet over the tape



8 As a final touch a strip of 25mm tape was bonded to each of the upright ends of the case to strengthen the bond between the sides and the spacer

party bringing rain and gales. Fortunately I had rigged the tarp up to shrubs and small trees which I find are much better than rigid poles because they move in strong winds so the tarp survived the gales with no problem. But although I could keep the rain off, I couldn’t do 90 CLASSIC SAILOR

much about the cooler temperatures and the damp; a reorganization was required to squeeze the boat into the garage. If you are working outside and do not have a refuge undercover you can still get the job done, but if you can rig up some sort of covered area

outside it will make life easier. One way to make a reasonably cheap and temporary polytunnel is to use blue polyethylene water pipe with half hoops braced as a framework and covered in plastic sheeting. The important thing to remember is to keep the epoxy material and paint

at a reasonable temperature at all times. Storing them inside overnight in the warm will usually do the trick until you are ready to use them. Next month, the final stages: painting it properly – less simple and more important than it sounds

Skills: Essential Knots

As classic sailors we want to know our ropes, or the ropes, but once we know what they are for we need to know what to do with them – to stop them slipping or jamming, which is anathema to the captain. So we need some knots, and luckily not too many. Read this – and then try the Six Knot Challenge By Des Pawson


cabin full of classic sailors discussing knots will each have their favourite, but it is likely that there will be the same half a dozen or so on everyone’s list, or at least the majority. Of course, if they are from different nations they may give the knots different names. Most will agree that the Bowline, as A P Herbert said in his poem, is “the king of knots or if you like it bends; a Bowline on a bollard is the best of journey’s ends.” Then there is the Sheet Bend, the structure of which is at the heart 92 CLASSIC SAILOR

A bowline, left, is the unjamming king; it can always easily be undone by folding back the bight over the standing end (the part going upwards). The clove hitch, right, is used for fenders on wire, plus many other applications.

The round turn and two half hitches, right, is for a dinghy painter through a ring, or a pennant to a shackle. Use it with confidence!

of the Bowline, an ideal knot for joining two pieces of rope together, and used by the thousands in the making of a fishing net. The Reef Knot, sometimes known as the Square Knot in American hands, will be mentioned not for joining two pieces of rope together, but rather to tie round a bundle, such as when reefing a sail, hence its name. The best simple stopper knot is the Figure of Eight; this knot structure can be also be used to make a loop knot, much favoured by mountaineers.

The Clove Hitch will be there, and is also part of another favourite, the Round Turn and Two Half Hitches, for those two half hitches are exactly what a Clove Hitch is. Another, perhaps more sophisticated, development from the Clove Hitch, is the Rolling Hitch with its extra turn, which if applied properly allows for a strong sideways pull, so useful for taking the strain from a sheet jammed on a winch. However, pay attention to the direction it is made, so it takes the strain in the manner it is required to do. Whichever way you

make it, in my opinion it is better for hanging a fender from a rail than the Clove Hitch. I personally would discard the strangely named Sheepshank; I think it got into lists of knots only because it was remarked upon in the very first Seamanship work by Sir Henry Mainwaring, which first circulated in manuscript in about 1620 and was then taken up by subsequent authors. Tying any knot well and quickly requires practice and attention to detail; always leave a fairly long tail and tighten, and fair the knot,

Throughout the sailing season many knots will be used on a regular basis, but when laid up you may get rusty on one or two, so a good idea is a series of races

The reef knot is useful for bundling a sail and can also be undone easily often by just flicking it open.

The humble figure of eight, left, is a stopper knot which can easily be undone.


The rolling hitch is perhaps the trickiest knot here; like a clove hitch with an extra jamming turn. Used on board most often for taking the strain of a sheet off a winch to allow a riding turn to be loosened. But you’ll find many more uses!

The sheet bend is simplicity itself. Use it for ropes of different thickness

which is sometimes called dressing the knot; doing this reduces the risk of the rope slipping and the knot failing when it is put under strain. Throughout the sailing season most of these knots will be used on a regular basis, but when laid up you may get rusty on one or two, so perhaps a good idea for a winter evening at the yacht club is to have a series of races to see who can tie these knots the quickest. Beware, there are some very high standards to be reached. On April 13, 1977, Clinton R. Bailey Sr., of Pacific City, Oregon, USA, tried what is

known as the Six Knot Challenge, which from tradition includes the sheepshank in place of the rolling hitch and no figure of eight. He tied each knot using separate pieces of line in an incredible 8.1 seconds, setting a record ratified by the Guinness Book of Records. That record has not been beaten to this day. There has been much discussion amongst knot tyers as to how this may be possible. It is understood from his son that Mr Bailey spent many years practicing before he was timed by the Guinness Records people, and that his skill

was as much in the speed that he picked up each piece of line as it was in tying them. His son confirms that the six knots were tied one after another and the timing was not an aggregate of individual times for tying the individual knots. Today the International Guild of Knot Tyers,(IGKT) and many youth organisations put on the Six Knot Challenge as a way of encouraging people to become proficient in knot tying, yet have some fun. The general set-up is a horizontal bar with the lines draped over it and someone with a stopwatch.

With a little practice, times in the region of 30 seconds are easily achievable and it is possible to get down to around 20 seconds, but below that is extremely difficult. For inspiration, take a quick look on youtube ( watch?v=7bjAtttGQQE) and see a couple of youngsters in Canada getting very fast in 13 or 14 seconds. If you come across an IGKT stand at a maritime festival next year, you may well see the set-up for the six knot challenge, so be prepared by practising this winter and keep your hand in for next season. CLASSIC SAILOR 93

Boats for sale Deadline 20th of every month. Email: tel 07945 404461

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

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

£35000 ono. Richard Sadler - 01736 731500

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

Maurice Griffiths ‘Lone Gull II’

Let us help sell your boat!

Iroko-built in c.1973 by Whisstocks and updated since with self-tacking cutter-rig, 16 HP Petter diesel, charcoal stove, Baby Blake, Taylor ParaFin cooker, GPS, radio, autopilot, new bunk cushions, cockpit cover and dodgers etc. Professionally maintained ashore every winter by Nick Gates at Emsworth over last c.18 years. Excellent condition. Viewing Chichester Harbour £18,500 or phone 07764 236781

Email ads to: Include a nice big picture together with a description and your contact details, and we’ll do the rest. Please send in ads by the 20th of each month for inclusion in the next issue. We take major credit cards and you can call us on 07495 404461 and speak to Catherine

“LOVEDAY” 1969 VOLKER 1000 Steel ketch built 5mm thick steel and still is. Re-engined with Thorneycroft 2.5 litre,10 metres long with good sail inventory. Interior fitted out throughout in Teak. New navigator and Radar and Autohelm this year.(Raymarine) Fitted with A frame so that one person can lower and raise both main mast and mizzen. Outside steering position complete with engine controls Aft double cabin with hand basin. Double berth forward. Sleeps 5 in comfort. Life raft serviced this year with certificate. A very good cruising Ketch £35,000 Tel 01502 712311

NB We will check your details but cannot be responsible for errors.

Choose from 3 styles 5 x 2 130mm x 50mm either 160 words or 80 words and picture - £180 5 x 1 63mm x 50mm either 80 words or 30 words and picture - £95 3 x1 64mm x 10mm 30 words - £40

M J Lewis & Sons (Boat Sales) Ltd

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Thames Sailing Barge 285k

West West SolentSolent One Design 38k 38k

SailingWest Smack 125k 38k (Featured) Solent

65’ Trawler Yacht 150k

33 Royal Fifer 35k

East Coast One Design 12.5k

41’ J. Bain Silverleaf 50k

35’ Gaff Cutter 35k

J&J Lynette 6.9k

East Anglian mk1 5.5k

Purbrook Heron 4.5k

16.5m Dutch Barge 145k

Dagless Fleur De Lys 52 - 1966

£69,950 65 Foot St Malo Pilot Cutter - Launched in 2013

A classic genteman’s yacht, with spacious and well appointed interor, built by Dagless of Wisbeck in 1966. She has four cabins sleeping eight with three heads. In addition she has a large saloon at deck level providing panomaric views with a separate wheelhouse. She has benefited over the years by having loving owners who have kept her continuously in first class condition. Much structural work has been carried out including a total re-working of the aft master cabin. She is powered by twin Perkins 120 HP Diesels with a separate generator for electrical power. Currently stored ashore for the winter in Falmouth.


A unique boat designed and built in GRP by Gaffers and Luggers of Mylor to lines based on a 1891 St Malo Pilot Cutter. She has recently returned from cruising the Mediterranean and Portuguese Coast where she has proven to be an exceptional cruising home. She is fitted out to a very high standard down below, sleeping 8 with accommodation comprising a forward guest suite, saloon with flame-effect fire, well fitted galley with dining table for 8 and generous master suite with large en suite Shower Room. Heating and air-conditioning are provided throughout and a hot tub is mounted in the deck in place of a lazarette locker. Ketch rigged with roller-boom reefing and electric roller furling on the headsails and the square sail. Electronics are by Raymarine and she is powered by a 6 cylinder Gardner diesel with an electric bowthruster. 01326 25144


Send us your events!

This month James Dodds: Wood to Water

Pangbourne 3-5 June bealeparkboatand

Until 14 February Firstsite Colchester

Round the Island Race 2 July

Arthur Beale events

Charles Stanley Cowes Classics 11-15 July

Arctic Forum 3 February 6.45pm, please book 194 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8JB

Brest Festival 13-19 July Thames Traditional Boat Festival Henley-on-Thames 16-17 July

Cruising Association talks One hundred (and eight) years of Cruising, by Jeremy Batch His take on the CA’s history, 3 February White Sea to Black Sea,by Maxine Masters. Maxine signed on as crew for a trip to Russia: requirements included a fluency in the language and a sanguine attitude to the whole plan falling through. 10 February To Scapa Flo, by Ed Maggs. From Essex with wife Frances in their yawl Betty Alan to Orkney. “Nothing much happened save the recreation of the scuttling of the German High Seas Fleet”. 17 February Classic Sailor recommended. All lectures at CA House, 7pm £4 for CA members,

Classic Sailing’s Pilot Cutter Review runs Thursday 2 May to Sunday 29 May and this year Classic Sailing will to pay the cutters to be there. “Wether the pilot cutter is old, new, private, commercial or social makes no difference to us. They are all expensive to run and we want to help keep them sailing,” say organisers Adam and Debbie Purser. £7 for non-members.

Coming up in 2016 HISWA Amsterdam 16-20 March Includes the former Eindhoven Classic Boat Show Sydney Australia: Classic and Wooden Boat Festival 15-17 April Hosted by the Australian

National Maritime Museum, it will showcase vessels from around Sydney and Australia and celebrate Maritime Heritage. The festival will be spread across the waters surrounding the museum. With workshops, demonstrations, kids’ activities and a symposium, the festival will boast an intriguing program for knowledge seekers, boating enthusiasts and families.

Classic Sailing Pilot Cutter Review Fowey-St Mawes 26-29 May In 2016, Classic Sailing is offering Pilot Cutters payment to attend (and is also looking for sponsors) Yarmouth Old Gaffers 2-5 June yogaff-2016 Beale Park Boat Show

Panerai British Classics Week 16-23 July America’s Cup World Series Portsmouth 21-24 July British Raiding (sail and oar) River Clyde 8 – 12 August Great River Race Thames 3 September Southampton Boat Show 16-25 September Your event not here? Send to

In Classic Sailor next issue

Victoria’s low life continues

Annie and Nigel

Cleone, the one and only?

Low Countries, that is. Sue Lewis continues the log of the diminutive gaffer, taking part in ( and getting disquailfied from) the Dutch Classic Yacht Regatta, and fighting the tide (she loses on points) in a bid to get home. And we find out what the boat in the photo above is up to.

‘Annie was built at Hamnavoe on the West coast of the Shetlands in 1910 and was repaired in the winter of 1974 by Magnus Slater, a crofter on Westerwick, while Mr Nigel Irens of Bristol, who was to buy her, looked after the farm.’ Yes, that Nigel Irens, the naval architect. And this is ths story of how a slim Shetland doubel-ender captured his heart and influenced his career.

Built in 1860 at Restronguet on the Fal, in Cornwall, rediscovered on the Stour in Essex, damaged and dilipidated, moved to Beccles, Suffolk, for restoration, thence via Brest to Devon, where her present owner believes she may be the only yawl of her age left in the world... So Cleone has quite a history. CLASSIC SAILOR


Artist of the month Ran Ortner


here’s something serenely powerful about Ran Ortner’s hyper-realistic work. His subject matter is only the sea, in various states of turmoil – frozen in a moment and usually without land or sky. Being a surfer he understands the foreboding nature of the sea and there is an honest reverence in his work that seems almost religious, especially with the triptychs. In fact the 45º compositions could be construed as a “surfer’s eye view”. Like the sea, his work is vast, often stretching 32ft (9.7m) along a wall. It also does what great art should do: allow you to discover something new in it every day.


Above: Ran puts the finishing touches to Deep Water No1 which he completed in 2010. Sometimes the 56-year-old Brooklyn-based artist’s work crosses two walls of a square room. Left and below: oils from his Element series

Profile for Dan Houston

Classic Sailor No5 February 2016  

Classic Sailor No5 February 2016