‘There is a tremendous satisfaction to be had from boating, and many possible ways of going afloat, canoeing offers something special in adventure and romance and particularly the satisfaction of being skipper of your own craft. That often misquoted bit by Water Rat about there being nothing half as much fun as simply messing about in boats is perfectly true, but there is even greater fun to be had out of messing about in a boat you have built yourself.’ – Percy Blandford, Canoes and Canoeing, published in 1962
Percy Blandford, the legendary designer of boats and canoes for home building and prolific author on huge range of workshop-related topics is 100 today. Happy birthday Mr Blandford!
Percy Blandford has been living in quiet retirement for some years, but that doesn’t mean he’s forgotten. Amazon has many of his books on sale - he is said to have written more than 100, including many on building and using boats, including his PBK series canvas-covered canoes, various sailing dinghies and small outboard boats, and the Lysander trailer-sailer.
Plugging his name into Google reveals armfuls of recent references on forums, many photos of his boats and a few of the man himself, a site dedicated to canvas canoes that opens with the quotation above, and weblogs detailing the building of his boats. Weblogger Bill Serjeant has a few words to add here and here.
Mr Blandford also seems to be a favourite subject of his local newspaper, the Stratford Herald, and there’s even a Percy Blandford Facebook group.
I should also mention that the Lysander has its own Lysander Owners Association.
Quite a few of the Blandford plans are still available from Clark Craft in the USA – although they may be a little difficult to identify.
The National Maritime Museum Cornwall also has a page about the great man.
If anyone has memories and photos of their Percy Blandford boat building projects and their experiences with the boats that they’d like to share via this website, please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll also make sure they get passed on to Mr Blandford via the family.
PS – I’d just like to convey a couple of messages from my online friends:
- ‘Wonderful! When I was 14 and took part in a Sea Scout cruise from Discovery to France we had two Lysanders in the flotilla ..they performed the task with ease and were a good match to the 20ft GRP sailing gigs that were abundant at that time.’
- ‘What an inspiration that man has been to generations of us – I’m still building kayaks to his designs. I wonder if the boating mags will be running tributes? Shame on them if they don’t!’