Category Archives: History

Uffa Fox designed Flying 30 Huff of Arklow relaunch in September

Huff of Arklow

The latest Shipshape Network newsletter brings happy news that the restoration of the Uffa Fox designed Flying 30, Huff of Arklow, is progressing rapidly and is to be relaunched on the 7th September.

An enlarged version of Fox’s wonderfully elegant Flying 15 design, Huff was was built in 1951 in Arklow by John Tyrrell & Sons (see list of Tyrell-built craft) for the well known yachtsman Douglas Heard. She’s an important boat in several ways – she was the first masthead rigged sloop designed to plane and the first ocean-going yacht designed to plane. And she is fast, certainly – she recorded a speed of 23 knots on a trip to Iceland in 1960.

Read about Huff of Arklow and her restoration here and here. Oh, and there are a Facebook page and a Twitter account to follow too!

PS – Martha’s Vineyard sailor and boat surveyor Ginny Jones wrote to tell me about this YouTube video about Huff, complete with Uffa Fox singing a stage sea song, some modern pop stuff with photos of kid’s and their models of Huff, and finally photos of her pre-restoration interior, with someone (I don’t know who) singing a proper sea song, the Sailor’s ABC.

Nick Smith Clovelly picarooner hull for sale

West Country boatbuilder Nick Smith tells me that this carvel-built Clovelly picarooner hull constructed last year is for sale. Here’s the story from Nick:

‘I planked and framed this carvel hull a year ago, for a customer who changed his mind. It’s 3/4 inch Douglas fir on New Forest oak, and all copper fastened of course.

I took the sections and dimensions off an existing Clovelly picarooner, name and builder unknown. But she was a sweet shape and fair too. I had thought I would have to loft the hull fully, but on looking at the body sections I took off the old hull and the fairness of the original I realised it wasn’t necessary - she was built fair and hadn’t gone out of shape either.

That was born out when I turned the hull down side up, and found I did not need to ‘scuff off’ the planking.

I used a traditional belt sander sparingly then went all over with an orbital sander and 80 grit - there was no need to longboard it to fair it, which was very pleasing.

The original picarooners were, as I understand it, lost ship’s boats that arrived here with the Spanish square-rigged ships of the Armada. That fleet was chased around the unhospitable British coastline, anticlockwise, and most foundering on unknown rocks with an onshore blow.

Some got as far as the North Devon coast only to be wrecked and their tenders washed up near Clovelly, the locals of course picked them up, used and found them to be quick under lugs’l and used them to catch the silver darlings (herring), and quick to sail back to port loaded to the risers in fish, ready to be unloaded and quickly sailed back out.

Picarooner, as far as I can ascertain, is a corruption of a Spanish word meaning ‘sea chaser’ or ‘sea robber’.

The inside of the hull had three coats of marine grey primer, and the outside ditto under the waterline, while the topsides are up to two coats of the undercoat stage.

I would give the topsides two coats of enamel for launch, use her for a season then sand and recoat. Needs to settle in.

The hull is perfect for a 10 to 15hp diesel inboard, tiller steering, three athwartship seats and basic fit out. It could even carry a loose-footed tan lugs’l too !

The hull is heavily built, stable and suitable for fishing, picknicking and general messing about.

If you are interested in buying the hull please ring me and ask, and even come and have a look and a yarn, the boat is under a tarp at my workshop, which is near Ringwood Dorset.

If you’re interested in the boat, Nick’s can be reached on  07827644223, or via the email address on his website.

A film history of Thames Estuary gravel carriers Prior’s

This is a beautifully made film history of Prior’s – their small gravel-carrying ships are a familiar sight for anyone sailing the north side of the Thames Estuary.

My thanks to Paul Mullings for the link.

Here’s a photo of one of Prior’s vessels that I took earlier this year.

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Two sea shanties for singing sailors

Two proper sea shanties that are highly suitable for the singing sailor.

I gather ‘noggin’ was a very rude word a century or two back but seems remarkably harmless now… And for that I guess we can thank Oliver Postgate, creator of the cartoon character Noggin the Nog.

PS – And here’s a forebitter about a common sailor’s fantasy – the young woman who dresses as a boy and goes to sea.

Square rigged sailing ship Peking rounds Cape Horn

Here’s some classic footage of the square rigger Peking rounding Cape Horn – and some other bits and pieces. My thanks to regular reader Martin O’Scannall for sending this link over.

By the way – this YouTube is really rather poor and I’m told by regular reader Chris Brady that the Mystic Seaport Museum has a much better version on sale on DVD.

Ruel Parker writes about the Chesapeake Bay brogans

Brogan lines

I hadn’t heard about the log-built Chesapeake Bay brogan before, but I’m very struck by their beautiful lines and proportions. Of course I realise that the low sheerline isn’t there to make the boat attractive but to enable the oyster fishermen to reach the water to do their work, but still…

Read all about them in traditional boat author, historian, designer and boatbuilder Reuel Parker’s article on the Woodenboat magazine website. Here’s a sample:

‘I learned about brogans from MV Brewerton’s excellent book Chesapeake Bay Log Canoes and Bugeyes. While bugeyes were large—up to 80? on deck — the brogans were small — around 30? to 35? on deck. I wanted to design a modern version of the brogan—adapted for cold-molded construction for shoal-draft cruising — but didn’t get around to doing it until December of 2011.

Brogans were double-ended, beamy, of moderate displacement, and shoal-bodied with centerboards. They carried free-standing masts, very raked, with the mizzen raked markedly more than the main.

‘The only lines drawing I have ever found for a brogan came from Brewerton’s book (shown below). They show a very lovely, nearly symmetrical, easily-driven double-ended hull of excellent proportions.’

The story of Ralph Munroe and the sharpie Egret

Chappelle Egret drawing

A nice telling of the story of legendary boat designer ‘Commodore’ Ralph Munroe, his boat building and designing, his role in introducing the sharpie to Florida and the legendary Egret by Paul Austin appeared a few days ago on the excellent Duckworksmagazine website.

It’s a story with lots of interesting elements. Munroe’s life included great adventures and terrible tragedies, and then there’s his famous Egret – a very successful flat-bottomed boat that Munroe designed after having success with a series of round-bottomed sharpie-derived boats he called ‘Presto sharpies‘, which to my eyes appear to have been about 100 years ahead of their time.

Here’s a short quotation:

‘In 1886 Munroe designed his famous Egret, a 28 foot double-ended sharpie… Egret was flat-bottomed, after Munroe had made his money with round-bilged presto sharpies.

‘With few roads in and around Miami, Munroe and Egret was busy. She had a reputation for being fast and seaworthy, running breakers, sliding among the shallow inlets, gliding up to low wood docks.’

The Egret remains a puzzle, however – there are no lines drawings, and photos of what is supposed to have been a half-model of her hull is said not to resemble photographs of the boat recognised as the Egret.

I think of the Egret legend as having something of the power of the story of Delta blues musician Robert Johnson – both are said to have been revolutionary, and both have been copied and revived by modern practitioners (the illustration above is Howard Chappelle’s version). We have photos of Egret and recordings of Johnson (and a single known photo) – but both are shrouded in tantalising mystery.

See Paul Austin’s account appeared a few days ago on the excellent here.