Category Archives: Restoration and repair

Historic schooner Lettie G Howard sailing off Stamford

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1893 schooner Lettie G Howard sailing a few days ago,
photos by Peter Vanderwaart

I’ve owed a debt of gratitude to Peter Vanderwaart for some time. He’s the gentleman who took over the Yahoogroup boatdesign when my own commitments and family troubles grew too great for me to continue as moderator. That was quite a few years ago, but I’m glad to say that the Yahoogroup continues, and that I often dip in to find out what’s going on, even if I don’t often have much to contribute.

Anyway, I was pleased to hear from him the other day, not least because he’d obviously been looking at ‘Do you like pics of American old-timers?’ he asked.

‘Absolutely I do,’ I replied. And then he sent me a series of photos he’d taken of a schooner he’d spotted while sailing. The Lettie G Howard belongs to New York’s South Street Seaport Museum, and you can read about her here and here.

‘To fill in the background, we were out daysailing and saw the vessel several miles to the east, off Norwalk. She seemed to be beating against the breeze as best she could, and by and by, she got up to where we were off Stamford. We were sailing reefed, and she was standing up straight with all her canvas flying. (My boat is not too stiff, certainly by UK standards. I would guess we were seeing 12 knots. Not much more.) There was another sloop about our size – an old 1/2 tonner, I think – and she looked like a handful with full sail.’

In the first photo, the schooner is three to five miles away, he says. ‘The picture is notable for two things. First, it’s a pretty remarkable picture to come from an ordinary camera that slips in your picket, given the long telephoto and that it was taken from a moving platform. Second, the “mirage” effects are pretty interesting, and show that the water was warmer than the air, although the temp was in the 60s F.’

Peter’s photos of the schooner can be seen online at Flickr.

Thanks Peter!

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The story of Collar’s, the Whitstable boatyard

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Gamecock, built at Collar’s boatyard, Whitstable, in 1907. I took these
photos in Faversham Creek last weekend from the decks of Dorma, a
1923 Hillyard – thanks for the trip Steve!

I was charmed this week to find the story of Collar’s boatyard told by the Simply Whitstable website.

The yard remained for many years in he same family, and among their famous smacks are Rose and Ada, Gamecock and Emeline.

Simply Whitstable also has sections on sailing barges and on the town’s fishing industry, including material about the famous local oyster beds, spratting, whelking, various rescues – and tales of old boats.

For more on smacks generally, see the Sailing Smacks website and the Wikipedia.

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Racing pilot gigs, a chapel and other nice things at the little fishing village of Cadgwith

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Pilot gigs at Cadgwith – as usual, click on the
thumbnails for much bigger photos

There’s something very sweetly charming about the tiny Cornish cove village of Cadgwith, and the Cadgwith Pilot Gig Club’s kind invitation to look at their boats is entirely in keeping with the pleasant tenor of the place.

They’re saving up to pay for a new gig, however, as their boats are apparently having trouble keeping up with the leaders in races! Please contribute, if you can. The photo below explains the problem:

Cadgwith Pilot Gig Club needs your dosh!

Cadgwith beach, fishermen’s chapel, and
an unexplained plaque

The beach and its fishing boats surrounded by granite buildings and jagged schist rocks are unforgettable, as is the romantic little fishermen’s chapel.

And what about that plaque? I don’t know who these people were but I notice that the club has a boat named after Buller.

No doubt that wall could tell some stories. Presumably no-one sings now, as people hardly sing in public anywhere now unless they’ve got a geetar and a public address system – but what kind of progress is that anyway? And have you noticed that whistling has died out? Can you remember hearing someone whistle in the acrobatic way the old boys used to do when we were all kids?

It must be time for some songs again soon…

If you’re going to Cornwall you may need this: The Rough Guide to Cornwall