Category Archives: Rowing boat

Bantry Bay yoles and the Atlantic Challenge

ATLANTIC CHALLENGE TEASER from Betel Studio on Vimeo.

Thanks to legendary boat designer François Vivier for spotting this one!

Every two year Atlantic Challenge International sponsors a friendly contest of seamanship in Bantry Bay gigs. They are held in a different host country each time. The events began in 1986, when gigs from France and the USA competed under the Statue of Liberty – now 12 nations and involved and 55 Bantry Bay gigs have been built worldwide.

The gigs are wooden replicas of late 18th century longboats, and are modelled after an existing original gig left behind in Bantry Bay Ireland by the invading French fleet of 1796,. The boats are said to have exhilarating performance.

Read more here: Atlanticchallenge.org.

First time boatbuilder Andrew Bartlett builds a John Milgate Duck Punt

Down on our South Coast, Andrew Bartlett has built a Duck Punt to designer John Milgate’s plans, and is delighted with it! Here’s what he says – and there’s also a short video at the bottom of this post.

I find myself very drawn to these little boats, not least because they appeal to my sense that boating and sailing should be made affordable and available to all. However, I do worry that you often seen them without buoyancy bags or built-in buoyancy, and I fear for the lone Duck Punt sailor who gets into trouble. On the other hand, these boats happily sail in water that even a small person could happily stand up in. Wear your buoyancy aids and stay safe folks…

Anyway, following that moment of worry, here’s what Andrew has to say:

‘During the dark winter months I was viewing some of my favourite sailing websites and forums, was much taken with Dylan Winter’s description of his Duck Punt build and the pleasure he derived from sailing it. I found his enthusiasm persuasive even to the extent of building one myself while having no confidence at all in my competence to do so.

‘I watched the videos and blogs of Dylan Winter, Rusty Knorr and Stan Richards through Gavin Atkin’s fine website Intheboatshed. I referred also to the latter’s helpful book Ultrasimple Boatbuilding. I also received very helpful advice from John Milgate whose plans and building tips proved invaluable.

‘My build wasn’t a light one. It needs two able people to lift it. I decided to follow the more traditional (but heavier) method of building because I would be using it in the creeks of Chichester Harbour, which has soft landfalls but also some sharp flint stony ones, which I felt could damage a lighter build.

‘I do however appreciate the benefits of a lighter build so I am keeping the jig and frames in case I ever feel the urge to make one.

‘I used 9mm exterior plywood for the bottom and 5mm for the topsides and included a second topside as per the plans but the second topside plank was also 9mm. I used some mahogany recycled from an old chest of drawers at the bow and the actual pattern of the bow and stern was the best I could manage according to my meagre skills as best I could.

‘I am thrilled at producing a craft that is watertight and appears to row, paddle and sail rather well. I am still in the early stages of getting used to sailing using an oar rather than a rudder.

‘I have called the boat DP2, as I found an abandoned duck punt in the mud in Chichester Harbour when I was 16 and had a lot of fun with it, before it ended up as a drinking trough on my family’s farm.’

John Milgate’s plans are available from Dylan Winter’s Keep Turning Left website.

PS – In the last couple of weeks Dylan (mentioned above) has enjoyed and endured the best and worst sails of his life… read his weblog here.

Fabian Bush builds a François Vivier Aber dinghy

I’ve just remembered that I haven’t yet shared these photos to share of Lodestar publisher Richard Wynne’s new sail and oar dinghy – so here they are.

It’s an example of the very appealing François Vivier-designed Aber built for Richard at Rowhedge  by Fabian Bush, who showed it at the Beale Park show last month.

Naturally, there was a bit of a party in and around Fabian’s yard on when she emerged into the light. Richard’s delighted with the boat I gather – that day he and Fabian took the little boat for a sail out past Mersea, and found that it both sails and rows like a dream. (It has two rowing positions.)

It’s striking to think that François designed this elegant and well developed looking boat as long ago as 1985.

There are more photos of examples of Abers built around the world here.

Row St Kilda has started

Row St Kilda crew practising

Great good luck you lot! The row St Kilda crew practising

They’ve set off - the 100-mile fund-raising row from Village bay St Kilda to Portree on the Isle of Skye in an open rowing boat built around 1890 began earlier today.

The rowers are raising funds for the RNLI and Skye & Lochalsh Young Carers. The link for donations is here; their website is here, the BBC has a story here, and track their progress here.

I wonder whether they’ll do it all again next year?

Restored 1841 whaler Charles W Morgan makes her first trip in over 70 years

Maine-built 1841 whaling ship Charles W Morgan has been towed down river from Mystic Seaport, where she has been kept since 1941, to New London. Read all about her story and find many more photos here.

Happily over the last five years she has been restored at Mystic’s Henry B. du Pont Preservation Shipyard.

At New London she will be ballasted and tested for stability, and her sails will be bent. The photo above shows her crew throwing heaving lines as the ship tied up – the davits all round her will shortly bear her magnificent new whaleboats.

She’s about to set out on her 38th voyage, which will take place this summer in company of two tugs provided by Tisbury Towing of Martha’s Vineyard and the Seaport Museum’s eastern-rigged dragger Roann.

I saw the Charles W Morgan at Mystic many years ago and wondered what her future might be. This seems like a great result - and makes me wonder how it would be if we in the UK got around to building a new clipper. Now wouldn’t that be something…

PS – And how about a string of new small workshops and yards around our coast building and maintaining boat types local to their areas using traditional methods, teaching people to sail them and training youngsters while they are at it? The Faversham Creek Trust seems to me to be an excellent example of what could be done much more widely, and they’re not the only ones. Think of Rescue Wooden Boats… In the past with only a few teaching establishments, they haven’t always had that local focus.

It may be controversial to say so, but I do feel that – sailing barges aside – sailing the larger traditional boats is only open to folks who can afford to keep them and the friends they invite to help sail them - it seems like a closed kind of club, and in the long term I worry that situation will not help in keeping the boats going…

Bicentenary of Napoleon’s arrival at Elba – restaged using Peter Radclyffe boat

Napoleon arrives at Elba 2014

Yesterday the folks of Elba marked the day two centuries ago when Napoleon landed on the island to live in exile – and used boatbuilder and designer Peter Radclyffe’s newly built 6m gozzo La Grace for the purpose.

She’s a little high on her lines as she’s waiting for an engine and other things to be installed.

The local newspaper has stories and great photos here and here, and put up the YouTube video above. The pomp and style seems entirely in keeping, and I love the hats…

Peter’s Facebook page has photos of the boat, including these:

La Grace Gozzo La Grace 3  Gozzo La Grace 4

National Historic Ships annual photographic competition 2014

Once again, National Historic Ships UK is running its annual photography competition for this year, and offering a range of equipment and cash prizes to be won.

There are categories for all ages, including one for young photographers under 18.

Entries must be in by the 31 August – the collection above represent some of the judges’ favourites submitted so far this month.

To enter in any of the competition categories, fill in an online entry form and upload your images to the National Historic Ships UK competition webpage at www.nationalhistoricships.org.uk.

There are rules and so on to check on the site also, as well as a handy web gizmo to enable photographers to identify historic ships that local to them and which might provide suitable subjects. (I think non-photographers will find that interesting too!)

Still more, the site has a set of tips for photographers working with marine topics – and one of them says that you deon’t have to have a special camera and that you’re more likely to have a small camera with you when the moment arises. So I guess my little Panasonic will do.

By the way, I’m not a judge but I’m going off the very processed multi-exposure shots we’ve seen so often in recent years, and – bravo! – I’m delighted to see that the judges’ favourites submitted so far during April don’t fall into that category.

PS – The Marsh Awards for volunteers - National Historic Ships is also calling for nominations of volunteers for the Marsh awards, which recognise those who have made a significant contribution to the conservation or operation of historic vessels in the UK.

There is an overall prize of £1,000 to be won for the Marsh Volunteer Award, and £500 for the young volunteer of the year, which is available to nominees aged 25 or under. Both prizes are donated by the Marsh Christian Trust.

Both awards will be presented at our National Historic Ships UK Awards Ceremony, being held in October on HQS Wellington.

Last year’s winners included James Dulson and George Collinson, who have volunteered for a number of years at the Merseyside Maritime Museum, Liverpool, helping to conserve historic vessels including Edmund Gardner, and Isabelle Law who has volunteered as crew on the ferry Glenachulish for the past five years despite having only recently turned 16 years old.

The closing date for nomination is 31 August. Read what to do and about the Marsh awards here.