Category Archives: Rowing boat

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.

 

Sailing and rowing the North West Passage in an open boat

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I’m dumbstruck. Richard Wynne of Lodestar Books got in touch this morning to tell me about his latest offering, Blokes Up North - a book by two Royal Marines who sailed and rowed a Norseboat through the North West Passage. See a sample at the Lodestar website.

That’s the same elusive North West Passage between the empty wastes of the North American continent and the North Pole that claimed so many explorer’s lives and ships in the 18th and 19th centuries. Global warming has made it much more passable now, and modern navigation technology has made it infinitely easier to find… But sailing and rowing the North West Passage in an open boat still seems like madness, even if it is of a special kind.

Here’s what Richard has to say about it:

Blokes Up North

Through the Heart of the Northwest Passage by Sail and Oar
Kev Oliver and Tony Lancashire

In a post-exploration world, two relatively ordinary blokes, serving Royal Marines, decided they wanted an extraordinary 21st century adventure. In this refreshingly honest account they re-live the highs and lows of sailing and rowing a tiny open boat, completely unsupported, through one of the most iconic wilderness waterways on the planet—the Northwest Passage across the top of Canada.

They describe battling with an Arctic storm miles from land and being caught in the worst sea ice for more than a decade. At one point they are forced to drag Arctic Mariner, their seventeen-foot boat, across ten miles of broken pack ice to reach open water.

Their story is enriched by the Inuit people and the incredible wildlife they met along the way, including all-too-close encounters with both grizzly and polar bears. And they relate with honesty how the isolation and stresses of the high Arctic shaped the bond between their two very different personalities.

This is neither an exposé of global warming, nor a detailed study of Inuit culture. It is not particularly long on the historical quest for the Northwest Passage. It is quite simply the tale of two blokes, up north.

And here’s what Sir Robin Knox-Johnston has to say:

… this expedition was to try something extremely difficult, perhaps not possible, but if we always flinched from attempting the difficult things in life then humans would never have progressed … we are living in an increasingly risk-averse society, but risk is what makes the adrenalin flow, brings spice into our lives and shows others that risks are part of living. Far from being discouraged it should be supported.

Rescue Wooden Boats folks continue boat restoration, organise fishing family meet and build their archives

1940 RNLI lifeboat Lucy Lavers

The folks at Norfolk’s Rescue Wooden Boats are doing wonderful work for their area – and there’s no doubt that that there should be organisations like this right round our coast.

Ther’s a real vision here. Can we have a similar organisation for North Kent please?

From Rescue Wooden Boats’ newsletter and website I learn:

  • that they’re making grand progress on restoring the RNLI lifeboat boat Lucy Lavers (see the photo above) – she was built just in time to take part in the Operation Dynamo evacuation of Dunkirk, and is now receiving tender loving care with the aid of a Lottery grant
  • they’ve invited fishing families from along the coast from Kings Lynn to Yarmouth to an open day at the Rescue Wooden Boats Visitor Centre to meet old friends, and see the centre’s work including the boatbuilding and restoration work going on in the boatyard. That must have been a great day
  • and they’re continuing to add to Rescue Wooden Boats’ collection of photos and films. These are real gems – I’ve posted about the films before, but the photos are also well worth the time it takes to click through to see them