Category Archives: Sailing boat

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.

Veler El•La’s sailing Ella skiff starts her summer adventure for 2014

Veler El•la is a community  group on Facebook based in Barcelona who built an example of the sailing version of of my Ella skiffs, and now sail it in stages along the coast of Taragonna. This week they even called for folks to put their hand up to sail her for a day – hopefully I got that right as I don’t speak that language and we can’t trust the online translators!

Here are some photos of what I take to be the first leg of this year’s voyage, mixed in with some great harbour shots from her launch last year. Thanks for the photos folks!

Michael Maloney’s film: The Apprentice – Making Life Work

Faversham film-maker Michael Maloney is passionate about the value of apprenticeships to young people, and believes they are vital to the economic and social future of Britain.

He points out that about a million of our young people are currently unemployed – a point that which contrasts sharply with the some of the claims we hear about the healthy state of our economy.

I particularly like the quotation from Griff Rhys-Jones visit to Faversham Creek Trust’s apprenticeships project at the Purifier Building in Faversham last year: ‘The reward is in what you do.

(It had better be – in the same short speech he also revealed that the boat cost him £70 to buy, that he had spent a further £500,000 on her over the next ten years – and that on putting it on the market more recently had been offered how much? You’ve guessed it – £70,000.)

This Youtube is a trailer for a longer and more in-depth film that Michael is making on the subject of apprenticeships.

Read more about Michael’s project here: http://www.cwideprods.co.uk/the-apprentice/

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.

Chesapeake Bay log canoe sailing on video

Mighty stuff filmed by Seth Jones – just look at the huge rigs on those slender Chesapeake Bay log canoe hulls, the youngest of which are still old boats in anyone’s terms.

And the choice of music is so much preferable to the techy-synthy-guitary rock so often used to accompany these things. Surely old boats deserve something at least a little apt? Here we have a graceful old boat treated to a little graceful old music…

Watermen – oyster dredging and racing on the Chesapeake in the 1960s

Watermen racing and fishing on the Chesapeake Bay

‘In 1965, on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, there was the last operating fleet of sailing work boats in the United States. Forty-odd “Skipjacks” were still used by Maryland watermen to dredge up oysters from the Bay. At that time, the fleet had survived because of a Maryland conservation law which prohibits the use of motor power for oyster dredging. The watermen traditionally marked the opening of each oystering season with a skipjack race which the Maryland State Tourist Board incorporated into its annual “Chesapeake Bay Appreciation Day”.’

Read about skipjacks here and oystering on the Chesapeake here and here.

Documentary film: Marshallese Sailing Canoes Today

Wa Kuk Wa Jimor – Marshallese Canoes Today from Rachel Miller on Vimeo.

My thanks to excellent boat designer and small boat sailor Michael Storer for passing on the link to this film about these wonderful Marshallese sailing canoes. I gather the making of the film was part-funded Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities.