Category Archives: Small boats

The Canoe Yawl, by Richard Powell

The Canoe Yawl: From the Birth of Leisure Sailing to the 21st Century by Richard Powell from publisher Lodestar is great news.

There’s a lot of talk discussion about canoe yawls and a great sense that they are to be admired in the forums and magazines – but why and what’s the story? Probably for a couple of decades I’ve felt that a clear analysis of the type and a description of its history was sorely needed – and now we have it.

Canoe yawls were originally developed from sailing canoes in the late 19th century, in order to allow amateur sailors to sail in the conditions often found on UK’s estuaries and coastline.

Our weather is changeable and, even with modern weather forecasting it is still unpredictable in small boat sailing terms: for example, the wind is often a force stronger than predicted. Many small boat sailors have learned at first hand that shallow estuaries full of channels have strong currents and that as soon as the wind against the tide, the chop may become so fierce that beating to windward becomes nigh-on impossible unless you can creep into shallows. (You need to be an unusual sailor to manage this stuff and it helps to have the time available  to wait for suitable weather – read about Gavin Millar’s sailing canoe round the UK attempt.)

But back to the canoe yawl. What does the type offer? In this book, Albert Strange Association technical secretary Richard argues that the canoe yawl is still the best type for single- or short-handed coastal cruising sailor, and that a revival of interest in recent years underlines his point.

Why? You’ll have to read the chapter ‘Why the canoe yawl‘ for the full story, but in his preface Iain Oughtred says the rig ‘is particularly user friendly; the spars are short, the centre of effort is low, and the rig is quickly and easily shortened down or adjusted according to the conditions. In a sudden hard gust, the boat,  although heeling considerably, will remain balanced on the helm, and will not screw up into the wind in the way a tall bermuda rig is inclined to do… the double-ended hull has a lot to do with its good behaviour… These boats have a comfortable and reassuring quality… ‘

I think most folks would also agree that canoe yawls are usually very attractive little vessels.

For the princely sum of £15, this volume of 160 well illustrated pages is a fascinating read. Read a sample here. Buy it from all good nautical booksellers or directly from publisher Lodestar.

 

 

Black Friday at Manasquan Inlet, 1938

This is terrifying. I haven’t been able to find a report of the outcome, but it’s definitely a warning to watch the weather, folks… I do hope they all survived and recovered.

I have wondered whether trailing drogues or warps have helped but surely they would hamper steering… Have someone on the stern with a sharp, serrated knife? Or would would that be littering?

PS – Nigel – see comments – suggests staying out. I’m just glad our weather forecasts today are rarely wrong by more than a force, at least in my experience.

Howard Rice, off down the Straits of Magellan in a 12ft boat…

Hmmm… Howard Rice is about to sail an 11ft 11in Scamp sailing boat south through the Strait of Magellan from Punta Arenas down to the remote Southwest Islands of Tierra del Fuego…

He’s supposed to be setting off today. Great, good luck to him!

I hope he won’t mind my borrowing some of his photos of the loading process.  He’ll be carrying three months’ food and who knows how much water, along with everything else.

The boat is designed by John Welsford: the main change to the original design that I can see is that he’s got a two-stick rig. Well you would want a very controllable rig going down to pennyweight sails, wouldn’t you?

Howard’s done this before, as his Wikipedia page shows – that time he rounded the Horn in a sailing canoe equipped with a storm sail measuring only 2sqft – this time he’s got a storm sail of 5sqft.

Follow his progress on John’s weblog, on Howard’s weblog,  Howard’s Facebook page, on the  Scamp Sailboat Facebook page and doubtless quite a few other places as well.

Read about Scamp and get plans here.

PSListen to this interview with Howard on Boat Radio.