Category Archives: wooden boat

Sailing to the Longships Lighthouse in a 14ft traditional dinghy

Multiple award winning boatbuilder and designer and all-round interesting bloke Will Stirling is continuing his campaign to visit dramatic lighthouses using a traditional 14ft dinghy built by Stirling and Son - most recently with a trip to the Longships Lighthouse, built on group of rocks a couple of miles west of the notorious point of Land’s End.

With this August’s weather, I think he’s done well to find a window in the weather!

Here’s his story about the expedition:

‘The original plan was to sail from Sennen Cove just North of Land’s End down to the Wolf Lighthouse, back around the Longships Lighthouse and return to Sennen Cove.

‘I set off early from Plymouth to avoid any traffic. On the way down the A30 the windmills were gently turning. From high land the Isles of Scilly and the Wolf were in clear view. Light winds and good visibility augured well.

‘I arrived in good time at Land’s End and twisted my way down the lane into Sennen Cove. The tiny old harbour was very pretty. I backed the dinghy down a very steep granite slipway overlooked by a mighty lifeboat station.

‘Reversing on the sand was easy and the dinghy was soon afloat and anchored off - but driving forward on the sand was not easy and the van soon became bogged down. Two fisherman were watching and no doubt the odd curtain was twitching. I am used to feeling stupid.

‘There was the predictable sucking through teeth about the difficulties of recovering the van and when it would be possible to do so later in the day. No doubt King Cnut sat in his throne on the beach to demonstrate that the tide could not be defied, with a pair of stout thurls on hand to lug the throne up the beach when the old king’s toes started to get wet. I could see that the van would be a little more difficult to recover.

‘However, having played the lead role in many acts of foolishness I am pretty philosophical; things tend to get sorted out.

‘I had some time in hand in relation to the tide, so I prepared the dinghy, hauled the trailer up the beach and bought a parking ticket. By the time I was back the fishermen had rigged a warp around a turning block and back to the harbour-head capstan. We dragged the van up the beach, and with an extra burst of speed managed to claw up the slipway.

‘I didn’t bother to contemplate dinghy recovery at this stage, but gave the kind fishermen my thanks and some chocolate and set off.

‘Soon afterwards, I returned having realised I had forgotten the VHF and then pulled the zip off the drysuit. The zip was unrepairable but the VHF was now on board.

‘The trip was still within the tidal constraints for doubling the Wolf; however, the wind was very light and I began to doubt that I would reach the Wolf before the tide turned. I decided to sail to the Longship’s first and see if the wind would fill in away from the land or come up as time passed.

‘I sailed just South of the Shark’s Fin, a nasty rock to the North of the Longships, and despite the calm weather there were tidal overfalls. Strangely, the wind seemed to increase in each of the overfalls as the dinghy sailed through them quite fast.

‘Turning South and to seaward of the Longships I could see an alarming line of broken water to the West, indicating further overfalls. As the tide was pushing East, I had to hope I wouldn’t be sucked into them.

‘When I successfully got to the Longships, it seemed calm enough to consider a landing. I sailed among the rocks to the south of the lighthouse and anchored in a little cove where there were seals.

‘The dry suit was broken so I swam five metres to the shore in underpants and took some photos – very aware that if the main sheet did wind itself around the tiller and become jammed, trip the anchor and sail the dinghy out of the cove, massive embarrassment awaited. I didn’t waste any time ashore and took care to ensure I was always within a few seconds of regaining the dinghy.

‘In the second trip ashore to a small off lying rock the dinghy began to drag. I quickly clambered back aboard and sailed into deeper water away from the rocks before sorting everything out on board.

‘It was now 1130 with one hour until the tidal gate for arriving at the Wolf, which was 8 miles away to the South. The wind itself was now a steady F3 from the N. Ideal conditions for getting to the Wolf; not good conditions for getting back, particularly if the wind increased. I decided that it was not wise to attempt the Wolf with only an hour of tide, adverse wind for the return journey and a broken dry suit which made me vulnerable to offshore capsize. I was already quite cold after my swim.

‘I sailed back towards Sennen, through the overfalls just North of Kettle Rock and into the little harbour.

‘Charles Bush (the director of Mayflower Marina which is right next to our yard in Plymouth) happened to be standing on the beach with his family. He had been out catching turbot for supper.

‘With a bit of Norwegian steam we dragged the dinghy up the beach and hitched her onto the van at the very bottom of the granite slipway. Charles’ family pushed, his son sat on the bonnet to give the wheels traction and with much revving the whole rig reached the tarmac at the top of the slip. One cream tea later at the Bush’s cottage over looking the cove and some local advice about a better launching spot for the next Wolf attempt concluded a very pleasant Longship’s circumnavigation.

‘Best wishes, Will’

Stirling and Son offers traditional yacht building and wooden boat repair and is based at the historic No 1 Covered Slip at Devonport. Also, follow the Stirling and Son Facebook page for news, some wonderful boats and great photos.

 

Howard Chappelle 23ft 8in Tabloid cruising boat from the book Boat Building

These photos are of an example of the 23ft 8in Tabloid cruiser designed by Howard Irving Chappelle and included in his classic Boat Building: A Complete Handbook of Wooden Boat Construction.

They were sent over by Ronald Glen, who with his brother Peter built the boat at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, in 2004 . He reports that the Sydney Museum has shown interest in her, as well as an American museum looking for Chappelle-designed boats for a planned centenary exhibition.

If you’ve read Chappelle’s book, you’ll know this design, which I would think owes something to New England lobster boats and Hampton boats of the past.

Thanks for the photos Ronald!

To see an earlier post of photographs sent by Randal Cooper of Goolwa Masts, Australia, of another boat built to these plans, click here.

Are any examples of these boats to be found in the USA? Or of the intriguing ketch Southwind?

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.

Uffa Fox designed Flying 30 Huff of Arklow relaunch in September

Huff of Arklow

The latest Shipshape Network newsletter brings happy news that the restoration of the Uffa Fox designed Flying 30, Huff of Arklow, is progressing rapidly and is to be relaunched on the 7th September.

An enlarged version of Fox’s wonderfully elegant Flying 15 design, Huff was was built in 1951 in Arklow by John Tyrrell & Sons (see list of Tyrell-built craft) for the well known yachtsman Douglas Heard. She’s an important boat in several ways – she was the first masthead rigged sloop designed to plane and the first ocean-going yacht designed to plane. And she is fast, certainly – she recorded a speed of 23 knots on a trip to Iceland in 1960.

Read about Huff of Arklow and her restoration here and here. Oh, and there are a Facebook page and a Twitter account to follow too!

PS – Martha’s Vineyard sailor and boat surveyor Ginny Jones wrote to tell me about this YouTube video about Huff, complete with Uffa Fox singing a stage sea song, some modern pop stuff with photos of kid’s and their models of Huff, and finally photos of her pre-restoration interior, with someone (I don’t know who) singing a proper sea song, the Sailor’s ABC.

Will Stirling sails a Stirling 14ft dinghy to Godrevy Lighthouse

Multiple award winning boatbuilder and all-round interesting bloke Will Stirling recently sailed a traditionally built 14ft dinghy of his own design and building out to Godrevy Lighthouse.

As usual with Will, he found some photogenic scenes to capture along the way as the gallery above shows… Here’s what he says about the trip:

‘Having woken up at 3am on Saturday morning, driven for two hours to Hartland Quay and then aborted an attempt on Lundy Island’s two lighthouses due to bad weather, I was keen to salvage time by circumnavgating at least one lighthouse before the weekend was out.

‘For the rest of Saturday I planned a trip around Godrevy Lighthouse near St Ives, Cornwall.

‘Surprisingly it was very hard to find anywhere to launch on the North Western coast of Cornwall. During an afternoon of phone calls and refusals of permission to launch I was directed to the Carbis Bay Hotel, five miles to the West of Godrevy, who very kindly let me launch on their private beach near St Ives, and also waived their car park fee.

‘I planned to either return to Carbis Bay or land at Portreath five miles to the East of Godrevy.

‘Following another early start I was afloat by 0800 on a beautiful beach with crystal clear water. The course was NE to Godrevy; the wind NW F2. I set off across St Ives Bay. One particular surprise during this part of the trip was being able to stand on the foredeck for over 5 minutes whilst the dinghy maintained her NE course. (The sail shaded me from the sun when I was seated at the tiller and I had got wet launching the dinghy, so a few moments in the warm sun were very appealing.)

‘In order to go around the lighthouse I rowed between the two large rocks to the North of Godrevy and then dropped anchor on the South side of the bigger island. With my dry suit on I got myself ashore, strectched my legs and took some photos.

‘Having regained the dinghy I sailed along the cliff-bound Cornish coast to Portreath. The scenery was magnificent.

‘Portreath beach has a wonderful little harbour tucked into the cliffs which used to be full of sailing ships unlaoding Welsh coal for the mining engines and loading copper ore from the mines. It was too awkward to recover the dinghy from the harbour so I anchored beyond the surf and swam ashore to meet Sara and the kids for a day on the beach.

‘At the end of the day Sara gave me a lift to Carbis Bay to get the trailer. Having driven back to Portreath, I backed the dinghy through the surf and floated her onto the trailer. The RNLI had a 4×4 on the beach and they kindly towed the dinghy up to the roadside.’

There. See what a chap can do with the right boat! Many thanks Will!

Nick Smith Clovelly picarooner hull for sale

West Country boatbuilder Nick Smith tells me that this carvel-built Clovelly picarooner hull constructed last year is for sale. Here’s the story from Nick:

‘I planked and framed this carvel hull a year ago, for a customer who changed his mind. It’s 3/4 inch Douglas fir on New Forest oak, and all copper fastened of course.

I took the sections and dimensions off an existing Clovelly picarooner, name and builder unknown. But she was a sweet shape and fair too. I had thought I would have to loft the hull fully, but on looking at the body sections I took off the old hull and the fairness of the original I realised it wasn’t necessary - she was built fair and hadn’t gone out of shape either.

That was born out when I turned the hull down side up, and found I did not need to ‘scuff off’ the planking.

I used a traditional belt sander sparingly then went all over with an orbital sander and 80 grit - there was no need to longboard it to fair it, which was very pleasing.

The original picarooners were, as I understand it, lost ship’s boats that arrived here with the Spanish square-rigged ships of the Armada. That fleet was chased around the unhospitable British coastline, anticlockwise, and most foundering on unknown rocks with an onshore blow.

Some got as far as the North Devon coast only to be wrecked and their tenders washed up near Clovelly, the locals of course picked them up, used and found them to be quick under lugs’l and used them to catch the silver darlings (herring), and quick to sail back to port loaded to the risers in fish, ready to be unloaded and quickly sailed back out.

Picarooner, as far as I can ascertain, is a corruption of a Spanish word meaning ‘sea chaser’ or ‘sea robber’.

The inside of the hull had three coats of marine grey primer, and the outside ditto under the waterline, while the topsides are up to two coats of the undercoat stage.

I would give the topsides two coats of enamel for launch, use her for a season then sand and recoat. Needs to settle in.

The hull is perfect for a 10 to 15hp diesel inboard, tiller steering, three athwartship seats and basic fit out. It could even carry a loose-footed tan lugs’l too !

The hull is heavily built, stable and suitable for fishing, picknicking and general messing about.

If you are interested in buying the hull please ring me and ask, and even come and have a look and a yarn, the boat is under a tarp at my workshop, which is near Ringwood Dorset.

If you’re interested in the boat, Nick’s can be reached on  07827644223, or via the email address on his website.