Category Archives: wooden boat

Abner’s whale, from the Cruise of the Cachalot

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‘We went alone, with barely a hundred fathoms of line, in case he should take it into his head to sound again. The speed at which we went made it appear as if a gale of wind was blowing, and we flew along the sea surface’

Everyone’s heard of Melville’s blockbusting novel Moby Dick – but perhaps fewer know about Frank T Bullen’s real-life description The Cruise of the Cachalot or Round the world after sperm whales.

My copy was published in 1901 and I think it’s a piece of work that brilliantly captures the cruelty, fear, hardships and excitements the whalers must have known while about their ghastly trade. Here’s a short chapter that I hope makes the point – do take time out to read it; I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Abner's whale from the Cruise of the Cachalot Abner's whale from the Cruise of the Cachalot Abner's whale from the Cruise of the Cachalot

Abner's whale from the Cruise of the Cachalot Abner's whale from the Cruise of the Cachalot

Abner's whale from the Cruise of the Cachalot Abner's whale from the Cruise of the Cachalot Abner's whale from the Cruise of the Cachalot

Abner's whale from the Cruise of the Cachalot

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The boats of Hanoi, Vietnam

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Small boats of North Vietnam

Just back from a business trip to Hanoi, my brother Matt Atkin has sent me these photos from the country. He reports that North Vietnam is an astonishing place where goods are still moved using carts and oxen, and from these photos it’s a place where traditional small boats are very much in evidence.

I can’t condone the use of cute children to sell goods – though I guess it’s better than some of the alternatives, even for the kids involved – but what astonishing scenery and boats!

The little craft seem to be woven from slender wooden or bamboo laths and then sealed, I’d guess with pitch. Can anyone confirm this? Also, they’re rowed forward without the aid of any complicated rowing machinery.

This is only a small sample of the photos Matt sent over, so I’ll put some more up in the next few days. Thanks Bruv! (See them here.)

There’s an interesting thread on Vietnamese boats at the Woodenboat Forum and an English language website devoted to the boats of Vietnam here.

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A mystery boat – can anyone identify this old clinker-built dinghy?

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clinker, dinghy, spider T

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A mystery dinghy with a rather nice old-fashioned shape. But what is she, and how old?

Mal Nicholson has sent me these two photos of a boat he has bought, and which he intends to fettle up for use as a tender with the Humber sloop known as Spider T. Read all about her here.

She’ll fit neatly on Spider T’s carling hatches – but what is she? Mal says he has a mast and sails, but there’s no centreboard and there seem to be no identifying marks.

I’d say she was about 16ft in length, or may be a foot or two longer, and that she has a rather nice shape.

By they way, on the 13th and 14th March Mal and friends will be holding an open day from 10am to 4pm at Spider T’s home moorings at Keadby Lock near the A18; she will be open from 10 am to 4 pm on the Saturday and 11 am to 4 pm on the Sunday. If you get along, do mention intheboatshed.net – I gather you might just get a guided tour!