web analytics

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…

Pretty little traditionally built yacht free to a good home

Jennie of Paglesham 1 Jennie of Paglesham 2

I’ve posted about this boat before – but this boat is now offered free to a good home. I do hope she finds one soon!

Pretty little gaff cutter for sale! Owner Rhodri Williams says she needs quite a lot of attention but is basically sound, although he has neither time nor energy to do the work required. He says he would be delighted and able to advise and help from a distance…

Jennie of Paglesham was built by Frank Shuttlewood in 1946/7 from the bones of his grandfather’s 1885 clinker-built boat Jennie. An article about Jennie by the late Maurice Griffiths appeared in YM April 1948 (see links below).

She is a gaff-rigged cutter measuring 24ft 6in by 8ft 3in by 4ft, she comes fully equipped including new standing rigging.

Jennie of Paglesham is currently ashore at Gosport where viewing may be arranged. Contact Rhodri Williams by email at rhodriyorathwilliams@btinternet.com for details.

Read what old Mr Griffiths had to say about her here: The Other Man’s Boat

My thanks to Fowey boat builder Marcus Lewis for passing this enquiry on.

Tod Kerr dips his small Cinderella open canoe built from free plans

Tod Kerr hadn’t quite finished building his Cinderella canoe when he put it in the water for the first time – but he seems pretty pleased with it. Take a look at his weblog account to see what he has to say.

Free plans are available from this page.

The Cinderella is an unconventional stitch and glue design that’s very easy and quick to build using a method that works at this small size – there are no real frames or a proper strongback, just (using the plans in Ultrasimple Boatbuilding) three T-shaped temporary frames – though the boat can also be built using just one T, as outlined in the online plans.

Tod went with the book as you’ll see from his photos, has clearly done a good job (well done Tod!) and reports that Cinderella is ‘really light, very maneuverable, easy to paddle and fast’. 

With these characteristics she’s also tippier than larger commercial open canoes with wide flat bottoms, and Tod has learned that trying to sit up too high can be a bit wobbly…

I predict that he’ll find his best seating position and be very happy balancing the little boat – but I also think he’ll likely find he enjoys uses his Cinderella in the sheltered waters she was designed for, rather than far from shore on the sea.

Cameraman Dylan Winter captures the lovely Swallow Class keelboats

This film in Dylan Winter’s Keep Turning Left series captures these 25ft lovelies (and Sunbeams and XoDs, I’m reminded to point out - see the comments) rather beautifully.

To know more about them click here and if you want to know about Swallow racing at Itchenor Sailing Club, click here.

Designed in 1946 by Tom Thorneycroft as a possible successor to the Star, the Swallow class was used as a two-man keelboat class in the 1948 Olympics, they are now raced three-up. Stars, of course, are still around, but they aren’t quite as graceful on the water…

Pathé News films of Faversham shipbuilders’ famous sideways launch

Here are a couple of Pathé News clips from long ago showing the famous sideways launch used by Faversham shipbuilders in action. My thanks to my old friend Ian Lawther!

PS While we’re on the subject of Pathé newsreels, reader Ed Maggs has let me know about another Pathé clip shot in 1954 that records the occasion when Lady and Lord Docker entertained some 45 miners on board their yacht, MY Shemara. I’m not at all sure about Lady Docker’s ‘sailor’s hornpipe’ by the way – I think it may owe a little more to ‘Naughty Norah’s’ background as a chorus girl than to that ancient tradition. Read about the scandalous Dockers here and here, though perhaps you might think reading about Shemara here and here might be more seemly. She’s just been done up and relaunched, and is described as a ‘classic superyacht’.

I gather MY Shemara had a distinguised career during WWII, when she was requisitioned and used as an anti-submarine training ship.

Thanks Ed!

Widely admired Norfolk wherry yacht Hathor relaunched

Norfolk wherry yacht Hathor was relaunched this week following her hull restoration and is now to undergo work on her interior and everything outside from her sheeline upwards, including her stunning Egyptian-themed inlaid woodwork.

These photos are by John Parker (see the news and photogallery here) and appear here with Wherry Yacht Charter’s permission.

For some photos of her interior that I took a few years ago, click here. For some that Ian Ruston took of her under sail, click here. The locals would say the word you’re looking for to describe that sail is ‘hooj’.

Cobles in Art and Antiques

I’ve just been enjoying the website Cobles in Art and Antiques – as you’d expect from the name it’s a remarkable celebration of the coble.

I particularly like the Victorian and Edwardian photos. The first rather posed shot is from Frank Meadow Sutcliffe; the other two I’m less sure about.

Reading the page about the coble’s origins, I continue to be struck by how little we still know about them – perhaps archaeology will some day find us a missing link that somehow connects the Norse and Danish types with something like the boat we know today.

Old boats, traditional boats, boat building, restoration, the sea and the North Kent Coast – Gavin Atkin's weblog