Many of the pilot gigs being raced around the shores of the UK are the work of Ralph Bird. In this very nice BBC RealPlayer video, he talks about the gigs, his life as a gig builder and his plans for a busy retirement. Thanks go to Chris Rogers for letting me know about this one.
For more on the Cornish Pilot Gig Association:
The Wikipedia on pilot gigs:
Rania was built in 1937 by the Rampart Boat Building works in Southampton. Just before delivery in 1939, however, she was requisitioned by the Royal Navy and took part in the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940, when many small British craft sailed across the Channel to rescue the British Expeditionary Force – and army of 400,000 or so.
This astonishing exercise took place in perfect millpond conditions (see the images of this event at the Rania site, and see Wikipedia for more on the fighting and evacuation). She continued to serve in the ‘Mosquito navy’ for the duration of the war.
She is now in real need of help. Rania has been dismantled and is in urgent need of repair; she has been saved by the Dunkirk Little Ship Restoration Trust but unfortunately the funds are not available – nevertheless her supporters wish to restore her to her original condition and return her to Dunkirk in 2010 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Dunkirk evacuations.
For more on Rania, and some very evocative music:
The Humber keel Comrade is a rare surviving example of a type of craft evolved to work the difficult Humber Estuary, and its tributaries and canals. She was built in 1923, at Warrenâ€™s shipyard at New Holland, and was originally named Wanda. At 61ft 6in in length and 15ft 6in in beam, she had a hold capable of carrying over a hundred tons in cargo.
The Humber is very much part of Viking invader territory, and I do wonder how much this unusual square sail may owe to those invaders of more than a thousand years ago.
For more on Comrade and her sister ship Humber sloop Amy Howson, see http://www.keelsandsloops.org.uk/