The twilight of the traditionally-built Hastings beach boat fleet?

Hastings Hastings Hastings

Hastings Hasting Hastings Hastings

Hastings Hastings

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Today I took my kids down to Hastings for a nostalgia-filled trip to see what remains of the once-proud fleet of beach-based wooden clinker-built fishing boats.

It’s a trip I loved to take as a child, and I still very much like to visit now. But the dwindling numbers of the tubby old clinker-built beach boats is a powerful reminder of time passing, and the inevitable loss of things we once took for granted. Of course, I’m not talking about the fishing fleet as a whole – there are still many steel and fibreglass boats fishing off the beach at Hastings, and I’m quite sure the crews who still hunt the fish are as brave and tough they always were.

But some of the old fishing boats remain, and so I was able to bring back some photos that will hopefully spark some memories for some, and attract the attention of those of you who have not made this particular pilgrimage to one of the great centres of the English south-coast fishing fleet.

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Would you like to see your project here?

Forest & Stream skiff

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Just about everyone who comes to these pages is some kind of boat nut, and I’m a boat nut too. I’d like to make this weblog as interesting and useful to us all as possible, and I want to fill it with news and photographs about:
•Projects about old boats, historic boats, traditionally-built boats, and traditionally-derived boats.
•Boating history and traditions.
•The skills involved, the craftsmen and the available training.
So, whether you own these kinds of boats, work on them, sell them, build them, paint or photograph them, write about their history, design them, run a club or organise events, or collect old songs and stories connected with them – if you would like to bring your projects to the attention of a wider public, email me now at!

Jim Vandenbos builds a sailing canoe

Zanzibar Zanzibar

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Over the past couple of years my pal Jim and I have been colluding over a sailing canoe project – I drew up the hull and rig, and he developed the interior he wanted for a boat that would double as a sailing canoe and as a two-man paddler.

The result is Zanzibar. Although there’s still more to do, including making some decent sails instead of the prototypes made from the cheapest kind of polytarp, the boat’s first season ironed out a few bugs, and gave her a chance to show she could sail and was rather more stable than he expected, as Jim explains in his account here:

Zanzibar article

PS Rather mysteriously, Jim says the name Zanzibar is a literary reference but won’t reveal its source. If you can see what it might be, please put us out of our misery – even his family can’t guess!

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Gavin Atkin's weblog for the sort of people who like looking inside boat sheds: old boats, traditional boats, boat building, restoration, the sea and the North Kent Coast