Tag Archives: beams

Heckstall-Smith and du Boulay on the origin of 19th century racing yachts


Wood engraving The Yacht Race – A Sketch from the Deck of a
Competing Yacht
, was published in Harper’s Weekly in  1872.
Taken from the Wikimedia Commons

Although Charles II was almost as enthusiastic about yachting as he was about his many mistresses, his collection of 16 yachts do not seem to have had much of an influence on later racers.

From their researches including studying Clark’s History of Yachting up to the year 1815, Heckstall-Smith and Du Boulay say later racing yachts derived their form largely from revenue cutters.

They write: ‘the fashionable type of cutter was about three and a quarter beams to her length, her midship section was so round it might have been drawn with a pair of compasses. She had a nearly vertical stem, and a  short counter high above the water. The greatest breadth was just abaft or close abreast of the mast. The bow was therefore bluff, and the run long and often not ungraceful.’

The type was known as ‘cod’s head and mackerel tail’ and had evolved  in competition with the craft used by smugglers. This seems to me to be a case of a rather imperfect form of evolution, if faster boats could have been achieved by moving the greatest beam aft, but there are some good stories about how the same boat builders worked for both smugglers and  the revenue men.

Living in Kent as I do, this one from Heckstall-Smith and du Boulay appeals to me particularly: ‘it has been recorded that Mr White of Broadstairs, whose descendants afterwards moved to Cowes, used to lay down two cutters side by side, very much as 19-metres and 15-metres are laid down today, and the Government officials used to puzzle their brains to puzzle out which would turn out the faster, knowing that whichever boat they bought, the other would be sold for smuggling.’

For more on revenue cutters at intheboatshed.net, click here.

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A barge with a Viking-style square sail

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 Warren’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/

 

Maurice Griffiths classic Lone Gull II to be restored

Fans of Maurice Griffiths wil be pleased and interested to hear that the original Lone Gull II built in 1961 by Harry Feltham for the legendary designer, writer and magazine editor for his own use is to be restored by A&R Way Boatbuilding of Argyll.

The plan is to keep her as original as possible: the interior is very much as she was built but the deck and deck beams need to be replaced. When finished, she will be used for some family trips around the West Coast and islands before perhaps selling.

For more on Lone Gull II and A&R Way Boatbuilding see this link http://www.aandrwayboatbuilding.co.uk/page/for_sale_lone_gull_ii . While you’re there, do follow the link to Vindilis – another boat built for a legendary designer, this time metacentric shelf theory enthusiast Harrison Butler.

For more on Griffiths, visit the Eventide Owners Group website at http://www.eventides.org.uk and take a peek at this obituary published by The Independent newspaper. Also, Googling for Maurice Griffiths will usually reveal a shed-load of his boats for sale, as some of them were built in large numbers in the UK and beyond.

Lone gull II