Tag Archives: Ben Crawshaw

Ben Crawshaw sails the Ella skiff

Ben Crawshaw sailing Ella skiff

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Theinvisibleworkshop weblogger, writer and small boat sailor Ben Crawshaw has been sailing the sailing version of the Ella skiff off the coast of Catalonia – and I am delighted by the review he has posted.

The boat’s builders call the boat El•la – a point that won’t be lost on my own daughter, who is named Ella.

Read Ben’s piece at Theinvisibleworkshop here.

I’m delighted that he was able enjoy such a nice day of sailing with his daughter Yoeh, and I’m thrilled that my simple little boat designed lived up to his expectations.  Yes, here’s a set of boat plans that are free and which produce a little boat that works as I’d planned and hoped.

Here’s the gist of what he had to say about my little sailing skiff design:

‘… I turned to wave to a small send-off party then re-trimmed the sail to go broad and tootle along just 200 metres off the shore… Ella was already well into her stride as we were still sorting out our seating arrangements.

‘The GPS registered a healthy 3 knots… the wind came up and white caps began to appear. The breeze settled at a solid 10 knots, causing us no great problem but raising our speed a knot…

‘The boat had already shown herself to be well balanced, with a light tiller and a touch of weather helm but I was impressed at how high she pointed to windward. She was wet, though, with the moderate breeze and chop and would have liked a reef. I tacked carefully and she came round well… Sailing dead down wind with the daggerboard raised Ella became unstable and ached to gybe but by lowering the board a tad and turning slightly to windward she regained posture.

‘Ella was not designed for these open sea conditions but like Onawind Blue [Ben's Light Trow] she behaved well with the decent breeze and short sea… ‘

Many thanks for the report Ben!

Plans for the Ella skiff – both the rowing and the sailing version with a snug standing lug rig – are available from the plans page here at intheboatshed.net.

PS – Since this post first went up, Ben has put up two more posts about the Catalonian Ella skiff, one showing details of the boat as built (I very much like the scheme for stowing spars by the way), and another about a day when the El•la and Ben’s Light Trow Onawind Blue were unexpectedly able to sail in company. This one includes some wonderful photos, including the two shots I’ve pasted below. Please take a moment to see Ben’s posts, and leave a comment: Ella details and Goodbye to Ella.

Ella skiff off the coast of Catalonia Ella skiff and Light Trow Onwind Blue

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A sailing Ella skiff in Catalonia

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Catalonia-based writer and sailor Ben Crawshaw (of Light Trow fame and theinvisibleworkshop) has got in touch to say that together with friends a chap called Bosco has built this example of the sailing version of the my 12ft flat bottomed Ella skiff design in his area – so far, Ben has only managed to photograph the boat but plans to sail it soon.

I had no idea – and my jaw dropped when I heard about it, and then sagged even more when I looked at the shots. (Click on them to see a much larger image, by the way.)

Folks are telling Ben that the little boat sails well, but I will of course be very interested in his verdict.

The photo shows that she has been built pretty robustly in the local style, but I can’t say I’m complaining! She looks great to me. Plans for the Ella skiff are here.

The latest issue of the wonderful The Marine Quarterly and two books: Mike Smylie’s Traditional Fishing Boats of Europe and an account of cruising in canoes in the 19th Century

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Novelist Sam Llewellyn’s other project, the unfailingly beautifully edited The Marine Quarterly,  continues to impress, and I’m enjoying the new edition as much as I have each of the previous nine editions. I say it’s essential reading, and that a full set – if one could keep them together – would be an asset when waiting for the tide.

This issue includes an illuminating history of pilots and piloting by Tom Cunliffe, Ken Duxbury’s account of visiting his first Greek island aboard his Drascombe Lugger Lugworm,   and an introduction to the story of pier-head painting by artist and illustrator Claudia Myatt.

In fact, if anything it gives me even greater pleasure because it includes a piece from Ben Crawshaw. Ben, as regular readers may remember, built one of my small boat designs, the Light Trow, and his book Catalan Castaway recounts his remarkable adventures. (See the ad at the top right of this weblog.)

Mike Smylie Traditional Fishing Boats of Europe

I’m also just beginning to read Mike Smylie’s latest book, Traditional Fishing Boats of Europe, which aims to tell the story of how the various types of fishing boats evolved over hundreds of years in line with the catches they were built to chase, the seas and climates in which they must work, and of course the cultural influences involved.

It’s a complicated story and clearly an important project, and I’ll be fascinated to find out just how he can cram all of that information between two covers! No doubt he can, though, because he’s done this kind of thing before and knows what he’s doing…

Those Magnificent Men in Their Roy-Roy Canoes

Jim Parnell’s Those Magnificent Men in Their Roy-Roy Canoes is clearly a must for  anyone interested in the remarkable story of sailing in these little boats.

It’s really a historical record of the adventures of the three New Zealand canoeing Park brothers, George, William  and James, who were active in the late 19th and early 20th Century, and includes material from their logs and from newspaper cuttings, and is written very much in the quite formal, slightly detached style of that era.

Still, the adventures they describe are quite something, and include crossing South Island (including a long portage, naturally) and crossing Cook Strait on a night with no moon. I needn’t mention how dangerous the Southern Ocean can be – but the Parks, particularly George Park, seem to have been indomitable.

Ben Crawshaw’s book Catalan Castaway is available to order

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I’m delighted to be able to announce that Ben’s colourfully illustrated 224-page book will be available from Lodestar Books in a few days and is now available to order, priced at £15 in the UK, £17 Europe and £20 outside Europe. [NB - this book is now debing delivered!]

It tells an amazing and exciting story, as the publisher’s notes make clear:

‘A sail-and-oar adventure in our own boat, one having the inevitable beauty of a form which accurately meets function – this is the dream of many of us. But Ben Crawshaw shows us that the dream is nearer to our grasp than we may think.

‘In Gavin Atkin’s Light Trow design he found an affordable boatbuilding project which would require the most simple and accessible of materials, and just basic woodworking ability.

‘Within months he was afloat in Onawind Blue, and his book Catalan Castaway recounts his day-sails, beach-camping cruises and a challenging longer voyage, over a five year period on the Catalan coast of Spain, where he lives with his partner and young family.

Onawind Blue has been Ben’s passport to the traditional maritime community of the region, so in addition to her own exploits we learn of the indigenous boat types, many now endangered, and the dedicated band of people who keep them alive.

‘Ben’s increasingly ambitious adventures have sometimes made him draw on deep reserves of physical and mental strength, as has his personal battle with the ‘giant octopus’ of serious illness, happily now at bay.’

Read a sample chapter of Catalan Castaway here.

For more posts about Ben Crawshaw and his boat Onawind Blue, click here. Also see Ben’s excellent weblog, Theinvisibleworkshop.

 

How Onawind Blue came to live in Ben’s new beach-side bar (and can’t you just smell that food?)

Light Trow Onawind Blue now lives in a beach bar

Read all about it here; I’m guessing it may become a destination for small boat sailors.

For more posts about Ben Crawshaw and the Light Trow (including free plans for building this flat-bottomed sailing and rowing boat), click here and page back through the ‘older posts’ links.

PS – I’m reminded by reader Dale that Ben’s handsome new book Catalan Castaway will be out in a few weeks. If you let the publisher Lodestar Books have your email address, they’ll contact you when they start reserving copies about four weeks ahead of publication.

Ben Crawshaw goes racing in Onawind Blue

A recent shot of Ben Crawshaw sailing his Light Trow Onawind Blue, photo by Toni Clapés

Light Trow sailor Ben Crawshaw has reported on a windy race in which he took part in Onawind Blue – and received a prize for going around twice in cracking time.

In all the time Ben has spent with OB, he has clearly developed tremendous skills, and his report has what you might call a swashbuckling tone.

(I should say that the photo above was taken a little while ago – not at the race reported on here.)

Here’s a quote from what he has to say.

I felt confident about driving OB hard. The wind was solid and, away from the land, the gusts came on more gently. I had my legs hooked under an oar lashed across the thwarts and my bum hanging over the rail. My boat was making good progress to windward compared to others further to leeward, some of whom appeared to be over canvassed and spilling wind.

Coming up to the next mark — OB throwing up a deal of spray and riding on a wave of foam — the race boat approached. The organiser, now wearing the hat of a race official shouted across. He might have been imparting important information or quoting Cervantes, whatever, the words were lost to the wind. I watched the Zodiac whizz off towards other boats.

I tacked OB round the windward mark and she hared off on the second downwind leg.

Looking around I saw that we were alone. I had almost certainly missed some vital information. Reflecting, I reckoned there was nothing for it but to crack on regardless — even if I had messed up it had been an enormously enjoyable sail.

In the end, Ben received a hero’s welcome for going round the course twice in conditions where the other racers turned for the shore after one circuit.

His post (link above) is well worth reading – as is his weblog as a whole.

Here at Atkin Towers, we think that if it were fiction Ben’s progress would make a great film – the very public backyard building project, the early sails where he got things sorted out, the extraordinary adventures that followed, how he dealt with adversity and then came back for more sailing, including this victorious episode.

But it’s not fiction – it’s all true… perhaps someone would commission him to write the book that’s obviously waiting to be written!

Follow Ben’s weblog here.

San Francisco artist Lawrence LaBianca uses the Light Trow in his work

Loomings, featuring a quotation from Melville's Moby Dick

Lawrence LaBianca art work installation Lawrence LaBianca steel boat sculpture

California artist Lawrence LaBianca has been using the hull of my Light Trow design in his artwork, we were delighted to learn this morning.

Lawrence got in touch this morning to tell us that he’s been working with boat forms and a variety of themes, including Melville’s masterpiece Moby Dick , that among others he has used the hull of the Light Trow in some of them. Click on the big image and you should be able to read a quotation from the first chapter of Melville’s novel on the bottom of my little boat.

I really like that idea!

More recently he has been working on creating works that record environmental phenomenas such as wind, water – see an example here – and is  now in the process of making several buoys, which he intends to deploy in the waters around the San Francisco Bay. He also says he’s thinking of building a full-sized Light Trow to use in placing the buoys, and for rowing and sailing on the bay.

Naturally we’re curious about the buoys – and delighted to hear that there are plans afoot to build another Light Trow. Great good luck Lawrence, and thanks for your news and photos.

PS – Regular readers may be trying to remember when Ben Crawshaw’s Light Trow appeared in artist’s work – in fact, it appeared in an illustration by Spanish artist Elena Val for a child’s book: click here to see the post.