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.