Retronaut continues to be just wonderful. This clip is a real coup!
The Sea Scouts in Ireland have made a great little boating book aimed at teenagers available online.
I hope they don’t mind me passing the link on! The Scouts’ boating manual includes useful amounts of information on nautical traditions, heaving a line, first aid and artificial respiration, rowing drill, rowing (including boat drill), sailing, power boating, canoeing, ship types, rafting, boat maintenance, anchoring, tides and currents, use of distress signals and a lot more besides – no doubt, by now you’re getting the message.
Unlike the educational output we see from some sailing organisations, there’s no sense at all that the only boats are new boats – the maintenance section contains material about looking after both wooden craft and glassfibre.’
I’d be pleased to think that any teenager knew half of this material, and we’d be living in a safer, better ordered world if every adult boat user knew 90 per cent of it.
My thanks to regular contributor Paul Mullings for pointing this one out!
I have good news as we come up to the Christmas season – Dick Wynne’s wonderful Lodestar Books is republishing four more sailing classics that will make great gifts for the sailing man or woman:
- Shoalwater and Fairway – The casual explorations of a sailing main in the shoal seas and tidal waters of Essex and Kent by H Alker Tripp, illustrated by the author. Click on a the image at the top of this post for a sample chapter
- Swin, Swale and Swatchway by H Lewis Jones – Jones pre-dates both Maurice Griffiths and Francis B Cooke, and gives us the the Thames Estuary and the boats and characters inhabiting it in late Victorian times. His charming adventures and human encounters have an engaging immediacy, and are enhanced by the author’s many photographs, which provide a priceless glimpse of a time long gone
- Cruises of the Joan by WE Sinclair – the cruises of an engineless, 22-ft Falmouth quay punt in the 1920s, first around Britain, then to Madeira and to the Baltic, and finally across the North Atlantic to Iceland and Greenland. Sinclair’s dry, phlegmatic humour and observation makes his accounts highly entertaining account – and one we might not have today if luck had not played its part
- On Going to Sea in Yachts – Conor O’Brien’s distilled experience in selecting, equipping and handling sailing craft from the smallest beach cruiser to the ocean-going yacht. The author’s choice of topics and anecdotes, all related in a characteristically down-to-earth manner, makes valuable and engaging reading. His many clear drawings leave us in no doubt as to the practical details, which are born of his own experience over many years and many thousands of sea miles
If these aren’t quite what’s needed, don’t forget Lodestar’s previous publications, Francis B Cooke’s classic Cruising Hints – The Traditional Yachtsman’s Compendium and the outstanding Holmes of the Humber collection of material by and about legendary canoe yawl sailor, boat designer, artist Humber Estuary figure, George Holmes. Get your great boating reading here!
Legendary catboat Silent Maid
Edwin Schoettle’s classic Sailing Craft published in 1928 is a fabulous big old book of nearly 800 pages – so I hope no-one will mind me posting a few of them. And perhaps my post will serve to keep the memory alight.
I’d like to explain why I’ve been thinking about the catboat lately.
I’ve complained for years that many yachties motor or motor sail for much of the time and I’ve often wondered what the reason might be. Well, I’ve come to think that it isn’t laziness or a dislike of sailing. The reason why they’re reluctant to use their full sailplan is that they’re either sailing alone, or effectively doing so, and don’t want the fag of having to manage sails, winches and sheets as well as steer, navigate and keep a look out. And because they’re not using their full sail plan their boats are slow without the help of its engine – and that’s why most yachties motor for much of the time.
Looked at another way, it’s because we’re using the wrong rigs. Instead of the Bermudan sloop with a masthead rig, big foresail, winches and the rest, we could be using rigs that reduce the number of essential control lines to very few – the cat and the cat yawl.
Of course there’s a shortage of cat yawls outside of a few designers offering plans for relatively small boats aimed at the amateur builders, so I’ve been considering the experiences people have had with the catboat.
I’ve no experience with these boats and have no firm opinions to offer, but it’s interesting that Schoettle emerges as such a fan of the catboat. I’m inclined to think a modified form of catboat, perhaps one with the kind of capacious hull that’s long been normal in family cruising boats could be seriously useful to yachtsmen in the era of expensive fuel and growing environmental awareness.
Those who find it difficult to swallow the idea of the Bermudan sloop being replaced by a more old fashioned rig might thinking about the argument in a different way – instead of describing the cat or cat yawl rig of the future as being derived from historical yacht types or workboats, just think of them as big Lasers with heavy keels.
Read more about Silent Maid in a recent post at the weblog 70.8%.
One of the treats of the Beale Park Thames Boat Show was seeing one of John Macaulay’s traditional Hebridean skiffs full of old-fashioned boatbuilding features.
Note the short floors and ribs, for example – they’re very much what one sees in a Viking ship or Viking canoe. What’s more, the oarlocks and oars obviously belong to a time before the fashion for adopting rowing racing practice brought in round oars in round oarlocks capable of being rotated.
For an earlier post on Macaulay, click here.
This interesting article sheds light on the man himself: John Mcaulay Boatbuilder. Of the virtues of wooden boats he says: ‘There is only one boat worth having and that is a wooden boat. They are unique; one off and beautiful. How anyone with any sensitivity could choose a plastic hull over a wooden one made by hand, I will never know.’
Here’s another newspaper piece in the Stornaway Gazette describing the restoration of a Western Isles boat.
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Heir Island lobster boat Saoirse Muireann owned byhistorian and
author Cormac Levis
The two gaffers in the upper photo are Rose an Heir Island lobster boat on the left and An Faoilean a Galway hooker on the right. The Saoirse Muireann below is another Heir Island lobster boat, and is owned by historian Cormac Levis author of the well known and highly regarded book Towelsail Yawls describing the sailing lobsterboats of Heir Island and Roaringwater Bay.
The photos have been sent in by Tiernan Roe, boatbuilder and weblogger based at Ballydehob, West Cork.
From the 1870s to the 1950s, sailing boats dominated the lobster fishery of Ireland’s south coast, and the lobstermen lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle over a hundred hundred nautical mile stretch of coastline in the small open boats, yet it’s said that until Levis did his research and wrote Towelsail Yawls, their way of life had been in danger of passing unrecorded. I should add that although it was published as recently as 2002, the book already seems difficult to find – which seems to suggest that he did an excellent job.
As a bonus, here are three photos of a John Atkin Ninigret 22ft outboard boat that Tiernan’s currently building being turned over at his Ballydehob workshop. Follow his weblog Roeboats at http://roeboats.wordpress.com/.
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One exhibit at the Beale Park Thames Boat Show made the case that the recently deceased designer Phil Bolger should be remembered for his very pretty boats as well as his boxy easy-to-build plans.
This is an almost-complete Bolger Chebacco boat, as built by an ex-student of theBoat Building Academy down at Lyme, Connie Mense. I think it’s a terrific-looking craft and that Connie has made a very nice job of building it. The boat was on the Water Craft stand because editor Peter Greenfield is currently building a Chebacco boat from the same moulds.
There are precious few Bolger boats in the UK and I’m always interested in them, so when it’s on the water, can Julie and I come for a sail please Pete?
PS – Don’t miss the ad for Water Craft in the right-hand column of this weblog. It’s well worth a subscription!