Tag Archives: Charles Stock

Charles Stock book now out – and there’s a Falcon for sale

In Shoal Waters by A C Stock

The spring’s always a busy time here at Intheboatshed Towers, but in between the rushing about and the chores, I’ve been greatly enjoying A C Stock’s volume, In Shoal Waters, published by Dick Wynne’s excellent Lodestar Books imprint.

The book’s available in hardback (£18) and paperback (at a democratic £10), and well worth every penny in either edition.

I think this short extract about Barking Creek exemplifies the careful way old Charles Stock, now sadly departed, was able to mix his history and his impressions…

‘Sunday dawned cold and overcast, with a strong wind from the north. I prefer a head wind for exploration as it makes it easy to get out again if you don’t like the place. The creek entrance was blocked by the construction works for the new flood barrier but open marsh on the western edge has allowed a temporary bypass to be cut, which I looked into at low tide. There didn’t seem to be much water there and it was too narrow to beat in comfortably so I brought up and ate a lazy breakfast. An hour later, with the first of the flood, Shoal Waters turned her bows towards Barking Mill.

‘In days long gone I would have been crossing tacks with a mass of other craft all working in on the young flood, but today I was alone. A coaster lay dried out against one of the busy wharves dominating the eastern bank where new machinery contrasted with ancient buildings. The western banks were still open and marsh fringed with Norfolk reed, and lively with duck. Barking, I reflected, was once an isolated village two miles upstream, a place where artful fishermen had their nets burned publicly in 1320 because the mesh was too small.

‘The centre-plate whispered as it touched the shallows each side and I pushed the helm down with one hand and lifted the plate a few inches with the other to bring her round on the other tack. The tide was running strongly now. The first of the bridges, the one carrying the A13, came into view and although it marks the limit for coasters, being so early on the tide I was able to sail straight through, where crumbling buildings merged with modern office blocks. A few weathered motor cruisers were being fitted out and a small lighter sat waiting patiently to be rigged as a spritsail barge. One thing was clear, the bricked-up doorways along the riverside indicated that they had all turned their backs on the river in favour of the motor vehicle. Yet here was once the largest trawler station in the kingdom – if not the world. Barking men claim to have been the first to make use of the trawl.’

‘The centre-plate whispered… ‘ That’s exactly what they do as they slice the mud.

Barking was once famous for its trawlers and colliers… And there’s an old song about it. Hear it performed by our great friends Annie Dearman and Steve Harrison. (By the way, they’re performing during the afternoon and evening of the Frittenden Old Fashioned Night Out on the 6th April.)

[THIS BOAT HAS NOW BEEN SOLD AND IS BEING RESTORED] By coincidence, down at Fowey, boat builder and restorer Marcus Lewis tells me one of his clients has a Fairey Falcon for sale. I guess it could either be returned to its former condition as a good-sized, good performing dinghy (there don’t seem to be too many around now, so she might appeal to a vintage dinghy enthusiast), or converted in much the same way as Shoal Waters was just 50 years ago.

The Falcon hull is a big boat for its 16ft length, was what Stock started with when he built his own boat - to the hull he added a small cabin, and fitted the gaff rig from his previous boat. (I should add that Shoal Waters is still sailing and doing well in the hands of ‘Creeksailor’ Tony Smith.)

Here’s what Marcus has to say about the Falcon:

‘Hi Gavin – I have a customer who has a Fairey Falcon dinghy in need of some serious tlc. She is getting on a bit, and some of the interior ply is a bit soft, but the hull seems strong, as proved recently when she spent six days underwater, after sinking on her mooring during the gales and floods.

‘There are some bits, mast boom, old mainsail, but her jib and spinnaker were lost. The owner is keen for her to have a new home where she will be looked after and cared for. She is available at very low cost to a sympathetic purchaser, so is there one out there? (Combi trailer not included.)’

For information, contact Marcus via his website.

AC Stock’s final book ‘In Shoal Waters’ available 1st March

In Shoal Waters by A C Stock

Fans of East Coast small boat sailing legend AC Stock will be delighted to know that when ill health forced the wise navigator off the water, he got down to writing a memoir of his sailing life.

That book is about to appear in both hardback and paperback editions from Lodestar Books. The paperback version is particularly inexpensive at just £10 a copy.

I must say it’s a very great shame old Charles didn’t live to see his book published, because he clearly put his heart and soul into this volume. Read a sample here.

Perhaps his most important point is made right at the beginning of the introduction:

‘My original aim was to sail round the world, but three things prevented me from doing so: I never had the money; I never had the time; and I had a wife and four children. Sailing the wide oceans, visiting the palm-fringed atolls and sweltering tropic ports where the jungle drops down the mountainside to kiss the warm seas remains a pastime for winter evenings, in the comfort of an armchair and with an endless number of books on the subject.

‘Before retirement, and thanks to an understanding wife, I did for a dozen or so weekends a year find time enough to sail as far as I liked, provided I was back in good time to go to work on Monday morning. Did this mean just pottering about in the river, with all my year’s hopes pinned on fine weather for the precious summer holiday, or could I, year in and year out, still find some real sailing? Did I have to race to get some sort of interest, challenge and excitement? Did my modest means compel me to crew on larger craft to enjoy offshore and night sailing? The answer is set out in this recollection of my sailing years, and I hope illustrates the wonderful adventure playground that lays just a couple of hours from our crowded roads and railway stations.’

In short, a large part of Stock’s answer to the problem of how to sail while holding down a job and not neglecting his responsibilities was to sail a small cabin boat, Shoal Waters, as far as he could in the time available. I think that makes him a model for the rest of us…

In his foreword, author Robert Simper explains a little more:

‘The sight of Shoal Waters quietly sailing along the side of an estuary and then suddenly vanishing up some secluded creek has been part of the East Coast scene for almost half a century. Charlie has always been very happy to tell you the details of his latest jaunt down the Blackwater or, if it was spring, along the Norfolk Broads to glimpse the birdlife among the reeds.

‘A glance at Shoal Waters tells you how these trips have been achieved. The boat was always very tidy and the gear carefully stowed. The voyages were clearly and painstakingly planned and his close knowledge of the way tides behave on the coast was undeniable. He kept out of trouble by knowing when not to go to sea and knowing where to tuck in when the weather turned foul.’

Get the Lodestar Books catalogue now – there’s just time to place an order before Christmas

Lodestar Books catalogue

I’m loving the Lodestar Books catalogue – partly because it’s a lovely piece of work, but also because of what it contains.

First of all there are the books Lodestar has already published, including artist Tony Watts’ collection An Eye for a Boat; the H Alker Tripp collection Tripp Under Sail; the Ken Duxbury collection The Lugworm ChroniclesFrancis B Cooke’s superb Cruising Hints; 7th edition; Tony Watts’ magnificent volume Holmes of the Humber; H Lewis Jones’ wonderful Swin, Swale and Swatchway; WE Sinclair’s half-crazy Cruises of the Joan, and Conor O’Brien’s instructive but splenetic On Going to Sea in Yachts.

And then there are the volumes to come in 2013: In Shoal Waters by East Coast small boat sailing guru Charles Stock (February 2013);  Under the Cabin Lamp by Alker Tripp (March 2013); Catalan Castaway by Ben Crawshaw (April 2013); Sheila in the Wind by Adrian Hayter (May 2013); Racing the Seas by Ahto Walter and Tom Olsen (May 2013); Sea-Boats, Oars and Sails by Conor O’Brien (May 2013); and a new book from Will Stirling, Details of Dinghy Building.

Congratulations to Lodestar’s Dick Wynne for establishing such an impressive collection of published in an amazingly short few years!

Ready About on the River Blackwater, by Creeksailor Tony Smith

Creek Sailor Book Cover Goldhanger Creek

Blackwater book cover; Goldhanger Creek 

Ready About on the River Blackwater is a delightful little book by Creeksailor.

His real name is Tony Smith, but as his self-chosen name and title suggest, Creeksailor is a small boat enthusiast fascinated by the creeks and shoals of the northern part of the Thames Estuary and of the Blackwater in particular.

It wouldn’t be too much to say that Tony adores the place, but I only discovered why very recently. I have once sailed on the Blackwater but it was an open water sail and, naturally, I came away thinking it was a pleasant and sheltered estuary with some interesting features that should be seen at closer quarters.

Fair enough, you might think, but one evening this summer, by chance we found ourselves standing on the seawall at Goldhanger Creek where – bang! – it came to me. Finally I saw what Tony sees: an extensive sheltered area of inlets and creeks waiting to be explored and few people to disturb the peace.

We have our own creeks and ditches around the Swale of course but some day, when there’s time and the right weather, I hope to sail over and have a good look round from our own shoal-draft boat.

In the meantime, what does Ready About on the River Blackwater have to offer?

It opens with a foreword by Tony’s guru, legendary East Coast sailor and navigation expert and teacher Charles Stock. What follows is not a guidebook, but describes a series of visits and a series of places, which Tony does pretty well.

He’s informative, gives an up to date picture of how things are on this coast, takes the time to tell just enough of the history, and, like many earlier sailing writers on this area, has some good stories to tell. It’s quite enough to get anyone interested in sailing the Blackwater, and will be well worth taking afloat to re-read for points of local interest while waiting for the tide. Handily, it’s a fairly slim volume that’s easily carried.

But what Tony’s book offers that most earlier prophets of East Coast sailing could not is photos – lots of them, and in colour. With earlier writers, you have to close your eyes and half-guess half-interpret what’s being described – which is difficult for beginning sailors, and those who only sail keelboats. Just how small can a creek be and still be navigable?

With Ready About in your hands, it’s possible to see what he’s so enthusiastic about, and make your own judgements.

The book could have done with a bigger map (in two parts, perhaps?), and that here and there it might have benefited from slightly sharper proofing (as could this weblog, no doubt). But these are tiny things: it’s a super little book, and when I finally closed the back cover, I wanted more. I hope Tony goes on to write and publish more of this kind of thing.

PS Creeksailor is also a busy weblogger, who’s well worth following. Read his weblog here - I guess it’s also the best place to find out where and when copies of Ready About may be bought, and I gather there a new print run is just about to arrive on Tony’s doorstep…

Don’t miss the new Dinghy Cruising Association website

Dinghy Cruising Association website

I’d like to draw readers’ attention to the Dinghy Cruising Association’s splendid new website http://dinghycruising.org.uk.

It has always been packed with goodies – articles on dinghy sailing and cruising, advice about techniques and equipment and the rest – but  it’s now much easier on the eye and includes some new sections, including a weblog and a section on the legends of dinghy sailing, including Frank Dye and well known Association members.

I should add, though, that the DCA’s wise webmaster has gone to some lengths to makes sure visitors to the site realise its as much for casual dinghy cruisers (like me) as it is for the fearless adventurer and the hardy folks who camp in small open boats.

One striking pieces of news I picked up on visiting today are that Essex small boat sailing legend Charles Stock has had to give up his boat Shoal Waters after 50 years of regular use – the boat has passed on to well known boating weblogger Creeksailor. (For more on Stock and Shoal Waters, click here and here.)

There are also items here about the Everglades Challenge, Ben Crawshaw’s continuing adventures with his boat Onawind Blue, two of the DCA’s annual awards and our friend Dylan Winter’s journey around Britain’s coastline.

If you’re still with me after all these links… I’d say the DCA’s site is well worth a visiting regularly: http://dinghycruising.org.uk

 

Veteran East Coast small boat sailor Charles Stock caught on video

 

Charles Stock making his customary good use of his wellies. Image copyright Tony Smith (aka Creeksailor) and used with permission

 

I’ve stumbled across a series of short Youtube videos featuring Charles Stock, a legend among small boat sailors, particularly on the Thames Estuary and East Coast of England.

An enthusiastic sailor since he was a kid, in 1963 Stock created a new cutter-rigged boat for himself using a 16ft Uffa Fox-designed hull made by Fairey and the rigging from an old half-decker he bought in 1948. The result was Shoal Waters, a small wooden boat in which he has sailed regularly ever since without an engine and without a tender – instead, he follows the tides, moors in shallow water and, if he wishes to do so, goes ashore in a pair of rubber wellie boots.

He’s kept meticulous logs and accounts ever since, travelled over 70,000 nautical miles in his boat, written countless articles, taught sailing and navigation to evening classes for decades and wrote an excellent book, Sailing Just for Fun: High Adventure on a Small Budget, which has sold well over 4000 copies.

He also has his own website: http://shoal-waters.moonfruit.com.

Here are the Youtube videos:

Charles Stock 1

Charles Stock 2

Charles Stock 3

Charles Stock 4

Charles Stock 5

Charles Stock 6

Charles Stock 7

Charles Stock 8

Charles Stock 9

Charles Stock 10

Charles Stock 11

Charles Stock 12

Charles Stock talks about choosing the hull for Shoal Waters

Youtube tends to encourage anonymity, so at this stage I don’t really know who recorded and put the clips – but his Youtube home page and extensive collection of videos are here: http://www.youtube.com/user/creeksailor

Creeksailor also has a weblog here: http://creeksailor.blogspot.com

More photos of Shoal Waters in action appear here: http://www.saileastcoast.co.uk/shoalwaters.htm

I’ve also pasted a photo below from Paul Mullings, who has this to say:

‘Hi Gav

As a young man sailing with my family on the magical East Coast rivers we often came across Charles Stock and Shoal Waters. It was a big thrill on a visit back to the Old Country last summer to see her looking as trim as ever – photo attached.

Sailing Just For Fun is also a terrific read and should be on all cruising sailors’ bookshelves.

Cheers, Paul’
Thanks Paul!
Shoal Waters, photographed last summer. Click on the photo for a larger image