Tag Archives: conor o’brien

Sea-Boats, Oars and Sails by Conor O’Brien

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Many readers will know that gun-runner, naval officer and circumnavigator Conor O’Brien’s book Sea-Boats Oars and Sails is a classic of small boat sailing and cruising – the good news is that it is now available again in an elegant paperback format from the Lodestar Books.

The prices are £12 sent to the UK, £13 to Europe, and £15 to areas of the world beyond Europe.

The photo above is of a François Vivier-designed Ilur, which is said to embody the qualities advanced by O’Brien in this book – the boat in the shot belongs to Tim Cooke and is sailed by him in the waters of south-west Ireland.

If you’re not convinced you need a copy, perhaps the following few sentences (and the link to a chapter below) will help demonstrate why it deserves a place on the bookshelf.

Just in these few lines, you’ll likely find he’s dogmatic about something he has experience of, reveals a little sense (on luffing) that may not be as common as it should be and, of course, in his spare style, he draws a picture that’s only too easy to conjure in your imagination. (He was writing in 1941, a time when taut writing was coming much more into fashion.)

‘The sailing boat referred to in this book, which excludes all racing craft, is not a miniature yacht. Their functions are different; the boatman is dependent on the shore, and has to make his port in good time, the yachtsman can keep the sea as long as he likes. But a sailing boat, as I define the term, is not merely a small yacht stripped for action; the significant difference is in the method of handling them. The yacht is almost uncapsizable, and, if luffed head to wind, heavy enough to carry her headway for some little time after the sails have ceased to draw. The boat stops immediately the propelling force fails. In a yacht the main sheet is belayed, keeping the sail at a constant angle with her keel, and to spill the wind out of the sail in a squall she is luffed, or turned towards the wind’s eye with the helm. In a boat the main sheet must be held in the hand, and with it she is played through a squall as a fish is played with rod and line, while she is kept sailing smartly all the time. It is fatal to luff, for if she loses headway she will not recover it till she has fallen off broadside to the wind, and if she is caught in that position with no way on she is easily capsized. Then, if the boat’s sails have to be taken in, they must come in at once, while in a yacht there is never great hurry about reducing canvas. These considerations limit the size of a boat’s mainsail and enjoin simplicity and certainty in working on her gear. As a set-off it should be remembered that the crew can get about their work with far more ease and safety in an open boat than on a small yacht’s deck.’

Read more on this topic in a chapter from Sea-Boats, Oars and Sails here.

 

Two new volumes from Lodestar Books – just in time for Christmas!

Lodestar Books Conor O'Brien Lodestar books Ernest Dade

++++ Check the bargain at the bottom of this post! ++++

East Coast cruising sailor Richard Wynne’s wonderful Lodestar Books has two smashing books coming out in the first week of December – just in time for Christmas!

Both titles are published at £12, including UK delivery—slightly more to other countries.

Sea-Boats, Oars and Sails is Conor O’Brien’s guide to sail-and-oar cruising. The new new edition is illustrated with South-West Ireland cruising sailor Tim Cooke’s photos of his small lugger An Suire (The Sea-Nymph).

An Suire is built to François Vivier’s Ilur design, which is said to epitomise the characteristics recommended by O’Brien.

Popular author, Marine Quarterly editor and Conor O’Brien enthusiast Sam Llewellyn has chipped in with a splendid foreword. However, I’d like to quote Conor O’Brien’s own description of his book:

‘Most of what is written about boats is naturally based on the orthodox view, and the man who wants a boat neither for class racing nor as a harbour ornament, but to go to sea in, gets little guidance from it. This book of mine is frankly unorthodox, in that I hold nothing sacred and take nothing for granted.’

Sail and Oar presents 100 historically and technically accurate drawings of the Yorkshire sea fishery in the late nineteenth century by the artist Ernest Dade.

Dade was a sailor and worked out of doors most of the time, so his drawings from the era before steam are both immediate and authoritative.

The book comes with a preface by author Peter F Anson and foreword by fisherman Frank Wheeler. Writing in the 1930s, Anson has this to say:

‘No maritime library will be complete without a copy of this volume on its shelves, for the Yorkshire fishing coble and the Yorkshire smack of the past century were among the finest examples of English sea-going craft ever devised, and none more fitted for the rugged coast to which they belonged or for the stormy seas on which they used to sail.’

While in the same decade Wheeler makes the following remarks:

‘Not only do the sketches portray the boats and their gear accurately and in great detail, but they also show the fishermen at their work both offshore and inshore from most of the fishing centres of the Yorkshire coast. The facility of Dade’s pen work can only be admired and most certainly enjoyed.

‘These pictures show all this and are true in every way. Mr. Ernest Dade lived the life, knew the men, and sailed in the various craft he draws so well. It is a record of things passed away.

PS – Those looking for a pre-Christmas bargain might like to snap up a copy of Francis B Cooke’s Cruising Hints, which is now available at a good discount from Lodestar – for customers in the UK the hardback is down from £35 to £20 and the paperback from £20 to £12, for other countries the price is a little higher to take account of mailing costs.

 

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!

Fabulous new publications from Lodestar Books include classic yachting authors Conor O’Brien, H Alker Tripp, H Lewis Jones and WE Sinclair

Inshore of the Goodwins sample

Shoalwater and Fairway - H Alker Tripp - Christmas gifts from Lodestar Books Swin, Swale and Swatchway  - H Lewis Jones - Christmas gifts from Lodestar Books On Going to Sea in Yachts - Conor O'Brien - Christmas gifts from Lodestar Books Cruises of the Joan - W E Sinclair - Christmas gifts from Lodestar Books

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 YachtsConor 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!

Restoration work on Conor O’Brien’s coastal trader AK Ilen begins in Ireland

Photos from the first Big Boat Workshop working
on the Ilen restoration


The loss of Conor O’Brien’s famous Saoirse is long in the past, but another boat commissioned by the round-the-world voyager from Ireland is very much alive and is being restored at Hegarty’s Boatyard, in Oldcourt, Ireland.

She is being refitted in a series of week-long workshops under the expert guidance of three of the few remaining traditional shipwrights in Ireland today, Liam Hegarty, his brother John Hegarty and Fachtna O’Sullivan.

The Ilen was built by the Fisheries School in Baltimore – Ireland’s first vocational school – in the mid-1920s, and when she was launched in 1926, O’Brien and two Cadogan brothers from Cape Clear Island sailed her to the Falkland Islands, where she was delivered to the Falkland Island Company for inter-island trading.

For the next seventy years, Ilen served in the South Atlantic until the mid-1990s, when Limerick man Gary McMahon located her abandoned in the Falklands and brough her back to Baltimore in 1998.

McMahon hopes that the Ilen could help to lead the way to a new era of sustainable development through demonstrating that trading under sail is still viable.

The project has attracted a lot of interest in Ireland – recently a small crowd of celebrities turned up to see work start on her, including film producer Lord David Putnam and award-winning actor Jeremy Irons.

The refitting of the Ilen is now being used as an opportunity for people to experience first-hand the skills of wooden boat building through a series of five-day workshops in which anyone can apply to take part. The first, which took place at the beginning of November began with a talk by Glenstal Abbey forester Brother Anthony Keane on the types of timber used in boat building, and an introduction to wooden boat construction by Liam Hegarty and McMahon.

Further five-day workshops are planned for next year – see the project websites http://www.bigboatbuild.com and http://www.ilen.ie/. Gary can be reached at gary@ilen.ie or (Eire) 086 2640479.