Tag Archives: H Lewis Jones

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!

We recommend: Swin, Swale and Swatchway by H Lewis Jones, reprinted by Lodestar Books

Swin-Swale-and-Swatchway-Front-Cover

I’ve just read H Lewis Jones’ book Swin, Swale and Swatchway in a new edition from Lodestar Books, and I have to say that it’s a rattling good read.

Lodestar proprieter Dick Wynne has kindly given me permission to put up a section of Swin, Swale and Swatchway – download it here. The whole thing is of course available at a very reasonable price from the Lodestar Books website.

Lewis Jones’ book about cruising around the Thames Estuary and its various creeks and rivers quickly turned out to be one of those that I read from cover to cover and didn’t want to put down. I come across only three or four such books a year that meet that description.

On starting to read Swin, Swale and Swatchway I quickly felt I was in familiar territory – yes, the sailing areas he describes are often familiar, but more there seems little doubt that Lewis Jones was a powerful influence on many sailing authors who came later. That’s what I thought when I first sat down to read, and I was enormously pleased to be vindicated later when I learned that Maurice Griffiths, no less, was a Lewis Jones fan.

Published in 1892 and not reprinted until now, Swin, Swale and Swatchway still seems very fresh, and almost every page seems to includes something quotable. Here are a few very small samples

‘The Medway in its lower reaches is a splendid cruising ground for small craft, certainly there is no other place at once so accessible from London and so convenient for small-boat sailing. From Rochester Bridge to Sheerness there are nearly fourteen miles of water, all open except in the neighbourhood of Rochester itself… For the rest of the distance the banks are low, so that the winds blow true and without squalls; there is soft bottom everywhere, so that no harm can follow from any accidental going ashore, and for a large part of the distance, in fact for nearly the whole way from Gillingham to Sheerness, there are a series of side creeks and channels, along which the man who is fond of exploring expeditions can penetrate into no end of quaint corners, and can find plenty of quiet anchorages for the night without alarms of any sort.’

Again, on the subject of one of these creeks:

‘Long ago, Stangate Creek was full of hulks, and was used as a quarantine station, and at the time of the Crimean war there was a large number of Russian prisoners kept there. When any of them died they were buried on the island, between Stangate and Queenborough, which has the name of Dead Man’s Island. Tradition says that the fishermen used to dig up the coffins for the sake of the oak planks of which they were made; and Benson says he once picked up on the shore there a hollow thing which he used for a bailer for some time, until he discovered that it was a piece of human skull, and hastily threw it overboard.’

Benson, I should explain, was the experienced Thames sailor and Mr Fixit who looked after LewisJones’ boat when the author was going about his workaday business.

Finally, here’s a Lewis Jones anecdote explaining why tying up overnight at Rochester wasn’t necessarily such a good idea in the late 19th century:

‘Once, when we were anchored near the Sun Pier, about five in the morning, an enterprising young ruffian thought the occasion a good one for coming alongside to prospect for moveables, little reckoning that as he touched the little vessel’s sides there would emerge, Jackin-the-box like, a half-dressed and dangerous looking figure from the fore hatch and another from aft, with a truculence of aspect heightened by a pair of gold spectacles; and that both, in well drilled chorus, and in accents bland, would demand an explanation of the unexpected visit. The double-barrelled apparition proved too much for our young friend; his jaw dropped, he hastily withdrew, murmuring by way of apology for his intrusion, “I say, d’yer stay out all night in that ‘ere?”‘

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!