Tag Archives: humber yawl

A new site for canoe yawl enthusiasts

canoe yawl, dick wynne, george holmes, eel, canoeyawl, humber yawl

George Holmes’ influential canoe yawl Eel

The canoe yawl deserves more prominence, and so Dick Wynne and friends have set up a website devoted to this type of boat at www.canoeyawl.org. I hope it’s a great success!

Here’s what Dick and co say about their venture:

We want to draw attention to today’s and tomorrow’s canoe yawl designs and not be seen as a purely historical group. But fear not, we love the pioneers too — one of the CYA ringleaders sails a 19th century design. Our aim is to represent all known canoe yawl designs, past and present, on these pages — it’ll take us a while to flesh out the design archive, with more designs, and more words to those already present.

  • If you have designed a canoe yawl, we want to hear from you and to give you some free advertising.
  • If you own a canoe yawl we want to hear from you with your experiences of it.
  • If you’re selling or buying a canoe yawl, we want to help you.
  • If you are none of the above and just like canoe yawls, we want to hear from you anyway!

The folks behind canoeyawl.org have a magazine in the pipeline that we hope will appear twice a year, and some interesting practical initiatives to discuss. I hope it’s all a great success.

PS – if you’re interested in canoe yawls, you may want to check out one of the seriously good reads of the year: Holmes of the Humber.

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Is it a Humber yawl? A Thames canoe yawl? Restoration begins with detective work

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The mystery canoe yawl. Does anyone have any clues as to what this
particular boat would have looked like when launched? And what’s the
meaning of the enamel plate showing a paddle?

One of the interesting items that turned up at the Turk’s Boatyard sale wasn’t actually in the on-line auction – an old canoe yawl spotted by our good friend Steve Taylor.

The Turk’s yard folks quickly accepted his offer, and so last week he trailered the old boat home to begin the first stage of any restoration: trying to work out what the boat must have been like before age and botched modifications and repairs brought it to its current condition. This boat has certainly had it’s share of odd, badly executed changes, though the original workmanship seems to be quite fine and the materials certainly seem to have been expensive.

The boat’s 18ft in length, and came with some stories attached to it. These had it that the boat was originally made by Turk’s, that it was made for William Baden Powell, that it was depicted in Dixon Kemp and that it had been brought to the yard many years ago by a pair of elderly ladies who intended that it should be restored by the yard, though the project never went ahead.

Having looked at my copy of the book, I don’t think we’re convinced by the Dixon Kemp link, but I suppose she could have been built by Turk’s to a set of plans that might have been associated with the Humber. Does anyone have any information that would help Steve towards working out the details of his restoration please? If you do, please email me at gmatkin@gmail.com and I’ll pass it on.

Holmes of the Humber: a review

 

Eel

Eel, drawn by her skipper and designer, George Holmes

[June 2011 – This book is now available again after selling out less than a year after publication.]

Now that my copy has arrived, Tony Watts’ book Holmes of the Humber seems bigger than I’d expected. This is seriously good news, for although it isn’t quite coffee-table book sized, it’s nevertheless big enough to do justice to old George Holmes’ lovely illustration work.

There are also several intriguing photos of the man himself – they’re fascinating because he is so much everybody’s idea of what a slightly eccentric Edwardian uncle really should look like, and rather at odds with his own whimsical depictions of himself in drawings.

I should also add that it’s packed with an impressive amount of material, much of it drawn or written or both by the man himself. As I leaf through the pages I’m struck by how many pages are made up of a mixture of drawings and hand-written text, and can’t help wondering whether this may have been where Alfred Wainright – consciously or unconsciously – found his inspiration for his meticulously hand-written and illustrated books about the Lake District.

The chapters start with his early years, and include a map of the rivers and coast of much of Yorkshire and also the rivers of Lincolnshire. This map is essential to understanding much of the content of this part of book. Quite quickly Watts moves on to material from the Eel years, including a charming draftsman-like drawing of the boat itself and her dinghy Snig quickly followed by an equally sweet page of comic-book style drawings depicting Eel’s first cruise and accompanied by captions including 11pm May 26 1897 Hornsea Beach. Waiting followed by Midnight May 28 1897 Hauling through the surf, then A bit lumpy off the Newsand Noon May 29 1897, Passing the Bull Lightship 2pm May 29 and finally Moored at Ferriby Sluice. May 29 1897.

Holmes’ illustrations and texts just go on and on – the Eel years alone runs to 60-something pages. There’s a nice chapter of descriptions of some of the Humber’s local boat types including the crab boat, the Goole billy boy, the Humber duster, the Paull shrimper and of course an illustration of how a smack’s boat is converted into a blobber, complete with small cutter rig and cozy – but unstable-looking – house.

It’s notable that the up-river blobbers had much taller houses, which went neatly with having no rigs – at least in Holmes’ illustration.

After 15 years with the little 21ft Eel, Holmes moved on to the 28tft Snippet in search of greater comfort – as he says ‘there had come a slight increase in my beam, a disinclination to bend and a desire for standing headroom below’. The early Snippet drawings are then immediately followed by more of Holmes’ comic book-style annotated drawings – this time scenes from his first cruise with Snippet on the Norfolk Broads.

There’s another section of Holmes’ descriptions of various sailing areas including the tidal Trent and the Upper Humber, the Rivers Ouse and Hull, and – astonishingly to me – the River Ancholme. I should explain that the Ancholme lies just a few miles from the small North Lincolnshire town where I grew up, and was pleasantly pleased to recognise some scenes from the river that I haven’t seen since I was a boy, including, of course, the bridge at Brigg, from where the delightful but rarely sung traditional song Brigg Fair got its name.

There’s a short section on Holmes the artist, followed by another on his boat designs including canoe yawls Cassy; the first, second and third Ethel; Daisy; Yum-Yum; Kittiwake; Redwing; T’Rotter; Trent; Design No 7 and Ripple. If you’re in search of material about canoe yawls, you certainly won’t feel let down, but this chapter also includes some ‘house boats’, which are really like more conventional yachts, and a curious round-bottomed barge yacht.

And, finally, there’s what looks like a comprehensive list of Homes’ designs and boats compiled by Albert Strange Association technical secretary Richard Powell.

At £25, Holmes of the Humber isn’t cheap, but it’s a heck of a good package that’s well worth the money. If you’re at all interested in Holmes this book should certainly be on your wish list this Christmas! See http://www.lodestarbooks.com for information.