Tag Archives: Light Trow

The latest issue of the wonderful The Marine Quarterly and two books: Mike Smylie’s Traditional Fishing Boats of Europe and an account of cruising in canoes in the 19th Century

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Novelist Sam Llewellyn’s other project, the unfailingly beautifully edited The Marine Quarterly,  continues to impress, and I’m enjoying the new edition as much as I have each of the previous nine editions. I say it’s essential reading, and that a full set – if one could keep them together – would be an asset when waiting for the tide.

This issue includes an illuminating history of pilots and piloting by Tom Cunliffe, Ken Duxbury’s account of visiting his first Greek island aboard his Drascombe Lugger Lugworm,   and an introduction to the story of pier-head painting by artist and illustrator Claudia Myatt.

In fact, if anything it gives me even greater pleasure because it includes a piece from Ben Crawshaw. Ben, as regular readers may remember, built one of my small boat designs, the Light Trow, and his book Catalan Castaway recounts his remarkable adventures. (See the ad at the top right of this weblog.)

Mike Smylie Traditional Fishing Boats of Europe

I’m also just beginning to read Mike Smylie’s latest book, Traditional Fishing Boats of Europe, which aims to tell the story of how the various types of fishing boats evolved over hundreds of years in line with the catches they were built to chase, the seas and climates in which they must work, and of course the cultural influences involved.

It’s a complicated story and clearly an important project, and I’ll be fascinated to find out just how he can cram all of that information between two covers! No doubt he can, though, because he’s done this kind of thing before and knows what he’s doing…

Those Magnificent Men in Their Roy-Roy Canoes

Jim Parnell’s Those Magnificent Men in Their Roy-Roy Canoes is clearly a must for  anyone interested in the remarkable story of sailing in these little boats.

It’s really a historical record of the adventures of the three New Zealand canoeing Park brothers, George, William  and James, who were active in the late 19th and early 20th Century, and includes material from their logs and from newspaper cuttings, and is written very much in the quite formal, slightly detached style of that era.

Still, the adventures they describe are quite something, and include crossing South Island (including a long portage, naturally) and crossing Cook Strait on a night with no moon. I needn’t mention how dangerous the Southern Ocean can be – but the Parks, particularly George Park, seem to have been indomitable.

Ben Crawshaw’s book Catalan Castaway is available to order

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I’m delighted to be able to announce that Ben’s colourfully illustrated 224-page book will be available from Lodestar Books in a few days and is now available to order, priced at £15 in the UK, £17 Europe and £20 outside Europe. [NB - this book is now debing delivered!]

It tells an amazing and exciting story, as the publisher’s notes make clear:

‘A sail-and-oar adventure in our own boat, one having the inevitable beauty of a form which accurately meets function – this is the dream of many of us. But Ben Crawshaw shows us that the dream is nearer to our grasp than we may think.

‘In Gavin Atkin’s Light Trow design he found an affordable boatbuilding project which would require the most simple and accessible of materials, and just basic woodworking ability.

‘Within months he was afloat in Onawind Blue, and his book Catalan Castaway recounts his day-sails, beach-camping cruises and a challenging longer voyage, over a five year period on the Catalan coast of Spain, where he lives with his partner and young family.

Onawind Blue has been Ben’s passport to the traditional maritime community of the region, so in addition to her own exploits we learn of the indigenous boat types, many now endangered, and the dedicated band of people who keep them alive.

‘Ben’s increasingly ambitious adventures have sometimes made him draw on deep reserves of physical and mental strength, as has his personal battle with the ‘giant octopus’ of serious illness, happily now at bay.’

Read a sample chapter of Catalan Castaway here.

For more posts about Ben Crawshaw and his boat Onawind Blue, click here. Also see Ben’s excellent weblog, Theinvisibleworkshop.

 

How Onawind Blue came to live in Ben’s new beach-side bar (and can’t you just smell that food?)

Light Trow Onawind Blue now lives in a beach bar

Read all about it here; I’m guessing it may become a destination for small boat sailors.

For more posts about Ben Crawshaw and the Light Trow (including free plans for building this flat-bottomed sailing and rowing boat), click here and page back through the ‘older posts’ links.

PS – I’m reminded by reader Dale that Ben’s handsome new book Catalan Castaway will be out in a few weeks. If you let the publisher Lodestar Books have your email address, they’ll contact you when they start reserving copies about four weeks ahead of publication.

Ben Crawshaw goes racing in Onawind Blue

A recent shot of Ben Crawshaw sailing his Light Trow Onawind Blue, photo by Toni Clapés

Light Trow sailor Ben Crawshaw has reported on a windy race in which he took part in Onawind Blue – and received a prize for going around twice in cracking time.

In all the time Ben has spent with OB, he has clearly developed tremendous skills, and his report has what you might call a swashbuckling tone.

(I should say that the photo above was taken a little while ago – not at the race reported on here.)

Here’s a quote from what he has to say.

I felt confident about driving OB hard. The wind was solid and, away from the land, the gusts came on more gently. I had my legs hooked under an oar lashed across the thwarts and my bum hanging over the rail. My boat was making good progress to windward compared to others further to leeward, some of whom appeared to be over canvassed and spilling wind.

Coming up to the next mark — OB throwing up a deal of spray and riding on a wave of foam — the race boat approached. The organiser, now wearing the hat of a race official shouted across. He might have been imparting important information or quoting Cervantes, whatever, the words were lost to the wind. I watched the Zodiac whizz off towards other boats.

I tacked OB round the windward mark and she hared off on the second downwind leg.

Looking around I saw that we were alone. I had almost certainly missed some vital information. Reflecting, I reckoned there was nothing for it but to crack on regardless — even if I had messed up it had been an enormously enjoyable sail.

In the end, Ben received a hero’s welcome for going round the course twice in conditions where the other racers turned for the shore after one circuit.

His post (link above) is well worth reading – as is his weblog as a whole.

Here at Atkin Towers, we think that if it were fiction Ben’s progress would make a great film – the very public backyard building project, the early sails where he got things sorted out, the extraordinary adventures that followed, how he dealt with adversity and then came back for more sailing, including this victorious episode.

But it’s not fiction – it’s all true… perhaps someone would commission him to write the book that’s obviously waiting to be written!

Follow Ben’s weblog here.

San Francisco artist Lawrence LaBianca uses the Light Trow in his work

Loomings, featuring a quotation from Melville's Moby Dick

Lawrence LaBianca art work installation Lawrence LaBianca steel boat sculpture

California artist Lawrence LaBianca has been using the hull of my Light Trow design in his artwork, we were delighted to learn this morning.

Lawrence got in touch this morning to tell us that he’s been working with boat forms and a variety of themes, including Melville’s masterpiece Moby Dick , that among others he has used the hull of the Light Trow in some of them. Click on the big image and you should be able to read a quotation from the first chapter of Melville’s novel on the bottom of my little boat.

I really like that idea!

More recently he has been working on creating works that record environmental phenomenas such as wind, water – see an example here – and is  now in the process of making several buoys, which he intends to deploy in the waters around the San Francisco Bay. He also says he’s thinking of building a full-sized Light Trow to use in placing the buoys, and for rowing and sailing on the bay.

Naturally we’re curious about the buoys – and delighted to hear that there are plans afoot to build another Light Trow. Great good luck Lawrence, and thanks for your news and photos.

PS – Regular readers may be trying to remember when Ben Crawshaw’s Light Trow appeared in artist’s work – in fact, it appeared in an illustration by Spanish artist Elena Val for a child’s book: click here to see the post.

Ben Crawshaw sails Light Trow Onawind Blue in the Semaine du Golfe du Morbihan



Ben Crawshaw Onawind Blue in ther Golf de Morbihan photo by photos by Mónica Sitjes

Ben Crawshaw Onawind Blue in ther Golf de Morbihan photo by photos by Mónica Sitjes Ben Crawshaw Onawind Blue in ther Golf de Morbihan photo by photos by Mónica Sitjes

Ben Crawshaw Onawind Blue in the Golf de Morbihan. Photos by Mónica Sitjes

Ben Crawshaw’s been having a lovely time sailing his Light Trow Onawind Blue in the Semaine du Golfe du Morbihan – as the pictures above show. He’s been writing about it on his weblog –  the three posts so far are here, here and here.

Ben’s done some amazing sailing in his boat built from my drawings but hasn’t really sailed with comparable boats, so he and I have both been fascinated to find out how she stands up to competition. Here’s what he says:

‘Having never really seen her sailing alongside comparable boats I’d no way of judging her performance except that it seemed perfectly adequate for my use, which as you know has included offshore passages. Now I’ve seen that she goes very well indeed.

‘I say comparable boats though I doubt any were as light as OB and this really showed when sailing off the wind, she flew along. I find her very comfortable on this point of sail—wind over the stern quarter—I spoke to other crews who were worried about capsizing on squally downwind legs but this wasn’t an issue with OB as she simply accelerated as the gust came on. Hull trim is critical on all points of sail.

‘Morbihan is crowded, you’re rarely more than a couple of boat lengths from somebody else. I always tried to sail away from the pack but all the same a constant look out was necessary and I found myself wishing (for the first time) for a crew member. And if I do that sort of event again I will raise the boom beforehand.

‘I saw quite a few boats capsize, we did have some strong winds and stronger squalls but OB was fine. Sometimes I could stay sheeted in and ride out the gusts hanging my arse over the rail but at other times I had to let her luff. Just once I had to really throw my weight to windward. I think she’s good like this because the boom and sail are low, because she is trim-critical and responds to your weight being in the right place, and because I try not to sail overpowered.

‘There were a couple of four-hour upwind sails which were hard work. It’s not her favourite point of sail but she can do it without losing face.

‘I feel I know the boat very well now but can’t really judge how she would treat a novice. But certainly for me she’s a cracker and is perfectly suited to my purpose of simple, singled handed sailing and cruising.

‘Other boaters were interested and very welcoming, I didn’t feel apart for having a flat bottomed ply and epoxy boat amongst so many boats of traditional construction. I received compliments for her lines and speed.’

Read more about Ben boat here.

Light Trow Onawind Blue flies past (reprise)

 

Ben Crawshaw sailing Light Trow Onawind Blue in ‘entertaining’ conditions

I’ve posted this clip before, but can’t resist doing so again, after the chap who runs out local chandlery and I watched it again this afternoon. ‘It’s not a slow boat,’ I said, a little surprised as I’d forgotten how well the little Light Trow looks in this clip.

‘It’s a great advert,’ he said, ‘in fact it’s creaming along.’ I said little, but I can tell you that the designer blushed with pleasure!

There’s a serious message here for all of us: even in the UK this could be you, this summer. Get or build a boat and let’s all go sailing! (See the free boat plans page for a set of drawings for building this boat.)

For more posts about our friend Ben and his Light Trow, click here.