Down on Elba, Peter Radclyffe talks about the issues involved in restoring and repairing a many decades old traditionally built boat made for the Mediterranean. I hope folks can see it, because he has some interesting points to make…
This is a lovely piece of film, but don’t let that distract you from noticing how Ben Crawshaw has the art of launching down pat – or the way he uses a topping lift to enable him to row efficiently. This fella has something to teach us.
And, as usual, he has his boat looking great, and the low sun looks even better on the sparkling water of Spain’s Mediterranean coast in January this year.
I found the Vimeo link on Ben’s website a bit difficult – if you have trouble making it work well, look out for a button that takes you to a YouTube presentation of the same snatch of film.
Ben Crawshaw’s series of short videos recording his astonishing trip in Onawind Blue get better and better – if that’s possible.
The latest sees him rowing and sailing up the eastern Spanish coast from the Ebro Delta to Cap Salou in light winds – at times he’s nearly crushed by exhaustion yet at others he’s so jubilant he’s close to flying. Unmissable, moving stuff, I’d say, though encouraging someone else to do the same thing would be just about the last thing I’d do…
For more on Ben, Onawind Blue and trows light and otherwise, click here.
Onawind Blue some months ago after Ben fitted her with new sails
Ben Crawshaw has successfully sailed home to Spain from Ibiza via the Columbrete Islands in his 15ft-something 50-50 rowing-sailing boat Onawind Blue.
This meant a second long sea crossing, which in the prevailing conditions meant a lot of rowing. He’s logged only a fairly sketchy account of the trip back on his weblog – there’s much more to come, I gather – but already I think it’s essential reading. See his The Invisible Workshop post.
I shudder to thing what condition he must be in, but he seems to have hugely enjoyed what has been a hugely intense experience – on the way out he broke his rudder, but after fixing it on Ibiza he then cruised to Formentera, which he describes as ‘an idyllic island surrounded by impossibly turquoise waters’.
No doubt it all seemed that much better after making the trip alone in a small boat he has built and learned to cruise alone.
Bloody well done Ben! I’m looking forward to hearing more and seeing the promised photos and film.
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Onawind Blue with her new sails back in April. Hopefully we’ll be able to replace this with a shot from Ibiza shortly!
I’ve just heard that Ben Crawshaw sailing his Light Trow named Onawind Blue has arrived in Ibiza after leaving Javea on the Spanish mainland at 1am on Monday morning.
With favourable southerly winds she covered the 68 nautical miles from Javea to to Talamanca Bay on the east side of the island in 19 hours. I seem to remember I originally designed this little boat for sheltered waters, but Ben’s steady progress in adapting it to his purposes has been impressive. Well done Ben!
For more and to leave your congratulations in his comments, go to Ben’s weblog The Invisible Workshop.
Galley drawing from On the High Seas – click for a larger image
Idly reading my first edition copy of On the High Seas by E Keble Chatterton, I was astonished to find this drawing of a galley.
The book itself is a largely unstructured collection of salty yarns about mutiny, exploration, slavers, pirates and high adventure – the chapter headings themselves tell a story, for they include: Chpt 1 Deep Sea Roving, Chpt IV The Profession of Piracy, Chpt VIII St Helena and the Slavers and Chpt XI Gambling with Death.
I can’t be sure that the proportions of the tippy-looking vessel shown are truly representative, but for me at least, this drawing of a galley from the chapter on the Profession of Piracy raises some practical points. It has a rig that would normally be expected to be best in beating rather than running – but I suspect sailing upwind was not its main purpose. For one thing I imagine the rowing galleries must have been vulnerable to digging-in when heeled, causing a kind of wild reverse-broach; for another I’d guess that like one of Pete Culler’s recreational skiff users, the commanders of these craft would row upwind when it was faster than sailing.
The power question is interesting. By my count there are two galleries of 27 oars here, each with six oarsmen. If well trained and well they fed, could theoretically deliver 0.2hp each – and by my calculation hat’s 324 oarsmen who, in my calculation should be able to deliver a total of 65hp. That’s not a huge amount of grunt for a ship this size, but even this figure would have to be reduced by some factor because it must have been difficult for the oarsmen at the inner and outer extremes of each oar to deliver their theoretical maximum, either because of the lack of travel or because of too much.
Surely, the man by the gunwale must have been chosen for his massive strength and the man at the far end for his height and span?
The detail shown here is fabulous. Just look at the warlike group on the forecastle and the three guns. I’d hate to see one of these coming my way, particularly if I had no wind to escape!
Here’s what Keble-Chatterton has to say:
‘The corsairs of Tunis rarely emerged from the Mediterranean, but sailed about off the south of Sardinia, or Cape Passaro at the heel of Sicily, or that historic pirate area among the Ionian Islands. The latter was a risky sphere, for the Venetian naval galleys with sails, masts, big crews of oarsmen, and with bow-guns, wsere not infrequently to be met with. The Moors feared these Venetians as their deadliest enemies, nor was the Battle of Lepanto yet forgotten. Using handy lateen-sail feluccas, with plenty of men to row as required in light or head winds, the Tunis pirates had and endless series of bays, creeks, and islands wherein to creep for rest and recreation. Such islands as Candia, Lampedusa, Rhodes and Cyprus could be used; but Tunis itself, being an open roadstead with inadequate protection from the fort, was not for them an ideal base. Algiers, on the contrary, was protected by a mole and a citadel; and there was a light showing to enable the rovers to get home from the sea.’
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Cooking on board Ben Crawshaw’s Onawind Blue
I don’t know about you, but I find just looking at this photo of Ben’s dinner cooking on board his Light Trow named Onawind Blue sets my senses off. I’m sure I can smell this dish as it cooks.
To quote Ben:
‘According to the great Catalan writer Josep Pla (1897-1981) fish stew as cooked and eaten by fishermen is the most ancient of Mediterranean dishes. Regardless of the religion, the rulers or the nationality of the neighbouring shores fish stew has been a constant.
‘A simple dish with a long history that, marrying fish, onion, garlic, tomato and potato in the pot, produces sustaining, sumptuous yet delicate fare. From this fundamental marriage the Provencal bouillabaisse was born and also the less elaborate suquet of Catalonia, a dish that has attained an almost legendary status (at least on its home shores) and one that usually carries a price tag to match.’
Find out how to cook it – the recipe is simple and you’ll find it at Ben’s excellent weblog The Invisible Workshop.
For more on trows in general and the Light Trow in particular, including boatbuilding plans etc, click here.