Tag Archives: Sailing boat

Sailing adventures in a cheap little skiff – Tom Pamperin writes


Tom Pamperin has got in touch to tell us about his book project about his adventures and misadventures sailing a little plywood skiff that cost $300 to make – he’s hoping to crowd-source some funds to get it published using the Kickstarter website.

A sample of Tom’s style is pasted below. I should explain that the boat is called Jagular and is referred to as ‘him’, that Tom writes for the excellent Duckworks Magazine.

I am perhaps prejudiced in his favour after learning that he’s an Intheboatshed.net reader, has a niece and nephews who are enthusiastic Mouseboat users, and that he enjoys Ben Crawshaw’s website and also Ben’s book Catalan Castaway. I suppose he must be my kind of chap!

By evening a ragged curtain of gray clouds has dropped across the western sky, bringing an eerie greengray twilight that feels like the shadow of something I’d rather not turn around to see. We’re making good time but I’m starting to get nervous. I fumble my way into my drysuit as the first fingers of lightning start to spark across the clouds behind us. The clouds rumble along in a wall of gray thousands of feet high, gaining on us rapidly now. The wind is picking up and we’re sailing fast and I should probably tie in a reef. Instead I sheet in and start to edge us closer to shore.

“You see those rocks, don’t you?” Jagular asks.

I couldn’t miss them if I wanted to. The entire shoreline is fringed with a reef of granite, just as the chart shows. Waves are breaking over the rocks and sending bright splashes of spray into the air. Overhead the clouds have almost reached us and the sky is dark. Lightning. Thunder. Waves. Rocks. Big black badass clouds now, rumbling and muttering overhead, a little rain. The waves are building, too; there’s twenty miles of open water behind us, plenty of room for big waves to get bigger.

‘”The hell with this,” I tell the boat as lightning flashes overhead. “The hell with that,” he says as a wave smashes into a rock a few yards to port.

“That about sums it up,” I agree. But we have to try something and none of the choices seem particularly appealing. I steer toward land, where there’s a strip of sandy beach along the shore. Rocks.

Breaking waves. More rocks. I steer away.

Lightning. Thunder. More lightning.

Overhead the sky unleashes another guffawing peal of thunder.

We’re in among a field of boulders now, and the waves are big enough to hide them deep in the troughs; I’m at the tiller but I’m no longer in control. I check the zipper on my drysuit, tighten the neck seal. Rocks. Thunder. Lightning. Rain. More rain. Growing darkness and a definite increase in wind. We keep sailing along, paralleling the
shore while the waves get bigger and more aggressive and somewhere above us in the clouds our fate is being decided.

There’s got to be another way in, I keep telling myself. Doesn’t there?

Then out of nowhere a log rears up, leaping out of a wave crest and launching itself at us like a battering ram. It thumps the side of Jagular’s hull and drops back into the water.

“The hell with this!” I shout, and swing the boat toward shore again. There’s a bit of a bay just ahead, with rocky arms reaching out to create a tiny U-shaped pocket of pebbly beach. There are a couple of run-down cottages along the shore above the beach but I’m not waiting for a better chance this time. The mass of clouds has caught us, hanging overhead like a dark fist raised for smiting, and the waves are walloping along all too enthusiastically. The hell with the cottages. We can probably camp down close to the shore without being seen.

“If we make it that far,” Jagular mutters.

A magic lantern slide of the sailing barge Charles Hutton

Sailing barge Charles Hutton

Dorset boatbuilder and Weymouth College head of maritime skills Ian Baird has sent over a scan of this fine magic lantern slide of the sailing barge Charles Hutton being loaded with what is believed to be Portland stone.

Barge folks… Is anything known about this sailing barge, or the Portland stone trade please?

Thanks for the great shot Ian!

PS – This photo and request for information has attracted some great, informative responses from readers. Click on the comments link for more about the barge in the photo, the Portland stone trade, great old photos and something about local wreck archaeology. Thanks everyone, including Chris Brady, Mick Nolan, and Paul Mullings.

The Kentish Sail Association’s Swale Match 2013 – part 2

Beale Park Boat Show this weekend

Beale Park Boat Show 2 Beale Park Boat Show 1

The Beale Park Boat Show runs from this Friday to Sunday (7th – 9th June, 2013) at Lower Basildon in Berkshire.

The organisers say that this year’s event is looking good – exhibitor bookings are strong, there new attractions and visitor numbers are expected to be increased as children are now admitted free when accompanied by a full-paying adult.

The show is well known for its traditionally built craft, the Watercraft magazine competition for amateur boatbuilders and its race small boats powered by various cordless tools. There are also displays and demonstrations, free boat trips (subject to availability), and a ‘try a boat’ scheme operated by exhibitors and children’s activities.

The Historical Maritime Society will this year take to the show’s seven acre lake in a 23ft full-size replica of a frigate’s launch to perform evolutions under oars and sail.

On dry land, the re-enactors will return to their marquee to explain aspects of life at sea for the officers and men, and for the ladies at home; who will also be present at the show telling historical tales of what life was like back then.Visitors will have the chance to learn how crews were fed, what they drank, how ship to ship signalling worked and much more.

The Society also plans to show a WWII four-man commando canoe.

I hoping to make it along on the Friday – if I make it, I will certainly call on Lodestar Books publishers of new and neglected nautical writing, the Boat Building Academy, and the International Boatbuilding Training College.

Broadland Holiday 1954

I picked this up from the wonderful Broadland Memories – a site that’s well worth visiting for its wonderful collection of photos of the Norfolk Broads.

BBA students build and launch a clinker Paul Gartside Skylark dinghy

Skylark - Jim Higginson. Photo - Emma Brice Skylark - Jim Higginson at centre.  Photo by Becky Joseph

This 14ft Paul Gartside-designed Skylark traditional clinker-built dinghy made by Boat Building Academy student Jim Higginson with help from fellow students Paddy Uniacke and Mark Bestford is planked in slow-grown Douglas fir, which was also used to construct its birdsmouth-style mast.

A similar 12ft Gartside-designed dinghy built by an earlier student caught Jim’s eye on a visit to the academy, and chose to build the boat partly for its looks and partly because of the range of skills it required to build. The boat is named Amethyst – the moniker was chosen by Jim’s grandfather, who kindly paid for the materials and got to take her out with Jim on board on student launch day.

See a photo log of the build of Amethyst here.

Not many students part with their first built boat, but Jim intends to sell the dinghy. (If any reader is interested in the boat, please send me an email at gmatkin@gmail.com and I’ll forward it on.)

Having graduated, Jim is now looking for opportunities to develop his skills, preferably through working with a traditional boat yard. [PS - I learn today - the 22nd - that Jim has now got a trial job at a traditional boat yard in Gloucester. Good luck Jim!]

Paddy successfully graduated as a seckhand on a Tallships Youth Trust voyage in 2007 and has since spent time working in Australia and New Zealand - one of his many and varied jobs included a stint at Freshwater Bay Shipwrights in Perth.

Like a couple of others in the same student cohort, Paddy left the BBA with a job lined up in a yard at Ipswich, working on the restoration of a Dragon. A keen traveller, Paddy eventually aims to take his skills to Canada and find boat building employment there.

Mark returned to England two years ago after serving in the Merchant Navy followed by 22 years in the Royal Navy.

On leaving the Navy, Mark worked in various roles including yacht skipper, sailing instructor and private charter skipper. He’s now setting up a business at Chesterfield, Derbyshire, that will offer offer boat management, and mobile maintenance, repairs, and support services for private owners and marine businesses covering the inland waterways, reservoirs and coastal areas of the UK.

As he says, there are many boat owners who do not have the time or facilities, or are physically unable to maintain their boats through the seasons, and the new company’s aim is effrectively to bring the boatyard to the customer’s boat.

To be called Boatwork, the business is also to have an artistic dimension, creating wall art made from reclaimed wood, including what he calls ‘Boathearts’ – elegant boat cross sections designed for use as wall decorations or sailing trophies, and made from offcuts left over following boat building work.

In addition, Mark is supporting a British Mini 6.50 Transat campaign, and has a website at www.boatwork.co.uk.

3. Boatheart - Photo by Mark Bestford

The Edge – a Mouseboat for teens and small adults

Mouseboats Yahoogroup member Tomasz has made me smile with his build successful build of my The Edge stitch and glue sailing dinghy design intended for teenagers and small – to medium-sized adults.

When I drew it, I described it like this: ‘designed to deliver the most fun I can squeeze out of a minimum of materials and construction work. In this case the main constituents are three sheets of 1/4in marine ply and a quarter sheet of 1/2in marine ply, some lumber and a sheet of polytarp’.

He describes it this way: ‘lively, fast and easy to steer. We did not observe her as tippy. You can easy climb into the boat from deep water.’

Well done Tomasz! I must say I particularly like the look of that lateen sail.

Plans for The Edge are at Mouseboats, and also at Duckworksmagazine.