Tag Archives: stirling and son

Sailing to the Longships Lighthouse in a 14ft traditional dinghy

Multiple award winning boatbuilder and designer and all-round interesting bloke Will Stirling is continuing his campaign to visit dramatic lighthouses using a traditional 14ft dinghy built by Stirling and Son - most recently with a trip to the Longships Lighthouse, built on group of rocks a couple of miles west of the notorious point of Land’s End.

With this August’s weather, I think he’s done well to find a window in the weather!

Here’s his story about the expedition:

‘The original plan was to sail from Sennen Cove just North of Land’s End down to the Wolf Lighthouse, back around the Longships Lighthouse and return to Sennen Cove.

‘I set off early from Plymouth to avoid any traffic. On the way down the A30 the windmills were gently turning. From high land the Isles of Scilly and the Wolf were in clear view. Light winds and good visibility augured well.

‘I arrived in good time at Land’s End and twisted my way down the lane into Sennen Cove. The tiny old harbour was very pretty. I backed the dinghy down a very steep granite slipway overlooked by a mighty lifeboat station.

‘Reversing on the sand was easy and the dinghy was soon afloat and anchored off - but driving forward on the sand was not easy and the van soon became bogged down. Two fisherman were watching and no doubt the odd curtain was twitching. I am used to feeling stupid.

‘There was the predictable sucking through teeth about the difficulties of recovering the van and when it would be possible to do so later in the day. No doubt King Cnut sat in his throne on the beach to demonstrate that the tide could not be defied, with a pair of stout thurls on hand to lug the throne up the beach when the old king’s toes started to get wet. I could see that the van would be a little more difficult to recover.

‘However, having played the lead role in many acts of foolishness I am pretty philosophical; things tend to get sorted out.

‘I had some time in hand in relation to the tide, so I prepared the dinghy, hauled the trailer up the beach and bought a parking ticket. By the time I was back the fishermen had rigged a warp around a turning block and back to the harbour-head capstan. We dragged the van up the beach, and with an extra burst of speed managed to claw up the slipway.

‘I didn’t bother to contemplate dinghy recovery at this stage, but gave the kind fishermen my thanks and some chocolate and set off.

‘Soon afterwards, I returned having realised I had forgotten the VHF and then pulled the zip off the drysuit. The zip was unrepairable but the VHF was now on board.

‘The trip was still within the tidal constraints for doubling the Wolf; however, the wind was very light and I began to doubt that I would reach the Wolf before the tide turned. I decided to sail to the Longship’s first and see if the wind would fill in away from the land or come up as time passed.

‘I sailed just South of the Shark’s Fin, a nasty rock to the North of the Longships, and despite the calm weather there were tidal overfalls. Strangely, the wind seemed to increase in each of the overfalls as the dinghy sailed through them quite fast.

‘Turning South and to seaward of the Longships I could see an alarming line of broken water to the West, indicating further overfalls. As the tide was pushing East, I had to hope I wouldn’t be sucked into them.

‘When I successfully got to the Longships, it seemed calm enough to consider a landing. I sailed among the rocks to the south of the lighthouse and anchored in a little cove where there were seals.

‘The dry suit was broken so I swam five metres to the shore in underpants and took some photos – very aware that if the main sheet did wind itself around the tiller and become jammed, trip the anchor and sail the dinghy out of the cove, massive embarrassment awaited. I didn’t waste any time ashore and took care to ensure I was always within a few seconds of regaining the dinghy.

‘In the second trip ashore to a small off lying rock the dinghy began to drag. I quickly clambered back aboard and sailed into deeper water away from the rocks before sorting everything out on board.

‘It was now 1130 with one hour until the tidal gate for arriving at the Wolf, which was 8 miles away to the South. The wind itself was now a steady F3 from the N. Ideal conditions for getting to the Wolf; not good conditions for getting back, particularly if the wind increased. I decided that it was not wise to attempt the Wolf with only an hour of tide, adverse wind for the return journey and a broken dry suit which made me vulnerable to offshore capsize. I was already quite cold after my swim.

‘I sailed back towards Sennen, through the overfalls just North of Kettle Rock and into the little harbour.

‘Charles Bush (the director of Mayflower Marina which is right next to our yard in Plymouth) happened to be standing on the beach with his family. He had been out catching turbot for supper.

‘With a bit of Norwegian steam we dragged the dinghy up the beach and hitched her onto the van at the very bottom of the granite slipway. Charles’ family pushed, his son sat on the bonnet to give the wheels traction and with much revving the whole rig reached the tarmac at the top of the slip. One cream tea later at the Bush’s cottage over looking the cove and some local advice about a better launching spot for the next Wolf attempt concluded a very pleasant Longship’s circumnavigation.

‘Best wishes, Will’

Stirling and Son offers traditional yacht building and wooden boat repair and is based at the historic No 1 Covered Slip at Devonport. Also, follow the Stirling and Son Facebook page for news, some wonderful boats and great photos.

 

Stirling & Son refit an all-teak Vertue

The teak-built Vertue named Tom Thumb has just gone back down the slipway following a five-month refit at Stirling and Son’s yard at Devonport.

The 25ft boat has a new teak deck and new interior, and has also been re-rigged. And naturally she’s looking very smart!

1950 transatlantic sailor Humphrey Barton described his Laurent Giles Vertue as ‘The most perfect small ocean going yacht that has ever been built’.

Boatbuild and writer Adrian Morgan of Viking Boats owns and sails a Vertue, and has written an affectionate and interesting piece about the design.

In this he warns that you have to be careful about talking about the Vertue, and then dares to describe the heavy displacement small cruiser as a touch narrow. Well, if a long time owner says so, he’s probably right. Still, I think few of us would pass up a chance to sail one…

Btw… Have you seen this?

Will Stirling 9ft dinghy built in Galicia, North-West Spain

Luis phone pictures august 2013 193

Martin Scannall has built this smart example of Will Stirling’s 9ft dinghy. Here’s what he has to say about it:

‘What a joy the dinghy is. It rows like a dream, straight as an arrow and nearly as fast, is stable, can carry four adults with ease and tows well too. I have sent you a shot of her on a local beach, where rather than drive I rowed half a mile or so to a party, just for the pleasure of the thing.’

You can’t say that for many 9ft dinghies. For more information about the Stirling & Son 9ft dinghy plans, click here.

Martin has also been towing the dinghy behind his sailing cruiser Sauntress (I hope this is the correct boat – the Classic Boat link that comes up in Googleseems to be infected by something nasty at the moment so please be careful), and so keeps two long warps on the quarters of his boat.

‘The warps slipped over when I was not looking. As a result I had an unintended lesson in the effectiveness of towing warps in a following sea, which was remarkable.

‘They virtually stopped the yacht so we had to heave to to retrieve the warp, which turned out to be no easy matter. Lesson learned.’

It’s worth knowing for the rest of us, I’d guess.

I gather Sauntress is now 100 years old – and the photo below shows her with a new square sail.

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Alfred Mylne yacht Mingary restoration on video

Will Stirling of Stirling and Son recently worked on this project to bring the magnificent Mingary up to scratch.

She was designed by Alfred Mylne (more information here) and built by the Bute Slip Dock Co of Port Bannatyne, Scotland in 1929.

A busy and interesting summer for Stirling and Son

Stirling and Son 14ft dinghy

Stirling and Son are busy as usual this summer with varied work both in and around Plymouth and further afield.

Stirlings must be counted one of the most interesting boat building and design operations around. Down at their covered slipway at Plymouth, the pilot cutter Cornubia is having her hatches re-varnished and a replica Viking longboat is being repaired.

Further afield, in May a small team went to Germany to work on the 60ft teak built Mylne yacht Mingary. This is a link to a video of work on the yacht. See a video of the work on that job below:

In June Sara and Will visited Glasgow for the Clyde Classic Design Symposium and delivered a talk about the process of designing the new Victorian racing cutter Integrity at the Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club.

The plans for the 14ft sailing dinghy that Sara and Will sailed around the Eddystone Lighthouse and then across the Channel are now available. The plans comprise lines, sail plan, construction plan and technical detail with templates of the backbone, knees, rudder and moulds.

The study plans show the level of detail and are accompanied by a materials list and a scantlings list. The plans are not available through the website (which is due to be updated). For information on the plans please email Will at info@stirlingandson.co.uk.

14ft sailing dinghy study plans

In Spain Martin Scannall has built and launched a 9ft dinghy built to Stirling and Son plans. She is to be the tender to the cutter Sauntress.

At the other end of the scale Will is working in conjunction with naval architect Theo Rye on the design of a 140 ton topsail schooner of circa 1830 that is to be built in the far East.

Stirling and Son undertake traditional boat building and wooden boat repair and have an office at Tavistock, tel 01822 614259, and a covered yard at Devonport, tel 07727 233346.

Stirling and Son move into a new yard at Devonport, while Victorian racing yacht Integrity adds to its collection of awards

Alert & Integrity on the slip

On 1st March Stirling and Son Ltd acquired the lease for the No 1 covered slip at South Yard, Devonport, Plymouth.

Sited adjacent to the dockyard wall, Slip No 1 is the oldest remaining covered slipway in any royal dockyard in the world, and dates from around 1763 – 250 years ago this year. The roof was added in around 1814.

The slipway is 53m (173ft) long and the roof is supported by a double line of 23 trussed wooden pillars. At the north end, the roof is apsidal in shape in order to accommodate the bowsprits of larger craft.

By the water just outside the slip is the famous statue of King Billy – actually ship’s figurehead from the warship Royal William. King William IV reigned from 1830-7 – read about the statue here.

Although the slipway was re-laid in 1914 it has undergone few alterations and is still used as was originally intended – and is now a scheduled ancient monument, which means that it has the same protected status as Stonehenge.

As it turns out, Will Stirling has a family connection to Slip No 1: his great, great, great, great grandmother, Eliza Barlow, launched Nelson’s flagship, the Foudroyant (80 guns) on this slip in 1798. Admiral Sir Robert Barlow was an Admiral in Nelson’s navy and his and Eliza’s daughter, Hilaire, married Nelson’s brother William Nelson.

An unusual condition of the lease is that only traditional wooden boatbuilding and repair must be undertaken – which I gather seems a rather wonderful rule to the Stirling and Son folks.

There are lots of plans for upgrading the slip to provide a fantastic deep water boatyard facility including re-installing a winch and cradles, repairing the double slip rails and reinstating the dockside cranes.

Yacht repair work has already started: three yachts have arrive on the slip so far; Pierette an 1899 Fife, Alert Will’s first build of his own design, and Integrity which will remain at the top of the slip until she is sold through Sandeman Yacht Company of Poole.

Stirlings collect the Classic Boat Best New Build Award

On the 7th March Will and Sara drove to London for the Classic Boat Awards party in Mayfair, where Griff Rhys Jones presented them with their award for Best New Build Over 40ft for Integrity, voted for by readers

This is the 3rd award they have received for Integrity, and is in addition to one for Alert and one for Stirling and Son’s 14ft sailing dinghy.

Overall, the Stirlings’ display case now contains:

  • Integrity Voted Best New Build Over 40′ Classic Boat Awards 2013
  • Integrity Voted People’s Choice Plymouth Classics 2012
  • Integrity Awarded Best Traditionally Built Craft Plymouth Classics 2012
  • 14ft Sailing Dinghy Voted Best Dinghy Plymouth Classics 2012
  • Alert Awarded for Exceptional Research and Boatbuilding SWMHS 2009

Contact Stirling and Son via its website or follow the company’s Facebook page.

Integrity & Alert on the slip King Billy at the entrace to the slip No. 1 Covered Slipway, Devonport

Integrity sailing Integrity Pierette 1899 Fife

Sara & Will receiving award from Griff Rhys Jones

Pierhead painter Dominique Perotin’s portrait of newly built Victorian racing yacht Integrity

Integrity Painting

French pierhead painter Dominique Perotin has produced this portrait of the newly-built Victorian gentleman’s racing yacht Integrity - and it seems to me that she has joined the wonderful yacht’s growing legion of admirers. (Click on the link to see her website.)

Integrity was designed and built by traditional yacht builders and wooden boat repairers Stirling and Son of Tavistock, Devon and is listed for sale via the company website. There are also quite a few posts about her here at intheboatshed.netclick on this link and follow the trail of ‘older posts’ links to find them.

Integrity sailing 6

Integrity in flight

On the subject of Stirlings, boat builders sometimes get some funny commissions. Will Stirling and his colleagues have recently been building a pair of dinghy seats for a pub. I guess if a drinker feels wobbly some time, they can put it down to sitting in a boat, rather than blame the beer and wine…

Stirling & Son dinghy seat