Tag Archives: yacht

Victorian-style gentleman’s cutter Integrity is afloat and her mast is raised


Will Stirling usually tells me a little about how he feels about things – but sometimes its different – and I think his near-silence speaks volumes. He has every right to be immensely proud of his the Victorian gentleman’s yacht he has just launched.

‘Dear Gavin,

Integrity emerged from the shed a few days ago. After a tricky passage down the lanes she reached the main road where she reached a top speed of 40mph – despite head wind all the way, a fast passage it will be difficult to beat.

‘She was launched at Plymouth where we went on to ballast, and one afternoon we completed dressing the mast and it was craned into position. She’s on schedule for sailing by the end of the month.

‘Best wishes,


I look forward to hearing about how she sails. There are more pictures and a lot more story here.

Traditional yacht building and wooden boat repairers Stirling and Son is based in Tavistock in Devon, and can be reached via the Stirling and Son website, or by telephone at 01822 614259.

Does anyone know the story of gaff rigged cutter Medusa Bay please?

Medusa Bay

Medusa Bay Medusa Bay

A chap called Udo has been in touch to ask for information about a boat he has bought recently.

She’s a strip-planked 37ft gaff-rigged cutter named Medusa Bay and is currently in a marina at Hull – though he plans in the spring to sail her to Blankenberge, Belgium.

Udo was put in touch with intheboatshed.net because has been told that she was built at Faversham. We’ve since learned that she was actually built at Conyer, though her spars came from Faversham. Still, I’m sure Udo would be delighted to learn more about her story, and for any old photos readers may have to hand please!

PS Now in the autumn of 2012 Medusa Bay is for sale. Contact me at gmatkin@gmail.com, and I’ll put you in touch with the owner.

The mysteries of flag etiquette explained

Do you ever feel second-bested because you don’t understand the rules about flags where they apply to boats and yachts? Do you perhaps feel that its just another way that the world has found of finding fault, and judging you to be wrong in yet another way? Do you think that it’s an area that exists purely for the entertainment of certain fastidious personality types that can safely be ignored? Is it just quaint and fun? Or is it important – so important that others who get it wrong MUST BE TOLD FIRMLY and should SEE DEMONSTRATIONS IMMEDIATELY?

I guess all four points of view may apply at times, though for me the first three come more naturally to an egalitarian, liberal kind of mind, and the last can be either fun or just tiresome, depending.

For the benefit of those who don’t really ‘get’ flags but like to fly the Red Ensign every now and again, here is an explanation of what you’re supposed to know so that you need never again feel at a loss. And it comes complete with a nice story or two…




1900 edition of Dixon Kemp’s classic boating manual is online

Dixon Kemp online  Dixon Kemp online

If you’re wondering what to do this weekend, the 1900 edition of Dixon Kemp’s classic A Manual of Yacht and Boat Sailing is online at the Internet Archive, and will keep a boat nut with a sense of history busy for quite a while.

As you read, it’s interesting to note how much is still true – and how many of the craft in the beautiful drawings are still inspiring boat and yacht owners, builders and designers today.

Kindly digitised by the University of Pittsburgh, it’s available in a variety of forms: there’s HTML for online browsing, PDF and Kindle for those who prefer, and, wonderfully, the Daisy audio form for those unable to see well enough to read.

My thanks to reader Paul Mullings for letting me know about this!

Projects at Stirling and Son, autumn 2011

Stirling and Son 14ft dinghy ashore in the mud Stirling and Son 14ft dinghy with one reef

Stirling and Son Victorian Yacht Hull Planking Complete and Faired Stirling and Son 14ft dinghy with All Plain Sail Stirling and Son 14ft dinghy Sailing Twice Reefed Down

Stirling and Son Mast Making Stirling and Son Lock Gate - Tenon Measuring Stirling and son Lock Gate Timbers

Click on the thumbnails for bigger images

Those busy folks at Stirling and Son have been getting on with an amazing range of projects. Building and marketing beautiful small traditional clinker-built dinghies is one thing, rowing to Magnetic North Pole is another, but how about building lock gates or appearing in adverts for soap? All this and a regular round of repair and restoration jobs are all in a day’s work for those Stirlings…

  • As the photo above shows (click on the thumbnail for a much larger image) the hull of the Stirling & Son Victorian yacht named Integrity is complete, and the rudder has been hung. The mast has also been hewn from a tree selected in a local forest. I say Integrity looks amazing and I believe she is available for sale.
  • Will has taken the 14ft sailing dinghy out for a trial. It was fairly windy, so he began with two reefs, and later shook them out as the wind fell and sailed under all plain sail. He reports that it was so much fun they kept sailing on past high tide – and it was a pretty muddy business getting her back out…
  • In a surprise non-boat project, Stirling and Son are building a new lock gate and cantilever bridge in oak for the Tavistock Canal. Due to the size of the timbers and the poor access, both have to be assembled in the shed, dismantled and then taken to the site in order to rebuild them in position. I guess it makes sense, for there’s no doubt that anyone who can build a Victorian-style yacht knows something about working with oak.
  • And what about the soap? From the Stirling & Son newsletter I gather the makers of Dove soap products decided that Will should be the subject of a shower product advert, and so their ad agency visited with a film crew.

Stirling & Son is based at TavistockDevon and can be contacted via the website at www.stirlingandson.co.uk or by ‘phone on 01822 614259.

Tiernan Roe photographs Cork Harbour One Designs at Glandore 2011

Cork Harbour One Design yachts Elsie and Querida photographed by boat builder Tiernan Roe Cork Harbour One Design yachts Elsie and Querida photographed by boat builder Tiernan Roe Cork Harbour One Design yachts Elsie photographed by boat builder Tiernan Roe

Cork Harbour One Design Elsie, with CHOD Querida (yellow) behind photographed by Tiernan Roe (click on the thumbnails for bigger images)

County Cork boat builder Tiernan Roe sent in these photos of Fife-designed yachts including Cork Harbour One Designs at Glandore Classic Regatta last week.

(Regular readers may remember that last year Tiernan won a lot of praise for a John Atkin-designed Ninigret. )

Here’s what he says:

‘Glandore is one of the most picturesque and sheltered harbours on the West Cork coast, and every two years the Glandore Yacht Club hosts one of the best classic boat events in Ireland. In the intervening years they hold a classic boat summer school which is also very interesting.

‘This year the few days sailing started in glorious sunshine and almost summer like conditions but alas it degenerated into a typical Irish summer of gales and rains. Well apparently 40 per cent of our rain falls in the summer months. The Romans were right when they called the place Hibernia, meaning ‘wintry’.

‘The blue boat is Elsie a Fife-designed Cork Harbour One Design built in 1896, while the yellow boat is Querida another CHOD of same year. They are they only two currently left racing in Cork and they are beauties to look at and to sail.

‘I’m currently researching the possibility of building one if I can find a client. I’ve already secured the co-operation of Fairlie Restorations, the holders of the Fife archive.

‘As the CHOD is just over 30ft long she’ll fit in a 40ft shipping container, which allows for easy and secure transport to regattas far and wide. However, if the boat is to be effectively dry sailed in this way, it also raises the issue of whether a modern construction technique would suit better – hence the need for research.

‘The white boat Sian (below) is a Fife One Design from Wales designed in 1926. The Fife One Designs are like a smaller Dragon (Dragons were also sailing at the regatta) but much much prettier if that’s possible. They’re the standard club boat of the Royal Anglesea Yacht Club.

‘As I was supposed to be crewing (acting as ballast!) in one of the boats this year I had hoped to get some photos of the boats sailing but I ended up helming for them, so I didn’t get a chance – so I took these shots later from a small ply punt.

‘Regards, Tiernan’

It’s particularly interesting that Tiernan is working on the idea of building one or more CHODs. If the idea appeals to you, contact him via his website.

Fife One Design yacht Elsie photographed by Tiernan Roe Fife One Design yacht Elsie photographed by Tiernan Roe

XOD racing keelboat centenary celebrations, Royal Lymington Yacht Club, 3rd June

XOD-Fleet-at-Cowes-R-Tomlinson-lr Skandia Cowes Week 2007 day 1, Saturday August 4 X166 Swallow, X86 Aora
The XOD fleet racing at Cowes; photo taken by Rick Tomlinson

The XOD keelboat class will kick off its its centenary celebrations by holding a day race in Edwardian costume at Royal Lymington Yacht Club on Friday 3rd June.

I trust there will be plenty of tweed, eminently twiddleable moustachios, and of course bonnets and demure but practical long skirts!

Some 100 or so boats are expected to compete in a three day centenary regatta including the Lymington and Yarmouth XOD fleets.

In 1911 Yachting Monthly reported that seven 21ft keelboats of a newly established one design class came to the start line for their first race, off Hythe in Southampton Water. The boats were gaff-rigged, and the Bermudan rig came in during 1928.

By 1939, 81 X One Design boats had been built. In 1961, there were 52 starters at Cowes Week, and now a hundred years after the first race the class hasn’t just survived but grown to become the largest fleet on the start line at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week.

The original racewas won by Portsmouth brewer Harry Brickwood. One of the boats in the original race X5 Madcap, is still racing today, while the first XOD, X1 Mistletoe, which was built by Alfred Westmacott on the Isle of Wight, is now at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall.

Cowes Week 2010 was won by X26, which was built in 1923.

The XOD is a pretty wooden yacht of just under 21ft in length; it has two or three crew, and crews of all sizes compete on equal terms. The spinnaker can be flown from within the safety of the cockpit, which avoids any need for foredeck work.