F B Cooke on Single Handed Cruising

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The mystery of Gadfly II’s origins and her link with the Blackwater sloops reminded me of yachting author F B Cooke, who I seem to remember owned a Blackwater sloop in the 1920s.

He had strong views on the size and type of yachts that should be used for cruising, for as he says:

‘To be dependent upon the assistance of friends, who may leave one in the lurch at the eleventh hour, is a miserable business that can only be avoided by having a yacht which one is capable of handling alone… The ideal arrangement is to have a vessel of sufficient size to accommodate one or two guests and yet not too large to be sailed single-handed at a pinch.’

I’d go further, and say that even with friends and family aboard, it’s safer and better if all the basic sailing tasks can be carried out by a single pair of hands.

I thought readers might be interested to see what he had to say about what size and type of  small yacht seemed most desirable in those far-off days.

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3 thoughts on “F B Cooke on Single Handed Cruising”

  1. Here's a good bit:

    "To buy a yacht larger than is necessary for the work for which it is proposed to use her savours somewhat of extravagance…"

    When looking out over your average marina these days, seems like extravagance is about 90% of the point these days. In fact since most boat owners also have a pretty nice house too, and most boats don't seem to ever move, one would say that most big boat owners could get away with drinking in their dens while looking at a model ship.

    Cheers, Brian

  2. Hi Gavin,

    I am going to be using GadflyII when I have restored her this year to do a sponsored charity sailing challenge across the North Sea to Belgium and then to Holland and back to England to raise awareness of epilepsy in young people and adults, as both my 9 year old son and wife have epilepsy.


    Simon Papendick

    1. Simon,

      As you know we'd like to follow your progress in this restoration, and we'd also be very happy to use the website help try to recruit some sponsors for you!


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