Veteran East Coast small boat sailor Charles Stock caught on video


Charles Stock making his customary good use of his wellies. Image copyright Tony Smith (aka Creeksailor) and used with permission


I’ve stumbled across a series of short Youtube videos featuring Charles Stock, a legend among small boat sailors, particularly on the Thames Estuary and East Coast of England.

An enthusiastic sailor since he was a kid, in 1963 Stock created a new cutter-rigged boat for himself using a 16ft Uffa Fox-designed hull made by Fairey and the rigging from an old half-decker he bought in 1948. The result was Shoal Waters, a small wooden boat in which he has sailed regularly ever since without an engine and without a tender – instead, he follows the tides, moors in shallow water and, if he wishes to do so, goes ashore in a pair of rubber wellie boots.

He’s kept meticulous logs and accounts ever since, travelled over 70,000 nautical miles in his boat, written countless articles, taught sailing and navigation to evening classes for decades and wrote an excellent book, Sailing Just for Fun: High Adventure on a Small Budget, which has sold well over 4000 copies.

He also has his own website:

Here are the Youtube videos:

Charles Stock 1

Charles Stock 2

Charles Stock 3

Charles Stock 4

Charles Stock 5

Charles Stock 6

Charles Stock 7

Charles Stock 8

Charles Stock 9

Charles Stock 10

Charles Stock 11

Charles Stock 12

Charles Stock talks about choosing the hull for Shoal Waters

Youtube tends to encourage anonymity, so at this stage I don’t really know who recorded and put the clips – but his Youtube home page and extensive collection of videos are here:

Creeksailor also has a weblog here:

More photos of Shoal Waters in action appear here:

I’ve also pasted a photo below from Paul Mullings, who has this to say:

‘Hi Gav

As a young man sailing with my family on the magical East Coast rivers we often came across Charles Stock and Shoal Waters. It was a big thrill on a visit back to the Old Country last summer to see her looking as trim as ever – photo attached.

Sailing Just For Fun is also a terrific read and should be on all cruising sailors’ bookshelves.

Cheers, Paul’
Thanks Paul!
Shoal Waters, photographed last summer. Click on the photo for a larger image

Scoter is being restored – does anyone have information or photos that might help?

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Scoter in early 2010

Jan Carpenter has written in to report that he has acquired Scoter – the boat from which Maurice Griffiths took much of his inspiration for the design for Idle Duck.

Idle Duck belongs to a friend, and I have posted photos of her once or twice, while  Scoter has come up in comments on a post about boats used for wildfowling.

A beamy 14-tonner, Scoter was built in 1894 with shallow draught, a transom stern and a heavy iron centreboard and was originally rigged bawley-fashion.

I don’t yet know for what purpose she was originally built, but we do know that some time after she was built she belonged for a time to a leading wildfowler, and it’s said that with two guns mounted on each side of the foredeck for a period she became the terror of the Essex marshes in misty weather.

Jan acquired Scoter because he felt compelled to save her from being burned. Here’s what he says:

‘I’m researching the maritime history of the River Lynher in Cornwall and was made aware of her lying on one of the Lynher’s many tributaries. I felt compelled to save her and have since found out her historical significance, which led me via a Google search to the comments on your website… She’s now safe on dry land and soon to be covered for a full restoration.

‘Any info or images of her in the glory days would be gratefully accepted. So far I have info from Lloyds Register, a copy of a article by Griffiths that talks about the Scoter in relation to Idle Duck and a copy of the book Coastal Adventure by John Wentworth Day.’

In the series of comments mentioned earlier Idle Duck owner Bob Telford reveals that Wentworth Day’s book describes the owner of the original Scoter, a certain Xavier Victor Alfred Octave de Morton, Count de la Chapelle, co-founder of the Wildfowlers Association.

I’m sure we all wish Jan well with his project. If anyone has any information that he will find interesting, encouraging or useful, please send it to me at, and I will pass it on. He hasn’t yet revealed whether the restored Scoter will be complete with an impressive set of guns however…

The Griffiths article linking Scoter with Idle Duck has been made available by the Eventide Owners Association; the particular link of interest is here.

PS Don’t miss the comments below – some really good information has been coming in, some of it from a previous owner.

PPSScoter is now being restored by John  Owles’s company Roving Commissions. See more on the Roving Commissions website.