Will Stirling’s latest news – a classic cutter, an Arctic circumnavigation and popular dinghies

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Classic cutter Integrity's hull framing Stirling & Son

Walrus photographed in the Arctic by Will Stirling Stirling & Son General Purpose Dinghy

Cutter Integrity being framed, walrus photographed by Will Stirling in the Arctic, and the bows of a Stirling & Son general purpose dinghy.

The latest Stirling & Son newsletter makes it clear that the yard is as busy as ever.

Will writes that his building shed is dominated by Integrity, a replica 43ft gentleman’s cutter of circa 1880. A cruising racer, she’s a classic English cutter, and here design takes references from Fife’s Bloodhound, Nicholson’s Marigold, Beavor-Webb’s Partridge, Watson’s Vanduara and Dixon Kemp’s Zoraida.

The shape is now defined with all oak the frames up and three planks wrapped around each side. She is a speculative build, so if anyone out there wants to buy a newly built classic, Integrity offers an opportunity that doesn’t come by every day.

The Stirling & Son 9ft general purposes dinghies seem popular – three have been built this year – and the range has been extended with a 12ft version designed and being built to commission.

The company’s range of plans has been significantly expanded this year with six boats now available. Details of each plan pack are on the website.

John Gallagher who built the 12ft sailing dinghy Frolic on our first dinghy building course received an award at the Plymouth Classic Rally for the best new build of 2010.

On their 25th anniversary the South West Maritime History Society awarded four prizes in recognition of significant contribution to maritime history. Will was honoured to be selected for his ‘exceptional research and boatbuilding’ during the Alert and HMS Victory yawl projects.

The National Historic Ships photography competition has shortlisted a Stirling & Son photograph of the interior of the 17ft Tamar salmon boat completed in January of this year. Those shortlisted are to be judged on the 6th of October.

Despite all this activity, Will has also found time to go sailing – and has recently returned from his fourth Arctic voyage. This year, aboard the pilot cutter Dolphin, Roger Capps led a team of three including Will to the far east of Svalbard, making a landing on the particularly remote Storoya, before sailing north west to 80 51N, which is 550 miles from the North Pole. Unlike last year, there was little ice this year. We were able to visit small islands that in 2009 had been visible from a distance of 50 miles, refracted above the pack ice that surrounded them.

The lack of ice may explain the large number of polar bears seen in the area in comparison to the previous year. A circumnavigation was completed by passing through the Hinlopen Straights. We crossed the Barents Sea at an average speed of 3 knts, permanently close hauled, trying to make southing without going too far east, in order to avoid Russia. This resulted in the crew working to windward in F8 winds with waves to suit. They were pleased to reach Hammerfest and the dramatic fjords of the northern coast of Norway.

The next adventure will begin on the 10th of September when Will goes to Galway, Ireland in order to collect a Falmouth quay punt built before the Great War. The boat will receive working repairs before being sailed back to Plymouth where she will be hauled out for a more thorough restoration – she’s destined to become the Stirling family boat for estuary and coastal sailing.

Stirling & Son are based at Tavistock, Cornwall, and can be reached via their website or by phone on 01822 614259.

18th century-style lugger Alert back from Iceland – and for sale

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Alert at Sedisfjordur, Iceland

Alert at Sedisfjordur, Iceland

Father fishing at anchor Alert at Sedisfjordur, Iceland Alert at the Customs pontoon, Sedisfjordur

Will’s father fishing at anchor; Alert sailing in Sedisfjordur, Alert at the Customs pontoon in Sedisfjordur

Seaman Hingley collecting firewood for the Alert Alert in the Shiant Islands, with her dinghy well hauled up against rising tide Alert dried out at Tobermory

Seaman Hingley collecting driftwood to burn; Alert in the Shiant islands; Alert dried out at Tobermory

Will Stirling and his outstanding 18th century-style lugger Alert are back from their trip to Iceland. They’ve brought back some smashing photos, and some good stories. Here’s an excerpt from something he wrote about the trip that he’s been kind enough to share with https://intheboatshed.net readers:

‘Once understood, the Faeroese Tidal Atlas proved invaluable as the Atlantic squeezes through the narrow channels between the sheer sided islands at up to 10 knots.

‘At this time of year in above this latitude it didn’t really get dark. We set off from Torshaven for Iceland in the early evening. Seaman Hingley, remembering it was his birthday after three quarters of the birthday had passed, served an admirable supper just as we got sucked into overfalls whilst exiting a channel into the open sea.

‘As the evening drew on the wind increased and Alert leapt across the North Atlantic waves, making distance between the Faeroes and Iceland. The wind increased on the starboard quarter so the reefed mizzen came down. Once dropped and tied to the yard the weather helm eased. The wind continued to build until it stabilised at Force 6.

‘The reefed jib was bagged and the boat roared along under double reefed fore sail at approximately 7 knots, with the crew nervously hoping the wind wouldn’t increase further. Continue reading “18th century-style lugger Alert back from Iceland – and for sale”