Howard Chappelle 23ft 8in Tabloid cruising boat from the book Boat Building

These photos are of an example of the 23ft 8in Tabloid cruiser designed by Howard Irving Chappelle and included in his classic Boat Building: A Complete Handbook of Wooden Boat Construction.

They were sent over by Ronald Glen, who with his brother Peter built the boat at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, in 2004 . He reports that the Sydney Museum has shown interest in her, as well as an American museum looking for Chappelle-designed boats for a planned centenary exhibition.

If you’ve read Chappelle’s book, you’ll know this design, which I would think owes something to New England lobster boats and Hampton boats of the past.

Thanks for the photos Ronald!

To see an earlier post of photographs sent by Randal Cooper of Goolwa Masts, Australia, of another boat built to these plans, click here.

Are any examples of these boats to be found in the USA? Or of the intriguing ketch Southwind?

Rivers of the South – The Thames

Rochester Castle and Cathedral from the River Medway

These pages about the Thames past and present come from are from Rivers of the South by AB Austin with photographs by J Dixon Scott, published in 1938.

It starts off rather dreamy, historical and angry about the changes the author sees in the landscape of the Thames, but changes in style as it proceeds.

There’s an outstandingly bonkers and dated passage that reads:

‘Until recently the paradox of the richest river in England, and possibly in the world, has been its shunning of those things which bring quick wealth. It has been a trading river, an argosy-bearing river, the river of the merchant-adventurer, not of mass-production, lighting-profit manufacturer. Now its lower valley shelters our light luxury plants, the monotonous assemblers of motor cars, wireless sets and every kind of glossy, brittle synthetic substance, even bakelite insulating boxes to make fool-proof the intestines of cinema organs.’

No quick wealth? What about spice traders, the slave trade and the City of London? The man was a dreamer but he could write a resounding paragraph…

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Ben Crawshaw’s book Catalan Castaway is available to order


I’m delighted to be able to announce that Ben’s colourfully illustrated 224-page book will be available from Lodestar Books in a few days and is now available to order, priced at £15 in the UK, £17 Europe and £20 outside Europe. [NB – this book is now debing delivered!]

It tells an amazing and exciting story, as the publisher’s notes make clear:

‘A sail-and-oar adventure in our own boat, one having the inevitable beauty of a form which accurately meets function – this is the dream of many of us. But Ben Crawshaw shows us that the dream is nearer to our grasp than we may think.

‘In Gavin Atkin’s Light Trow design he found an affordable boatbuilding project which would require the most simple and accessible of materials, and just basic woodworking ability.

‘Within months he was afloat in Onawind Blue, and his book Catalan Castaway recounts his day-sails, beach-camping cruises and a challenging longer voyage, over a five year period on the Catalan coast of Spain, where he lives with his partner and young family.

Onawind Blue has been Ben’s passport to the traditional maritime community of the region, so in addition to her own exploits we learn of the indigenous boat types, many now endangered, and the dedicated band of people who keep them alive.

‘Ben’s increasingly ambitious adventures have sometimes made him draw on deep reserves of physical and mental strength, as has his personal battle with the ‘giant octopus’ of serious illness, happily now at bay.’

Read a sample chapter of Catalan Castaway here.

For more posts about Ben Crawshaw and his boat Onawind Blue, click here. Also see Ben’s excellent weblog, Theinvisibleworkshop.