The sad deaths of Just Buisson and a young helper by exploding rocket boat, Paris 1886

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Buisson and his assistant’s sad death by exploding rocket boat, 1886

The rocket boat explodes into a thousand pieces

It’s clearly French Week at, as we limber up for a lightning trip to Paris on Friday. This engraving depicts the explosion that killed the rocket power experimenter Just Buisson and a young helper, and badly burned his assistant Al Ciurcu a little way downstream from the Pont de Clichy bridge in 1886. Ciurcu recovered and continued with his rocket development work, by the way. I’d never for a second imagined that I might see a rocket engine in a clinker-built boat!

The basic boat was designed and built with displacement for a crew of six oarsmen.

The engraving below shows what the boat looked like before the explosion. For more on Buisson, a photo of his boat and a discussion of early rocket development generally, click here.

Just Buisson’s sad death by exploding rocket boat, 1886

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Bob Telford’s first race sailing a dinghy with a standing lug


Standing lug sail from W P Stephens classic Canoe and
Boatbuilding for Amateurs

Bob Telford called by the yard currently restoring his impressive Maurice Griffiths-designed Idle Duck (type the word Idle Duck into the search box top left for more on this boat), only to find himself roped in to what sounded like an interesting round-the-buoys outing. Instead, though, it turned out to be a learning experience…

‘I knew something was afoot when I trundled into the inner sanctum known to some as Alan’s Community Center, for Retired Shipwrights, Dockyard Mateys and Associated Layabouts, and saw him and Peter look up, saying ’just the man…d’you fancy sailing in the Swale Match in me dinghy?

‘”Yes,” says I, without thinking.

‘The boat is a 10-ft lug rigged clinker job, so there I was, on my own, in a dinghy I had never rigged, let alone sailed, heading for the line for a race against four 16-ft fully crewed gaff-rigged dayboats.

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Read the rest of Bob’s story: Continue reading “Bob Telford’s first race sailing a dinghy with a standing lug”