Watch this beautiful Phil Bolger-designed Spartina with its convenient balanced boomed foresail sailing on an East coast river, captured here by the excellent Dylan Winter.
His collection of YouTube videos as he sails anti-clockwise around the UK is well worth watching for the boats, for the sailing and for his entertaining and trenchant commentary, with which I largely agree – although you may not. Take a look and see what you think!
The Spartina is a powerful example of the range of Bolger’s work. It’s a serious mistake to think that he only drew utilitarian sailing and motoring boxes: the man had a real designer’s eye, and used it in drawing up many of his output of many hundreds of designs. I’ve been collecting his books for years, but his published material is available to all in the UK via the national library system in the UK. It’s interesting, illuminating stuff that more people should know about.
There are very few Bolger boats in British waters, which makes this Spartina a particularly striking find.
Dylan was very taken with this boat, and its foresail in particular.
There’s a lot to be said for a foresail like this on a small boat where there’s not much danger of anyone being hurt by the boom. On a boat with a real foredeck on which someone might have to stand, however, it could be a different story.
Of course, I’m not remotely influenced by the massive compliment in the information that goes with this video!
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Drawings of T Harrison Butler’s single-handed cruiser
Like many of us, F B Cooke was clearly a bit of a boat dreamer, and in the early 1920s seems to have fallen very much under the spell of T Harrison Butler’s pretty Single-Handed Cruiser.
‘I, like many other sailing men, have long searched in vain for the ideal small single-hander, but I think I have found her, or rather her lines… She is a perfect love of a boat, and when my ship comes home I shall be tempted to have her built.’
The boat is just 18ft 6in in length. ‘The underwater lines suggest weatherliness, and with a good length of keel she should be very steady on her helm.’
Again: ‘She strikes me as just the thing for knocking about in the estuaries and creeks of the East Coast at week-ends, whilst a trip up to Lowestoft would be quite within her capabilities in any ordinary summer weather. Dr Butler has given the boat a very snug sail plan, but in that I think he is right, for it is a mistake to over-canvas a boat intended for single-handed work.’
I should explain that the boat in these drawings looks significantly bigger than 18ft 6in because H-B has drawn her with a Laws lifting cabin roof.
Did the Single-Handed Cruiser ever catch on? I’d very much like to know. And I can’t help thinking that an inexpensive small boat along these classic lines and as pretty as this one might be an interesting proposition for a boatbuilder to offer in wood or plastic in times like these.
Sue and Mike Feather took a series of photos of a race between a collection of gaffers from Harwich to the River Deben – and it looks like splendid fun to me. Follow the link to see some photos.
Mike also tells me that Sue and he were in the Old Gaffers race at Brightlingsea featured in Dylan Winter’s recent Vlog. Mike was the guy on the grey smack Transcur wearing yellow oilies and Sue was on the rib with Dylan taking photos. I’m beginning to wonder whether Dylan knows as many people as the Pope!
‘It was a really exciting race – lots of wind so very fast,’ says Mike. ‘Those boys put everything up in a blow and go like hell – bow wave coming half way up the stem and heaven help you if you broach with that lot up.’