A memorial of an astonishing trip, presumably by a
member of the local artistic community
It was grey and rainy the day we reached St Ives, but I was nevertheless captivated by St Leonard’s, the little port’s fishermen’s chapel on Smeaton’s pier.
A typescript history (we don’t see many of them now!) shows that the building dates back to at least 1577, and has been renovated several times, most recently in 1971, when it was reopened as a small museum. In the old days, it seems, local fishermen retained the services of a friar who led prayers and services in the building.
There are some nice models, a touching memorial erected in 1959 to the fishermen lost to their families and community, and seats for those who wish to sit and pray, or simply think.
That engaging character Mike ‘Kipperman’ Smylie has some good stuff about the St Ives boats in his book Traditional Fishing Boats of Britain and Ireland, which you may find at ABE Books.
Interior, models and memorial, another plaque, and the exterior
And just outside I found the real thing – a mackerel driver. And
notice the ancient lifeboat moored just behind it
Claude Worth’s drawing of the Auray punt
The Auray fisherman’s dinghy used described by Claude Worth early last century is one of the dinghy forms most fancied by amateur builders. It has also attracted the attentions of several notable small boat designers, including Murray Isles and the mighty Phil Bolger.
Worth called it a punt, probably because it had a scow bow and stern, and I’m sure that then as now a large part of its appeal is the simplicity of its construction. Sadly, however, he doesn’t seem to have recorded the name used by the local fishermen of the time.
Intheboatshed.net readers might like to see Worth’s original description, and to read his thoughts on yacht dinghies generally. These pages come from the 1926 edition of his splendid book Yacht Cruising.
A little less than a century later, I had the great luck to go to the Douarnenez maritime festival, where I saw a small Auray punt in action, albeit in rather un-testing conditions. See the photos at the bottom of this post, which show a simple, load carrying box piloted by the most piratical-looking Breton I’ve had the privilege to see – but sadly I still don’t know the proper name for these boats.
There are two sets of plans for modern boats derived from the Auray punt in my book Ultrasimple Boatbuilding: one’s a simple rowing and small outboard boat, while the other is a multipurpose 8ft dinghy with a sailing option designed by the splendid Murray Isles.
‘Hastings is one of the most interesting fishing centres on the South Coast and if one studies early 19th century paintings and drawings one realises that
Hastings beach cannot have changed very much in the past hundred years.
Even the boats have retained their general lines…’
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