Getting Afloat with Nick Gates

In this first episode, Nick finds a suitable restoration project, visits Burnham sailing Club, repairs a Mirror Dinghy, finds a 12 Sq meter Sharpie to restore and visits Itchenor Sailing Club.

And more follows:

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Fifie Ocean Pearl has won the Round the Island Race gaffer class

Ocean Pearl raced in the Round the Island Race gaffer class – and won

Emsworth-based boatbuilder and Intheboatshed.net reader Nick Gates has written into report that his fifie Ocean Pearl has won the gaffer division 1 class in the Round the Island Race this year. (I call Ocean Peal a fifie, but her upright stem and somewhat raked stern Nick has other names for her, including half-zulu. It’s a topic that has been aired here at intheboatshed in the past – click here and here.)

Anyway, here’s the story for this grand old lady’s tremendous victory:

‘Hi Gavin – I’m not really one to blow my own trumpet but the old tub Ocean Pearl put on a hell of a show on the Round The Island Race last Saturday. As you have probably read there were plenty of boats entered and plenty of wind. Our start was at 0610, which meant I had about two hours sleep before hand-a combination of too much rum and waking up early listening to the wind.

‘We set of to windward with one reef in the fore (main) and just the small stays’l. Down the Solent we regulary crossed tacks with the pilot cutter Polly Agatha. We had eight crew in total, and they soon had the tacks fine tuned into a neat manoeuvre, although the odd one was a three point turn!

‘At Hurst Castle and the Needles the seas built up and we broke out the genoa to power her through the swells. She was a bit overcanvassed really. The bowsprit was going under, we had water in the scuppers, and the crew on the foredeck were getting vertigo as we dropped into the 15 ft swells of the Shingle Bank. With a reef in the mast puts in a curious bend, and the hard eyes in the 12mm rigging had become stretched…..

‘As we turned the Needles the sheets were eased and we had a sleigh ride to St Catherines Point. Luggers aren’t great on a run and Polly Agatha slowly passed us, her long boom catching all the wind. She was about a mile ahead when we
finally lowered the fore, shook out the reef and set of in pursuit. We were maintaining about 7 knots, but on the big swells we were surfing, with the GPS showing 10.7knots!

‘Across Sandown Bay we kept in closer than most, with a small genoa poled out on the port side, leg-o-mutton style. By Bembridge Ledge we had closed the gap on Polly Agatha, and now it was a beat to the finish.

The majority at this point hug the cost of the Isle of Wight, keeping out of the tide and hoping for a lift as the wind comes off the island, but we did the opposite, staying on one tack over to Lee on Solent, through the flooding tide, and on towards the top of Southampton Water.

A final tack put us back across to Castle Point, and the finish line. Polly Agatha was closing fast, but we pipped her at the post by 5 minutes.

It was a long and exhausting day but what a result! Ocean Pearl was first with an elapsed time 10.36 hours, corrected 11.13 hours; with Polly Agatha second with an elapsed time 10.41 hours and 12.08 hours and Maybird third with  11.32 and 12.22 hours. The pilot cutters Merlin and Morwenna came fourth and fifth, and the pilot cutters Amelie Rose and Westernman,  (pilot cutters) and plank on edge gaff cutter Aeolus retired. Not bad for an old motor boat!

I’m impressed! I get breathless just reading this story – and it’s amazing that no sleep and a generous helping of rum can be so helpful in a race. Full results are of course at www.roundtheisland.org.

Nick Gates & Co, of Thornham Marina

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lady-may

scods2 scod

girouette

From top: Lady May;  SCODs ; and Girouette

Nick Gates & Co is a traditional workshop based at Thornham Marina, near Emsworth in Hampshire.

Set up in 1999 by boatbuilder Nick Gates, the company specialises in the repair and restoration of wooden boats and looks after a wide range of craft, from clinker dinghies, to classic racing yachts, steam launches and gentleman’s motor yachts.

Nick trained at the International Boatbuilding Training College in Lowestoft before joining the renowned Combes Boatyard in Bosham, where he worked until the yard closed in 1999.

Boats being worked on in the yard at the moment include Lady May, a 1930s Camper & Nicholson launch, which came to the yard for finishing and to have its interior put back in, and Girouette, a Hillyard-built boat that has been in the same family for nearly 50 years.

Partially restored by Combes in the early 1990s, she has since been laid up, and is now at Nick Gates & Co for a new deck, interior and engine.

Nick also specialises in the Nicholson-designed, 26ft South Coast One-Design (SCOD), and in recent years five of the local fleet have visited the workshop. The jobs carried out on these boats have included a total rebuild, new decks and coachroof, external varnishwork and mast repairs.

For more information see the company’s very nice website at http://www.nickgates.co.uk

This page from the site might be particularly interesting to anyone who has been interested in the progress of Gadfly II – note the strong resemblance.