Thames Traditional Boat Rally 16th-17th July

Thames Traditional Boat Rally 2011

The Thames Traditional Boat Rally folks are putting out the word about their annual event at Fawley Meadows, Henley on the 16-17 July. Click on the image above for a pdf file of their flier, and click here for the Rally’s website, including extensive galleries of photos from previous years.

Emmanuel Pariselle’s romantic song about an old boat: La Nonchalante

I can’t understand more than a few words of this beautiful-sounding little song, but I’m told its about an elderly man and his old boat on the Canal du Midi. The boat’s at the end of its useful life, but somehow her skipper finds it difficult to part with her. I guess many readers probably feel much the same way as the chap in the song, as they set off each morning to work on their projects.

I hope you like it as much as we did when we met Emmanuel Pariselle at Melodeons and More, at Mendlesham in Suffolk a couple of years ago – he was teaching a group to make melodeons (he’d call them diatos, btw) and playing in a concert, while we were some way down the bill (there’s a photo to prove it!).

There’s some more of Emmanuel’s lovely music at MySpace, and via Amazon.

For more songs at, click here.

PS – It’s taken a while, but a chap called Jack Humphreys has succeeded in creating a credible English language version of this song.

Round the Island Race, 19th June 2010

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Round the Island yachts racing off the Needles (thanks to Onedition), the 43ft Fred Shepherd designed Maybird, and Ocean Pearl (Vanessa Bird)

This year’s Round the Island Race is coming up on the 19th June, so this seems like a good time to draw attention to this amazing annual spectacle of getting on for 2000 boats all sailing in the same direction for most of a day – if you don’t count the spectators and sight-seers.

Among that huge number there are bound to be quite a number of older and traditional craft, and the photos above are of two that took part last year. My thanks go to Peta Stuart-Hunt for her help in providing with its special needs!

Maybird is a Fred Shepherd 43ft (52ft LOA) gaff-rigged ketch that will be competing in her first race since being restored at Saxon Wharf when she comes to the start line on 19th June. She was designed for Lt Col WCW Hawkes DSO, Indian Army (retired) and built by Jack Tyrell at Arklow, Co Wicklow in 1937. She’s had quite a history – in her time, she has been a gentleman’s auxillary yacht, an ocean passage maker and a Greenpeace protest vessel, and now she’s available for charter.

Also a contender last year in the traditional gaffer class, Ocean Pearl was built in 1933 by Nobles of Fraserburgh and registered at Peterhead in Aberdeenshire. At 37ft 6in LWL, she was just under the 40ft length restrictions, which meant that she could fish within the three-mile limit of shore, and between 1933 and 1939 she was worked with nets and lines out of Peterhead. Between 1939 and 1945 she was requisitioned by the Navy and served as a supply vessel in Scapa Flow, before returning to the fishing industry after the end of the war.

She then fished until 1967 before selling her to Joseph Anthony Moore Phillips, father of Captain Mark Phillips, the first husband of HRH Princess Anne, who based her at Whitby, North Yorkshire. In 1981, three owners later, she was taken to Staines in Middlesex to be restored, but was eventually abandoned in a disused tarmac works, where she lay for 15 years before being taken to Combes Boatyard in West Sussex.

Nick Gates took over ownership in 1999 and over the past 10 years has rebuilt her, converting her from motor to sail. She is rigged as a Manx nobby, with standing lug main and mizzen, and sets 1600 sq ft of canvas. Ocean Pearl has been mentioned several times at – for earlier posts relating to her, click here.