Will Stirling’s latest news – a classic cutter, an Arctic circumnavigation and popular dinghies

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Classic cutter Integrity's hull framing Stirling & Son

Walrus photographed in the Arctic by Will Stirling Stirling & Son General Purpose Dinghy

Cutter Integrity being framed, walrus photographed by Will Stirling in the Arctic, and the bows of a Stirling & Son general purpose dinghy.

The latest Stirling & Son newsletter makes it clear that the yard is as busy as ever.

Will writes that his building shed is dominated by Integrity, a replica 43ft gentleman’s cutter of circa 1880. A cruising racer, she’s a classic English cutter, and here design takes references from Fife’s Bloodhound, Nicholson’s Marigold, Beavor-Webb’s Partridge, Watson’s Vanduara and Dixon Kemp’s Zoraida.

The shape is now defined with all oak the frames up and three planks wrapped around each side. She is a speculative build, so if anyone out there wants to buy a newly built classic, Integrity offers an opportunity that doesn’t come by every day.

The Stirling & Son 9ft general purposes dinghies seem popular – three have been built this year – and the range has been extended with a 12ft version designed and being built to commission.

The company’s range of plans has been significantly expanded this year with six boats now available. Details of each plan pack are on the website.

John Gallagher who built the 12ft sailing dinghy Frolic on our first dinghy building course received an award at the Plymouth Classic Rally for the best new build of 2010.

On their 25th anniversary the South West Maritime History Society awarded four prizes in recognition of significant contribution to maritime history. Will was honoured to be selected for his ‘exceptional research and boatbuilding’ during the Alert and HMS Victory yawl projects.

The National Historic Ships photography competition has shortlisted a Stirling & Son photograph of the interior of the 17ft Tamar salmon boat completed in January of this year. Those shortlisted are to be judged on the 6th of October.

Despite all this activity, Will has also found time to go sailing – and has recently returned from his fourth Arctic voyage. This year, aboard the pilot cutter Dolphin, Roger Capps led a team of three including Will to the far east of Svalbard, making a landing on the particularly remote Storoya, before sailing north west to 80 51N, which is 550 miles from the North Pole. Unlike last year, there was little ice this year. We were able to visit small islands that in 2009 had been visible from a distance of 50 miles, refracted above the pack ice that surrounded them.

The lack of ice may explain the large number of polar bears seen in the area in comparison to the previous year. A circumnavigation was completed by passing through the Hinlopen Straights. We crossed the Barents Sea at an average speed of 3 knts, permanently close hauled, trying to make southing without going too far east, in order to avoid Russia. This resulted in the crew working to windward in F8 winds with waves to suit. They were pleased to reach Hammerfest and the dramatic fjords of the northern coast of Norway.

The next adventure will begin on the 10th of September when Will goes to Galway, Ireland in order to collect a Falmouth quay punt built before the Great War. The boat will receive working repairs before being sailed back to Plymouth where she will be hauled out for a more thorough restoration – she’s destined to become the Stirling family boat for estuary and coastal sailing.

Stirling & Son are based at Tavistock, Cornwall, and can be reached via their website or by phone on 01822 614259.


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‘Feature vessels’ at the PSP Southampton Boat Show


Steam Pinnace 199

Jolie Brise Rosenn 210908 Caroline Allen

Armed Steam Pinnace 199, Caroline Allen, Rosenn and Jolie Brise – click on each of the thumbnails for a larger photo

Boat shows can be fun, but apart from one or two rather special events they aren’t events I tend to seek out. Perhaps I should got to them however – I was rather taken by this collection of photos of what are called ‘feature vessels’ appearing at the PSP Southampton Boat Show. ‘Feature vessels’ reminds me of the ‘personality girls’ they hire for the stands to lend a little stockinged glamour, and I guess the purpose is similar.

Naval steam pinnace Maintained and sailed by volunteers from the Society of Friends of the Royal Naval Museum at Portsmouth, the 98-year-old Armed Steam Pinnace 199, is one of the last few boats in working condition still powered by steam.

Armed Steam Pinnace 199, along with her Hotchkiss three pound gun and a full crew dressed in the uniform of the era will arrive on the Show’s marina on public preview day to kick off the world record breaking semaphore attempt. See Armed Steam Pinnace 199 on Friday 11 September, berth 521.

Btw – have you noticed that the man on the stern is having a bit of moment with the ensign? Captions and speech bubbles please in the comments via the link below!

Caroline Allen The Caroline Allen is one of two 30ft steel brigs operated by the Little Brig Sailing Trust, and is the world’s smallest tall ship. She is fully equipped to take five young sailors aged 10 years and above for their first trip out on a tall ship. A typical trip sees five new sailors on the water for up to three hours, two each working the sails on each mast and one to steer.

The Caroline Allen has the same rigging as a much larger vessel, but with smaller sails the loads are a lot lighter, and to make things easier the ropes are colour-coded. She will be at berth 521 on Sunday 13 and Monday 14 September.

Jolie Brise The last sailing boat to carry the Royal Mail, Jolie Brise is a 96 year old gaff pilot cutter that became world famous when she won the very first Fastnet Race in 1925. A former fishing boat, Jolie Brise has also recently become a record breaker by setting a new ship’s record speed of 14.1kts whilst surfing down a wave.

Jolie Brise is sailed by pupils of Dauntsey’s School and has successfully competed in six Tall Ships Races – twice being the overall winner of races to the USA and Canada and twice winning the award for the youngest crew in the fleet. She will be at berth 521 on the marina on Tuesday 15 and Wednesday 16 September.

Rosenn One of just 22 yachts built at the end of the 19th century, Rosenn is the last of the Solent One Design yachts still afloat, not to mention still racing, and is part owned by renowned yachtsman and journalist, Bob Fisher.

After spending an astonishing 60 years on the River Crouch, she returned to the Solent where she races from Lymington, recently completing the 2009 Round the Island Race. She will be at berth 521 on the marina on Thursday 17 and 18 of September.

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Paul Gartside’s 29ft pilot cutter built in Turkey

Paul Gartside\'s 29ft pilot cutter being built in Turkey

Paul Gartside\'s 29ft pilot cutter being built in Turkey

Paul Gartside\'s 29ft pilot cutter being built in Turkey

Pilot cutter being built by Cem Gür in Turkey

Cem Gür and colleagues at Classic Boat Turkiye continue to be busy – now they’re concentrating their efforts on this 29ft pilot cutter designed by Paul Gartside.

Cem has also promised us some sailing photos of the Thomas Gillmer-designed Blue Moons we have posted about recently – so look out all you Blue Moon fans!

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