Bill Serjeant visits Oare Creek and Faversham

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I see from Bill’s Log that small boat cruiser and gentleman of the waves Bill Serjeant is spending a little time at Oare Creek and visiting Faversham, where he seems to be enjoying himself. Here’s his description of Oare Creek:

‘I alighted at the head of Oare Creek and ambled along the footpath where late Spring blossoms scented the air. I deeply breathed in and savoured the beauty of the countryside…

‘I was saddened to see so many forsaken yachts no longer cherished by their owners… but in between, snuggled into the mud awaiting the return of the tide there were the most glorious of sailing vessels, Thames barges and classic yachts of all kinds.’

He’s sailing a West Wight Potter these days – for many years he has taken a particular pleasure in changing boats regularly, often building the smaller ones himself. He has travelled over from Burnham and Leigh, hopes to make Ramsgate tomorrow before the wind rises later in the day. Great good luck Bill!

A harbour stroll at Ramsgate

Pugin kiosk

Cervia Sundowner Windlass

Channel Dash memorial Dunkirk memorial Museum building closed

Ramsgate time Ramsgate museum building Ramsgate maritime museum late 2011 - closed sign

Down at the far bottom right-hand corner of England, Ramsgate is a pleasantly unchanged little harbour and seaside resort town.

It’s also a place with a lot of history: Hengist and Horsa travelled here from Jutland in the 5th century to bring in the pagan Anglo-Saxon age in England, and this is also where St Augustine landed on his mission to reconnect England with Christianity and Rome.

So it’s not at a bad town to call into for an afternoon with friends. Strolling around reveals one surprise after another – so many that if you have an eye for these things you’re likely to end up feeling pleasantly bemused by the place.

For example, there’s a wonderful 1880s-built Home for Smack Boys, a splendid jumble of architecture Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau architecture, and even the chimney pots catch the eye. The only real disappointment is that the maritime museum is closed, and there is no outward sign that it’s likely to re-open anytime soon.

But the Ramsgate feature that most caught my eye on our latest visit was this seaside kiosk originally designed by the legendary architect and founder of the Gothic revival Augustus Pugin (1812-52). Imagine my amazement – the man who was responsible for much of London’s Houses of Parliament also drew this tiny pointed seaside shop selling sweets and ice-creams to holidaymakers. It’s almost too much to take in.

A little research reveals that Pugin was a sailor and liked the company of sailors, a class of man he first met when working as a youngster painting scenery for London’s theatres – I gather sailors were often employed back stage because of their knowledge of knots and using lines generally.

From a review published by The New Criterion I learned that having been intrigued by the sailors he met, the  young Pugin bought himself a boat and began wearing clothing based on a seaman’s rig – a habit he kept up for the rest of his life.

From the Age of Umber website, I discovered that by the time he was 20, Pugin had already been a smuggler, been shipwrecked, been furniture designer to the King and been jailed for debt – and had also become a widower with a baby daughter.

Towards the end of his life, he ran a part-time salvage operation from his house on the cliff above Ramsgate, as well as doing a bit of smuggling on the side. And some people call me hyperactive…

Young sailing celebrity Jack Daly opens the new Hollowshore Cruising Club premises

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Jack Daly shakes hands with our justly proud commodore, David Williams

The Hollowshore Cruising Club’s new premises were officially opened this weekend by one of its youngest and most venturesome members, Jack Daly.

Fitted out largely by the club’s members, the new premises are a credit to the volunteers who took on the work and to the club’s excellent chairman, David Williams. For more on the club itself, see its website.

I should explain that young Jack has just completed a round-Britain trip in his Coribee, named Padiwak. Some months before his 17th birthday, he left Ramsgate at the end of June this year, determined to get round before school started again. Supported by his amazing parents, who took turns to follow him round by road, Jack made it back to Ramsgate in mid-September after being delayed by weather – so he only missed a few weeks of his first term back. See Jack’s website.

In the process he raised £5000 for the Westbere Sailability Centre.