A Paradox, up close and personal

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The Dinghy Cruising Association’s boats assembled at Beale, with
Al Law’s Paradox Little Jim in the foreground

dca-at-bewl-3 al-law-at-beale-1 dca-at-bewl-4


A highlight of the Beale Park Boat Show last year was meeting Al Law and seeing his home-built Matt Layden-designed Paradox named Little Jim close up.

Yes, this little 14-footer is the boat he sailed to the Scillies and back in company with another Paradox owner, Bill Serjeant. Some say the heavy displacement Paradox is a small sharpie, while others say it can’t be  a sharpie because it’s under 19ft. Both views are correct, of course, in the mad logic of boat nomenclature.

I say that it has an interesting n some ways it’s more like a model of a small modern ship.But whatever one calls them, they’re certainly interesting, and perhaps of particular interest to someone who has come to realise their family is unlikely to sail with them, and finds sailing a small, easily managed boat alone an agreeable alternative. See the study plans here and Al’s record of building and sailing his boat here. And if you’re wondering how a boat like this can sail, check this video and also this one of Bill’s boat Faith. Bill, I should add, had sailed his little boat right round the coast from Essex: see earlier posts.

Little Jim sailing at Beale Park

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Sharpie schooner Sound Waters Eagle

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Sound Waters Eagle, schooner or a variety of ketch?

From America, Peter Vanderwaart writes:

‘I found the pictures of smack and barge racing very interesting. For some reason, I especially like the shots that show several boats. I gather you can join in the fun with a fiberglass gaff cutter, if you happen to have one.

‘I noticed windmills in the background of one shot. We don’t have these in our waters yet. If you take a good look at the attached shot which shows typical summer weather, you will probably see why I think windmill builders will go elsewhere first.

‘You might be interested in the vessel if you haven’t seen it before. It’s a steel sharpie about 65 feet long. I think it was built in the Chesapeake region in the ’50s or ’60s. Currently, she is called the Sound Waters Eagle, and is used to take school kids out on educational trips. Her rig is unusual: gaff rigged on three masts, with the middle mast being the tallest. I think this should be considered a variety of ketch.

Olin Stephens designed a vessel with fore, main, and mizzen masts bermuda rigged, and he called it a ketch. However, the word schooner” is deemed more romantic, and gets used.


There are more photos of Sound Waters Eagle here: http://www.soundwaters.org/

Fibreglass gaff cutters are very popular here, even if many of them do have modern-style lines beneath the waterline. Some of them command astonishing high second-hand prices and, yes, you can race them along with the old gaffers.

Wind turbines may be generally less popular, but I still find the group off the Swale is an interesting and sometimes useful navigational feature,  though I may change my mind if they become very common.

There are some more photos here, and I’ve got some rather closer ones somewhere.

Schooner or ketch? I’d say the Eagle was a schooner at heart, if not in fact.

Thanks for the photo Peter!

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Unidentified sailing objects on the Swale

An intriguing boat moored near Faversham

An intriguing boat moored near Faversham

A mystery craft sails into Herne Bay

A mystery craft sails into Herne Bay

The first  looks as if it could be  Scottish to me but I don’t recall seeing her  in the area before – is she a fifie? I’d certainly like to know more.

The second is very  striking when seen from a distance. I’m pretty sure she’s the Colin Mudie-designed sharpie I’ve seen over-wintering at Faversham’s Iron Wharf in past years. If so, she’s working as a pleasure boat, and having seen her hull I can say that she bears a strong resemblance to the Nonpareil sharpies that Thomas Clapham designed and built all those years ago. There’s a short description of the Clapham’s Nonpareil boats  here at the Wikipedia. Now, I wonder whether I might be able to persuade the kids they would enjoy a trip in her next week?