Some boats at the Barton HBBR meet

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A traditional ‘Welsh woman’ style wherry burgee on a shed at Barton Turf
catches the evening sun. Click on the images for larger shots

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HBBR member Wayne Oliver’s boat built to Conrad Natzio’s Oystercatcher
design and fitted with deadeyes, shrouds and other entertaining features

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Chris Perkins perfect little Stangarra built to Iain Oughtred’s Stickleback plans
was deservedly very popular – here it is paddled by Ewan Ryan-Atkin and
HBBR member Peter Nobes

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Tim O’Connor’s Iain Oughtred designed Acorn skiff named Ardilla

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Mark Harvey sails his father’s Goat Island skiff built to plans from Michael Storer


Nearly two weeks ago now we finally met the Home Built Boat Rally folks at their annual meet at the Barton Turf Adventure Centre. The images above are just a small selection of photos – so I’m sorry if anyone’s upset at being left out!

I’ll say a little more about the Barton Centre in a moment, but first I’d like to talk about the HBBR and its members. I’ve been a member of its Yahoo Group and publicised its website and events almost since Alec Jordan of Jordan Boats first floated the idea, but life’s usual complications have prevented us from attending any of their events.

Having met the HBBR group, I’m glad to be able to report that in real life they turn out to be a jolly bunch whose members cover the spectrum that ranges from boating enthusiasts who happen to have made their own boat at one end to perfectionist boatbuilding enthusiasts who are only now getting into boating – or maybe never will. The HBBR is a broad church, but it’s also one that has fun.

Julie and I rolled up together with my two teenagers Ella and Ewan, played with the boats and took photos – and my kids enjoyed themselves so much that they want to attend again next year, even though teens are usually allergic to any groupĀ  made up mainly of blokes of their father’s age.

As I write many of the Home Built Boat Rally folks are currently making their way from Lechlade in Oxfordshire down to Pangbourne for the Beale Park Thames Boat Show. I hope the weather holds for them, and that their nights are reasonably comfortable!

On the Barton Turf Adventure Centre, I’d like to say that Ella and Ewan had a superb week’s sailing tuition on Barton Broad while we stayed in our caravan and tents on the site, and Julie and I alternately sailed and went sight-seeing. The fact that we could camp made the cost of the course affordable, and the Fishwick family who largely run the place couldn’t have been more kind and helpful during our stay.

As well as sailing tuition, the Barton Centre caters for groups involved in boating, ecology and nature study and it’s difficult to imagine a better place for these activities. It’s certainly an excellent base for small boat sailing. Click here to get to the BTAC website.

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Two happy teens: Ewan and Ella Ryan Atkin at the end of a busy
week’s sailing tuition at Barton Turf Adventure Centre

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Home Built Boat Regatta Cotswold 2008 meeting report

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From the top left: John Lockwood with his new dinghy,
various canoes, and a maiden voyage for Chris Perkins’
new small canoe


I was hoping one of the Home Built Boat Regatta folks would be kind enough to send me a report of their annual Cotswold Water Park event – and Chris Perkins has kindly done so.

Here’s what he says:

‘Some 14 boats of varying sizes, shapes and propulsion braved the floods and atrocious weather to attend our annual Cotswolds Rally.

‘Although the rally site turned out to be an island of relative calm and dryness in an otherwise soggy country, tranquil it was not however – a free concert raised the roof until the wee small hours at the other end of the lake, wasn’t much fun either for us or the triathletes either who had to take to the water at 8 on Sunday morning.

‘Sunday was a dry day – so your intercession in your post announcing the meeting obviously had some effect!

‘Two maiden launches took place – an intriguing build by John Lockwood of Swindon, who launched what he called a Moby variant based on a set of Motor Boat & Yachting plans from the late 1970s. He scrounged and used Ebay to obtain his materials, so the boat turned out to be a pretty economical way of getting on the water.

‘My Iain Oughtred-designed Stickleback, Stangarra, took to the water for the first time in the capable hands of our friend Chris Partridge. All that rowing has certainly built his arm power – she flew under his ‘oarsmanship’.

‘I think the general feeling was that it was well worth risking the usual HBBR soaking for the pleasure we had playing with each others boats and general chat. As we are not organised, no planned group business was achieved or even attempted during the meet.’

Thanks Chris! It sounds very much like a classic American-style messabout, all except for the ritual of serving and eating hominy grits. And isn’t it a relief that there doesn’t seem to have been any need for a race? For more details and lots more photos, see the report at the HBBR website.

This site will be quiet for a few days now as we’re going to be busy – in the meantime, don’t forget it’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day on Friday, even if like me you never manage to keep it up beyond breakfast time.

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