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 group  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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Water Craft magazine preview – and subscribe through PayPal now!

Water Craft is a great little magazine and, after talking with folks who edit it, I’ve decided to publish previews’s of each issue. Hopefully it will remind people to nip down to their newsagents – or, better still, to buy a subscription for themselves or a loved one.

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The March/April issue of Water Craft. As usual, click on the thumbnail for a bigger photo

The bi-monthly Water Craft is a great magazine and, after talking with folks who edit it, I’ve decided to publish previews of each issue. Hopefully they will remind people to nip down to their newsagents – or, better still, to buy a subscription for themselves or a loved one.

Editor Pete Greenfield reports that ‘small is beautiful’ has emerged as the dominant theme of Water Craft number 74, which is due out on the 26th February.

It’ll include a reprint of an article by Moray MacPhail first published 14 years ago, which now seems more relevant than ever, particularly in the light of the evidence of the WBTA Boat Buying Survey also included in the issue.

Also,there’s a piece from canoe builder John Floutier describing a sailing canoe cruise in company in the Western Isles. Also Kathy Mansfield impressed by the 14ft GRP Devon Yawl, and Jo Moran down in Cornwall sails the similar-sized and equally gutsy GRP Bristol Jolly Boat.

Smallest of them all in this issue, however, is Chris Perkins’ latest home boatbuilding project, the 10ft Stickleback canoe designed by Iain Oughtred.

Look out also for Dick Phillips sailing Secret, a 20ft Edwardian-style ‘gentleman’s cruising yacht’ you can build from a pre-cut plywood kit, and the beautiful 20ft Laurent Giles Sandpiper named Surprise, built by Tom Naismith in his garage.

The Grand Designs series features Nigel Irens’ 15-knot electric speedboat, which made her debut at the London Boat Show and Australian designer Michael Storer introduces his Radical Raid Boat, which will make her debut on the Water Craft stand at the Beale Park Thames Boat Show.

Subscribe to Water Craft now using the button below – with the pound so cheap now, this must be a real bargain for many of our international readers!


Water Craft subscriptions




Check this website to find a newsagent in the UK: http://availability.mmcltd.co.uk

Chris Perkins Oughtred Stickleback canoe, Storer Raid cruising dinghy and weblog

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Chris Perkin’s Stangarra, built to Iain
Oughtred’s Stickleback drawings

Chris Perkins has kindly sent me this collection of photos of his beautifully-made Stangarra canoe built to Iain Oughtred’s Stickleback plans. The quality of Chris’s boatbuilding work is widely recognised, and some readers may remember that he won the 2007 Watercraft magazine competition.

Competitive types may be secretly pleased to hear that Chris, who is one of nature’s gentlemen, has forsworn entering any further boatbuilding competitions. But some even more important news is that his Stickleback project is to feature in the next two issues of Watercraft magazine, which will be well worth looking out for on the news stands.

Chris’s message was also a reminder to me that I’ve been meaning to link to Chris’s weblog about his building projects, StrathkanChris’s Little World. The list of boats that have come out of his green shed is becoming more and more impressive. The latest project featured on his weblog is an example of Michael Storer’s solo open cruising boat, the Raid 41 – see the photo pasted below.

See the Iain Oughtred plans catalogue here.

Also, kits to build some of Oughtred’s designs are available here and in the USA from Jordan Boats.