Monday, 30 August 2010

Passage to India

The theme for this year's Bursledon Regatta was "Passage to India" and the Elephant Boatyard has really gone to town with their decorations.

While many people really got into the spirit of the event with fantastic fancy dress, not everyone was entirely happy (or perhaps she just didn't like the cameraman!!).

On Saturday morning the local dinghy fleets converged at Land's End Hard waiting for the races to start and creating a moving obstruction for the few large motorboats and yachts who were trying to get past and clearly hadn't read the harbour master's notice to mariners.

This year there was a race for slower and traditional boats - those with a Portsmouth Yardstick of between 1200 and 1600. Tosh our catboat rates at 1430, but we were up against some stiff competition from the very fast Lymington Scow (right) and the traditional lugger (left).

Last to go were the Opi's, seen waiting here with the mum and dad support boat.

After lunch the rowing races kicked off with the Bursledon gig's racing up river, up and back through Bursledon bridge...

To finish between the Jolly Sailor and the Taj Mahal.

Some of the dinghy creations were fantastic, including this rickshaw mirror dinghy, although the paddle wheel seemed to be more about splashing water on the driver than propulsion!

Another classic the "Onion Barge-ee" navigates across Bursledon pool in front of the Taj Mahal

In the background there was a good turnout of classic boats, dinghies, rowing boats and people generally having a good time.

Thanks as always the regatta committee, the Elephant Boatyard and everyone involved for making the annual event such as success.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Lymington Classic

This classic day boat was just leaving it's mooring near the town quay at Lymington recently, I don't know too much about the design or her history. She's normally on her mooring at the top of the Lymington river, apparently she has been in the same family for most, if not all of her life.

It was a perfect day, with fairly light winds at the top of the river. The crew had already raised the main, before they backed her out of the mooring using the Seagull outboard and then sailed her away, it was great to watch. Within moments the outboard was raised, the jib unrolled and they were sailing down the crowded river, clearly having done the whole exercise many times before.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Evening Sail

After the recent weather, and autumn approaching, it's nice to remember how good it was a few weeks ago.

Doesn't get much better than this, sailing down the river, late into the evening on the last of the day's breeze.

Friday, 20 August 2010


The picture says it all, we spotted this delightful double ender down on Lymington quay during the week, sporting flowers and a "just Married" banner (didn't notice if they were towing a load of old tin cans though!).

It reminded us that Erica and I spent our honeymoon sailing, just a leisurely cruise along the south coast to the west country. It was all really nice until coming home, we had made a fast passage from Dartmouth but arrived in the Needles Channel at night, just as a black squall hit with zero visibility and shrieking winds.

We popped through the Hurst narrows like a cork from a bottle and couldn't decide whether to turn right for Yarmouth or left for Lymington. We chose Lymington and by the early hours were safely moored between piles off the town. That was 10 years ago.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

I mentioned my daughter and HMS Ark Royal arriving in Portsmouth dockyard, the historic dockyard is very interesting in it's own right and may not be familiar to non UK readers.

The current docks have been at the centre of British Naval operations for around 300 years. Portsmouth's importance as a natural harbour on the south coast of England and important role in the defense of the nation dates back well before Henry VIII's reign and the ill fated Tudor warship the Mary Rose.

Today much of the historic dockyard is given over to tourism and naval heritage, the site is home to HMS Victory, Nelson's flagship in the decisive Battle of Trafalgar, although permanently stored in dry dock, she is still in commission with the British Navy complete with a serving commanding officer and crew.

Built almost 100 years after Victory in 1860 was HMS Warrior the first iron clad in the British Navy and credited as the first modern battleship. Her armour consisted of 4 inches of iron backed by 18 inches of teak and she carried 68lb breech loading cannons, truly formidable in her day although she never saw battle.

We spotted these interesting old vessels alongside in the docks, the one at the back is HSL102, built for service with the RAF in 1937 as a flying boat tender. Following some extensive work, she was relaunched in 1996 and has been a regular site roaring up and down the Solent.

The boat in the foreground seems to be a dockyard pinnace, probably used around the port.

Although still a major naval base, with defence cuts in prospect there are local concerns over the future of the working docks.

While wandering around we saw this, which we were reliably informed is a new highly secret, experimental vessel being considered as part of the navy's defence review!!!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Welcome Home

We were down at Portsmouth dockyard this morning to see my youngest daughter Katy serving aboard as HMS Ark Royal. One of the Navy's aircraft carriers, they arrived back in her home port after a four month tour of duty, during which they visited America and Canada.

The historic dockyard was lined with families and friends waiting to welcome their loved ones. The Royal Marine band turned out in full regalia to welcome the ship.

The weather was cold and overcast, so for the crew who were stood to attention on the flight deck for over an hour while the ship was manoeuvred alongside by four massive tugs, it must have been freezing.
Katy was up on the flight deck and saw us waving almost as soon as the crew was stood down.

Family and friends were allowed on board , which in itself was a great experience, Joe wasn't quite sure what was happening, but he was really pleased to see his big sister, who had brought back a big bag of toys from her trip to Disney World.

Friday, 13 August 2010


Down at Swanwick Hard last weekend this Ian Oughtred designed Ness Yawl was being launched for her maiden voyage. Owner and builder Mark, standing on the right has spent six years building Fleta.

Mark told me that "Fleta" is an old English word which means swift, a more than appropriate term for what is a fast traditional design based on Shetland fishing craft.

My photos don't do justice to Mark's craftsmanship, the detail and finish on Fleta is really first class.

Sunday, 8 August 2010


They say an Englishman's home is his castle and that's certainly true down on the Netley Foreshore.

Built originally in 1542 as part of Henry VIII's coastal defences known as Device Forts, Netley Castle spent much of the 20th century as a publicly owned convalescent home. Since the 1990's it has been in private ownership.

The castle is adjacent the pretty village of Netley, on the eastern shore of Southampton Water.

Further along at Western Shore and back in the 1970's, the town planners broke with tradition and put up these, no doubt Le Corbusier inspired tower blocks.

Having said that; beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I must admit the views from the penthouse must be spectacular.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Tropical Storm "Colin"

With apologies to all those who live in the hurricane belt, but really, who decided to call a tropical storm - Colin! !

Thankfully, the storm is dissipating, currently about 300 miles south west of Bermuda, maximum sustained winds are down to about 45 knots. It is hoped the storm will pass to the west of Bermuda tonight.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Hawk 20

The Hawk 20 is an open day sailer built in nearby Dorset. The Hawk is heavily ballasted (50% ballast ratio) so very stable, but by virtue of a large sail area has high performance and is able to plane.

A friend, who sadly died recently, had always been fascinated by the Hawk and the claim made by David Greenwell in an early (1993) Practical Boat Owner review that the Hawk "arrived at Lymington in a Force 7 gusting to gale F8".

This whole “force 8” claim became something of an ongoing joke, suggesting that if you see a Hawk out sailing, bad weather was on its way . Fortunately my friend did get the opportunity to sail a Hawk before he died and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Whenever we see a Hawk we normally nod and say something like “gale in prospect” and of course it reminds us of our friend Andy.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Sail Training Ship

Spotted this adapted dinghy recently, it looks like a Pico with stabiliser floats added.

I'm guessing from their shape that the floats are there for stability and to prevent capsize, either way it makes a neat, beach-able trimaran out of a Pico, which let's be honest are a little small for those of us of advancing age and waistline, while retaining most of the performance.

Wonder if you could do something similar to a laser?