Friday, 20 October 2017

Some Classics

I completely forgot the Hamble Classics race during September, but was reminded when these two classics were seen heading off down river while we were having an early lunch

H4 I think is the  Herreschoff half rater Winifred,  she certainly is nice. Built as a replica of the original 1892 fin-keeled  Wee Win in 1999 using the epoxy coated strip plank method.There's a great video on My Classic Boat

Further afield this looks to be an old (late 1960's or early 70's?) Merlin Rocket,. When I was in the Sea Scouts in my early teens the Merlin Rocket was the aspirational boat in our small fleet,  I was desperate to qualify to sail it and did. It wasn't always kept in the best of condition and I recall going swimming when a toe strap broke while hiked out.

Hull shape is very different from the modern wide dish shape.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Top Banana

Looking on the bright side (pun intended) high visibility would be useful if they had to call out the lifeboat.

I still don't really understand motor boats.

Friday, 13 October 2017


An interesting vehicle parked down at Swanwick hard the other day, loosely based on the WW2 DUKW amphibious truck, colloquially know as a Duck.

The original DUKW was designed in partnership with non other than the naval architect firm Sparkman &Stevens. This more modern interpretation was remarkably,home built based on a variety of components the builder collected from various scrapyards including. What a fantastic project.

Chatting to the owner/builder he's crossed the Solent a couple of times down at the western end between Lymington and Yarmouth. He was down at Swanwick accessing the slipway and how the harbour dues introduced by the harbour board might be applied, after all he's already fully paid up on his road find license.

Would have been great to see it afloat.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

End of the season

Saturday was the last session for peanuts and cadets down at Hamble River SC, despite the overcast weather and prospect of high winds around 40 children showed up for what turned out to be a really good day's sailing.

It's been interesting to observe some changes during the year, there's been an increasing number of children of Joseph's age moving away from the Optimists. Laser Picos are favourite since the club has a good fleet, but also a Topper and even the club RS Fever's. What's become apparent is a split between those children who want to race, predominately staying in Opti's and those who just like to get out on the water and have fun and there was certainly plenty of that on Saturday.

Pretty much all of the RYA training is focused towards racing and presumably trying to develop the next Ben Ainsley, but we seem to be leaving behind a whole group of children. Sailing is a big subject and there's plenty of skills to learn around seamanship, safety, navigation the list goes on and we shouldn't loose sight that that a lot of kids enjoy sailing with their friends.

There's a plan next year to split the groups and introduce more "adventure sailing" for those children who don't especially want to tear around a triangular course. As a tester we sailed the senior fleet up river on Saturday, the Opti's stopped off at "Shipwreck Bay" where a course had been laid out for race training while the Pico's and Topper carried on for an impromptu thrash up to Bursledon pool and the long beat back. Judging by the smiles back in the clubhouse both groups had a good time, so something we need to develop next for season.

I'm sure everyone involved will join me in thanking Richard and Rachel who do a fantastic job of organising peanuts and cadets, and also sharing appreciation to all of the parents who help out.

Monday, 9 October 2017


A twilight run along the river with the setting sun back lighting the old MFV wreck shows how little of the hull planking remains below the high water mark.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Grey old day at the Jolly Sailor

Winter is on it's way, or at least the chilly, overcast days of autumn make it feel that way. So at the end of a wet Sunday we walked up to the Jolly Sailor.

Only the leaves still on the trees gave clue that this wasn't a mid winter scene.

Boats on their mooring, no one around, everything still and quiet.

By contract inside was warm and cheery, a good way to end a gloomy day.

Monday, 2 October 2017


There's a saying that everything on a boat should have two purposes and this certainly fits that description.

Seen at the Museo dell'automobile Turin.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Lake Rowing

I first saw this type of boat in an old copy of The Boatman magazine (No 33 1996) which described a traditional fishing boat called a Cannot which is not a canoe but a native of Lac Leman. These boats below were seen respectively on Lac Bourget and Lac Annecy and seem to closely follow the type from Leman.

Apparently size of the traditional boats was 18 to 23 feet, these examples are at the shorter end of that scale. While traditional boats were sailed, outboards appear to be the now almost universal method of propulsion.

The lines are not dissimilar to our own Bursledon gig, most appear to be used for leisure fishing on the lakes and it was nice to see a few being worked by oars.

Monday, 25 September 2017


I seem to be attracted to old outboards, this pair spotted oddly enough in the Chateau museum in Annecy were used on the lake presumably for fishing.

The upright one is pretty familiar to anyone who has used a British Seagull, all pretty basic engineering when the manufacturers didn't think there was a need to cover everything up.

I've seen one of these straight shaft outboard before in the Loire, I couldn't determine from the text whether that configuration was an older design, but that was the impression I got from the engineering. I especially like the exhaust.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Training schooner

After all the holiday pics I thought I'd better get back to boats. I've seen a few of these around in different locations in France. Clearly designed to involve a training crew with lots to do, on what looks like a safe and sporty platform.

Nice uncluttered interior, plenty of storage space for adventure sailing or just general equipment and self draining transom, what's not to like?

The looks are a little quirky perhaps, in a nice way from the country that created the 2CV and the Renault 16.

I can image a bunch of teenagers, especially ones who are not ardent racers, going out and having a lot of fun on one of these.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Beer - "Not Bad"

We've been watching a youtube channel "Life in a Nutshell" which is about two Aussies chugging around England on a canal boat. It's interesting as my Dad did the same thing for the last years of his life making three circumnavigations of the English canal system. At the time I was living in Husbands Bosworth close by the Foxton locks flight which features in "Nutshell" and where my dad would normally wait at the bottom for some help winding through the 10 locks. So it's nice to revisit some of those places and times.

Apart from enjoying the English countryside and even the weather in that super positive Aussie way, Magnus and Wendy like to sample the local beers and rate them out of 10 with the good ones being labelled "Not bad".

So while we were away in France we thought we'd give it a go.

This is the first "Galibier" a French Savoie brewed IPA - which was a bit of a surprise, the French being not exactly famous for India Pale Ale, oddly enough there were quite a few IPA's in the supermarket so it must be catching on. I have to say this one was great, very hoppy which I like and went down great with a pizza sitting in a little alpine village the name of which I've forgotten. Definitely a "Not Bad" 7 out of 10.

La Goudale was my favourite a dark Trappist type beer bought at the supermarket, drunk on a balmy evening overlooking the mountains and lake - NOT BAD 9/10.

Mixed descriptions here, the beer was CH'TI but the glass was 3 Monts which is also worth a swill, back to the one in test, nice, strong beer 8% or so 7/10.

We ducked over the boarder to Turin and got this variation of Birra Moretti which was apparently a localised brew, I like Moretti at home and this was much better, very flavourful 7.5/10.

This was a surprise I just picked it up the the local Spar store as they didn't have much choice, in the event its was Not Bad, a dark Weiss beer 7/10.

We may have brought a few bottles back with us as souvenirs, and needless to say our stocks are rapidly diminishing as we appear to have switched time zones.

Friday, 15 September 2017


While we were in the French Alps and so close to Italy we decided to drive down to Turin for the weekend. The city boasts a former royal palace, the famous covered cloisters  and some magnificent architecture. But for some of it it's always going to be connected to the Italian Job and those red, white and blue mini's screaming through the shopping arcades.

The hotel we stayed in is the former Fiat factory in Lingotto now converted to a hotel, conference and shopping centre. Fortunately the building and importantly the Fiat test track built in 1923 on the roof has been preserved including the banked corners - check out the scene where Michael Caine implores one of the mini drivers to "Look For The Bloody Exit "

The Fiat history is strongly reflected throughout the hotel even the room decor, ours was based on an image of the speedometer from a Fiat Topolino.

The conversion from factory has been very sympathetic, the ramps at each end of the old factory which provided access to the test track were masterpieces of 1920's modernist design and have been faithfully retained.

Turin is a great place for a city break, it perhaps gets overlooked in favour of Venice, Florence and Rome which is a shame as it's a very interesting city, the food is great and the people are incredibly friendly.

Below Joseph living la dolce vita.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Roof Rack

A few years ago it seemed like a good idea to buy a Thule roof rack, the idea being that the bars and fittings can go from car to car only requiring new mounting feet to fit the rack to specific cars. In the event things didn't quite work out so I have now bought two sets of bars and three sets of different mounts - fortunately the old mounts were snapped up by someone on gumtree with the same problem.

Things were apparently much simpler in the old days.

Friday, 8 September 2017

French motor boats

Regardless of what you think about motorboats, you have to appreciate this. The triple hulls should make it very stable and easily driven, so ideal for the calm waters of lake Bourget. The Bimini is great for keeping the sun off when it gets hot, not sure about the fly bridge but  how else would you get the height for the water slide - probably makes for a great day out on the lake

Preparing for take off? Or maybe a new angle trailer sailing - any thoughts? Certainly would make putting on the anti foul an easier job.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Lake boats

Inevitably I just couldn't help noticing a few interesting boats while bumbling around the lake. Presumably it wouldn't take too long to sail this from one end of the lake to the other.

The Dinamica 940 was a German/Italian collaboration designed specifically for the waters of Lake Garda so should be very much at home on Lac du Bourget

Something very different, a cold mounded and varnished cruiser looking very nice and really standing out amongst all the white fibreglass.

Below a Django 67 sports boat which was described as "A new sport boat arrives on the market, due to the pencil of Pierre ROLLAND in collaboration with the designer Lionel FONTENIER and built by GL COMPOSITES."

Looks like a lot of fun, but might be slightly wasted in those light airs.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Port de Plaisance

"Port of pleasure" is a so much nicer phrase than marina, and the port de plaisance in down town Annecy certainly lives up to it's name.

Surrounded by cooling plane trees, the mountain water was crystal clear and home to more than a few interesting local boats .

These classic wooden launches ply the tourist trade taking groups of holiday makers around the lake.

Lovely design, especially the stepped sheer and that tumble home at the transom, a perfect boat for varnish enthusiasts

The port leads out to Lac Annecy by way of a park which is a great picnic spot. There were more than a few modern hire boats available, more than a few electrically powered which is interesting, but don't really compare in the looks department with the classics.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Mountains and lakes

I've said before that mountains are the best place for sailors away from the sea, we've been staying in the French Alps for a couple of weeks in a village overlooking Lac du Bourget thinking that we could perhaps have the best of both worlds.

The area is idyllic, the lake is at 220 meters altitude, our house was at 640 meters with fantastic views while behind us the peak Le Revard rising up to 1500 meters. Lac Bourget is about the same size as lake Windermere  at 18Km long but as a friend joked, surrounded by real mountains.

Of course the problem with lake sailing, especially in the mountains can be lack of wind, this was a typical day on the lake which didn't persuade me to rent a beach cat just to drift around especially at the Euro 45 per hour they were charging for rent,

Of course there are other ways for a stranded sailor to make the most of light airs, every day we watched the parachutists jumping off the Revard and gliding high above our house. Joseph was keen on taking a tandem flight, but even that was outside mum and dad's comfort zone - maybe in a couple of years.

Fortunately Joseph decided that he really preferred the mountains to the lake, so we spent more than a few days hiking around the peaks. Below looking down on the Dent du Chat with the lake beyond, it's about 1500 meters altitude and breathtaking.