Monday, 26 June 2017

Old Harry

It was an unusually low tide at Studland as I set off to kayak around the Old Harry rocks which are actually chalk formations at Handfast point in Dorset.

The very outer parts are described as a stack and a stump or Old Harry and his wife.

With slack tide and a calm sea it was easy to go right around the point, seen here with Swanage in the distance.

Better still with the tide so low it was possible get up close and see parts which I've never had the opportunity to explore before, like some of the smaller caves and windows. The water was crystal clear.

I imagine this low bank doesn't often break the surface, but it made for a nice resting spot and a good reminder to keep well off when sailing past.

The famous stack, seen from the land side and showing the tidal range, which isn't huge a couple of meters at most.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Black Jack KYC

Anchored out in Studland bay, presumably from Keyhaven Yacht Club, you can just about make out the name in the third picture.

Black Jack has the low rounded stern of a prawner, but perhaps that was just a design influence.

Very pretty from the stern and well kept, lovely.

Monday, 19 June 2017

On a clear day

And the weekend really was, a ketch on a sparkling sea

Below the "Poole navy" rushing off somewhere while the trading ketch takes a more leisurely approach.

Later sailing into the early evening with those magnificent chalk cliffs as backdrop.

Flat calm in the morning sunshine and a super low spring tide, no prizes for guessing how we got around.

Which was just as well since there was no wind and the alternative might have disturbed the peace and quiet.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Hamble Pirates

Piracy on the Hamble has been virtually unknown for a couple of hundred years or so, although there was a spate of outboard motor thefts a few years ago and back in the early noughties, the notorious one legged boat burglar was caught and convicted on unambiguous CCTV  evidence.

Just recently there has been increase in reported sightings of the gentlemen and ladies of fortune.

It started with the Hamble river raid, one of the gig crew left behind no doubt to guard the boat while the others were ashore for some nefarious purpose.

More recently some unsavoury characters were gathered at the slipway over the bank holiday.

Later seen at the top of the creek with fellow pirates proudly displaying the skull and crossbones, presumably a nice quiet spot to hold a pirate council.

Apologies for the bad photos.

Monday, 12 June 2017


I haven't been to Portsmouth by boat for a quite while (not counting the Brittany ferry last summer) and it was nice to revisit all the familiar features from when we kept Blue Clipper there years ago, the Millennium Tower and Spice Island in the foreground

Mary Mouse, the bar and shower block for Haslar marina based in the old lightship.

A couple of Victory class, local day boats similar to the XOD's but clinker built and I believe unique to Portsmouth.

A Daring class Destroyer alongside.

And another one out on a mooring in the harbour.

Moored in the Porchester channel a very nice sloop, sadly the light was fading.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Shock of the new

There's a poignancy to this picture that I like, the remains of a single, old working boat gradually decaying, reverting back to the elements from which it was made. While across the river in the bustling marina a new generation of pleasure boats define the changed times.

Boats have become part time pleasure craft, vessels of affection, with an altogether more trivial purpose, the old discarded and unwanted - it could be a metaphor for modern life or maybe I'm just feeling a bit old myself.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Fast trip to Portsmouth

My friend Malcolm asked me to help take his boat back to Port Solent in Portsmouth, not that he actually needed any help but it was a nice excuse to go for an evening on the water and a catch up over a couple of beers.

The remains of the unsettled bank holiday weather were still in evidence, but no rain and the wind was SW 15 knots or less as we left Hamble.

Some spectacular light breaking though the clouds, looking up Southampton water.

Leaving Hamble and getting used to the boat at 1200 revs.

Not long after approaching Portsmouth.

We were going a bit faster with the turbos kicked in and the boat up on the plane, I wasn't really watching the time but it was a whole lot faster than sailing.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Beach Life

South bank celebrity The Beach Captain aka Ron was enjoying the midday low tide opportunity to create and open air bathroom experience.

You can catch more of his work on facebook 

Monday, 29 May 2017

Durlaston Head

Heading west from Swanage is Durlsaton Head, fortunately now preserved as a country park and nature reserve, it has an easy pathway giving amazing views across Christchurch Bay to the Isle of Wight in the east and northward up to Poole.

Above the closer ledge is Peveril Point on the outskirts of Swanage, home to the lifeboat station and some very lively overfalls when the tide is  is running.

The second headland is Old Harry, three chalk formations, including a stack and a stump, located at Handfast Point which were separated from the main cliffs between 10 and 20,000 years ago.

The cliffs at Durlaston are part of the Jurassic Coast between Swanage and St Alban's head. We never sail very close, preferring to go offshore to avoid the tidal race, which can be very rough in spring tides. The sheer cliffs are home to colonies of sea birds who nest pretty much undisturbed.

It's a short walk to the lighthouse at St Alban's head (which is a corruption of St Adhelm's Head). Many's the time we've been very glad to see the light shining out across the dark sea at night giving us a reassuring landmark.

The rock of Durlaston head is fine quality Portland stone, used extensively in the building of Victorian London. Seen above are the Tilly Whim caves, where the stone was mined and loaded directly onto boats down the cliff face.

Alongside the lighthouse are former coastguard cottages. which are now available as holiday lets. It's a wonderful and unique location.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Portsmouth Harbour Houseboats

In a quiet corner of Portsmouth harbour at Wicor there are a few houseboats,, Seattle or Sausalito it's certainly 'aint, but nice to see there are still a few around.

The top one looks like it might be a converted lighter, an non powered barge that is frequently seen on the Thames loaded with everything from building rubble to household waste.

Above a cosy retreat alongside a huge barge at the far side with an almost full length roof top terrace commanding a panoramic view across the harbour.

And how about this for a floating candidate for Grand Designs?

Monday, 22 May 2017


Nicely disguised summer house/cabin on the foreshore at Hill Head.

I didn't really notice the painting as we approached, nor the shed until after we'd passed.

Friday, 19 May 2017

French Boats

Seen along La Rance estuary in Brittany. What a fantastic spot to keep a small day boat pulled up on the beach in front of a fortified manor house, probably wouldn't happen in England.

Local gaffer, probably based on a working bout but definitely yachty and look at the length of that boom.

Close up of the boat in the background which I think is a Gilles Montaubin design.

Spinnaker run up river.

Ulysse afloat seen from across the river, not dissimilar to the day boat above but with more of a recreational boat influence in the lines perhaps?

Looks like a Philipe Harlé design, probably the Armagnac design, looks very well kept and ready for the season.

And yet another dory.

Monday, 15 May 2017


Further inland from St Malo up La Rance lies Dinan another delightful, historic and fortified town. The quay is separated from the main town adjacent the famous viaduct which was also probably the first river crossing until the modern bridges were built.

Along the eastern shore of La Rance lies Mordreuc which grew up around lime kilns, a tide mill and a stone dock where wood to heat the houses in downstream St Malo could be loaded.

Ulysse a local day boat waits for the tide, the bay is sandy and firm plus well sheltered.

A couple of pictures for fellow blogger Doryman, the dory type was clearly common on La Rance, clearly suited to the shallows and sandbanks. These days built in ubiquitous GRP and still used as working boats.

This pretty canoe stern cruiser pulled up on the hard looks to be very well equipped with wind vane steering and beaching legs. It's such a nice spot I'd be happy just hanging out there waiting for the tide.