Thursday 31 December 2009

New Year Wishes

While wishing everyone best wishes for the new year, I'd like to mention a few of my fellow bloggers who have encouraged me during the last 10 months of writing the Bursledon Blog.

Bursledon Bridge

First up is Chris Partridge and his excellent Rowing for Pleasure blog. It was reading Chris's blog which got me started (he did a post on my rowing skiff Gato Negro back in April 2008). Chris is a professional journalist and although I don't claim any professional competence, I've tried to keep things upbeat, concise and easy to read.

Thomas Armstrong at 70.8% is a fellow blogger who shares an appreciation of nautical tradition, small boats, yacht designers, voyaging and pretty much all the things which interest me.

Earlier in the year Adam at Messing About in Boats promoted "Robin Knox Johnston" day for the blogging community. By complete coincidence RKJ's famous ketch Suhaili is ashore at a local boat yard.

From the Mediterranean I've been following Ben at The Invisible Workshop in Spain, while Laia, Mercè and David - Llauts emailed from Mallorca to say "we and other owners are working to give a future at our traditional boats and we have a great respect for the way you use the wodeen boats in the present. Now we are find people as you how is doing things that we want do here"

I confess to having a soft spot for Spain, I'm very fortunate to have travelled widely there on business, especially Bilbao and Barcelona, when I got to know and love the coast and the fantastic food, but most of all the people who are truely"simpatico". Erica and I have also sailed to Galicia and the "Costa del Morte" - that's "coast of death" - maybe if they had told us it was called that before hand, we probably wouldn't have gone there. Check out Una mirada a la Ría de Vigo to see how spectacular the Rias are.

I wish I had Tillerman's competitive streak, but then again I don't sail a laser (well not anymore), mind you I'd like to have him aboard for next years Old Gaffer's Race.

It turns out that I had actually met Bill of Bill's Log back in 1997 in La Coruna (I've used the Spanish spelling). Although I haven't met Ed Hughes I pass his Silhouette called Misty on my way to our yawl Greta now she's laid up in the yard (or on my way to the Jolly Sailor).

Places I mean to visit and will try harder in 2010. The the Dorset coast, there are some great pictures of this spectacular coastline on Mark Rainsley's South West Sea Kayaking. A very good friend has sadly retired from sailing on the east coast, so I need to find another excuse to visit those creeks and rivers, in the meantime I'm following Creeksailor and his adventures in the Blackwater estuary (his blog also has one of my favorite header pictures).

Further a field in the Pacific Northwest Michael AKA Doryman keeps us appraised of the traditional boat movement and his enviable collection of boats, while Erica is a regular visitor to "Dorywoman's" associated knitting blog Mary's Fibre Adventures. Across the east side of the US continent Christina on Bowsprite publishes some great pictures of the New York waterfront scene.

I've been following Dylan Winter and his circumnavigation of the UK Keep Turning Left on YouTube, back in the summer I spotted a really interesting boat Black Diamond in Dylan's episode in West Mersea. A whole trail of email's finally put me in touch with the owner Greg, one of the people who kindly passed on my questions was Juliette who has just restarted her Musings from a muddy Island from West Mersea in the last week or so - welcome back.

Bursledon Pool

Apologies to the people I haven't mentioned specifically, I clearly spend far too much time on the Internet, but let me wish you all the best for 2010.


Tuesday 29 December 2009

January Sales!

Despite gift wrapping, the local motor boat dealer doesn't appear to have sold this 48 foot cruiser in the run up to Christmas.

Maybe it will sell in the "January Sails"!

Monday 28 December 2009

Frosty Morning

What a fantastic morning, a light frost and the prospect of clear skyes to come, early on there was still that hint of pink in the morning horizon.

Down by Brookland Quay the water was flat calm, despite the wind going around to the North during the night.

A small stream flows out into the river just downstream of Brookland Quay, approaching high water, the tide had filled what is often a muddy inlet.

All was still down on the saltings, although I did hear something large stirring in the woods, most probably one of the local roe deer.

The high tide had just about covered the sea grass and the wind had started to ripple the water out on the more exposed river.

Saturday 26 December 2009

Mike Richey

One of the great English sailors Mike Richey sadly died on 22nd December aged 92.

Mike took up ocean racing in the 1950's, but is perhaps best known for his trans-Atlantic racing in Blondie Hasler's famous converted Folkboat - Jester. He purchased Jester in 1964 following the OSTAR race of that year and competed in every subsequent OSTAR until 1988, when Jester was lost some 500 miles off of Nova Scotia.

A trust was formed and a new Jester replica was built in time to compete in the next OSTAR in 1992. A "Jester" therefore competed in every OSTAR until 2000, in the latter years although below the minimum 30 feet length requirement, she entered by special invitation.

I never met Mike, but we did get a friendly wave from him aboard Jester a few years ago, when we were both struggling with very light winds coming out of Cawsand Bay on our way to Falmouth Classics one summer.

Through his writing in the yachting press, Mike could come across as opinionated, but it was based on his own unique experience. I recall when GPS was relatively new, the traditionalists were arguing that yachts should always carry a sextant and charts. Mike took the view that a hand held GPS cost half as much as a good sextant (so you could afford a spare) and a set of AA batteries would get him across the Atlantic.

Thursday 24 December 2009

Dear Santa.....

I've always liked the Tofinou boats built by Latitude 42 in France, but this one is my favorite, a 9.5 meter Tofinou designed by Phillipe Joubert as a high performance day sailer.

Long, with narrow beam and lifting bulb keel, she sports 41 Sq Meters of sail in main and jib, plus a huge asymmetric. With a displacement of 2300Kg the Tofinou is a flyer with looks to match.

I wonder if Santa could get one down my chimney?

Tuesday 22 December 2009

A Christmas Tale Part 2

December 22nd 1997 S/Y Blue Clipper

Erica had baked some flapjacks, thinking that they would be a treat during our last two nights at sea. The next morning our position showed that we had made even better progress than we had hoped for, so we ate the last of the flapjacks, a sign of confidence that we would be in Barbados before dark.

The island, although low lying, was sighted in the early afternoon. We sailed to our waypoint off the southern tip to avoid a shoal. Closing the south western coastline we could see trees and white shuttered colonial buildings.

Finally the cruise ship dock at Deep Water Harbour came into sight. Our pilot book said that we needed to radio ahead for permission to enter, so we called them up on the VHF.

“Deep water harbour, this is sailing yacht Blue Clipper requesting entry, over”
Nothing – no reply
“Deep water harbour, this is sailing yacht Blue Clipper requesting entry, over”
Nothing – no reply
Slightly concerned we tried for the third time
“Deep water harbour, this is sailing yacht Blue Clipper requesting entry, over”

“Okey-dokey, welcome, welcome - you jus’come righ’on in”
The strong Caribbean accent was friendly and welcoming, maybe he should have said “man” but he didn’t, still it was the best welcome we could have wished for..

We were quickly tied up alongside and presenting our ships papers and passports to customs and immigration, who were no less friendly. They had just cleared in a cruise ship with 3500 passengers and I think were keen to go home at the end of their shift. Christmas decorations including an artificial tree adorned the small office.
“Port of departure from the Canaries?” he asked assuming like most yachts we had departed from Las Palmas or Tenerife.
“No the Gambia” the blank look on his face at my response had me worried for a moment, clearly they were not used to small sailing boats coming from west Africa - then suddenly he smiled.
“oh sure” Thump!, the big rubber stamp came down.
Our clearance was complete with wishes for a great Christmas.

Back on the boat the tropical twilight was descending fast, we made the short trip south from the cruise dock and around to the anchorage in Carlisle Bay. It took us about thirty minutes to get there, by which time it was completely dark. We made our way in cautiously, guided by the lights ashore, moving slowly through the bay we could make out the dark shapes of the anchored yachts around us.

The anchor chain ran out in 12 meters, Blue Clipper finally coming to rest after three long weeks – 21 days at sea. On the shore we could make out the trees, and the buildings, one of which was a church, drifting across the water was the sound of gospel singing. We sat in the dark, in the warm sweet air, listening to the carol singing, we didn’t speak much, it was enough to just be there.

Monday 21 December 2009

A Christmas Tale Part 1

December 21st 1997 S/Y Blue Clipper

Our daily plot, showed we had just over 200Nm to go to Barbados, as a check I put a waypoint into the GPS for a position about two miles off the southern tip of the island. Clicking the “go to” feature gave us the accurate distance and estimated time of arrival; if we maintained our course and speed we would be there in two days, the 23rd of December and in time for Erica to ring her parents before Christmas.

The following morning we were able to pick up the local FM radio stations from Barbados. We were alone, on a small yacht, on a wide blue ocean, under the tropical sun listening to Christmas carols being played across the airwaves.
Weird! But I just couldn’t stop singing “Frosty the Snowman”.

With our goal in sight, we drove the boat hard, sailing as fast as possible, as fast as we dared, still conscious that we were still a long way off shore, so couldn’t afford any mistakes or breakages.
During the night watches I couldn’t resist listening to the radio, the proximity was fascinating and delightful, carol singers and jingle bells.

Friday 18 December 2009

HMS Ark Royal

The aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal returned to her home port Portsmouth today, aboard was my youngest daughter who's been one of the ship's company for over 18 months. We went down to Old Portsmouth to watch the ship enter port.

She was anchored out in the Solent, overnight there had been winds of 40 knots and snow, but by midday it was a clear but cold winter's day.

In total four tugs went out to help guide the carrier in.

From start to finish the whole exercise took about 15 minutes, the Queen's Harbour Master closed the Portsmouth entrance to other traffic while the warship maneuvered.

Close up as Ark Royal passes the fortified ramparts, so many of England's warships have passed this very spot.

And finally she enters port and went alongside in the naval docks.

Thursday 17 December 2009


My post on "Nominations for the best 12' dinghy" caught the attention of Patrick AKA Feugo Mar, who kindly sent me a link to his Flickr set about the Lynaes dinghy.

Lynaes-dinghy's history.

The knowledge about the Lynaes-dinghy can be drawn back to about 1820, when pilot Ole Jensen in Frederikssund (about 40 km west of Copenhagen) built an outstandig seaworthy and well-sailing dinghy-type. Its special mark was also at that time its rounded stern and broad width, which made it extremely seaworthy no matter the waves.

After a hurricane in 1852, where many fishermen lost their lives, Ole Jensen built a series of fishingboats according to the Lynaesdinghy's lines, well-sailing and extremely seaworthy. In this way the little dinghy became a mother to the big fishingboats.

Shipbuilder Christian Madsen, carried on the traditions and built Lynaesdinghies without drawings and designs, but with the craftsmans eye, skill and experience. Many tried to do his tricks but often with a poor result. Still the old saying among fishermen in Lynaes is valid: "When one is unable to cope on the fjord in a Lynaes, it is impossible at all to be there in a dinghy" .

Patrick has a series of pictures and lines drawing for the dinghy. In addition he has some interesting pictures of the restoration of a William Atkin's designed "Eric". Atkin's is reported to have based the design which he published in 1924 on the Colin Archer famous for his double ended Rescue Boats which saw service with Norway's Redningsselskapet (lifeboat service).

Wednesday 16 December 2009

Morning Twilight

One of the good things about short winter days is that you don't have to get up very early to see the morning twilight. In fact my morning run has been getting progressively later and later during the last few weeks.

On Sunday the river was still and the darkness seemed to be hanging around, reluctant to leave and let the daylight brighten up the river.

Across the saltings it was a great time to watch the local wildlife, if a little too dark to photograph them. There were curlews, sandpipers, egrets, oyster catchers, lapwings, brent geese and a few I didn't manage to recognise.

Out on the river it was very calm and peaceful, so unlike the summer months; there's a lot to be said for winter.

Sunday 13 December 2009

Haul Out Time - tribulations

I was planning to move Greta down to the yard last weekend for her winter haul out, but I had gone down with Swine Flu during the week (AKA H1M1) you know you have it because you crave bacon sandwiches!!

It wasn't very nice, but I've had worse and so on Sunday I took a walk along the river, being careful to stay well away from passers by.

The day started off as one of those clear, sunny breezy winter days and I was wishing that I felt up to taking "Tosh" our catboat out for a sail.

On closer inspection, maybe it was a little too breezy, the yachts were tugging at their moorings and there was a bit of a fetch blowing into Swanwick pool.

So this weekend I'm going to try and get back on schedule. The forecast is for 12-15 knots from the North East, I'm hoping it won't be too windy as I will be on my own and even though Greta isn't a big boat, getting a long keel boat into a tight space can be a struggle single handed at times.

Friday 11 December 2009

Paved Paradise

"and put up a parking lot" as the Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" song goes.

One of my favorite roads runs along the coast, southward from the busy port of Sete in the south of France. The road runs literally alongside the Mediterranean for about 10 miles until it reaches the resort village of Marseillan Plage, when the coast turns out towards the headland of Cap D'Age

For the last 30 years, since I first visited the area, there have been no parking restrictions. and outside the August peak holiday time, it was wonderful to drive along this often deserted road, with just a few yards of sand between you and the sea. All credit to the local authorities who have managed to hold back the creeping developments at each end of this unique stretch of coast.

Sadly in their efforts to prevent development, they have decided to move the road away from the sea and create - well a giant car park

They paved paradise And put up a parking lot

With a pink hotel, a boutique And a swinging hot spot

Don't it always seem to go

That you don't know what you've got Till it's gone

They paved paradise And put up a parking lot

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Fast Tri's

My post on the Dick Newark deigned performance trimaran Moxie got me thinking about the benefits of a trimaran for coastal cruising. Able to float in a few inches of water, one would open up lots of interesting anchorages. The ability to dry out, upright on a beach during those windless days, would be great for family harmony. Best of all is the speed, cruising at 10 to 18 knots means extended cruising possibilities for the weekend sailor.

I spotted these two examples out on the river the other day, outboard motors push these lightweight craft along without the need for a complicated inboard installation and can be taken home for winter maintenance. Most of these trimarans have the ability to "fold" so they can be trailed or to fit into an marina berth without paying excessive beam.

The accommodation might be a little limited, but for two adults and a small child, summer weekend camp cruising is more a matter of attitude than square feet.

The biggest problem with these high performance tri's is that they're relatively expensive, but where there's a will there's a way - Small Trimarans features a home built performance tri based on a Soling keel boat

Sunday 6 December 2009

Petit Brise

In my recent post about the HBBR "Amble up the Hamble" I commented that the pretty Selway Fisher designed Petit Brise would make an ideal yacht tender, little did I know that's precisely how Paul Fisher intended.

Owners of Penny, Steve and Marge, sent me an email to say that Petite Brise was designed as a new tender for the famous Pilot Cutter Jolie Brise . She is owned by Dauntsey's school, so the tender was designed so that it could be built by pupils at the school and would be a safe and tough tender which could be used to teach basic boat handling and sailing.

The design is a Swampscott Dory, with the typical flat floor, the clinker ply construction is strong and light as the boat is stowed on deck.

Steve and Marge made a great job of building Penny. According to the designer's notes she is light enough to be car topped - I like her more and more.

Saturday 5 December 2009

Wet Saturday Afternoon

On a cold wet Saturday, with evening coming on around four thirty, smells of dinner cooking slowly in the kitchen, what could be better than browsing through old magazines and books looking at boats that you would like to sail, like to build and like to own.

Of course the internet gives us so much more scope for meandering around an almost infinite library of sailing and boating information. And so it was that I arrived at the Woodenboat Forum and specifically a post by Brian AKA "the Keyhaven Potterer" asking for 'Nominations for the best 12' sailing dinghy'. Now he didn't actually say what defined "best", but he did qualify that it needed to be wooden and available as plans.

Now I have nothing against the International Moth or Cherub skidding along on foils, it's just not for me. Here though are a few of my favorites.

The Axe One Design above is a lovely clinker built (lapstrake) dinghy from the south Devon river. Designed in 1951 specifically for members of the Axe Yacht Club, the A.O.D. was principally a two man dinghy. Each summer the boats return to Cornwall to sail on the Fowey, Fal and Helford Rivers, but primarily to attend Fowey Classics – the highlight of the A.O.D.s summer.

John Alden designed X-Class frostbite dinghy above, Design 0561, a classic 11'-6" lapstrake racing dinghy.

Paul Fisher designed this handy yellow Cegall 11, constructed in the well tried "stitch and tape" epoxy ply method, she is built by Chippendale Craft. Cegall is the Catalan for Snipe.
The Italian's have really taken to the International 12 Foot Dinghy Class. Designed by George Cockshott, an amateur boat designer from Southport, over ninety years ago, the International Twelve Foot Dinghy became the first one-design racing dinghy to gain international recognition. Today it is virtually forgotten in the United Kingdom, but the class still enjoys a sizeable following in the Italy, Netherlands and Japan
No dinghy round up would be complete without an entry from Uffa Fox, here are lines for his Utility & Fay his own frostbite dinghy.
Francois Vivier designed his Morbic 12 as a performance balanced lug sail, with more than a nod of appreciation for the International 12 feet (an Olympic class). More than that, the Morbic is a "sail and oar" boat, able to sail anywhere.

Brian AKA Keyhaven Potterer nominated his local Keyhaven Scow (above), one of the Solent Scows which are common in our creeks and harbours from Chicheter to Lymington.

Paul Gartside designed Riff for strip plank construction, based in the Pacific North West several of Paul's design catalogue reflect a strong English west country influence.

I'd love to sail any or all of these classic dinghies. What a great way to spend a Saturday.

Keel Up Restoration

Commited owner sought for keel up restoration.

Couldn't resist!!

Thursday 3 December 2009


On the way to the pub I passed fellow blogger Ed Hughes Silhouette -Misty hauled out for the winter, and looking very smart she is too.

Designed in 1953, by Robert Tucker the Silhouette was a small sailing cruiser especially for the amateur builder. She was 16ft 6ins LOA, 12ft 6ins LWL and 6ft 3ins beam with a draft of 1ft. The sail area was 115sq ft with a gunter lug, or 99sq ft with a bermudan rig. All the materials could be bought for £100. The first is believed to have been launched on the Medway- SI/1 Blue Boy

In 1962 moulds were taken off a plywood hull so that Hurleys' a UK builder could start production in the the then relatively new fibreglass. Various modifications went into versions Mk III, IV and V up to 1972, when Hurley ceased to trade. The moulds then passed around the industry until the mid 1980's

Ed's Misty is a Mk III and his blog covers restoration and sailing adventures in this tough little boat.

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Restoration project?

We spotted this sloop while walking through the boat yard, it was coming on to evening and difficult to photograph in the fading light, so the pictures don't really do her justice.

She's been lying in a corner of the yard for a couple of years and has been recently moved, so I'm hoping it's because someone has taken her on for restoration rather than getting ready for the chainsaw.

I don't know anything of her history but she has the look of a south coast boat, well able to cut through the nasty Solent chop that we all know so well. In her heyday she must have looked great with that varnished transom and pilot house.

I can't help feeling that the Americans are somewhat better organised at preserving old boats than we are. Wooden Boat magazine has a section each month, offering old boats that need saving and there's the Wooden Boat Rescue Foundation which currently lists 97 old boats, effectively free to someone with the skills and desire (read money) to take one on.

The problem with restoring old yachts is, apart from the skill and expense required, that they generally don't fit in a domestic garage. I know a couple of people who have ongoing car restorations in their garage at home. The car can sit safely in the garage awaiting the time and expense when available, in one case we're talking 20 years and two house moves, but at least an old, interesting if not especially valuable old car, has been saved from the crusher.

Boats sadly tend to take up expensive space, so unless you have an adjacent field and barn, it normally means renting space in a boatyard, with travel to and from, which gets very expensive if you try and fit a long term restoration in with all the other domestic demands we all have.

As a result yacht restorations generally focus on the more valuable or historic yachts which make a commercally sound proposition. It also means we're in danger of loosing more and more ordinary crusing boats from our recent past.

Lets hope this isn't one of them

Monday 30 November 2009


Talk about coincidence, I posted “Love and Sailing” last Thursday in response to Tillerman’s writing challenge, about the sailing trip Erica and I made in 1997 from England to the Caribbean. Then on Sunday I was reading Micheal’s Dory Man blog and noticed a link to Bill’s Log where he describes owning a Van de Stadt Pioneer 9 Aziz and his trip to La Corunna in north west Spain.
I wrote to Bill as in late July or August of 97 we had just crossed the bay of Biscay and were anchored next to Aziz in La Corunna. I recognised the boat having read “When I put out to sea” by Nicolette Milnes Wilson – her account of a single handed Atlantic crossing in the boat. Our yacht Blue Clipper was also a Van de Stadt design, a Legend 34.

Blue Clipper

I recall rowing over to talk to the owner, who I suppose must have been Bill. At the time my normal opening questions were always about water capacity, as it was something which preoccupied me, and about which I asked any and all the offshore cruisers we met.

I do recall however that Aziz had just come back from an attempt to sail to the Azores, in his email Bill confirmed that he had struggled with calms and lack of fuel.

We have seen Aziz a couple of times since then, once in the west country – Falmouth I think ,about 5 years ago and more recently ashore in Hamble Point Marina.

Isn't blogging great - as a PS Bill has some great posts on small boat sailing, including my favourites Sopranino and Nova Espero.

Sunday 29 November 2009

Winter Weekend

The weather turned cold for the weekend, well at least cold for this unusually mild part of the south coast of England. The early morning blue skies and fresh breeze, which had almost tempted me to go for a sail, were quickly replaced by low grey clouds and still air, with the prospect of rain to come.

Down at Shore Road work has begun demolishing the old boat sheds, but the dinghy park and public hard in the foreground, have been spared from this development of marina flats and houses.

Sadly the development will put an end to boat building on the site, the sheds to the left of this picture will be coming down next.

Further down in the pool at Bursledon, the boats are laid up and have their winter covers on.

On a cold and wet winter's afternoon, there's not much better than a brisk walk for some fresh air and then retire to the Jolly Sailor.

And watch the boats in comfort with a roaring fire and a pint of "Pickled Partridge" - apologies to any non English readers who don't understand our taste for warm beer!