Friday 30 July 2010

Falmouth Working Boats

Carrick Roads, the large natural harbour formed by the Fal estuary is probably unique in being the only oyster fishery in the world (certainly in Europe) where fishing is still carried out under sail.

Governed by ancient law which protects the fishery, ecology and the riverbed, local oystermen are prohibited to use engines. Today there is a small fleet, working the fishery with traditional boats using sail power and hand pulled dredges.

Down at Mylor, a creek off the western side of the estuary, some of these boats were pulled up on the foreshore, although most of these appear to be wooden built, there are some modern boats in GRP, made by the Heard yard, up the creek at Mylor Bridge, though still built to designs based on traditional working boats.

As well as fishing many of the boats take part in local racing, although increasingly there has been a proliferation of dedicated racing boats.

These boats certainly show their working heritage, notice the aluminium yacht masts being used a bowsprits, reusing an old spar is probably cheaper, lighter and certainly less maintenance that a wooden one. Many of the boats fit a racing rig during the summer months, which is much bigger than that carried for fishing.

Sadly we weren’t around to see any of these sailing as it was July and the oysters are not fished during the summer. But come October Falmouth hold their annual Oyster Festival, which features celebrity chefs and celebrates the start of the oyster season as together with a wide variety of Cornish food, wines and ales.

Monday 26 July 2010

Troy Class

We spent a week down in the Cornish town of Fowey again recently, having a early evening drink in the Royal Fowey YC we had the opportunity to see the local fleet of Troy Class keel boats turn out for their Wednesday evening race.

Local boat builder Archie Watty drew the original Troy design, influenced in part by another local class the Falmouth Restricted One Design (18ft). He built the first Troy - Jocelyn over winter in 1928/9, commissioned by Sir Charles Hanson for his daughter Clare.

After Watty’s death in 1949, other local builders continued to produce Troy’s right up the present, maintaining the class rule that boats must be built “on the banks of the River Fowey”.

A set of Troy builders moulds now hang down from the roof beams in the club house at the Fowey Gallants Sailing Club, there are also reported to be two more sets of moulds owned by local boat builders.

Heavily ballasted with almost 1500lbs of lead in the keel, the Troys are sailed under full canvas in the often fresh conditions and as a result, spend a lot of time with a rail down, making a good cockpit coaming essential.

With fleet numbers in the twenties and a couple of new boats being built in the last couple of years, enthusiasm for the Troy appears even stronger after 80 years.

Hardly surprising, given the idyllic sailing ground of the Fowey River and the suitability of the boat for those conditions. I’d love one!

Friday 23 July 2010

Super Yacht

Which of course is the American usage of the word "yacht" which means motor boat, as opposed to "sail boat" which means yacht. Two nations divided by a common language.

In recent years Southampton has expanded as a centre for super yacht maintenance and repair. We spotted this lovely motor vessel heading up Southampton water recently.

I'm guessing it was coming to Southampton for some work, unless that is the owner has a special interest in cruising past the Fawley oil refinery, then again maybe he owns it!!

Tuesday 20 July 2010

Houseboat Moby Dick

Great houseboat we spotted down at the creek beside Falmouth Marina. The Moby Dick, complete with tender the Black Pig.

Not sure about the bearded figurehead though!.

Saturday 17 July 2010

Pea Jay

I caught a glimpse of this lovely sloop while we were walking along the foreshore at Mylor in Cornwall. Even from a distance she looked fantastic so I walked right around the marina for a closer look.

She looks new and I'm guessing she is a version of the Herreshoff designed 12 1/2 - also known as the Buzzard's Bay.

While the original was a keel boat, Joel White designed a centreboard version known as the Haven 12 1/2. A quick Google revealed that one was built by two students at the Boat Building Acadamy at Lyme Regis - see Gavin Atkin's In the Boatshed.

If it's the same boat they certainly made a fine job of her. Shame about the fenders, but it was the best shot I could get.

I'd love to see her out sailing on Carrick Roads.

Thursday 15 July 2010

Deans Elbow

Must have been a good reason to call it that!

Intrigued, I found a link on Google to a book of the same name, by A.E.W Mason published in 1931 about "The Lives and Loves of 1920's Socialites" with a very pretty gaff cutter on the cover.

Monday 12 July 2010


There were more than a few interesting small boats out on the Hamble on Sunday. In the morning members of Hamble River Rowing took a couple of Bursledon Gigs and my own skiff “Gato Negro” down to the new café on Hamble foreshore.

Later members of the HBBR – Home Built Boat Rally gathered at the Jolly Sailor with some fine examples which included on the right, an Andrew Wolsterholme designed Coot dinghy, built by Graham - Port-na-storm and there for her maiden voyage, looking very pretty indeed.

Centre above, this delightful lug sail, cat boat was in attendance, instantly recognisable as are all the boats built by Chris in his distinctive blue and white livery.

Not new but none the less stunning was Tim’s Acorn skiff an Iain Oughtred design below.

The benefits of light weight were made apparent, Chris Partridge - Rowing for Pleasure was able to lift his Chippendale Skiff right onto the pub steps rather than leave it jostling with the other dinghies tied to the crowded pontoon.

A great selection of boats, a waterside pub and sunshine, a perfect Sunday!

Friday 9 July 2010

More Tucker Designs

Down on the slipway in Hamble I noticed this Robert Tucker designed Caprice, looking slightly sad, you could say it had lost it's Mojo, but it brought back fond memories.

The Caprice was my first yacht, I had a fibre glass one, a Mk V I think. It was very small, so small you had to stick you head out of the fore hatch if you wanted to sit on the toilet. That said it was a good sea boat, solid and dependable and cheap, which allowed me to go sailing without breaking the bank.

The same day, Tom over at 70.8% sent me this picture of another Tucker boat, a Matilda 20.

This particular Matilda, built in 1978 is "Ternabout", quietly famous, she is owned by Paul Esterle, aka Capt'n Pauley and has been the subject of many how to articles in the American journal Small Craft Advisor.

Tuesday 6 July 2010


Ok, so it's not exactly Lady Gaga, but this telephone box , perched on the dock head at a local marina, always makes me smile.

After the old state telephone monopoly was privatised and became British Telecom, loads of these old, traditional, cast iron telephone boxes were sold off. I can remember them being sold for as little as £50. People bought them for all sorts of uses, garden ornaments, even shower cubicles.

Quite why this one ended up at the end of the pontoon, I don't know, maybe in those far off and pre mobile phone days, there was a phone line back to the marina office.

Friday 2 July 2010


I wrote about a local mooring barge, the "Charles Atlas" back in April, well the other mooring contractor on the river has a similar barge, but it's painted PINK.

While you might be forgiven for thinking it's a reaction to the he-man Charles Atlas competitor, it's actually part of the company branding.

There's the Pink Ferry, which runs a passenger service between Hamble town quay and Warsash.
And across on the Warsash side, there's the pink shelter. When the ferry company came up with this branding, there were a few complaints about the shelter, but it's become an accepted part of the Hamble scene over the years.

Pretty much everything in the yard is pink (there's almost a play on words that I couldn't resist).

Including the fork lift truck!
I'm not quite sure what a pink canal boat is doing on the slip way, maybe it's going to be used as a pink, floating porta-cabin.

And of course the river wouldn't be complete without a pink water taxi.