Monday 31 December 2012

The last post 2012

My predictions for 2013

Sailing will be more fun than working
A celebrity will be in the news
The tides will rise and fall
The wind will be in the wrong direction most of the time
You will remember where you left that vital spare part, it just won't be where you remembered it was
The weather will improve
(I could be wrong about the weather)

Have a great new year and here's wishing you well for whatever endeavours you pursue in 2013

Wednesday 26 December 2012

Boxing Day

For a few brief moments the sun broke through, but all too soon the approaching front started to close in, rain is foretold by midday but a few folk were out walking the dog, getting some fresh air and even sailing.

It's a day for a roaring fire, warm beer, hot mulled wine, the children will have playing with the favourites of their presents  - hope you're enjoying the holiday.

Monday 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas

Wishing everyone a merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

The oil refinery over at Fawley looks almost festive at this time of year, lit up in the early evening twilight, apologies but it makes a change from chocolate box images of pretty villages and cute waterside pubs!

Boxing Day seems to be a very British tradition, a public holiday celebrated on the 26th December in UK, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand and other former colonies. It's a day for sporting events and for people to take the opportunity to get out and "blow away the cobwebs" after Christmas day.

It would be great to get out on the water, especially if the weather was clear and bright like the picture above, sadly the weather forecast predicts otherwise, so it will probably be like the picture below, taken on Boxing day last year of a few hardy members of the Seafarers Sailing Club launching from the beach, it was all too familiar cold, wet and windy but everyone seemed to be having good fun.

What ever you are doing over the holiday have a great time and thanks for stopping by.

Saturday 22 December 2012


I guess from time to time most sailors think about getting a motor boat, most often it's when we're slogging to windward, soaking wet with the rain lashing down, at times like that it's nice to imagine sitting below in the wheelhouse aboard something like this, watching the weather and the wet yachtsmen go by.

The picture, taken into the sun, doesn't really do justice to that lovely canoe stern. Vagabond as she's called was out on the hard last year but alas crowded in by other boats it was impossible to get good pictures, I'll have to keep trying.

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Best of the day

It seems that in common with several fellow bloggers,  life has been so busy at work and at home for the last several months that there's been very little time for blogging or indeed just getting out on the water. I suddenly realised that I hadn't been rowing for over a month, so Sunday morning I hauled myself and boat down to the hard shortly after first light. Fortunately with the short winter days that was about 8.30 on what was a clear bright Sunday morning.

Surprisingly the river was already busy, a bait digger was taking advantage of low water.

Perhaps these fishermen were customers for his worms, either way they seemed to be having a good time on one of the empty mid river pontoons.

I wasn't the only rower out, the local crew were out with their Solent galley.

The harbour launch was showing Christmas spirit sporting not one but two Christmas trees, maybe it was to match the twin outboards?

All in all it was a great row, the sun shone, the river was largely empty, I even stopped off at Matilda Emile to take off the jib from the roller furling and bring the battery home.

Friday 14 December 2012

Lee on Solent

Looking eastward from Saltern's Road park at Hill Head to the built up shore at Lee on Solent.

With an automatic telephoto lens it's easy to replicate the changing view that might be seen from a small boat as it approaches, the destination slowly revealing itself.

 Until finally everything is in clear sight and navigation marks have been identified.

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Lymington town gaffers

Saturday morning was bright and clear, so after breakfast and picking up some essential Christmas supplies in Lymington we took the opportunity to wander around in the sunshine for a bit of boat spotting.

This ketch looks like it's come into the river for the winter, sadly it wasn't possible to get a closer view, but she looks impressive.

I believe this lovely canoe yawl is Charmina, an Albert Strange design built by built in 1923 by Ernest Woods and is currently advertised for sale on the Albert Strange Association web site

The last one is Alice III a red hot racer designed by Rogers Yacht Design for a local racing syndicate. Although she looks traditional don't be fooled, to go with her towering top mast, she has lots of form stability and a deep high aspect keel finished off with a lead torpedo.

Friday 7 December 2012


I took this shot on an overcast and cloudy morning a while ago and forgotten it. When I was looking through recent photo's I didn't recognise where it was.

The photo was taken at maximum magnification and although it's a very familiar part of the river, it's not a view one would normally see, plus the close cropped telephoto image had extenuated and foreshortened the Isle of Wight in the distance which almost look mountainous - or perhaps I just have a vivid imagination.

Monday 3 December 2012


Down at the Bursledon Brickwork Museum the Hampshire Light Railway was having a bit of a slow time on Sunday, the overnight temperatures had dropped below freezing so it took a while to get the pipes thawed out and water to the boilers.

While we were waiting we watched this traction engine which was doing slightly better,  heading off for an excursion. It was built by Garratt's of Suffolk getting on for 100 years ago and looking none the worse for her age thanks to some meticulous care from her owner.

An electric engine was called into service to pull the 7 1/4" gauge train which was very popular as always with Joseph and the young driver who had recently turned 16 and passed his train drivers test. 

Eventually steam was up  and it was time for a ride with Wendy the blue engine, the configuration with an engine at each end is because the track is there and back until a loop is constructed. The green engine is interesting a Simplex from around 1926 and petrol driven, apparently used in the construction of the original Winchester trunk road. 

Saturday 1 December 2012

Full Moon

The past couple of nights have been clear, cold and bright with the huge full moon. It was still out the next morning, so I took the opportunity for a early run along the river, it was difficult to photograph but you can get the idea.

For those of us who spend our time in offices, talking to phones and starring at computers it was nice to be in touch with the rhythm of nature even for a short while. With a spring tide in prospect it would be good to get out rowing at the weekend.

Friday 30 November 2012

Slow start

It looked like racing was abandoned shortly after this windless "start" in Southampton water.

Sunday 25 November 2012

Winter Sunset

As we approach the winter solstice it's getting dark in what seems like the middle of the afternoon, but the low winter sun does provide some spectacular light.

Taken at full magnification the fishing boat was about a mile off shore heading towards Ryde on the Isle of Wight.

A car carrier turning around the Bramble Bank before heading up Southampton Water with the western Solent in background.

Friday 23 November 2012


Not often that you see one of these around the Solent, it's a Freeman 22 cruiser which was a very familiar sight on the river Thames during the 1960's and 70's when I was growing up.

This looks like a Mk 1 which according to the Freeman Cruisers website was introduced in 1957 and  sold through until 1963 when the Mk 2 came along without the stepped cabin roof and thus giving increased headroom.

The story is fascinating, John Freeman was building caravans when he had the idea of what is effectively a cruising caravan for inland waterways, the boat was an instant hit with spacious four berth accommodation and high quality woodwork and became ubiquitous on England's inland waterways.

Monday 19 November 2012

Weather Window

With a hectic work and home life, I managed to grab a couple of hours rowing on what turned out to be a perfect autumnal Sunday morning.

The day hadn't got going, so I had the river pretty much to myself, apart from this cormorant who felt confident enough to swim past while I was taking photos.

With a clear sky and the early sun, colours were saturated, the leaves just starting to turn yellow and orange in the surrounding woods.

On the way back a gentle breeze was starting to ripple the water, it would have been a perfect afternoon for a sail, but alas I'd committed to collecting Erica's dad from Guildford about 50 miles away, but for a couple of hours it was heaven.

Friday 16 November 2012

Classic launch

No idea what she is or how old but I spotted this launch at the end of the pontoon in East Cowes.

She has a separate cockpit, I guess it would be described as landau style,harking back to the days when the coxswain could pilot the boat while the family enjoy the saloon and the rear cockpit away from the paid hand.

Imagine those elegant lines sweeping up the Solent, jazz music playing from a wind up gramophone, champaign on ice and strawberries and cream.

Saturday 10 November 2012

Normandy Beaches

We have just returned from the Normandy beaches and with Remembrance Sunday this weekend it seemed appropriate to recall the the incredible events which took place in June of 1944.

Memorials to the allied troops of the D Day landings are to be seen in every village and town and the sense of honour and respect for the liberation forces is woven into the fabric of this part of France even as we approach seventy years after the event.

Much of the coast has been developed in the post war years, but the remains of fortified positions are frequent and a poignant reminder of what the allied troops faced.

There are many visitor centres which detail the events of that momentous day, but for me at least the most moving moment was just gazing out across the beach which is little changed by the intervening years and trying to imagine the scene with the 7000 ships and 130,000 men making up the greatest armada the world has ever known, the audacity of a plan of which the successful execution would lead to the liberation of western Europe and the prospect for failure was unthinkable.

Sword beach where the picture above was taken, was one of the more successful landings, within the day the troops has driven a front 13km wide over 10km inland almost reaching the medieval city of Caen. Very different to the scene at "bloody" Omaha beach which was taken at the cost of over 3000 casualties on the same day.

The bravery and sacrifice of the allied forces who took part in that day, a day which changed the course of European history is to be seen in the many cemeteries where row after row of clean, well kept grave stones reveal all too brief details of the young lives lost. Not so for the 21,000 German troops who died during the battle for Normandy \and for whom understandably there is little trace, but who none the less were husbands, fathers and sons.

It's easy to be caught up with thoughts about the momentous events and the heroism which so many displayed on that day, but lets us not forget that our troops who are serving and sadly dying in Afghanistan today do so with no less bravery and courage.

To all of the men and women who have fought on our behalf in the many wars and conflicts you don't just deserve our respect you demand it, thank you.

Saturday 3 November 2012

L'Homme de Doris

I could be forgiven for thinking that I'd spotted  Michael AKA Dory Man on a  holiday trip, we were passing the little church at Hermanville Sur Mer in Normandy and saw this dory fisherman which was displayed in the  church yard.

The dory was clearly a working craft in this part of France which will be familiar to many, Hermanville lies just inland from Sword Beach, the most easterly of the D Day beaches, the coast stretching west past the famous allied landings at Juno, Gold, Omaha and Utah is very similar for 60 or so miles, long gently sloping beaches revealed each day by tides of around 5 meters range.

In Hermanville there is a dory association the Association de Doris de la Cote de Nacre sadly our trip was too short to visit, but it appears that they have recently restored a local dory the "Casino de Ouistreham" which took part in some maritime fetes during the summer. Further down the coast on the river Rance the Fete de Doris has been held for the past 14 years - do click the link to see film of the 2012 event, those green and orange painted oars in the starting sequence look great.

Sadly we didn't see any dory's on our recent and all too short trip, but the local fishermen were working out  in the Channel from the beach as above, recovering their boats by tractor. The boats we saw were altogether a more modern vee bottom design. but you can see why a dory would have made good sense as an inshore fishing boat in this area in the past.

Friday 2 November 2012

Royal Charles

Apologies I haven't posted many interesting boats of late, they seem to be getting hard to find. This lovely double ender was spotted in Mauden in Holland back in the summer and was forgotten among a load of holiday snaps.

Some research shows that she's a Gauntlet, a pre war design by Harry May and built by Berthon of Lymington in 1938, at 44 feet. She's long and lean with that wonderful pilot house opening to the cockpit, which must have been a great place to be sailing out in the cold waters of the Baltic or North Sea even in summer.

Tuesday 30 October 2012

You just wouldn't Pt II

But they did.

Superstition has it that to change a boat's name invites bad luck, the logical explanation is that the ship's name was carved into the keel, so to change the name would entail cutting out the old name and carving a new one, all of which might weaken the keel.

In this case I'd take the risk either way.

Also  See Part 1

Saturday 27 October 2012

Lock Gates

Growing up near the Thames we used to visit the locks at Bovney, Bray and Boulters and watch the boats going through. I can just remember in the very early 1960's the old manual wheels which worked the sluice paddles before they were automated, somewhere there's a black and white picture of me as a small child sitting on one of the arms which opened the gates.

It was interesting then, to see some of the old traditional locks in the Netherlands. They are operated by windlass, using chains which pull a boom attached to the lock gates forwards and backwards to open or close. In the top picture there's a third windlass which operated the sluice gate

Here's a close up of one of the gate windlass, the lock has been there for well over 100 years so I'm guessing the windlass is of similar age and is built in typical Dutch decorative style.

Most of England's canal locks are still manually operated so there's plenty of scope for practice. About 20 years ago, I lived in Husband's Bosworth, my Dad at the time was cruising the canals in a narrow boat. Somehow he always seemed to call me when he was at nearby Foxton, where there's a flight of 10 consecutive locks all waiting to be worked!

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Galley Slaves

I got an email from fellow blogger and rower Chris Partridge to say that the Langstone Cutters were bringing a Solent Galley over for a row up the Hamble accompanied by a local boat and some Bursledon rowers, so we rowed to to see them at the Horse and Jockey. These boats are 30 feet in length, built for racing in Portsmouth Harbour and the surrounding area of the Solent, slim, fast, fixed seat rowing boats.

There were a very few other folk out on the river, but with autumn now in full swing it's all pretty peaceful with a complete absence of motorboat wash.

In fact pretty perfect conditions for rowing, flat water, cool but not cold, just the place to enjoy the peace and tranquillity with only the splash of the oars and the call of birds to be heard.

Friday 19 October 2012

Teaching your kids to sail

If there is "anything, absolutely anything so much fun as messing around in boats" then it's surely teaching your kids to have fun on the water. You can't start 'em too young.

And there's no reason why you can't take them when they get a little older, daughter Katy is used to sailing on something a bit more substantial but was having a great time out on the river, ducking the boom and hiking out in the gusts.

While her big brother Duncan who normally gets his speed thrills on 2 wheels had developed a big grin and was clearly enjoying his turn on the helm.