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.