Monday 30 March 2015


FMB - Fast Motor Boat is cruiser extraordinaire Steve Dashew's idea for a fast, ocean going motor boat. Built in aluminium and unpainted she has the look of a fast naval frigate.

As a fast and practical long range cruising yacht I think it's a fantastic and highly practical design.

Even the dinghy is aluminium.

Friday 27 March 2015


Ripsey has been owned by a fellow  RAFYC member for as long as I can remember, I think she's a 9 ton Hillyard but I've been wrong too often so maybe someone will correct me.

We had an adjacent  mooring about 10 years ago and Ripsy always struck me as a great sea boat.

Monday 23 March 2015


Well maybe more like fender bender. Rowing down the river fairly early on Friday morning during a rare day off work, I spotted this boat clearly where it shouldn't be. It looked like the down stream mooring line had failed and the tide was pushing it up onto the upstream pile and the adjacent pontoon.

Hauling it off from a tender rowing skiff didn't seem like a good idea, not least as it was a big spring tide at full flood, so I called the harbour office. A launch was quickly dispatched and the boat was soon back on its mooring, hopefully no damage done.

Friday 20 March 2015


With a day off work I thought I'd row down the river early to see the eclipse. It was a grey, overcast morning, which got gradually more the eclipse passed.

 Despite warnings in the press about power cuts as our solar generating capacity went off line and cars crashing in the sudden darkness, there was pretty much nothing to be seen around here.

It was interesting all the local bird life went quite for a while, but soon the morning birdsong was back again, a sort of double dawn chorus.

The last major UK solar eclipse was in 1999, I remember going down to Hamble Point to view, but it was equally unspectacular.

Thursday 19 March 2015


Another blast from the past,  the mid 70's when flares were something to do with trousers, the government was encouraging people to share a bath and save water and the Sex Pistols hadn't met Eddie Grundy.

The Allegro Express is not the peculiar Austin with the square steering wheel, I kid you not. It is an interesting boat, not that I saw one at the time or indeed since. A 20 foot high performance keel boat with a heavy ballasted lifting keel, easy to transport and a spirited boat to sail, sounds like a winning combination?

At nearly sixteen hundred quid plus VAT, plus spinnaker, plus trailer, plus outboard it wasn't an especially cheap boat back in 1976.  Nor is it clear which part of the boating demographic the builders were targeting. Back in those days I was lusting after a Laser or a Merlin Rocket while Westerly built nearly 3000 Centaurs for the cruising set.

These kind of small open day sailors seem to be much more popular in Holland, Van de Stadt Spanker, EF Six, Centaur and Randmeer to name but a few. Maybe they are better suited to slightly protected waters or maybe the Dutch are more intrepid sailors, whatever the reason the Allegro doesn't seem to have caught on in the UK,

Monday 16 March 2015

No more heroes anymore

"Ben's put you on the guest list for the Stranglers concert on Monday night." Ben, I should explain is Erica's nephew and a member of the Strangler's tour crew who are playing Portsmouth tonight.

In the event I couldn't go, but Erica took Joseph along to the sound check after school. Seen here Joseph getting guitar lessons from cousin Ben who is a fine musician and singer. Joseph and Erica also got to meet drummer Jet Black doing his sound check and still out and doing it well into his 70's.

All the tour crew made Joseph really welcome, how cool is that for a "nearly 6 year old".

I went to see the original Stranglers at uni, probably 1977 or 78 and most likely at the Coventry Apollo Theater although I could well be wrong, things from that far back are a little hazy. I'm more than miffed at not being able to go tonight, having just got back from foreign parts I picked up some nasty bug while I was away, "of course it's not bird flu, I'm a bloke!"

And you all thought Bursledon was a sleepy backwater.

Saturday 14 March 2015

High water causeway

The river path between Swanwick and Warsash runs past an area called Bunny Meadows. To one side is the river and on the other an area of protected inter tidal mudflats and saltings.

At high water the elevated path is surrounded by water with a small bridge and path leading off midway to Holly Hill. Crossing the bridge provides a great viewpoint.

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Gotta love varnish

What can I say a varnished teak, can a boat look any better.

I guess it goes without saying "gotta love varnish, gotta love varnishing."

Sunday 8 March 2015

PBO Road test local dinghy

I was reading read though some old 1976 boating magazines when I spotted a test report on the local Jacqueline class dinghy, native to nearby Hill Head.

According to the report, back in the long hot summer of 76 the boats were still being built by Tom Robertson in his shed by the harbour, now alas long gone. Construction was of mahogany or British Columbian spruce on oak or Canadian rock elm. 

Tom claimed the construction was durable and an owner could expect to see 40 or 50 years life from a boat. Maybe that was true with good maintenance and regular use, but didn't take into account changing boat fashion. Even in Hill Head Jacqueline's are few and far between, having long been replaced by more modern GRP dinghies, although a few are still going strong

Friday 6 March 2015

Living the dream

Down on the Chichester Canal, where it joins the tidal waters in Chichester Harbour are several houseboats.

Any of the boats would make a terrific weekend retreat, I especially like this one with the quirky pieces of sculpture on the terrace.

Tuesday 3 March 2015

Nasty case of piles

I couldn't resist the title although it should perhaps be "a case of nasty piles". The Royal Southern YC in Hamble has had to renew their steel waterfront retaining wall which had suffered from corrosion.

Needless to say it's an expensive operation involving some major excavations and new piles been driven deep into the river bed.

The work is also part of a controversial marina development which will see many of the club's mid stream moorings upgraded with walk ashore access. the scheme also involves the  neighboring RAFYC which will share some of the new marina.

Of course not all river users are so enamored with  the scheme which restricts access and removes two safe navigation channels for small craft, forced them out into the main channel.

There are some who suggest that the many stakeholders including the harbour board, Crown Estates and the planning authority are more interested in profits than the wider benefit to river users. Of course I couldn't possibly comment.

Sunday 1 March 2015

Caribbean Cruiser

Well maybe not the first boat you would think of for cruising the Windward and Leeward Islands, nor indeed even the sheltered waters of Chichester harbour as seen here.

The "Caribbean" class defined luxury and modernity in the river boat hire fleets of the Thames and Norfolk Broads during the late 1960's and 1970's.

Designed by Frank Wilds and launched in 1966 the Caribbean class became an instant success, quickly replacing the fleet of wooden hire cruisers which had provided family boating holidays during the post war years.