Friday 29 April 2016

Solitaire - Les Powels

I had to do a double take when I spotted Les Powles epic cruiser Solitaire berthed in a Lymington marina recently. It was probably about 20 years ago that I read about Les, then I think in his 70's sailing into Lymington following his third circumnavigation.

It was reading accounts of people like Les and others which gave me the confidence to sail my own modest Van de Stadt34 Blue Clipper across the Atlantic and back.

Les started sailing in his 50's in a home completed Bruce Roberts 34, one comment I recall was that he thought sailing would be the best way to carry himself and a set of golf clubs around the world.

His book Solitaire Spirit: Three times around the world single-handed looks to be worth a read. From the news paper reports Les was still going strong in 2015 aged 90.

Monday 25 April 2016

Ideal Yacht Tender

The walker bay dinghy makes a very good yacht tender.

But isn't the dinghy supposed to go on the deck of the yacht?

Friday 22 April 2016

Interesting Dayboat

I've seen this boat a few times while it's been ashore in Emsworth for the winter and spotted someone working on her from the other side of the mill pond. Sadly by the time we'd walked around there was no one about so no details unless folks with local knowledge can help.

I'd guess at around 18 feet, GRP construction with hard chine and shallow dead rise. Up front a useful cuddy.

Someone had been around and taken the cover off to reveal a spacious and useful cockpit with a good storage space forward.

A nice handy boat of pottering around the harbour, a bit of fishing or a trip over to East Head of a picnic and a swim, when the weather improved of course.

While I was wondering about the design I came across this John Westrell designed Allegro which looks mighty similar, but I'm happy to being corrected.

Tuesday 19 April 2016

Loire Boats

The Loire is a wide and powerful river flowing out to the Bay of Biscay. Here near Angers the river was pretty swollen and very fast flowing with the recent winter rains, there was flooding in some parts nearby.

I could hardly visit one of France's major rivers without looking out for the traditional working river boats, which in this part of the Loire is a flat bottom punt which would make fellow blogger Doryman proud.

Many of the working boats are of steel construction, which is no bad thing though perhaps a little unfamiliar to us Brits.

Even more dory like is this traditional sailing boat below.

On top of the very strong current, these whirlpools would spontaneously appear in different parts of the river, at first we thought there was a sand bank or underwater obstruction but there was no consistency to their location.

Flat bottom dory or as they would probably be described in the US garvey types are clearly well suited to the shallow and fast flowing waters. I especially liked this example which would make a great weekend house, able to run up the low sand banks and beaches or small tributaries.

Friday 15 April 2016


Folk boat looking fantastic and getting ready for the season.

Just can't resist, especially as it's a Friday

Tuesday 12 April 2016

Old Outboards

I tend to think of our home grown British Seagull outboard engine as the pinnacle of Victorian engineering in the tradition of Watt and Stephenson, but it's clear there were many other innovators along the path to our modern outboard engines.

This example was seen in the 5th Wind boatyard in France, it seems like the type of straight shaft outboard which is seen in the far east (and some of the James Bond movies) only somewhat older and more modest. The whole device looks like it pivots on that vertical post and presumably the long shallow draft was good for the Loire river with is shallows and frequent sand bars.

The engine is pretty familiar if old design with what looks like a cast iron cylinder and a heavy external flywheel, clearly safety wasn't the first design consideration.

Down at the business end the skeg gives the twin bladed prop some directional stability even at low revs.

Friday 8 April 2016

The 5th Wind

Having a week away in the Loire, we stumbled upon an interesting community project in Chalonnes, the construction of a new Gabarot - a traditional river freight boat of the region.

A temporary building shed had been erected on the town quay, where the boat or rather barge which is a true description, is taking shape.

The history of the Gabarot dates back to around 1850, with examples up to 25 meters (82 feet) in length used for transporting goods along the river.

Construction is of heavy clinker, Douglas Fir  planking for the topsides above a flat bottom. The floors, frames and keel are Oak and the inside floorboards Chestnut.

The description shows the new boat to be 59 feet in length with a draft of just under 2 feet. Powered by an inboard diesel, the top speed of 74.5 mph  on page 3 of the pdf, might well be a typo.

Being a French boatyard, food and good coffee are as important as woodworking, the stylish cafe was well positioned to catch the spring sunshine.

My French isn't that good but it seemed that the Chalandoux 5eme Vent (5th Wind Boat builders seems to be the most direct translation) were mostly volunteers and a very friendly crew.

Monday 4 April 2016


I don't know anything about Freya other than she's at the top of the creek at what was dolphin quay in Emsworth, looks to be in need of some TLC but for sure is a lovely looking classic.

If you look closely the mast is broken, or at least there are scarfs either failed or new ones prepared for replacement wood.

The cabin sides are interesting made up from short planks, but the portholes and other fittings speak of quality construction.

Don't you just love those windows onto the cockpit, whether that's a view to the chart table, galley or just as area for the off watch to shelter it's a lovely feature.

Friday 1 April 2016

Moores Law

Anyone in the IT indursty will be familiar with Moores Law, which says that computing power from silicone will double every two years. Less well know is a similar claim by Frederik Eskuttel who is widely acknowledged for the commercialisation of Lycra fibres into Spandex and the other materials which are ubiquitous today.

Constant improvements have meant thinner, lighter, high performance fabrics which have contributed massively to comfort and safety in water sports.

Details of some Herr Eskuttel's work here,