Monday, 29 November 2010

Snow on the coast

We were travelling to Belgium at the weekend to visit some friends in Ghent. Leaving early Saturday morning, the met office was issuing weather warnings of snow right along the coast of Kent, Sussex and Hampshire.

In the event the only snow we encountered was as we approached Dover, where a couple of inches had settled making an unusual sight of the famous white cliffs with matching white beach.

Across the English Channel, only 22 miles or so away, there was bright sunshine when we arrived in Calais and so it continued. Apart from a small area of snowfall around Bruges, it was a clear, bright, if bitterly cold weekend in the parts of France and Belgium we travelled through.

Returning to Calais on Sunday evening, the town was covered with a thick layer of newly fallen snow, which made for a rather spectacular beach scene.

Fortunately, back across the channel in Dover there was no sign of snow.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Lymington Scows

Constantly on the lookout for information to help me with the restoration of the Scow we walked down past the Royal Lymington YC recently. As you can see most of the fleet of Scows were laid up and covered for the winter.

But one hardy sailor was taking advantage of the bright morning which gave me the opportunity to have a look at the Lymington version, most are made locally to the town by John Claridge Boats and have moulded stern seats with built in bouyancy.

There were some other details which are differnt, the main one being the keel, which on the Lymington boats is part of the hull moulding except for the stem with is laminated teak, more decorative than any other reason I guess, as it would have been easy to continue the moulding.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Jolly Sailor Christmas Fair

The Jolly Sailor Christmas Fair is being held from 6.00 pm on Friday 10th December, Lands End Road, Bursledon.

There will be stalls with local businesses selling food and many other Christmas essentials.

When you're exhaused with Christmas shopping, then you can always pop inside for a pint of Thirsty Ferret, Pickled Partridge or a bottle of Blandford Fly.

And as you contemplate the forthcoming seasonal over indulgence, have a talk with members of the Hamble River Rowing, the local, traditional rowing club, based at the Jolly Sailor, who will be at the fair.

Come along and join up, rowing is a great way to work off those extra pounds you know you’re going to put on over the holiday.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

1001 Boats?

I was browsing in bookseller Waterstone’s recently and spotted a series of books all extolling 1001 things I needed to do before I die.

On the basis of some simple arithmetic and the assumption that I have another 25 years left (fingers crossed) that means I would need to maintain and average of one thing per week which is going some. But what’s actually much worse is the range of subject matter.

The first volume, the one that caught my eye, was “1001 Buildings to See before You Die”, but according to the publishers while I get my weekly dose of architectural magnificence I also need to be eating “1001 Foods to Eat before You Die.”

For a creature of habit like myself who goes to various favorite restaurants, café’s and bars, each for a specific and favorite dish; that could be a challenge.

And of course not only do I need to eat and look at buildings, but there’s 1001 Gardens to see, Historic Sites to visit, Paintings, Albums, Inventions, Natural Wonders, it’s exhausting.

Mind you, a couple that I wouldn’t mind giving a go, was “1001 Beers to Before You Die” and 1001 Wines, perhaps as the ideal accompaniment to the 1001 foods!

Then I noticed that the one thing these publishers of morbid, serial nonsense had missed was “1001 Boats You Should See Before You Die”, which begs the obvious question are there really 1001 boats worth seeing, or even 101 for that matter?

There are certainly more than a few boats that I like, which is all getting to sound very much like one of Tillerman’s challenges – what are your “ not to be missed boats”.

Let me know.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Headlands, Points and Coves

Steve's "Log of Spartina" post about Rattlesnake Bay got me thinking about names along our coast. While we don't have quite such evocative names the south coast of England is both ancient and dangerous.

One of may favourite places is Misery Point in the River Yealm in Devon, interestingly visited by another John Welsford designed boat in the summer, a Navigator - "Arwens Meanderings".

Both Erica and I all too well remember being holed up in the Yealm while a gale howled all around and the wooded hills shook, the harbour master came over to collect his dues with the greeting "Blow'n a hooley up at Misery!"

The west country with its rocks and cliffs provided some more interesting coastal names from our old log books. Starting at Fowey with Gribbon Head, seen above and marked by the red and white tower (top right of the picture).

Sailing eastwards - Blackbottle Rock, then into Lantic Bay via Pencarrow Head, Watch House Cove, Palace Cove, Parson's Cove and Broard Cove, all hove into view before you reach Shag Rock and Blackybale Point.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Winter Haul Out

While I may have had slight regrets about not having a yacht during the past summer, now that winter is almost upon us, I'm not missing it at all; I'm enjoying the freedom to do other things.

Walking down by the slipway at Lymington on Saturday we spotted these yachtsmen, they had been up early to catch the tide and scrub off.

We watched them for a while and then went off to have a leisurely breakfast, wandered around, bought some food in the market and then went home, where there are plenty of interesting jobs waiting to be done in the warm and comfortable garage!

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Lady Beryl

This old cabin cruiser is a long way from home, moored down at Bursledon pool, she was built for the sheltered waters of the Norfolk Broads and area of flooded wetland in the east of England.

I've passed her many times thinking she was just a displaced riverboat, until I spotted the name "Lady Beryl". I remembered a boat of that name on the Thames during the 1980's, I think she was kept near Old Windsor and was reputed to have been owned by Gorge Formby the actor and entertainer and named after his wife.

Some research suggests she is in fact the same boat, built in 1950 in Wroxham, custom-built by Windboats, designed by Graham Bunn and one of the largest Broads cruisers ever built.

George Formby and Beryl cruised the Norfolk Broads during the 1950s. The boat was sold around 1960/61, since when she has had a number of owners and more recently was used as a houseboat.

For those interested there is some recent discussion on the Broads Forum

Thursday, 11 November 2010


As I rushed into the railway station I saw the old man selling poppies. I guessed he was in his eighties, smartly dressed in British Legion black blazer, beret, medals proudly displayed.

I said “thanks”, and dropped a few pounds into his collection tin

He handed me my poppy and said “no, thank you.”

Smiling, I wasn’t thinking about the poppy, my thanks were to an old man, who in his younger days fought to defend our freedom and way of life.

My Dad served on HMS Aries from 1943 to 45.

My Granddad served with the Household Cavalry and fought in France and Flounders during World War One.

They and the millions of others are remembered today, thank you all.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

EF Six

I've always been a fan of the Oliver Lee designed Squib, a twenty foot keel boat which, racing apart, I think would make a really fun, spirited day sailor for our choppy Solent waters.

While small and light enough to trail behind an average family car, the Squib's fixed keel doesn't really lend itself to easy launching and recover, so the downside - it's much better kept on a mooring.

I was delighted then, to spot this yellow boat in France which is very similar to the Squib but with the advantage of a lifting keel.

Called the EF Six it was designed by Van De Stadt and has a strong following in the Netherlands, I know from personal experience with our old Legend 34, that Van de Stadt design boats which have good performance.

A high performance day boat, big enough to take some rough water, fast and rewarding to sail, my idea of a pretty perfect boat.

The lifting keel makes minimal impact in the cockpit space, mind you I wouldn't mind seeing some side benches in stead of that flat floor - maybe I'm just getting old!

Sunday, 7 November 2010


One thinks of the dory as a classic America design, characterised by the flat sides and tomb stone transom, simply built but seaworthy boats, stacked aboard the Gloucester fishing schooners. But dory’s are also common in the Langerdoc region, on the Mediterranean coast of France.

Between the Camarge and towards the Spanish boarder the coast is relatively flat and boarded by large salt water lagoons called Etangs. These are sheltered, shallow and are perfect for oyster cultivation – indeed some of the best oysters in France are reputed to come from Bouzigues on the Etang de Thai near Sete.

The dory with its shallow draft, flat bottom and good load carrying capacity is an ideal boat for this environment. We saw several traditionally built dorys as well as fibre glass versions in the towns of Sete, Meze, Marseiliang and Adge. Some were rigged for sailing, some fitted with an outboard, most were working craft.

There were exceptions this last one is clearly a pleasure boat based on the dory hull.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Remember Remember the 5th of November

Just over 400 years ago on 5th November 1605, Guy Fawkes was caught in the cellars below in the Houses of Parliament, where he and several co-conspirators in what became known as the “Gunpowder Plot” had placed barrels of gunpowder in an attempt to blow up the government of the day and the king James 1st of England.

Guy Fawkes was discovered with 36 barrels of gunpowder underneath the House of Lords in the early hours of the morning and the plot was foiled. Found guilty of treason Guy Fawkes was hanged, drawn and quartered, a particularly nasty method of execution.

From the following year 1606, it became an annual custom for the King and Parliament to commission a special sermon to commemorate the event. The sermon and the nursery rhyme would ensure that the crime was never forgotten and indeed it is “celebrated” to this day with bonfires and fireworks across England.

It is said that the phrase 'Please to remember the fifth of November' serves as a warning to each new generation that treason will never be forgotten, but given the enduring popularity of the celebrations I can't help thinking , while we're lighting bonfires and letting off fireworks, there might just be a sense, even subliminally, that we like to keep our politicians on their toes!!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Misty Moonbeam

For many years we would go over to the Isle of Wight and stay alongside the visitors moorings above the chain ferry on the East side of the river. It’s relatively quiet and sheltered from any swell that comes in, especially when here is any north in the wind.

That part of the river is home to many interesting boats including for many years Misty Moonbeam an unusual and bespoke schooner around 90feet or so. Misty was an out and out long distance cruising boat so when she disappeared about four years ago we guessed that she had sailed off to distant horizons.

So it was nice a surprise to see her alongside at in the marina in Cape D’Agde in the South of France.

The sheer scale of the boat is incredible, the booms are so high above deck that these special gantries are necessary to gain access for sail handling. Could be a very bad place to be standing in a gybe!!

I recall counting the winches once when were alongside in Cowes, I forget the exact numbers but there were around a dozen at the base of each mast.

As a live aboard home, she must be fabulous, although I doubt that Erica and I could sail her without additional crew, which makes demands on the extra space, organization, provisions etc. Hmm, nice, but I think I’ll stick to something we can sail just the two of us – of three if you count Joe.