Friday, 31 December 2010


New Year resolutions are all very well and good, but how many of us have had the first drink , first chocolate cake, done what we resolved not to, or left undone what we resolved to do, well before January was out.

Not that work on the SCOW was part of any resolution, it's just that too many other things have got in the way. Most recently the new shower room that I've been promising for at least 4 years and for which work started in earnest in October (doesn't do to rush the planning stages!!).

I read Leafy's post on her restored SCOW, and despite some other words of encouragement on my own lack of progress (read comments) things haven't got any better.

I've concluded it's all down to motivation and so lacking a "personal boat restoration coach" I'm hoping that these pictures of Yarmouth SCOWs will galvanise me into action.

Taken a few years ago on the upper reaches of the Yar the SCOWs are from Yarmouth Sailing Club.

The club has an active fleet of both traditional Wooden SCOWs and newer GRP, many with the characteristic colourful sails.

Having read a few self help books I need to pin these pictures on my office wall and start up my daily affirmations...

"I'll soon be sailing a boat like this, I'll soon be sailing a boat like this...."

Think it will work?

Best wishes for a good 2011.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Winter Evening

Cold and dark just after 4 pm, but it's still great to be out on the river during winter.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Get the Girl

It was ten years ago today that Erica and I got married.

When you set out on a life together who knows where it will take you or what lies ahead, perhaps then what really matters is a common purpose and shared values.

A house that's a home, someone you want to come home to, someone to share the good times and who will share the burden of the bad times.

There have been lots and lots of good times during past last ten years.

Monday, 27 December 2010

More Gaffers

Just a collection of interesting gaffers I've spotted in the local yards over the past few months.

This one turned up at the start of the season, I've seen her around the Solent but don't really know much about her, she has the look of a smack with that low stern.

Next up is a west country boat, I chatted to the owner who's been restoring her for some time, but sadly have lost the scribbled notes I made. I think she's a Falmouth working boat, her hull shape certainly suggests she would make a powerful oyster dredger and load carrier.

And finally something a bit more modern, I've written about this turbo gaffer before, apparently she is designed and built by a local shipwright and ashore for some modification to her keel.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas

The jury's out on a white Christmas for Bursledon, almost all of the snow from last week has gone, but with a cool and strong northerly blowing who knows.

Whatever the weather, I'd like to wish everyone a great Christmas and say thanks for visiting my little part of the world. Going by the number of hits there are either a lot of you out there or quite a few who come around on a regular basis, so thank you. A special thanks to everyone who has left comments or emailed me. And last but in no way least thanks to my fellow bloggers for taking the time to put up so much interesting stuff.

By way of a Christmas Special and from a fellow blogger, have a look at this from the East Coast Gaffers - Brilliant and I understand thanks to Dylan Winter for the abuse of some of his excellent footage and to Leafy who's blog I must read more often.

Merry Christmas - Max

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Track Santa's Progress

Log on Christmas Eve and watch Santa in real time as he speeds through the night to deliver toys to children around the world.

NORAD is North American Aerospace Defense Command, apparently a mistake in a 1955 advert by Sears & Roebuck miss printed a telephone number inviting children to call Santa. The number was actually a hot line to Colonel Harry Shoup the Director of Operations at NORAD who told the children who called that his team were tracking Santa on their radar and gave out details of his position.

NORAD has been keeping up the tradition ever since

These days NORAD even update Santa's progress on Google Earth

Here's wishing everyone at NORAD a great Christmas.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Oranges and Lemons

Said “the bells of St Clements”.

We’re at the nursery rhyme stage with Joe, many of the old rhymes have their basis in London history, and since I work in the City (the financial district of London – what is Old London Town) I thought it might be interesting to track down the churches behind the old children’s song.

The first one was easy to find in St Clements Lane near Monument, or rather it would have been if I hadn’t walked right past it. The church at the end of the lane is St Edmund’s. I’d past St Clements which is on the corner of King William Street.

Above St Clements, below the mistaken St Edmund's

“You owe me five farthings” said the bells of St Martins.

Had a bit of trouble with this one, St Martins Within (above) is the church which stood inside the law courts at the Old bailey, despite wandering around and asking a policeman for directions, I couldn’t find it. But I did see what looked to be a chapel window in “Armen Court”a gated private court. Finally I found it situated on Ludgate Hill just down from St Paul’s – I’d managed to walk right past it twice!!

“When will you pay me? “ said the bells of Old Bailey.

Actually the Old Bailey didn’t have a bell, this line apparently refers to St Sepulchure – Without Newgate (above) which was used as the bell of Newgate prison to sound during executions.

“When I grow rich” said the bells of Shoreditch.

Easier to find, St Leonard's Shoreditch is a delightful church with park grounds on the old A10.

“When will that be?” said the Bells of Stephney.

With my business suit and laptop bag, I though I might be at risk of getting mugged by a gang of “hoodies” who had gathered on the park benches outside St Dunstan’s All Saints of Stephney. In the end I faced them down, got out my camera and took my photos, keeping an eye out and enough distance between us.

“I do not know” said the great bell of Bow.

Back on safer, familiar ground just off Cheapside, St Mary le Bow. The “church yard” is now an alleyway of trendy and expensive shops, and a very popular sandwich bar, which always has queues summer and winter.

To be a cockney, tradition dictates that you need to be born within the sound of these bells; my mum was, so that’s my only tenuous connection between this post and Bursledon!

Apparently the reference to the candle is that one was brought to condemned prisoners on the night before their execution. Executions were both frequent and numerous in Newgate, the bell of St. Sepulchre marked the time (death knell) of imminent executions before Newgate prison acquired its own bell.

"Oranges and lemons" say the bells of St. Clement's
"You owe me five farthings" say the bells of St. Martin's
"When will you pay me?" say the bells of Old Bailey
"When I grow rich" say the bells of Shoreditch
"When will that be?" say the bells of Stepney
"I do not know" say the great bells of Bow
"Here comes a candle to light you to bed
Here comes a chopper to chop off your head
Chip chop chip chop - the last man's dead."

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Blowing Bubbles

Visiting friends recently we were told that we had to take Joe to see the "clock which blows bubbles."

Built as a show piece in a shopping centre it was designed by Kit Williams the artist and illustrator most famous for his mystery book Masquerade.

On the hour all sorts of animation happens including the giant fish which rotates and blows bubbles to the delight of small children and more than a few of the adults.

Those of us with an eye for boat building will appreciate the cold moulded fish body!

Friday, 17 December 2010


I have to say while I'm a sailor at heart, there is nothing quite like a sleek powerful motorboat.

And this is nothing like a sleek powerful motorboat.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Old Portsmouth

Although only a few miles away it's been ages since we visited Old Portsmouth, but with evening coming on around 4 pm it made an interesting walk, watching the sun setting over the Solent.

Our walk ended on a spit which forms part of the old Camber docks, unsurprisingly there are a couple of pubs, this one the "Still and West" has been reputedly serving local sailors since 1300 or so.

Just next door is the Spice Island Inn, so called as a result of the spice trade ships which would land here as far back as Sir Walter Raleigh's day. Today the pub is operated by a brewery chain, but the façade is much more interesting, the decorative stonework advertises "Brickwoods Brilliant Ales & Stouts."

Just across the Camber entrance is Gun Wharf Quay, a development of the old naval docks with the Spinnaker Tower, we've never seen it lit up in colours this this, perhaps its been done especially for Christmas?

Walking back down the old narrow streets we passed the club house for the Victory Class boats, which have raced the Alfred Westmacott designed 21 foot keel boat from Portsmouth since 1934.

A strict one design and distinctively clinker built, the class has recently introduced a GRP version. However to ensure the longevity of some of the older boats the class is offering these boats effectively free to someone who will undertake to restore and campaign them.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Winter Rowing

It was a day just too good to miss, not a cloud in the sky, cool but not the biting cold we've endured during the past weeks. Plans to spend Sunday on DIY were shelved (excuse the pun).

It took a while to get the skiff out of the garage, or at least remove the accumulated junk which has found convenient storage space in an empty boat over the past month or so.

Still as a mill pond, I had the river almost to myself, well me, some oyster catchers, egrets, curlews and a flock of black geese, who have arrived recently for the winter.

Apologies if you missed the brisk exercise followed by a bacon sandwich and steaming cup of tea down at the cafe, but the pictures give a hint of what it was like - bliss!!

Friday, 10 December 2010

Fixer up opportunity?

Spotted this J Boat yacht recently in a local yard, I think she must be J-133 Justice which was wrecked on the north Kent coast last January.

There's some footage and explanation of the event on youtube.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

National Maritime Museum's photostream

The National Maritime Museum has put up some of their archive photo's on Flickr. There are some fantastic pictures of sailing ships, the lives and boats of fishing communities and working boats on the Thames.

Some of my favorites are the small working rowing boats, here is a boatman rowing past St Paul's Cathedral in the early days of the 20th Century.

Here the Police patrol the London Docks circa 1890, although I don't suppose he's testing for water quality.

This German U boat the U155 (still flying the German flag) is moored above Tower Bridge, the year was 1919. The U155 was untypically built as a commercial blockade breaking submarine, she was taken over by the German Navy in 1917 and armed with two torpedo tubes and a gun deck. U155 surrendered on 24th November 1918 and was brought to England where she was put on exhibition. She was broken up in Morecambe in 1922.

National Maritime Museum have posted some great examples from their collection, let's hope they add more soon.

Most of the images are marked "no known copywrite" so I hope the National Maritime Museum won't mind me posting them here - if I have infringed any permissions please let me know and I will remove them with apologies.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Local Classics

Just a few classic yachts we're fortunate to have around Bursledon pool.

The first is Clough, built in the 1920's on the east coast, she looks like she's built of teak, her current owners certainly keep her in pristine condition and she has the benefit of a big gaff rig, so she sails as well as she looks.

I don't know much about this double ender, someone suggested that she is an Alfred Westmacott design (famous for the Sunbeam and other keel boats).

Will I ever get my varnish as good as this? Varen as she is named, shows the Clyde Cruising Club on her transom, but is in fact a very local yacht having been built by A H Moody in Swanwick some 50 years ago.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Snow Joke

Down on the south coast we get so little snow that we had it in mind that the recent falls in Dover and Calais meant the snow had passed us by. Couldn't have been more wrong!

A cool five or more inches had fallen in as many hours.

As the day dawned we were greeted with the still falling snow and some abandoned cars.

So in the midst of all this unseasonally early weather, here's a reminder that only two months ago one of us was digging in the sand rather than making snowmen!

Only another three weeks and the nights will start drawing out!!