Friday, 31 August 2012


Woonboot is Dutch for houseboat some lovely examples of which lined part of the river Vecht between Weesp and Muiden where the river exits into the Ijsselemeer. A few like the one below are built on old boat hulls, but most are purpose built.

Years ago houseboats were probably cheap accommodation, but with the proximity to Amsterdam and the delightful rural location prices have soared to eye watering levels. There seemed to be a good mix between weekend holiday homes and those used as a permanent home some of which were spectacular in design.

Amsterdam has long been famous for it's houseboats which line the quieter canals, we took our bikes into the city on the train and it was a great way to get around and see the sort of places which are often off the tourist trail.

There were many more converted barges and work boats like this example close to the North Market.

Even in what is a very expensive city, the houseboats had a bohemian feel, like this converted barge and of course the city is famous for it's "coffee shops" where the pungent aroma of marijuana often pervades the street.

The sculptures on deck are formed from old wine bottles or maybe it'sjust a good way to stack them for a trip to the bottle bank!

Monday, 27 August 2012

London's Burning

Or more predictably "raining" since the theme for this year's Bursldeon Regatta was London the weather provided some realism to the event with grey skies and a few passing showers, but as with so many events this year it didn't dampen our spirits and everyone seemed to be having a great time.

The Elephant yard had been transformed with Tower Bridge, Big Ben and our very own "Burseldon Eye!"

The morning torrential downpours had largely gone by afternoon allowing the usual rowing mayhem to proceed.

Ashore and afloat people had taken the London theme to heart - local pearly king returns from the single handed gig rowing event.

Ashore a sexy Beefeater conversed with the homage to British Olympic swimming.

And of course with any event of this type there was an arresting police presence.

I suppose the beer tent should have been selling London Pride but Bowman's Wallop's Wood was going down just as well, here the pride of London an APR Warden, City Toff enjoy the day with a king's Road punk, traffic warden and a royalty tribute.

While Geri Halliwell went past on a paddle board.

The water carnival was no less spectacular, inevitably there was a London Route Master bus.

Clearly with an integrated transportation policy others chose to take the tube.

There were two entries from London's famous Regent's Park Zoo

And of course London's Burning, which particular fire they represented wasn't quite clear, given the skyline with Big Ben and St Paul's it wasn't the great fire of 1666, perhaps the Blitz or more likely the Clash.

The piece de resistance was the almost full size open topped London Bus probably the only time one had been sculled.

As always thanks to the Elephant Boatyard for hosting the regatta, the committee for organising a great event, the sponsors and friends of the regatta who's continued support is so essential and for everyone who came along, joined in and made it such a great day.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Weesp and the Vecht

Erica found a riverside house in the Dutch town of Weesp for our holiday which turned out better than we could have imagined. Not far from Amsterdam (15 minutes by train) Weesp is a small, delightful fortified town on the Vecht river, which in may ways reminded us of the upper Thames near Goring, Pangbourne and Wallingford.

As Erica hadn't visited Holland before she would have been disappointed if the town hadn't had a windmill , in the event it had not one but two, both working.

The Vecht is dotted with old villages, mansions and a few castles, with it's proximity to Amsterdam it became a popular place for rich merchants to build summer residences during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Predictably I spent a great deal of time watching the interesting boats go past the end of the garden, there were more than a few traditional boats like this Dutch barge below.

Rowing was also popular.

There were some very unusual craft going past from time to time.

And some larger than you would imagine, it was a bit of a shock seeing this come around the corner!.

A few people were surprised that we'd chosen Holland for a holiday, but we had a great time, great location, the recent heatwave certainly helped and the ability to cycle everywhere safely was such a bonus, we only used the car once in 2 weeks.

I have to say also I have a fondness for a nation where cyclists are allowed and even encouraged to ride the wrong way up one way streets!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012


These 12 Meter class yachts were racing off Cowes recently, with the strong east going tide the boats were tacking close inshore which afforded magnificent views from the shore at Egypt Point the most northerly spot in the Isle of Wight and just a short stroll along the esplanade from Cowes.

The boats are Crusader I (K24) a UK boat built in 1985 Italia 1 (ITA7) also built in 1985 and now based in Lymington. There have been a total of 170 Twelve Meter class boats built between 1907 when the class was created and 1987 when the last the class last sailed the America's cup.

There were a number of different classes sailing in the Household Division & Royal Yacht Squadron Regatta, in addition to the Meter classes (12's, 8's and 6's) the regatta invites classic keel boats such as established Solent classes XODs, Sunbeams, Darings, Dragons but also any classic keel boats will get a class start with sufficient numbers or a class result in a mixed fleet. Individual representatives of any class may sail in a handicap fleet so that the event is inclusive for everybody that would be eligible to race and serve to broaden awareness of these classes that exist all round the UK.


The starting Royal Yacht Squadron starting line at Cowes (above) and below the famous club house.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Small Yachts

The harbour at Hill Head is small and dries so not surprisingly it is home to more than a few small boats which can take the ground twice a day. On a blustery weekend (seems like every weekend for most of this season) we went for a walk around took at look at some of the small yachts.

One of my favourites (above) a Devon Yawl a GRP boat based on the Salcombe yawl from south Devon.

I think this is a Hurley 22 a remarkable little boat first introduced in the early 60's. They did well in the JOG racing and even won in the round the Island race in 1967. A very capable yacht designed by Ian Anderson these small cruisers have been sailed across the Atlantic.

All together more modern, the Huzar 21 is described as a small trailable cruising yacht with a swing keel, packed with a lot of features, facilitating both on-board living and excellent performance.

Beneteau First 21- what can I say, if and when the weather improves we might get around to sailing ours!

Sea Witch 19 a bilge keeler from the 1960's and 70's, I can remember many years ago squeezing into the Robert Tucker Caprice that we then owned, our neighbour owned a Sea Witch and I was envious of the space and accommodation. Another small but capable cruiser, there's a good account of a 2010 cruise from the East coast down to Cornwall in the sea witch Ladybird on Bill's Log.

Correct me if I'm wrong but I think this is an E Boat Offshore One Design, a light displacement IOR mini-ton keel-boat with a lifting cast iron keel, designed in 1974 by Julian Everitt. Despite the limited head room i've always liked these boats and on a couple of occasions nearly bought one. This example is called Exocet.

The Red Fox is an innovative design by David Thomas which has twin lee boats, the 200S is a later and more modern version with twin rudders and a revised deck/cockpit layout. The design achieved shoal draft and ease of launching and recovery from a trailer without the intrusion if a keel box and centre board.

There's a lot to be said for small boats like these, cheap to buy and maintain, very capable in thin water and offshore - a lot of fun to be had for those of us with busy lives and limited time to go sailing.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Ultimate Trailer Sailor

Never mind hitching up the boat trailer to the back of the family car; this Meter Class yacht has it's own custom built truck in matching black livery for transportation.

It's either a 6M or 8M (I should have paid more attention when I was taking the photo), while neither class of boat would be the first choice for trailer sailing, the summer regatta locations are truly international so an effective method of transportation between events makes good sense.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

You can't have too many rudders

In addition to twin rudders which have become a familiar design feature over the past ten years of so, this sports boat also has what appeared to be a steerable trim tab and horizontal control.

The twin rudders are quite short but presumably their location close to the waterline mean that the leeward rudder is effective when heeled.

Presumably the horizontal control reduces pitch and maintains for and aft trim plus contributes slightly to directional stability but I'm guessing it's real purpose is to generate downward force at speed to provide additional sail carrying capability (the keel is high aspect with a lead tear drop).

Thursday, 9 August 2012


Alongside Stone Pier at Warsash recently, Sceptre a 12meter class and the 1958 British challenger for the America's cup. As we approached the river entrance we could see Sceptre's mast towering above the local boats, clearly an indication of something special.

Built specifically for the 1958 America's cup, Sceptre is now owned and operated by the Sceptre Preservation Society composed of a syndicate of 20 members.She sailed from Scotland in May to a berth in Hamble from where she will be sailing to events and chartering during the summer.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Austerity Britain II

Our tabloid press are fond of the phrase "have yachts or have not's" so in complete contrast to my earlier post this shows you don't have to be super rich or a banker to join the have yachts and get afloat, nor indeed break the bank.

I believe this is an Archilles 24, up for sale in a local yard for slightly less than three and a half thousand Pounds. Designed by Oliver Lee with a good reputation for performance and sea keeping, these boats are perhaps a little short on accommodation compared to modern boats, but none the less make a good family cruiser. This example looked to be in in great shape and had clearly been well looked after and maintained. There's an active owners association.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

High Season Boat Watching

With the summer sailing season in full swing, Cowes week almost upon us and the Olympic sailing taking place just along the coast there are more than a few interesting yachts around.

Schooners are quite rare in the UK, but who couldn't fail to be captivated by this heart stopping example?

On Sunday schooners like buses all seemed to come along at the same time, yet another, this one a traditional gaff rigged topsail schooner.

Not all the summer visitors are traditional, nor schooners, but none the less interesting, apologies for the poor photo which really doesn't do her justice, that fearsome looking bowsprit is almost lost against the background of Calshott.