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Friday, 8 May 2015

Cornish Cormorant - Tosh

This is my own and favorite dinghy Tosh, built by the original Cornish Crabbers down in Rock across the Camel estuary from Padstow, in 1983.

Designed by Roger Dongray I like to think of her as very much a modern adaptation of the traditional America Beetle catboat. Modern designed foils, minimised wetted surface and a high aspect gaff sail all combine to give her good performance, but what makes her really special is she's just a joy to sail.

At 350lbs she's no light weight, but stable, forgiving just the thing for a family day sail and a picnic, when you can be sure no one is going to get frightened if it blows up and you won't loose the sandwiches overboard. When the wind pipes up she will lay hove to gently while I effortlessly pull in a reef. And in strong winds she will even give a Mirror dinghy a run for it's money as we did in Bart's Bash last year.

There's a great write up here from the early 80's.

Shown here on her combination launch and road trailer, I keep trying to think about ways to improve her, but frankly Roger Dongray did such a good job there's not anything I'd alter. The un-stayed mast is easy to step even on my own, and I can have the sail laced on and be sailing in minutes.

One of the coolest things is being able to sail her backwards off the club slipway and past the dock when the wind is is the right direction, especially is there's an audience watching from the terrace.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Ingrid 38 - Spiritus

William Atkin's study on the Colin Archer type, the Ingrid 38 has featured on 1001 Boats previously , and as one of my favorite cruising yachts I have no hesitation about a second post, which was prompted by an email from Russ and Carolyn Harper.

In Russ's own words, "You posted a couple of photos of our boat "Spiritus", which is an Ingrid 38. When you took the photos, we had just purchased her and she was still in very rough condition. We have restored her fully and are now sailing her in Mexico. I would like to offer a couple of photos for your use of her in her current restored condition."

I think we all agree that Spiritus looks fine indeed and especially so under sail in such beautiful surroundings.

It's been a few weeks since I received the photo's at the time, Russ and Carolyn were heading to Barra de Navidad  in Mexico, it's well worth visiting their blog for an account of their cruise.

Thanks for getting in touch and sharing your story with us.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Tidewater Cutter - Brego

The Tidewater is one of Maurice Griffiths designs, a cutter of 30 feet the original was mentioned in the famous journalist and designers book "Little ships & shoal waters".

The Tidewater is a classic Maurice Griffiths design with his signature shoal draft. The cabin roof is extended out to the full beam of the yacht and thus gives a volume in the cabin which one would not believe in a 30’ yacht. The cock-pit is deep, safe and very sheltered because the dog-house roof is extended aft to cover it. With her buoyant bows, 50% ballast ratio, full bilge and good freeboard this is a yacht which will sail relatively upright, she is a dry boat for her size even in a chop and her 4 ½ tons weight gives her a comfortable motion seldom found in modern designs of a similar size.

I received an email from Paul Calvert who clearly believes the Tidewater design is one of the best having owned Brego since 1995.

In Paul's words "She is, in my opinion, Maurice Griffiths best design. She sails very well, is well rigged with ample sail area and does well in light airs. She remains very balanced and reassuring when reefed down and sailed hard. She also steers herself hour after hour with no help from anyone (the Aries vane has only been on a year)".

"An extremely comfortable boat to live aboard and having a very good motion at sea. Starting out at Walton on the Naze in Essex we have sailed the East Coast Rivers, then to Whitby, Peterhead, Inverness, Caledonian Canal. All over the West Coast of Scotland. Then Ireland's East and South Coasts until she is now in Valentia Island, Co Kerry."

For a boat cruising the often chilly UK, that extended doghouse is a great feature as is the clear deck space forward, ideal for working and anchoring.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Lafayette's frigate "Hermione"

This week, at Rochefort in France, a replica of the 1778 frigate “Hermione” began her sea trials. The Hermione was a typical light warship of her day carrying an armament of 26 guns, each firing balls weighing 12 pounds, designed to pound enemy vessels to matchwood. 44 metres long by 11 metres beam, she carried 1500 sq.m of canvas on her 3 masts.

What makes Hermione more interesting historically than her 3 sisterships, or any other French warship of her day? The fact that in March 1780 she left Rochefort on a secret mission that was to culminate in Boston, US. On board was a contingent of French troops led by the 23 year old Marquis de Lafayette who had persuaded Louis XVI to send military and financial support to General Washington in his campaign against the British. He and his men arrived in Boston 38 days later.

The United States has never forgotten the debt owed in those most precarious days of revolution to the extraordinary young French visionary, who not only served as a Major General at Washington's side, but also won his respect and friendship. “Nous voila, Lafayette!” announced American Lieutenant Colonel Charles Stanton, on disembarking in Boulogne in July 1917 with the first 200 American troops to set foot in France in World War 1. The debt would be repaid by America's aid in the victory over Germany and the liberation of eastern France.

Hermione under construction at Rochefort
The replica Hermione project dates back to 1997 when a group of enthusiasts came up with the idea to reproduce the original 18th century frigate using traditional ship building skills and techniques. The keel was eventually laid with considerable ceremony on Independence Day, July 4, of that year. Since that date 3.7 million visitors have visited the construction yard, in the historic 18th century graving dock at the old arsenal in Rochefort, as the vessel has taken shape. In 2012 the bare hull was floated and towed up river before another huge crowd of fans.

Hermione will now undergo sea trials whilst her young crew learn 18th century sailing and seamanship skills climbing kilometres of rigging and handling vast square sails. After calling in at Bordeaux she will return to Rochefort for further fine tuning then in April 2015 set off across the Atlantic; destination Norfolk, Boston, Baltimore and New York.

Lafayette was more than just a revolutionary – he was a genuine innovator in the field of human rights. He supported the abolition of slavery even when it was common in America, Europe and the West Indies, and even tried to persuade his great friend and father figure, George Washington, to ban slavery during his presidency. In 2002, an act of the U.S. Congress made Lafayette only the sixth of seven honorary citizens of the United States. He is buried in Paris under soil from the site of the Revolutionary War Battle of Bunker Hill.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Whitehall Build

I received an interesting email and photo's from Bob the other day, about a Whitehall build, but let me tell it in Bob's own words.

"I have a boat I am finishing up it is a Whitehall type boat 18x5 ft. I am building it to row and sail. I saw the mould for sale on craigslist it was in my area so I went and looked at it was such a pretty boat I just had to build me one.

I have no history on the boat mould, the man I bought it from lived in No Name Key the Florida Keys, with no electric run to that island it is kinda rough and his family was going to move him to the mainland so they wanted to clean the yard up to sell the house. The old guy said a man that lived across the canal from him about fifteen yrs ago built the mould, made one boat, sailed it around for awhile. He was going to store the mould for the use of it to build him a boat he never did the mould sat in the bushes for years until I came along and bought it.

He told me the mould was made from a very old planked boat that could not be saved so they faired it and made the mould discarded the original.

Regards Bob"

Well she certainly looks nice, and that's a great looking workshop which on the assumption that Bob lives close to Florida might get a little hot in summer, but no issues with it being too cold to cure epoxy.

Looking forward to seeing the finished boat and thanks for sharing the story with is Bob.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Cara 16

Very few of these craft were built during the 1980's to a design by John Shuttleworth and built by Amber Boats. A classic looking gaff day boat with a semi modern underwater section which balances stability and a steel centre board.

Locally a member of the Old Gaffers Association sails this fine example "Miss Nighy" above.

Further afield I received an email from another Cara owner who sails "Carrots" in the Golf of Morbihan, below.

They might be few and far between but if a Cara 16 comes up for sale it would make a really nice day sailor.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Stevenson Projects "Weekender"

This is an example of the Stevenson Projects "Weekender"  built by Charlie Duerr of Jackson, Wyoming, USA.

Charlie explains "The boat isn't a tacking boat at all due to the small keel, but she really goes across the wind or running! I have spent the last 4 years Abusing her and testing her limits in WY, but have only turtled her once... During a crazy thunder storm. But, luckly she sails like a Dingy and rights like one too... Just stand on the keel and she comes right back up!"

The weekender is described as a boat that borrows some good ideas from the golden age of working sail, as well as some new wrinkles from space-age materials and power systems. It's a project that combines the best of both worlds-the classic lines of the sea-wise sloops of the turn of the century-and the quick-to-build, lightweight, low maintenance of modern materials.

Weekender is only one of many interesting pocket yachts and day sailors designed for DIY construction.

L.O.A.: 19'6" L.O.D.: 16' BEAM: 6' DRAFT: 3' (1' w/RUDDER UP) HULL WEIGHT: 550LBS SAIL AREA: 120 SQ.FT

I had to look up Wyoming which is about as far from the sea as you can get in the United States, none the less Charlie has a great little boat and what some fantastic locations for sailing.

For more details about Charlie's boat please see the Stevenson's Project pages and thanks very much for sharing with us.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013


Pascal sent an email recently saying he was returning to Europe in his Joshua class yacht named Primadonna, from the photographs he sent me it looks like he has been cruising the Caribbean and frankly what better yacht to do it in?

Joshua was the famous 39 foot steel ketch commissioned by Bernard Moitessier in the 1960's and in which he entered the Golden Globe Around the world yacht race.

According to accounts Moitessier was leading the race, but rather than sail homeward from Cape Horn he continued to sail on around the world again towards Tahiti. the video above was taken at the 2012 Vendee Globe in Le Sables d'Olonne, Joshua is something of a French Maritime treasure.

Pascal's boat is built to the same design, in steel.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Cruising Tug

Peter Leenhouts of the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding, Port Hadlock which is located on Washington State's Olympic Peninsula, northwest of Seattle wrote with some details of a cruising tug which was launched in August of 2012.

Tug boat derived pleasure boats are popular in the US but very rare in Europe, perhaps that comment will elicit a flood of emails from European owners, if so please send photos and details we'd live to feature more examples.

Back to the boat in question, it was designed by an American, H.C. Hanson in 1957 for the US Forest Service as a Scaler's Boat. Scalers determine the amount of board feet of lumber in each log cut by a timber crew.

Three boats were built commercially in the mid-1950's to this design for the US Forest Service for use in the Pacific Northwest. Construction on this latest example began in 2010 and finished in 2012, with the school's classes of 2010, 2011 and 2012 all contributing to the build.

The tug is 26 feet long with a beam of about 7 feet, a draft of four feet and displacing around 4 tons.

Built as a cruising boat, the planking is aromatic port orford cedar from southern Oregon, over white oak frames. The cabin house sides are of mahogany. Power is supplied by a 39 hp Yanmar diesel engine.

 Not surprisingly the tug was quickly sold to an owner, who based in Michigan will use her to enjoy the fresh water of Traverse Bay.

Thanks to the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Wooden twin screw pleasure yacht

An update on the recent Bursledon Blog  post about motor yacht Vagabond,

It was almost exactly a year ago that I spotted Vagabond ashore in a local yard while I was out for my morning run, I could see she was rather special, but the crowded marina and weather didn't do any favours when it came to taking picture.

Several google searches later reveal that there is a VAGABOND on the Historic Ship register, described as a wooden twin screw pleasure yacht, built by Saunders-Roe Ltd. at Cowes in 1937.

 She was registered at Cowes and her official number is 164825. She is made of teak on rock elm frames and has twin steering positions. She entered service on 3 May 1937. Prior to 1995, she was owned by Helen Jane Morris of 2 Cannon Hill Gardens, Shrivenham, Wiltshire and was extensively rebuilt in the 1990s with new beam shelves, deck beams, laid decks, s/s tanks etc. She currently has an internal combustion engine, with 104 kilowatts, made by the Gray Marine Motor Co.

Her hull was faired and repainted in 2006, the wheel house roof was epoxy sheathed and all points were addressed on a full survey.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Jay Benford Cruising Dory, Badger

In 1978, Jay Benford expanded on his cruising experience in the 34 foot topsail ketch, Sunrise, to create a dory hulled cruising boat. There were naysayers then, as now, about the capacity of a sailing dory to weather off-shore conditions.

 Annie and Pete Hill made the Badger famous and proved Mr Benford's design by sailing their dory over 100,000 nautical miles. Since then, we find Benford Badgers being built everywhere. It is a cruising yacht designed for the home builder.

Annie, of course, loved her plywood dory and had this to say in her book Voyaging on a Small Income:
"Badger can be built simply and for very little money. Sheathed in cloth and epoxy, she is easy to maintain and can be kept up to standard at very little expense - an essential prerequisite for a boat that is sailed on a small income." 
The Badger was originally designed with a cutter sail rig, but most builders prefer a fully battened schooner junk configuration, which has been touted as possibly the best short-handed cruising rig ever devised.

In Ullapool, Scotland we find a recently launched Badger setting out for it's first cruise. Dan Johnson is the happy builder of Hester. He and his wife Charlotte Watters have spent several years exploring northern Atlantic venues, so for their first cruise on Hester, will be heading south.

Dan, with occasional help from friends, built Hester in two years. An impressive schedule for readying an open-ocean cruiser and a testament to Annie's claim about simplicity of build, also to the commitment of the builder.

Dan and Charlotte have been impressed with the boat's handling, as documented in Dan's log:

"...we had made it down to Oban where we left Hestur for a week. After that, Charlotte and I returned to sail north again back to Ullapool. Of course we were hit by five days of northeast winds (absolutely our direction of travel) This would really show us how Junks go to windward - they do."

"Heading north we decided to go inside Mull then outside Skye taking in the Outer Hebridies. This proved to be a good plan as the Minch provides a great seaway for tacking against northerly winds! Heading west across the Minch towards Barra we experienced our first largish sea and strongish wind aboard Hestur - F6 with 10 foot crashers. She performed perfectly with nothing unexpected and we were broad reaching at 6+ knots with two panels up on the foresail and three in the main. Very easy sailing with no deck work - all reefing done from cockpit"

"When sailing on the wind she will sail herself if you balance the sails - we often leave the helm quite literally for hours and hours, not even lashed. This surprises me as she is a fin keeler - I think it must be the substantial skeg arrangement."

Being a dory sailor myself, I find this account impressive and would like to offer congratulations to Dan and Charlotte. May they find many happy miles at sea!

Thank you, John McIntyre and Chris Perkins of Ullapool for the photos of Hester.


Friday, 19 October 2012

Sacr̩ Cinquo! Рis the 505 really French?

Amazingly the 505 dinghy, still one of the most exciting performance boats in the world, is close to celebrating its 60th birthday. Is it French or British in its origins? It's a long story – but one that's worth telling in the full version.

Certainly the 505 was designed by British naval architect, John Westell, and equally certainly most of the early hulls were built by Fairey Marine at Hamble Point, but the 505 was not, in fact, the boat that John Westell originally set out to design, and it would never have seen the light of day had it not been for a group of enthusiastic French dinghy sailors.

In 1952 the IYRU announced a competition to select a two man dinghy class to be given International, and Olympic, status. The sailing trials held on a lake at Loodsdrecht in Holland were won by the Flying Dutchman, but the national sailing associations of Britain and France were not happy with the choice, arguing that the FD was too heavy and powerful a boat for crews of average size and weight, especially in the open waters around the French and UK coasts.

The objections were heard, and new trials were organised at La Baule, in France, in 1953. Among the new prototypes competing was an attractive 18 footer with a cold moulded hull. This was John Westell's Coronet design, and it was the talk of the event, not just because of its revolutionary lines and good looks, but also because of its sparkling performance.

John Westell's Coronet No. 1
The Coronet was an 18 foot boat with almost 200 sq. ft of sail area. It caught the eye of many of the world's top dinghy sailors at La Baule, partly because of its beautiful cold moulded hull, relatively narrow waterline beam, and built-in buoyancy side tanks, but mostly because of its wide flaring topsides, which gave it a futuristic speedboat-like look, quite unlike any of the other boats present.

It was said afterwards that the trials were weighted in favour of the 20 ft Flying Dutchman. Only the FD had two boats present, while all the other classes were represented by a single example. This meant that the FDs could split at the start, to sail different sides of the course, while the rest of the fleet had to guess which side would pay best. It was quickly apparent that the Dutchman had only one rival. The FDs are said to have had a slight boatspeed advantage on the beat, but the Coronet, with its lighter weight, smaller genoa, and lower wetted surface was quicker to tack and accelerate, so windward honours were divided. The Coronet planed more easily and was faster downwind, however. The two Dutchman crews had the advantage of being able to team race against the rest of the fleet, and, in particular, their only real rival, the Coronet. Whether this was fair or not, the 2 FDs finished the trials with a combined total of more wins and places than any other class, but the Coronet was, by a comfortable margin, the leading individual boat, and, in fact, dominated the series convincingly.  

The Flying Dutchman once again got the nod from the IYRU committee. Westell was informed the Coronet could apply for International status once 100 examples had been built, but no further Coronets were ever built and the sole example was sold to an East African sailor.

This could have been the end of the story, but for the enthusiasm of some of France's top dinghy sailors who recognised a good thing when they saw it.

This is said to be 505 No. 1 (probably K1).  Notice the flat topped side tanks and transom mainsheet
Soon after the trials, a group of French helmsmen from the French Caneton (Duckling) class which had been represented but seriously outclassed on the water, got together to discuss the outcome and found themselves unamimously in admiration of the looks and performance of the Coronet. The Caneton was a hotly contested development class in France, with some of the country's best helmsmen, and relatively free rules on construction techniques and hull form. There was a general consensus that a shorter version of the Coronet could make an excellent, more restricted, one-design version of the Caneton class, so the President of the Caneton Association, Alain Cettier, approached John Westell to ask if the Coronet design could be made to fit the Caneton rule. Westell quickly produced plans for a modified Coronet, to fit the 5 metre +1% maximum overall Caneton gauge.  

The plans were accepted by a Caneton technical committee meeting at the end of 1953, and the Caneton 505 became an official French National class before a single boat had been built!

Within weeks the first 505 was under construction in a workshop at the back of a photographer's studio in Paris.  The builders, Messieurs Bigoin and Labourdette, both Caneton sailors, managed to scrounge the wood and tools, but the hull turned out to be slightly too wide to go through the workshop door, so the doorframe and some masonry had to be removed before the 505 could emerge! Caneton 505 Number 1 was launched on the Seine at Meulan at Easter in 1954, and tested by several of France's top sailors. At the end of the holiday weekend Cettier found himself with orders for 10 boats!

The original Coronet had been built by John Chamier's Tormentor yard at Warsash on the Hamble river, but Cettier found that Fairey Marine, across the river at Hamble Point, could produce the hulls cheaper and more quickly, using their hot moulding process in which the hulls were “baked” in a large autoclave oven to cure their advanced aeronautical glues.

These first bare hulls were nested together and delivered to France where they were finished by the Sampson yard at Sartrouville and by Mallard at Les Mureaux, both on the River Seine.  

Meanwhile, Fairey were turning out their own finished version of the “Five-O” for sale in Britain, as well as other bare hulls to be finished by customers or by other yards, in particular Tormentor just a few yards away across the Hamble River. By August there were enough 505s sailing to hold a Franco-British challenge regatta at Ouistreham in Normandy.

505 No 8 (France) Note the rolled tanks and cutout transom
The early French boats did not feature the characteristic rolled side tanks that we associate with the 505, but certainly some of the very earliest boats finished by Fairey had them, and in time they became a trademark feature of the class. These, and the characteristic flared topsides make the Five-O a relatively comfortable boat to sail, as there is no sharp edge to dig into the crews' legs, and spray, or at least some of it, is deflected away from the boat and the crew.

The first boats had wooden masts, but the class rules allowed for all kinds of development in the areas of construction materials, interior layout, running rigging, shaping of foils, etc., and the top boats in the class on both sides of the channel were soon sporting Proctor alloy spars, open transoms, centre sheeting, and other innovations. The astonishing performance of the 505 soon brought it to the attention of sailors all over Europe and the World, so the class spread quickly as new racers took up the class, and new builders took on construction.

Notice the class burgee?  It carries both the Coronet and Caneton insignia
By 1955 with over 100 boats sailing, the 505 bcame an International class in its own right. The first fibreglass hulls started to appear in the latter part of the 1950s, initially composite boats with wooden decks, transoms and side tanks, later, builders like Lanaverre in France and Parker in Britain would produce hundreds of all-plastic boats.

Since the class rules allow all kinds of materials, provided essential hull dimension and minimum weight limits are adhered to, the 505 has always been in the forefront of construction technology. Nowadays hulls and spars are of carbon fibre, and stiff hydrodynamically profiled foils promote planing even to windward, but even with all their scarily modern equipment, the modern 505 is still recognisably the same boat as the one that Parisian photographer's door had to be knocked down for in 1954.

Some bullet points:
  • Both the Coronet and 505 were designed from the start for a two man crew with a trapeze.
  • John Westell sailed the Coronet in the IYRU La Baule trials and one of the 505s in the first 505 class regatta at Ouistreham.
  • The International 505 Association burgee still carries the Coronet and Caneton insignia in recognition of the origins of the class
  • More than 9000 boats to the 505 design have now been registered
  • The magazine "Cahiers du Yachting" donated the wood for the first boat
  • Daniel Mazo was the photographer whose doorway in the Boulevard Saint-Martin had to be “modified”
  • The 505 is known in France as the “Cinquo”
  • The first 505 originally carried the Caneton sail insignia with the class number 1701
  • The topsides flare from 1.24m beam at the waterline to 1.88 at the gunwhale, increasing vastly the power of the trapeze while keeping wetted surface area low at non-planing speeds.
  • Fairey Marine built more than 200 hot-moulded wooden 505 hulls.
  • The 505, with all its spars, rigging and racing equipment, can be towed by a Citroen 2CV!

International 505 Racing Dinghy, "Le Roi du Dériveur "

Designer:  John Westell
Length:   5.05 meters  
Beam:    1.88 meters  
Weight:  127.4 kilos  

Sail Area:
Main  12,30 sq. m.  
Jib  4,94 sq. m  
Spinnaker  27 sq. m. (originally 20 sq.m)