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Sunday, 27 February 2011

Ness Yawl, Clodia

Many of you have already met Giacomo de Stefano. He's the intrepid traveler who made a self propelled trip on the river Po, Italy in a Ness Yawl. That trip was conceived to raise awareness of the environmental condition of the Po and other major industrial rivers. Giacomo's perspective, from sea-level (literally) is a very emotional one and the boat he chose reflects the spirit of the endeavor perfectly.

On his upcoming trip he will leave from the UK and make his way to Istanbul, using another Ness Yawl.

The boat Giacomo is using for this journey is Clodia, professionally built by Roland Poltock in Venice and Villa del Conte, Italy.

Designed by Scottish designer Iain Oughtred, the boat is 19 ft.LOA(5.6m) and similar to those the Vikings once used for fishing and transport and also related to those the fisherman from the Shetland Islands still use.

Clinker built, planked with mahogany plywood, she’s light but very seaworthy and good for both rowing and sailing.
She is built of 9mm okume plywood, italian oak and larch with pine for the floor boards. The beautiful tanbark sails are made by Core Sailmakers in Venice.

Clodia is designed to sail and row from London to Istanbul for a project called Man On The River, 5300 km by oar and sail, to promote the concept of a sustainable way of traveling with respect for overburdened European rivers.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Peter Duck

Peter Duck' is a character in one of Arthur Ransome's famous children’s novels, in later life he commissioned Jack Laurence Giles to design a comfortable cruising ketch which was named after the character. The design was commissioned just after the war in 1945, built by Kings of Pin Mill in Suffolk she was completed in 1947

Ransome is alleged to have requested “a sort of marine bath-chair, a minimum of work to sail and yet provide the maximum comfort for two.” Whether Laurence Giles succeeded is not clear, but for whatever reason Ransome didn’t take to Peter Duck and sold her after only 3 years in 1950.

Although not a production boat, over 40 of these ketches were built. LOA is 28 feet 3inches long with a draught of 3 feet 6 inches and a beam of 9 feet. The original boat was fitted with a Stuart Turner engine. The detailed fit out of each is varied, but the overall design is recognised for its passage making ability even in heavy weather. The easily handled ketch rig made the boat popular with single hander sailors.

The original Peter Duck still survives, indeed flourishes under family ownership who have been custodians for much of the past 50 years.

Rhodes 33 Madness

In 1938 the South Coast boatyard in Newport Beach, California introduced the Rhodes 33, one of several narrow racing boats with deep cockpits designed by Phillip Rhodes. Features included a drop in outboard well, a two burner stove and head. Twenty Rhodes 33’s were sold before WWII and while domestic production was superseded by military during the war, twenty two more were launched immediately after.

The Rhodes racing class faced off in numerous organized challenges over the years off the coast of southern California, USA.

"This photo of the Rhodes 33 fleet off the jetty in Newport CA was taken and developed by my father in the 1950's. He had his own lab in our home. It was probably taken with his Leica with black and white film."
Byron Grams

In recent years there has been an effort to revitalize the Rhodes 33 class of racing yachts in southern California, led by Ralph Rodheim who owns the beautifully restored Madness.

Who could blame Ralph for submitting Madness as his favorite boat?

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Nord Vinden

Details of this delightful yawl were sent by John Weiss, however the words were written by Harry Broady who commissioned the boat and owned her for 20 years.

John bought her from Harry a few years ago when he retired from sailing at the age of 86:

For those of you that are not familiar with Nord Vinden, she is a 13'-0" x 4'-6" Canoe Yawl, developed around the Victorian period as part of the Humber Canoe Yawls. Some of those were designed by George Holme.

One evening some 20 years ago, (probably, a miserable evening weather-wise), I was reading the book "Sail and Oar" by John Leather. Fortunately I came upon the chapter describing George Holme's Ethel, and folks, that was all it took.

To shorten my story a little... I contacted William Clements Boat Builder who lives outside Boston Mass. We discussed the boat and other details and he accepted building Nord Vinden for me.

So we looked at the line drawing in the book, altered them a little to our liking and Bill made a 13-inch half-model resembling the boat. We agreed on the looks etc., and he continued developing, lofting, fairing the lines, building the molds and so on.

After about four months or so, Nord Vinden was ready for sea trials. From there on she has given me the greatest of pleasure every time I went sailing, whether there was no wind, little wind or a blustering wind. In addition, she rows well, and sculling is a joy.

The particulars of the boat are as follows:

LOA 13'-0"
Beam 4'-6"
Draft 6"; centerboard down 24"
Sail Area 100sf.
Balanced Lug rig on both sails, Main 80sf. Mizzen 20sf.
Weight 350 lb.

Her construction is of 6mm sapele mahogany plywood, epoxy coated. The hull is painted green above the waterline, and lighter green antifouling. The interior of the boat is epoxy coated and varnished. The deck is laid up strip with a covering board along the gunwale, all made from a Brazilian wood called Santa Maria, a pale light color.

The mast and spars are of Sitka Spruce, and the sails were made by Sail Rite. The centerboard was manufactured by Springfield Fan Centerboard Co. and consists of five brass plates folding within each other from 7 1/2" to 18".

Thanks to John for a heart warming story of Harry and his (now your)lovely boat.

Delaware Tuckup

The Delaware River, on the Atlantic coast of the United States, was first mapped by a Dutch expedition led by Henry Hudson in 1609. Today it is known as a major shipping channel supplying New York and New Jersey, but at one time it was a pristine paradise and many small boats were developed in this area for hunting and fishing.

These old shallow draft, low freeboard designs proved to be very competitive sailing vessels when some brave soul decided to experiment with how much canvas they could carry.

The boats were called Hikers because ballast was crew weight and not actual ballast in sand bags. The Delaware River is relatively narrow, and in a race upwind with frequent short tacks, it wasn’t possible to shift bags often enough. Thus, the crew was required to hike way out to keep the boats upright.

Tuckups were the smallest of the classes, and their name was derived from the shape of the stern, which tucked up into a very pretty shape with a delicate twist of the planking.

Andy Wolfe, Secretary of the Traditional Small Craft Association and a resident of Buena Vista, Virginia has this to say about his favorite boat:

The attached photo is a Tuckup, class 4 hiker that I restored about 15 years ago and is now owned by the Delaware River Chapter of the TSCA. It was probably my all time favorite sailing machine. Designed in 1876, it was one of the most popular club racing designs in the Philadelphia area. All but a few of these boats were destroyed in a single wharf fire. I believe there are 8 still sailing that were built at the Philadelphia Maritime Museum and Mystic Seaport.

The Tuckup is a fifteen foot gaff rigged catboat made of cedar planking on oak or locust frames.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Essex Smack

These Essex boats fished from the rivers Blackwater, Colne, Crouch and Orwell, north of the Thames estuary. The Smack was a gaff cutter and although built to a variety of types and sizes, they were noted for their sea worthiness, wind ward ability and speed.

During the 19th century the Essesx Smacks fell into three groups ranging from small inshore and estuary smacks of 12 tons right up to the 50 foot deep sea smacks which would fish as far afield as the Baltic and France.

Almost all the small villages along the east coast rivers had their own fleet many concentrating on a certain fishery. A hundred years ago the wharfs and river frontage of Brightlingsea, Rowhenge, West Mersea, Bradwell, Madon, Wivenhoe, Tollesbury, plus a few others I've forgotten, would be bustling with local smacks, each village could be home to as many as fifty boats.

I don't have nearly enough photographs to do justice to these legendary boats, so please enjoy the Smacks in this video by Dylan Winter with music by Cocker Freeman, who's genuine Dengie (Essex) accent and somewhat dubious lyrics are well worth seeing

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Wizard of Oz

In contrast to the high-tech Etoile Horizon (below), these photos depict a humble thirty foot sharpie ketch, designed and built in wood, by Ozzie Whittley.

Ozzie Whittley has been designing and building boats all his life. He's eighty-two and still designing and building boats.
Wizard of Oz is a junk rigged sharpie with lee boards and 18hp outboard motor.

Around Australia a sailor must be able to navigate very skinny water.
Built with twin cabins, dual cockpits and homemade sails, Wizard of Oz was conceived for efficient single-handing by Ozzie, as his own cruiser, when he was seventy.

Monday, 21 February 2011


Naval Architect Patrick Balta has kindly given us permission to use pictures of this unusual, high tech gaff cutter ÉTOILE HORIZON (Star Horizon).

The modern interpretation of a gaff cutter was built in 2001 to run the Transat Jacques Vabre Open 50 'class, Etoile Horizon then participated in the Route du Rhum 2002 with Bob Escoffier and holds the SNSM record in its class.

Since then the boat has been completely refurbished and is operated as a charter yacht

ÉTOILE HORIZON may be a gaff cutter, but she takes full advantage of modern technology. Hi-tech sails combined with carbon blocks, winches and running rigging for maximum efficiency. Built in Cedar epoxy, the spars are surprisingly of aluminium, overall she is a bit heavier than a carbon hull/rig combination. But Etoile Horizon is still a fast cruising boat and one which doesn't disappoint, she can sail at 11 knots upwind and over 15 knots on a reach.

Naval Architect Patrick Balta
Hull length 15.25m
Draught 2.00m
Sail area 280m2

Saturday, 19 February 2011


Designed by Nigel Irens more famous for ocean racing catamarans, Roxane is a high performance/high tech traditional cruising yacht.

Her design uses carbon spars and a fully battened lug rig on a efficient and shallow draft hull (with centre board). Seen here is Mischief leading the way in the Solent Old Gaffers race a few years ago - she finished second.

Roxane is a boat Nigel designed and built for himself at just under 30 feet, there is a smaller sister ship Romilly at 22 feet.

Lots of details at Peter Holden's Roxane a& Romilly site.

Teak Lady, MaZu, San Francisco Bay Racing Class

MaZu was the last Teak Lady built and was completed in February 1958 by Ah King Slipway in Hong Kong. Though she is a production boat, she looks and sails like a thoroughbred and sports the detailing of a petite yacht, built entirely of teak with durable bronze hardware.

The original Teak Lady was designed by Ted Kilkenny for his nephew in the mid-1930's and resembled the 23-foot San Francisco Bay Bear Boat but 6 feet shorter and proportionately heavier, with a deeper full keel and a taller rig.

The Teak Lady proved herself so well against other Bay boats that soon outside orders were placed.
A brightly varnished Teak Lady was displayed at the 1937 World Expo/Fair on Treasure Island, and before the fair closed, fourteen new Teak Ladies were ordered. By 1940 the 17' 3" Teak Lady was an official San Francisco Bay racing class.

More fame came to the Teak Lady class in the 1940's. A young couple sailed from Monterey, California to Hawaii, then to the South Pacific, logging 8,000 nautical miles. At that time she was the smallest boat to cross the Pacific Ocean.

David Keenan, a former owner of MaZu sailed her in all kinds of weather in San Francisco and San Pablo Bays. He tells me that in one 55-knot winter gale, there was concern at the Vallejo Yacht Club when they noticed MaZu driving hard to weather with the ports submerged. But after noticing through the yacht club binoculars that both captain and crew were sporting ear to ear grins, they decided the rescue party could be called off.

MaZu is currently moored on the northwest coast of the US, in Toledo, Oregon. She sports her colors at local boat shows where families line up for free sailing lessons.

Friday, 18 February 2011


This very pretty little Westmacott yacht is called Elfin, she was based on the Hamble for many years, now berthed in Dartmouth. Thanks again to Peter from Wooden Ships for the pictures and details - fans of traditional wooden boats could do worse than browse Peter's brokerage listings and dream.

Designed by Alfred Westmacott and built in his Woodnutts Yard on the Isle of Wight in 1930 for a lady sailor. She was the largest of 3 built to a similar design and proved to be a perfect small cruising yacht.

Bermudian cutter 28’3” x 22’3”wl x 7’10” x 3’8” + 3’ bowsprit. 5TM

A chunky, long keeled yacht, her significant features are her pointed canoe stern and her nicely proportioned varnished teak coach-roof with a marked camber to the roof.

Planked in full length pitch-pine, 16 strakes per side with varnished teak rubbing strakes and toe rails and a cove line cut into the sheer strake, all copper fastened to 55 pairs of Canadian Rock elm steamed timbers on an oak back-bone. Approx 2 ton external lead ballast keel secured with bronze bolts through 12 heavy grown oak floors.

Rowing boats

"Form follows function" was the guiding principal behind the modernist movement as practised by the great designers and architects of the early 20th century.

But the fact is that traditional boat builders had understood that principal for centuries and it was perhaps reflected best in rowing craft which had to be fast, easily driven, carry a heavy load while at the same time be safe and stable.

Above is a delightful boat from the English west country, you can look at those lines and know she will run cleanly through the water, yet she's able enough for the sometimes choppy waters of the estuary where she was built to work.

Closer to home this slightly neglected yacht tender resembles a local punt or working boat; stable and designed to carry a heavy load.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Vertue - Sally

Sally II is the second of the so-called Vertue class, not that the name was given to this Laurent Giles 5 tonner until after the war when she won the Little Ship Club Vertue trophy for an extraordinary voyage in and around the Western Approaches.

Since then Vertues have crossed oceans and circumnavigated a number of times.

Sally II is in the care of Adrian Morgan who can be found building boats and blogging about boats. he comments "however more modest in her achievements, having circumnavigated the Isle of Wight, (sally has) cruised Brittany and the Western Isles. She is best in a gale of wind..."

Thanks Adrian she is lovely and we miss her on the Hamble.

Isle of Wight Ferry

"What's brown and steaming and comes out of Cowes?"

The Isle of Wight Ferry

Clearly they've changed the paint scheme since that joke was first told.

The Isle of Wight Ferry is something of an English institution linking the holiday island with points on the mainland. In fact there are several this one is the Lymington-Yarmouth ferry at the western end of the Solent.

To the east Wight Link ferries from Portsmouth land Ryde and Fishbourne, plus there's still a hovercraft service from Southsea to Ryde. In the central Solent Red Funnel connects Southampton and Cowes with a car ferry and a fast cat service

One urban myth suggests that it's the most expensive ferry journey on a mile per mile basis, who knows

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Crunluath - Honey Bee Class

Thanks to Keith Clark for words and pictures about Crunluath his Honey Bee class sloop.

Crunluath is a Honey Bee class sloop traditionally built with mahogany planks on oak frames by William Boag and Sons at Largs the Clyde in 1965.

The class design dates from 1958 and boats were built in Scotland by a few builders, then later more in East Germany. These latter boats were strip planked and had laid teak decks. At least two other boats were built in the 1960's by Dixon Kerley at Maldon and were a slight variation on the original design with a five berth layout and were described as Queen Bees.

The overall length is 27ft 6ins, give or take a few eighths, these were hand built boats and each is slightly different! Beam is a slender, by modern standards, 8ft., draught with an iron keel is 5ft 2ins. The original design showed a fractional rig with a keel stepped mast but all the boats I know of have a masthead rig and most have deck stepped masts.

They were designed by R.A.Balfour, a scottish trained naval architect, and came about as a result of a competition to design a boat suitable for a family of four to sail the west coast of Scotland. Balfour's design was the second prize winner in the competition but as far as I know the winner, designed by the well known Alan Buchanan never gained popularity.

In many ways they were a boat behind the times, designed in the 1950's and built just before grp got a grip on the boat building scene. When costs became prohibitive in the 1960's boats were imported from East Germany. About twenty boats are known to exist, or have existed, please contact Keith's Honey Bee website if you know of any others.

Not fast by modern standards they nevertheless sail well, especially to windward and are very well behaved except, like all long keeled sailing boats, when it comes to close quarters manoeuvres; they are a liabilty in a marina! Once into open water they cope with anything the sea throws at them. Accommodation is cosy, nominally four or even five berths, a galley and heads compartment so you have to be good friends with fellow crew members. Early petrol engines have been replaced by more modern diesels of course but apart from some metal spars and modern sails they look much the same now as they did when first built, very much a traditional british family yacht.

Dufour Arpege

Thanks to Patrick Hay who reminds us that no list woud be complete without the Dufour Arpege.

Patrick writes "The Arpege was, in my view, anyway, the first really modern GRP production yacht. I saw one for the first time at the 1969 Boat Show and was amazed at the genius of the design. It provided very spacious, light and well-ventilated accommodation, a huge navigatorium, six proper berths with none crammed into the forepeak, a comfortable cockpit and a nice clean deck without angles or sharp corners. I decided right then I had to have one.

At that time I had never seen a boat in which so many useful features had been thought of by the designer and moulded in from the start. The Arpege had the first anchor locker I had seen on a GRP boat, a moulded easy-to-clean galley with storm-proof crockery storage and a moulded sink. The heads was a civilised space in which it was possible to have a really good wash, wet sails stowed up for'ard away from the accommodation, wet weather hanging space was separate from dry clothes, and thoughtful design ensured thorough interior ventilation even when the boat was closed up on its mooring. Being French, Michel Dufour had incorporated wine bottle storage in the table, and a special non-creasing storage space for ladies evening dresses in a long shallow moulded tray under a bunk."

He continues "I finally managed to buy an Arpege (see photos attached) in 1982.

The Arpege was a noted performer, too. I am sure it won the Round The Island Race at its first attempt - John Oakley at the helm, I think, and went on to win offshore and inshore races all over the world. In any kind of weather the boat was so well balanced it steered with a light touch on a tiller so short and fragile-looking that it seemed to belong to another much smaller boat.

Many Arpeges have made long ocean voyages, too.

Finally it must be in your 1001 boat selection because over 1000 were built. You can still see them in marinas all over the world, and there are many enthusiastic owners still racing them."

He also sends a link to a great video of


Thanks to Peter Gregson of Wooden Ships, who sent details of this lovely counter stern, bermudian cutter.

Designed by Norman Dallimore and built by William King & Sons of Burnham on Crouch in 1936.

Susanna measures 33’6" LOD and 38’ LOA, 8’6” beam, 4’6” draft, 6’ headroom, 9 tons TM. Built with 1" pitch pine planking on Canadian rock elm frames, oak floors, her keel is English Elm. Her lead keel is attached by bronze keel bolts and she's copper and bronze fastened throughout. Decks are 1 1/4" solid teak.

She was built to last.

In Peter's own words "Is this not the most exquisite yacht?" - you have to agree without reservation.

Monday, 14 February 2011


Is it a boat is it a plane? I'm guessing it's a Moth the International development class which today manifests itself in these all carbon hydrofoil designs, described as Formula 1 for the water

Loads of great information on the UK International Moth Association site.

The Elephant

Not a single boat, but a collection of boats at my favourite boat yard (need a little lattitide here we've still got 999 boats to go).

I received this note from Don Myatt who emailed the Bursledon Blog

"From time to time I check in to read your blog. It then dawned on me
that you hail from my idea of heaven. I once spent a glorious day
there looking at a boat moored at the Elephant boat yard. The
attached picture captures the key elements; boats, English
countryside, and Labradors. I did not buy the boat.

Keep up the good work, and hope there is much success and thoughtful
comment on 100 boats"

Thanks Don, shame you didn't buy the boat, can't think of a better excuse to spend time in Bursledon.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Crinker - a Picarooner

'CRINKER' is a Gaff rigged sloop locally called a Picarooner, her hull was designed well over 100 years ago for fishing on the rugged north coast of Cornwall UK. It is believed the original sailing rig was a lug rig.

Apparently the name Picarooner means sea robber. She was designed to enable her to land her fish before the larger fishing boats by utilising her shallow draft. Some are reported to hold the record for herring catches.

Although CRINKER was built in Cornwall around 2001 in more modern materials, she still retains her classic lines with timber mast and spars made from solid Columbian Pine, hardwood gunwales, thwart and trim. She carries a small outboard motor that fits into a well in her stern. She also rows well.

Thanks to Tony for the words and photo's you can read more about Crinker on his web page.

Swift 18

The Swift 18 was a popular British trailer sailor in the 1980's often positioned by the yachting press as an ideal starter boat.

With very shallow draft launching and recovery, essential features for a trailer sailor were good. Accommodation is basic and headroom restricted but the Swift has all you need for a weekend away.

Today a good example can be had for between £4000 to £5000 which is a cheap way of getting out on the water.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Senior Knockabout by Blanchard Boat Company

Thanks to Michael AKA Doryman for this sweet little sloop.

Of the many boats that have passed through my life, the one that seemed most alive was a nimble day-sailor designed and built on the Puget Sound in the northwest corner of the US, bordering on Canada. The Senior Knockabout by Blanchard Boat Company was a finely crafted vessel that sailed herself. (The Junior Knockabout was a smaller, open boat, similar hull).

This story was thirty years ago for me and the only picture I have left of that boat has deteriorated with time. Rushwind was a beauty under sail and I think you can see that, even in the old photo.

The blue hulled boat is the same model which has been lovingly restored by my friend Tod. He cold-molded cedar over the hull, which I'm not too sure about, but the boat looks like new. I became involved with his project when another friend built Tod a new mast.

The photos are from the day we launched it for the first time in thirty years, and what a thrill! We forgot to pack the battens, so the roach of the sail is an embarrassment, but she flew wonderfully, none the less.

There is an article about that day on Doryman's blog: