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Saturday, 26 March 2011

Pacific Northwest Fishing Fleet

Many of the world's oceans were colonized by European explorers as long as five centuries ago but the rugged, storm infested shores of the northeastern Pacific remained the domain of mostly land-based indigenous people until the introduction of the internal combustion engine.

Most of the harbors on the Oregon coast, on the northwestern seaboard of the US, are so inundated with on-shore weather that a fishing fleet requires real horsepower to reach fishing grounds. The older fleet of boats were of course made of wood and today seem quaint alongside the massive ships that dominate the industry.

Just two and three decades ago, family owned fishing vessels were the norm, but have been fast replaced by the huge steel behemoths that have redefined fishing as a factory endeavor. The tragic story of a dying way of life is told in the local papers as one after another of these old workhorses are put out to pasture or sink at their moorings.

The two closest harbors to my home are in Newport and Depoe Bay, Oregon. Neither of these ports were accessible by ships until breakwaters were built and the entrances dredged. In just three generations, we have witnessed the rise and fall of the fishing industry in this area due to inept management and greed, which makes many of us nostalgic for the days of the family fishing tradition and the hand built boats which made an honest life possible in this inhospitable climate.

photos by Jim Haron

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Misty Moonbeam

Misty Moonbeam a unique yacht which was designed and built by the late Michael Corbin.

For many years Misty Moonbeam was a familiar sight on the Medina River in Cowes.

A previous owner writes "If you would like to see more of the interior of Misty Moonbeam - here's the link to an Album created April 2010 - which can be viewed page by page without purchase. This was where she was berthed under her new ownership from 2007 to 2010 Chivenor, near Barnstable at the time. It was a pity the tide was out - but you can't have everything, it was a beautiful day. I was fortunate enough to be invited to spend a day on board, with a photographer friend who created the Album. That's me on board in red"

"Misty Moonbeam was sold in 2007 and indeed has been recently sold on again. I would also refer you to a YACHT MARKET site, where Misty was advertised prior to the latter sale. This gives all her statistics and will give you a true figure of the amount of winches on board. This site will be undoubtedly removed soon as she is under new ownership as at October 2010."

"If you remember, she was originally a Wishbone Schooner - but the first buyer didn't know how to make use of the wishbone, whereby it was removed, re-rigged with a complete new set of sails."

"Here is the one and only picture of Misty Moonbeam under sail in the beauty of her original rig for which Mike had designed her It is not easy to get a photo of your own boat under sail - unless you are racing and surrounded by press photographers. Fortunately I alerted some friends she was in the West Country, and the rest is history. That's Mike on the raised poop - with daughter and son-in-law on deck."

"May Misty Moonbeam continue to sail the seas. She was designed for world cruising and may she be admired the world over and live on in the memories of all who appreciate her individual beauty."

Sunday, 20 March 2011


Russ Manheimer wrote with details of Sjogin and shame on me for not writing to Russ asking if we could include Sjogin earlier, having been a keen follower of his blog Hove to Off Swan Point.

Russ writes - Sjogin is a 22 foot Koster boat near as I can tell. I started bloging in 2005 in an effort to discover Sjogin's roots. Nothing definite yet but a great journey. And you meet the most interesting people along the way.

I sail on the upper reaches of Barnegat Bay, NJ, keeping Sjogin in commission year round with the help of a much loved wood stove and late summer refits. All you could want to know about Sjogin and my adventures with her stewardship can be found on my Blog, Hove to off Swan Point.

For the past year there's been a demand by certain members of the WoodenBoat Forum for building plans for a copy of Sjogin. As a result Paul Gartside is developing plans for traditional construction as well as a glued ply lapstrake version. Details can be found on this thread on the Wooden Boat Forum .

Below is Paul Gartside's drawing of the original sail plan, he has also drawn a gaff cutter and a yawl rig.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Atkin's enduring Ingrid

Of all the designers inspired by Colin Archer's seaworthy double-enders, William Atkin seemed to get it just right. And of all the boats he designed in that tradition, his Ingrid seems to inspire blue-water sailors and wannabes the most.

Of the design he said: "She has all the characteristics usually associated with seagoing ability. She is the kind of boat that behaves in rough water. She can be depended upon to sail herself. She is ableness personified. And equal to any situation."

Since the design appeared, boatbuilders have made Ingrids of wood, fiberglass and even ferro cement. Spiritus is as beautiful an example as you are going to find. She's made of fiberglass, most likely by one of the several boatyards who produced Ingrid hulls.

Many of these builders would sell to any stage of completion. For every well-found yacht like Spiritus, there is probably at least one unfinished boat in a field or boatyard whose owner ran out of money, time or enthusiasm. In one boatyard I visited, there were three Ingrid hulls lined up - two of fiberglass and one of ferro cement - the boats were decades old, yet never finished. A sad fate for a lady made for the sea.

LOD:37' 6"
LWL: 30'
Beam: 11' 4"
Draft: 5' 6"
Displacement: 25,000 pounds
Sail area: 816 square feet

Originally designed as a ketch, later Ingrids also had a cutter rig, like this Alajuela 38.

Thistle Racing Class

Designed by Sandy Douglas, the Thistle debuted in 1945. The sail plan consists of a marconi main, small jib, and a spinnaker. The boat planes easily in 10-12 knots of breeze and will glide effortlessly in light air.
Sandy Douglas was mentored by the superlative Uffa Fox and the racing canoe influence is readily apparent in the nimble Thistle.

One of my favorite boats, hull number sixteen, was manufactured in 1946. The Thistle Class Association has no record of this boat, so it is speculated that it was a "kit" boat, possibly assembled by it's owner and probably never raced.

The original wood thistles were built by a "hot molding" method. All of the wood hulls up through the 1960's were taken from a single mold in a plywood factory, where the double diagonal mahogany strips were fastened to the mold with bronze staples and glue, then heated under pressure in the factory's drying kiln. The resulting laminate is amazingly resilient even though it is only 5/16"(79.4mm) thick. A finished hull, with lead centerboard, thwart, seats, mast partner and rudder weighs in at 500 lbs (US). The bare hulls, along with all of the wood parts were sold as a kit, so many of these old boats were finished at home by the racers themselves.

The Thistle Class migrated to fiberglass boats in the 1960's and as such are still manufactured today.

One-design rules dictate that the boats be held to strict specifications in order to be raced. There is no reason this 63 year-old wood boat would not be competitive with a modern Thistle. In fact modern racers believe the antique wood hulls to be stiffer than a fiberglass hull just a few years old. Retired wood hulls from all over the US are being restored and pressed back into service. Hull number 16 is no exception and following her restoration in my shop on the west coast of the US has moved cross-country to be raced in the Delaware area by her new owner.

Melon Seed - Nancy Lee

Roger Rodibaugh of Lafayette, Indiana kindly sent us pictures of his delightful Melon Seed skiff Nancy Lee named after Roger's wife. The Mellon Seed has been a favourite ever since I first discovered the lines in Howard Chappelle's book American Small Craft.

Roger tells the story - In the 1880s, in the bays and backwaters of New Jersey (USA), there developed a shapely gunning skiff called a Melon Seed. H.I. Chapelle imortalized the type in his American Small Sailing Craft. He and other historians suggest that the Melon Seed was a developmental improvement on the Sneakbox, better able to handle the open, choppy waters of the Jersey Bays by virtue of its more complex shape. Others argue that the Sneakbox, being easier to build, and therefore less costly, came after the Melon Seed. Whichever the case, it remains indisputable that this little skiff is a right virtuous craft, suitable today for easy singlehanding or a crew of two and a picnic.

Roger Crawford builds a version of the Chapelle skiff in fiberglass and teak in his two-man shop. Largely thanks to him and the over 450 boats he has built, the type has become more widely known. http://www.melonseed.com/ There are also a number of professional and amateur builders who have built carvel, plywood lapstrake, and strip plank boats to various plans.

I have sailed a Crawford Melonseed for nearly 20 years and can attest to her virtues. I live 50 miles from my sailing waters, so easy trailering and quick rigging are important to me. The 235 pound boat is effortless to trailer, and the sprit rig sets up instantly. She relishes a breeze, but takes well to the oars in a calm. Her diminutive size belies her toughness -- she's very capable, and seems to know just how to step through a chop -- and the side decks keep the green water out. All this, and pretty, too, with her hollow bow and saucy sheer.

Melonseed particulars:

length overall: 13'8"
beam 4'3"
draft 6" to 2'6"
displacement 235 lbs.
sail area 62 sq. ft.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Itchen Ferry

Up until the 1970's there was a ferry crossing connecting Southampton to Woolston over the Itchen river, the small village on the banks of the river became known as Itchen Ferry as did the inshore fishing boats which were built there in the later 19th century and fished the waters of the Solent.

Typically transom stern gaff cutters of around 20 feet, characterised by a broad beam as much as eight feet. Despite their beam the boats had fair lines and were known for their speed and the ability to run straight in difficult sea conditions.

Several local boat builders were making this type of fishing boat around the 1850's and 1860's but perhaps the most famous was Dan Hatcher of which SU120 Wonder is a surviving example of his work.

Several other builders including Luke, Alfred Payne, Stockham & Pickett and Fay's built boats of the type which probably more correctly should be called Solent Fishing Cutter's.

A good few other examples survive to this day, although recognisable as an Itchen Ferry, this grey boat was spotted a long way from her home waters, in the east coast town of Woodbridge.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Tammy Norrie - Beth

Our thanks for bringing this boat to our attention go to Robert Ditterich, who featured her on this Page Three Boat Blog.

Thanks also to builder Paul who describes the thinking process behind the boat and building of "Beth" the yawl rigged sail boat - on his blog Licensed 2 Tinker, as well as sending us these great photos.

Beth is a 15.5ft sailing boat designed by Iain Oughtred. She was launched in 2007 after a two year build. Iain Oughtred's original "Tammie Norrie" design was a 13.5ft boat with the option of a lug yawl or sloop rig. Paul scaled the boat up 10% from the original design and changed the rig to a gaff yawl instead of lug sail. Paul was also keen on a boat which was small and light enough to row home when the afternoon wind fails.

Iain Oughtred designed Tammie Norrie as an open boat with a yawl rigged lugsail. Paul wasn’t keen on the lugsail and he knew Iain had another, bigger, design for a gaff rigged yawl. Iain was also working on a version of the Tammie Norrie design that had been scaled up 10%, so Paul went ahead and bought the Tammie Norrie plans and then proceeded to scale them up 10% and modify the mainsail to a gaff himself.

In addition to the technical challenges involved in scaling up the design Paul had to test recoverability after capsize and deal with ballasting the larger boat. Whatever the challenges they were well worth it, Beth looks fantastic.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

The seaworthy Chamberlain dory

One of my favorite boats was a 13-foot-5-inch Chamberlain dory. It was designed by John Gardner based on dory-builder William Chamberlain's legendary boats. Gardner said of the boat, “For a rowing sea boat, you can't do much better within the 13-foot limit.” I put that to the test many times in the 12 years I owned her and she took care of me every time.

For several years I would row eight miles with the boat loaded with camping and archery equipment to bow hunt elk on an island on the Washington coast. I once rowed into some of the steepest wind chop I've ever seen and she didn't ship a teaspoon of water. I also entered a 11-mile rowing race and and did well even though my boat was the shortest in the race.

In the first few years I owned her I did a lot of tinkering: I lowered the rowing thwart and the stern seat and reinforced the front thwart to serve double duty as a mast partner. I also added a mast step and made a mast and sprit so I could sail her. I think the best change I made to the boat was to add a carved back rest for the stern seat. It made it more comfortable for the passenger and gave the boat a somewhat more refined look. My wife called it the "princess seat."

The spritsail rig worked well and I decided that rather than complicate a wonderfully simple boat by adding a centerboard and rudder I would sail her peapod style by trailing the lee oar and shifting my weight to steer. It worked well thanks to a shallow, full-length keel that terminated in a generous skeg. The rig even allowed her to go to windward pretty well.

The boat works well with one or two adults and a couple of kids, was OK with three adults and could even accommodate three adults and two small kids.

The odd thing about my Chamberlain dory was this: of all my boats, she is the only one that went nameless. It wasn't because I didn't love her, I did, it's just that she didn't come with a name and one never occurred to me. She was always "the Chamberlain dory."

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Onawind Blue

Onawind Blue is a 15 foot Light Trow designed by Gavin Atkin and fellow blogger of In The Boatshed. The Trow was in part inspired by a traditional working boat from a very unusual stretch of protected water on the Dorset coast known as the Fleet, which is enclosed behind the gravel banks at Chesil Beach.

The traditional Trow was a heavily built, flat bottomed boat, Gavin has bought the design up to date with much lighter ply construction adding some influence from Dory designs and providing a sailing rig. The result is the Light Trow.

Based on the Mediterranean coast of Spain Ben Crawshaw has documented the build of his Light Trow - Onawind Blue and then followed up with his sailing and rowing exploits on his blog The Invisible Workshop

What's very interesting about The Invisible Workshop is how Ben involves his readers rowing and sailing Onawind Blue in very different waters to those from which the design originated. It is fascinating to watch as Ben develops his skills and experience with the boat, pushing the boundaries of her capability.

Ben's voyages demonstrate that you don't need a mega yacht to go sailing, even in the open ocean. His crossing to Ibiza takes courage, skill and a well found boat which he clearly has in Onawind Blue. His sailing also interweaves with the strong regional Catalan culture in which food plays an important role. Cooking on an open boat can be a challenge, but sailing out in the early morning to enjoy breakfast on the clear and sunny Mediterranean is clearly something special.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011


The Norske 35 design is a tough, double ended design very much in the style of Colin Archer and billed as an ocean cruiser by Harley Boats for construction in ferro cement.

Dimensions are 35' LOD, beam of 11' and a relatively shallow draft of 5'3". Hartley describe her as "traditional relatively cheap and easy to construct craft, for general cruising or ocean wandering. The rig is easily within the limits of the loner." The sail plan shows either a gaff cutter or ketch rig.

Windboats in Wroxham, Norfolk better known for construction of the Endurance 35, also built a number of Norske 35's using their "SeaCrete" method of ferro cement during the 1970's. Despite a poor reputation with insurer's, yacht surveyors and for resale value, there are a number of well built examples around which are doing well even after 30 odd years.

Grace is a Windboat built Norske she is normally based on the Hamble, but currently taking a sabbatical on the west coast of France.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Bursledon Gig

The Bursledon Gig is actually an adopted boat, built in fiber glass from a mould taken from a west country punt, the original boat probably dredging for oysters and doing other inshore work in Carrick Roads, Falmouth.

At 15’” LOA with a wide bean of 5'4", the Bursledon Gig is a stable rowing platform as was adopted by the Hamble Sea Scouts and others along the Hampshire River as a safe and versatile boat which can be rowed with up to four crew plus a cox.
With approaching 20 gigs on the river they became a regular fixture at Bursledon Regatta competing for the Sheave Trophy.

In 2010 Hamble River Rowing was formed to promote rowing on the river, the club now has two new gigs in build and another on order.