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Friday, 29 July 2011

The Berck Flobart, "Marianne Toute Seule"

Marianne Toute Seule is an open, inshore fishing boat of a type which is typical to the Cote d'Opale, the long sandy coast of the Pas De Calais region of France. These hand-lining boats are known as “flobarts”. A flobart is a shallow draft boat designed for beach launching. Thanks to the Marianne Toute Seule's flat bottom and lifting daggerboard she could be easily sailed up onto the beach at Berck and left to dry out on the tide, an essential feature, as, like other seaside settlements on the Cote d'Opale, the town has no harbour.

(photo above : www.berckpatrimoine.info)

Modern versions of the traditional flobart design can still be seen in these parts, even though few boats are now launched and landed from the beach in this way, and, of course, the modern versions are now usually built in GRP. The design has been adapted, too, to suit propulsion by modern reliable diesel motors, so it is only tradition, and not the need for sails, oars, daggerboards and rowing benches that now dictates the look of the region's open inshore fishing vessels.

As the old sailing flobarts were rapidly disappearing, the town of Berck decided in 1992 to rebuild this old "flobart Berckois" (boats varied slightly in design from one town to another) and to make her available for demonstration cruises and for use as a symbol of the town's maritime history and tradition. That same year the restored Marianne Toute Seule was awarded first prize in the “French Coastal Boats” division at the Brest International Festival of the Sea.

Marianne Toute Seule is clinker built with elm planking traditionally fastened with clenched nails. Although only 5.70m on deck, her long bowsprit and bumpkin enable her to carry an impressive 40m² cloud of sail, divided between her standing lug main and mizzen sails, and the jib flown from her long bowsprit. The bowsprit and bumpkin can be withdrawn and stowed inside the boat when not in use.

(photo www.berck-leblog.com/)

Alternative propulsion was by 4 oars which were poked through ports in her topsides – but Marianne does now have a diesel!

Marianne Toute Seule has recently returned from another major refurbishment, and can normally be seen at her berth at the tiny port of La Madelon, near Berck, on the River Authie estuary. From here she makes a number of demonstration outings during the months of May June, July and August each year, taking groups of up to 8 tourists, students, birdwatchers or wildlife enthusiasts out into the Authie Bay for a close-up view of the birdlife, seal colonies and shifting sandbanks.

The boat's curious name comes from a famous character in 19th century Berck, who was instrumental in the town's development as a centre for medical treatment and convalescence. In the 1850's a grieving widow, Marianne, offered sick children a chance of a seaside cure in the fishing port of Berck. Her husband, a local doctor, and 4 children had died in a cholera epidemic, hence the soubriquet “Toute Seule” ("Marianne all alone"). Soon it was noticed that children sent to Berck seemed to recover more quickly - especially those with bone diseases like rickets.

Encouraged by the results, doctors began to prescribe the sea air and sea-bathing of Berck for all sorts of other sickness and disability. In 1869, Napoleon III's wife, Empress Eugénie, opened the big Maritime Hospital which is still a landmark on the Berck seafront. Other medical institutes followed, and the town expanded from 2,000 inhabitants to 11,600 by 1911. It had trams, a theatre, running water, electricity and telephones - all the facilities of a thriving seaside resort.


Berck Patrimoine


To book a trip on Marianne Toute Seule, call Nicole Froissart (who speaks perfect English) on 0033 (0)3 21 81 11 02

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Westerly 22, 'Young Tiger'

CMDR Denys Rayner 1943

Loch Nevis 7 August 1904
This image is from C.C.Lynam's 'The Log of the Blue Dragon' 1892-1904, London: A. H. Bullen 1907. The photo was taken in 1904 by Lynam of his family sailing in Loch Nevis - which is heaven in Gaelic. My seafaring mentor Denys Rayner, who read the book when at school, wrote that it infected him with "the sailing canker"
Denys Rayner shared Lynam’s preference for yachts in which the skipper removes ‘grease off a plate covered by the cold gravy of the mutton-chop’, keeps a cabin tidy and scrapes ice from its roof before dawn. Lynam was among the first to enjoy a kind of yachting that did not include much larger boats than the 'Blue Dragon' - 25 foot, 2.2 tonnes - and did not rely on paid hands or wearing blazers and caps and racing. He pre-dated by 20 years Kenneth Graham's 1917 remark through Rattie about the pleasures of messing about in boats in 'The Wind in the Willows'. I respect people who race around the world in sailing boats, but I find the idea of circumnavigating without stopping the opposite of how a small boat should be enjoyed. I have sailed across the Atlantic in a 22 footer but one of the tests of seamanship is finding and getting in and out of a multitude of different harbours and anchorages. Just as Lynam enthused Rayner, so Rayner infused me with the joys of visiting lots of places in small boats

25 August 1997 on the River Orwell at Sea Reach near Harwich on the UK east coast, of Rayner's first design Robinetta launched in May 1937

Westerly 22

The 22 was offered with either a Bermudian or Gunter rig, but Rayner was a champion of the Gunter rig, citing both it's ease of handling and what he felt were superior sailing characteristics.

Rayner's friend Jack Hargreaves noted British Broadcaster, was an enthusiastic supporter of postwar family sailing and the boats then being designed in Britain for 'everyman". Here he is aboard Young Tiger.

Young Tiger setting out for the America's

Here she is in Bequia, having been safely sailed across the Atlantic by two relatively inexperienced sailors, Simon Baddeley (Hargeaves stepson) and Sue Pulford. They first landed in Barbados, the crossing taking 29 days.

Years later Simon Baddelly was able to track down his beloved Young Tiger in 2007.

Denys Rayner had a rather distinguished career a Naval officer in the RNVR, fighting throughout the Battle of the Atlantic in WW2. But he is likely to be more for his achievements as a yacht designer. His life and service are well worth reading about and I found especially poignant the care he and his took of less fortunate souls after the war. Read the wiki.
His father was a racing yachtsman but at an early age Deny's realized that he was more interested in cruising,
his imagination fired by C. C. Lyman's 'The Log of the Blue Dragon'. After a succession of small boats and cruises therein, Rayner in 1937 was able to design his own boat, Robinetta, and cruise the Western Highlands as had Lyman.
After the war Denys was able to return to his experiments with yacht design and adding manufacture. Like others in postwar Britain, he turned his attention to plywood and the design and building of small, trailerable craft with accommodations for a small family. Along with other designers, notably Robert Tucker, he helped enable a boom in small boat sailing which democratized the once elite sport by making it more accessible to the growing middle class. He also experiment with twin or bilge keels, allowing very shoal draft boats, a system discovered by Arthur Balfour.
In 1963 Rayner founded Westerly Marine and began building in GRP or fiberglass. The firm's first design was the Westerly 22, based on his earlier 'Westcoaster'. In 1965 a scheme was hatched. Young Simon Badderly, a family friend, and a companion, Sue Pulford, would sail a 22 to America, where Simon was to take a position after finishing his schooling. The boat was Young Tiger, the voyage a successful one which earned Simon the RCC Challenge Cup for a cruise in a small boat. Simon and Sue made the remarkably uneventful passage in 29 days, confirming Denys Rayner's conviction that these were very seaworthy boats, indeed. There is a full account of that cruise, as reported in the pages of the Royal Cruising Club's Journal for 1966 at 70.8%.
Westerly Marine went on to become at one time the largest boat building firms in Britain and have a very active owners group. The 22's continue to be quite popular, and can still be found in the UK and US, and probably further afield. A later Jack Laurent Giles design, the 26' Centaur, became the companies best selling model.

Much thanks to Simon Baddelly for the use of his material. Simon is soon off to Corfu!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Pen Duick II and The French Sailing Revolution

Back in the early 1960s France was still recovering from a war which had left many of its cities in ruins, its businesses broke and its economy on the rocks. To make matters worse there were deep divisions in French politics and the overthrow of the government in a military coup d'etat seemed a possibility at times.

In this climate it's not surprising that yachting was regarded as a minority activity. There were, anyway, few facilities for yachts except in places where foreign-owned boats came to visit. The idea of owning and sailing a yacht for pleasure would have seemed elitist, expensive, and impractical for the ordinary French man or woman.

If you sailed to any French harbour in the late 1950s or early '60s you would have seen no more than a handful of private yachts, most of them old and somewhat tatty. In Britain, yachting and offshore yacht racing was already booming, and British designers like Laurent Giles, Robert Clark, Peter Brett, Arthur Robb and C E Nicholson had become world famous for their robust and capable ocean racers and cruisers.

Then a Frenchman with a French boat won a famous French victory – and everything changed.

In 1964 Eric Tabarly with his remarkable ketch Pen Duick II (thanks to Remi Jouan for the above image) laid the foundations for the extraordinary boom in French yachting which has resulted, more than 40 years later, in France having a 37% share of the global market for sailing yachts, most of the world's biggest yacht building businesses, many of the world's most famous and successful yacht designers, a domestic leisure boat market of 8 million users - the second largest leisure boat market in the world after the USA - and a virtual monopoly on long-distance short-handed ocean racing superstars.

Eric Tabarly was a tough, handsome sailor, an officer in the French Navy, who was passionate about sailing and utterly determined to win the Singlehanded Transatlantic Race. Nowadays we think of “Le Transat” and other long distance races as French, but the original race in 1962 was an all-British idea, conceived by a British eccentric, Blondie Hasler, organised by the Royal Western Yacht Club, and sponsored by the Observer newspaper.

Francis Chichester had won the first race in 1960, and was favourite to win again. His yacht was a 40 foot Robert Clark ocean racer, solidly built and carrying a big cutter rig. Tabarly, an unknown in international yachting circles at the time, conceived a 44 foot purpose-built, light displacement ketch. She was built, simply but strongly in plywood with a double chined hull, and her rig was designed for power combined with good helm balance and ease of sail handling. However, no one had raced singlehanded in such a big boat before and most experts gave him little chance of finishing.

Tabarly stamped his authority on the race at an early stage. His determination to win was evident from the moment he launched an 900 sq ft spinnaker soon after the start (to the surprise of all who thought you needed a full crew for that kind of sail) and opened a huge lead over the rest of the fleet in the first couple of days.

He was handicapped by a number of gear failures. His self-steering gear jammed, forcing him to steer the boat by hand for many more hours than he had expected, his cheap alarm clock stopped working, making it difficult for him to keep to a sensible rest schedule, and his log rotor was bitten off by a dolphin. In mid-Atlantic his jib halyard block broke and he had to climb the mast to replace it. Nevertheless, Pen Duick II crossed the finishing line first in a record time of 27 days 3 hours, almost a full 3 days ahead of the pre-race favourite, Francis Chichester. Another Frenchman, Jean Lacombe finished in 9th place in his tiny GRP “Golif”. (More on this boat in a forthcoming post). (photo: Pen Duick II nears the finish line of the 1964 OSTAR: AFP/Getty Images)

France cheered the new hero. He was immediately awarded the Legion d'Honneur and returned home with Lacombe to a rapturous reception. Suddenly the French media and the French people took an unprecedented interest in yachting, new small yacht designs appeared from new French designers and new factories, money was found to build sailing schools and marinas, and France set a course towards domination of the European yachting industry.

In the next Observer Singlehanded Transatlantic race, in 1968, there were no less than 9 French entries, then 13 in 1972 and 31 in 1976. In 1984 out of the top 10 finishers, 8 were French. These days the “Transat”, as the race is now called, is dominated by French sailors, French boats, and French sponsors.

After the 1964 victory, Pen Duick had a busy and wearing life as an ocean racer taking part in many fully crewed races, during which Tabarly trained a formidable number of apprentices such as Alain Colas, Marc Pajot, Olivier de Kersauson, and others. These graduates of his informal sailing college became the next generation of great French ocean yachtsmen. Eventually Pen Duick was sold to the Ecole Nationale de la Voile at Quiberon, but after a short time, and a serious grounding, she was taken out of service and laid up ashore at the school gates. It wasn't until 1993 that a campaign to restore this famous boat was mounted, and with financial support from the government, the French Navy, the regional council of Brittany and others, she was restored to perfect condition. (colour photo above with permission of Remi Jouan)

Pen Duick II is now based at Quiberon and is used as a busy training vessel during the summer months and an occasional exhibit at the Cite de la Voile Eric Tabarly centre at Lorient in Brittany.

Pen Duick II

Designer : Gilles Costantini, Eric Tabarly

Built 1964 by Costantini at La Trinité, Brittany.

LOA : 13 m 60

LWL : 10 m

Displacement : 6.5 Tons

Beam : 3 m 40

Draft : 2 m 20

Rig : Ketch

Sail area : 60 m2

Construction : Hard chine plywood

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Endurance 35

When Naval Architect Peter Ibold launched his Endurance 35 design in response to a competition in 1970, it caused something of a stir, here was a full keel, heavy displacement cruiser, designed and built to go anywhere with a highly practical pilot house and flush deck. The design has been built in many countries, in many different materials and has been stretched over the years to 50 feet or more.

Angelina - Stratimar Endurance 35 in Western Solent

In the UK the design is associated with ferro cement construction, a number of Endurance 35’s were built using this method by Windboats in Norfolk during the 1970’s as were a number of amateur built examples. The endurance has also been built in GRP (fibre glass) including foam cored construction, wood, steel and even aluminium.

Our endurance Angelina was GRP by a French Yard Stratimar who built the design on the Canal de Midi in the south of France. Sadly the Stratimar yard is long closed, but in Spain the Endurance design was built by the Belure yard for many years and in Canada Spencer Yachts also built the 35.

Angelina - Stratimar Endurance 35 on her mooring

Although the basic design is instantly recognisable, there are many differences, both ketch and schooner rig was popular, although I had some correspondence with Peter Ibold the designer who admitted his favorite was the cutter rig as fitted to Angelina.

In England many were built as motor sailors, with an inside steering position in the raised pilot house, while this was practical for cold weather I believe it distracted from the design which was first and foremost a yacht. With heavy displacement/waterline of over 400 the Endurance isn’t especially fast, but in bad weather they will sail to weather in a gale of wind in some comfort, or rather as comfortable as is possible in those conditions.

Ketch rigged Endurance

Endurance 40 - the boat scaled well and was good looking

If you need proof of the capability of the Endurance, look no further than Unicornio a Stratimar built Endurance 35 which operated as a charter boat in Patagonia, South Georgia and the Antarctic.

Unicorno - anchored in Patagonia

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Mary Mouse

Outside the marina at Haslar opposite Portsmouth is Light Vessel number One AKA Mary Mouse 2. She was the first light vessel to be commissioned by Trinity House after the Second World War, built by Phillips and Son Ltd in Dartmouth at a cost of £50,392. She was posted to various sites along the English Channel. Light vessels are not typically self-propelled so she was always towed to location regardless of weather.

She was manned with a Master and six crew on rotating shifts of four weeks on, two weeks off, and the crew would spend spare time radioing back weather reports to the Met Office and doing basic maintenance. Crew changes were by boat but later a helicopter pad was added to make crew replacement safer and easier.

In 1983 she was fully automated so was unmanned until her retirement as lightships were replaced by LANBY buoys.

Sold by Trinity House in 1993, John Dean and Richard Reddyhoff saved her from the scrap yard and had the vessel towed to Poole Quay for a head scratch and a think. Major modifications were carried out, including: a new lower deck amidships; addition of portholes, doors and windows; installation of shower cubicles; addition of bar, restaurant, galley, etc; marquee, and a colour change. Large pile guides were also added to anchor the vessel pontoon style on piles to the sea bed. LV1 was then renamed ‘Mary Mouse 2’ (after Mary Reddyhoff and Joanna ‘Mouse’ Dean)

Following the refit Mary Mouse 2 entered service at the Dean & Reddyhoff Haslar marina.

Length overall: 137,25 feet (ca. 41,80 m)

Length: 119 feet (ca. 36,30 m)
Beam: 25 feet (ca. 7,60 m)
Draught: 15 feet (ca. 4,50 m)
Displacement: 450 t

Authorities: Trinity House, London
Year of construction: 1946

Shipyard: Philip & Son Ltd., Dartmouth, England

Yard No.: 1133
Contract price: 50,392 GBP
Material: Steel

04.1945 Ordered by Trinity House, London

04.10.1946 Handed over

11/1946-12/1948 Royal Sovereign station

02/1949-05/1956 Tongue station

08/1956-06/1959 Outer Gabbard station

10/1959-01/1963 Tongue station

06/1963-06/1966 Smith´s Knoll station

09/1966-04/1967 Shambles station

08/1967-12/1967 Seven Stones station

03/1968-07/1968 Smith´s Knoll station

11/1968-03/1969 Shipwash station

05/1969-08/1969 Humber station

06/1970-10/1970 Royal Sovereign station

10/1970-03/1971 Galloper station

03/1971-08/1971 Owers station

11/1971-03/1972 Varne station

08/1972-11/1972 Shipwash station

05/1974-09/1974 Cross Sand station

09/1974-01/1975 Dudgeon station

02/1975-06/1975 Humber station

06/1975-11/1975 Outer Gabbard station

11/1975-03/1976 Tongue station

06/1976-04/1983 East Goodwin station

04/1985-04/1988 Tongue station

06/1989-10/1991 Dowsing station

1993 decommissioned

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Navigator - John Welsford design

Fellow blogger Robert Ditterich has reminded me to include one of my favourite open boats the Navigator, designed by John Welsford this pretty and traditional looking boat has proven to be a highly successful, fast and capable open cruiser.

The words and pictures are of Robert's own Navigator Annie, the build log of which is chronicled on flickr.

LOA 4.5m 14ft 9in
Beam 1.8m 5ft 10in
Weight 140kg 309lbs
Sails 12.6sqm 136 sqft

Robert explains - Available as a sloop or yawl rig the latter seems to find favour with builders and sailors due to it's flexibility and frankly it is a very handsome rig.

Annie is one of hundreds of Navigators dotted around the globe, and while not all of them spend endless days cruising placid bays, and camping on impossibly beautiful beaches, plenty have done that, and all are capable of making many of our boating fantasies real.

Mine was launched towards the end of our good weather, so experiences are limited and action shots are scarce. But I have to say that I was surprised and very pleased with Annie's manners since I first took her out. The most surprising thing was her initial stability. When the first gusts caught me, I was amazed to be still within the cockpit, and not making use of the tiller extension. I don't mind 'sitting out', but it is wonderful to have a choice about these things in a dinghy.

Building a Navigator has the distinct disadvantage though, of making it harder to justify building another boat, because it is attractive and practical and flexible, and it gets you 'cred' with the stink boat people at the ramps. Every outing will create at least one good conversation with a total stranger. So another boat often seems to be just a gratuitous, superfluous thought. A pity, if you like building as much as sailing. Some of you might see me wriggle and squirm as I try to rationalise my way out of that one.

JW got something very right when he drew Navigator, and for my money the most important thing he got right was to make it possible for so many people to be able to build such a good boat themselves. All strength to anyone who empowers ordinary un-skilled people to get away from the TV, into the shed and to make something wholesome and exciting and capable of bringing people to-gether in a natural setting.

Robert a who also makes violins professionally has built Annie to an incredible standard, the pictures which show the plank stringers and the planked up hull above has an almost sculptural quality about them. I also agree with Robert's comment about encouraging others to build, while not many of us can build to his exacting standards we can all be encouraged by his enthusiasm and enjoyment of building.

Robert is also author of a book "Something About Navigator" which is available as a download and thankfully for those of us who still prefer a volume we can brush with our fingers as we work along the book shelf a printed version.