B19 - Bowlocks - the Classic Marine newsletter

Bowlocks - the Classic Marine Newsletter - No 19 - Sept 2005

Avast Behind, me hearties! I’m on time this year to remind you all to speak like a pirate on September 19th. For necessary vocabulary and training, see www.yarr.org.uk.

But do be careful with the accessories…….

An able-bodied seaman meets a pirate in a pub, and they take turns recounting their adventures at sea. Noticing the pirate's peg-leg, hook, and eye patch, the seaman asks "So, how did you end up with the peg-leg?" The pirate replies "We was caught in a monster storm off the cape and a giant wave swept me overboard. Just as they were pullin' me out a school of sharks appeared and one of 'em bit me leg off". "Blimey!" said the seaman. "What about the hook"? "Ahhhh...", mused the pirate, "We were boardin' a trader ship, pistols blastin' and swords swingin' this way and that. In the fracas me hand got chopped off." "Blimey!" remarked the seaman. "And how came ye by the eye patch"? "A seagull droppin' fell into me eye", answered the pirate. "You lost your eye to a seagull dropping?" the sailor asked incredulously. "Well..." said the pirate; " it was me first day with the hook."

 How do you follow that. Easy, with …..

Shows and other short stories

Can you be bothered to read about the upcoming Southampton Boat show? Unlikely.

Can I be bothered to write about it? Only a bit.

First to salute the boldness of Dave Cockwell for taking a Bristol Channel Pilot cutter in frame to the show - see www.cockwells.co.uk/cockwellsnews.htm. No mean undertaking.

Secondly to see what Saltern’s Boatbuilders version of the Orwell Corinthian is like. Greg Dalrymple bought the moulds from Nigel Waller (who built my boat) and has “updated the 1898 design with a tall gunter or Bermudan rig”. I reckon it goes better with a gaff rig, but maybe he has tweaked the ballast some. But it is such a fine boat that I would be really pleased to see it become more popular.

As for Beale Park, I can’t help feeling that it is drifting, for perfectly understandable reasons from the organisers perspective, towards festival and away from boat show, but it is still a good place to catch up with gossip and happenings.

I’m not against festivals, you understand, just don’t ask me to go to one with a stand and any hope of selling stuff. For example SeaFair Haven - a festival in the style of the Morbihan week to be held in Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire. Milford Haven? That ghastly oil terminal/refinery? Yecch! Well there are b****y great oil terminals at the seaward end, where it is neither pretty, nor, I suspect, very small-boat friendly. But go inland and you will find an enormous unspoilt complex of waterways to explore in what I am reliably informed is wonderful countryside. So it could be fun. www.seafairhaven.org.ukhas the details.



Perhaps stung into action by the jibe that I should get out more - should I be suspicious when the guys I work with say that? - but more likely as a result of my New Years resolution to do new things, I got involved in parts of the East Coast Classics/Southwold Maritime festival - in turn part of SeaBritain 2005. On the Wednesday there was a passage race from Harwich up to Southwold notable for not much wind and yours truly making a complete mess of turning round in Southwold Harbour. On the Saturday it was decided to re-enact (in a scaled down way) the battle of Sole bay which took place in 1672. Quite how this battle - against the Dutch - relates to the battle of Trafalgar against the French and Spanish, is hard to say, but it did provide an excuse to fire the 6 cannons on Gun Hill in Southwold. The idea was that the Gaffers would start their Sole Bay race at 14.30 and come close by Gun Hill where they would “shoot” at us on land and we would reply by firing cannon at them. The pyrotechnics man arrived - perhaps a tad late? - and started putting the charges in the guns. Well actually he used charges on sticks poking out of the muzzles because if the guns themselves had been loaded, the least bad thing to have happened would have been a shower of the semi decomposed fish & chip or hamburger wrappers which were already filling the barrels. Anyway all this was wired up to a console in the back of his car, and the area cordoned off so people didn’t get alarmed.

The motley fleet came down the coast, and as they came past some let off flares (the coastguard had been warned) others hooted, but most shouted “bang” in a very menacing fashion. Menacing enough to invite a response, anyway. Now the idea was to fire the guns one by one, starting at - yes, you have guessed it - No 1. There I was leaning on No 4 chatting to a couple of people, and generally enjoying the scene. The commentary is going “Ooh I think we need to respond to this aggressive fleet, what do you think?” Murmurs of approval from the (actually quite large) crowd. “OK stand by, FIRE!” Imagine our surprise when not only No 1 gun went off, but also No 4. Lucky it was only guncotton, and I was wearing my high-absorbent underwear. “Sorry” says the pyrotechnic man “ the sunlight was shining straight into the back of the car, so I couldn’t really see which circuits were live.”

Brian Hammett - East Coast OGA president - provided a wonderfully irreverent and mostly irrelevant commentary, and coped with the media admirably. Well actually it was some guy from the Lowestoft Journal (a local paper - so local you can’t buy it in Woodbridge 35 miles away) whose main contribution was to represent Jon Wainwright’s Morecambe Bay prawner “Deva”, as a Cornish Crabber “Beaver”.

Classic Yachting

For something a bit different, I capitalised on my associate membership of the British Classic Yacht Club by blagging my way onto a couple of the boats taking part, namely Foglio - a very handsome 43ft Dallimore cutter, and Leonie, one of a pair of Robb designed Lion class sloops taking part. they are pictured below, Foglio on the left, Leonie right. More accustomed to the style(?) of Gaffer racing on the East Coast, I have to confess to a few trepidations when I noted that one of the receptions (at the Royal Yacht Squadron) required a jacket and tie. I can lay my hands on a tie, but a jacket? Hmm, a trip to the charity shops was called for. £5 later I was fully rigged. And it was well worth it. Good racing - of the type where you try hard, but where the result is not a matter of life and death - combined with a friendly and very varied bunch of people made for a brilliant few days. One drawback was sailing in a fleet with a fair number, maybe a dozen, metre boats. Why the drawback? Well if you are on a windward leg in company with metre boats, you always end up pinching the boat horribly because they are so close winded. Only a temporary problem because they are fast as well. As for results in the cruiser class, 3 firsts and a second on Leonie (despite me not because of me, I suspect) and then a return to Foglio with the express aim of beating Leonie on the final race. There was more than a little luck involved but it was satisfying to see Leonie’s bow rather than her stern at the finish line.

Foglio003 Leonie005

All in all an excellent foray, and I must say that the BCYC’s associate programme is a great way to get involved in classic yachts. I think the BCYC regatta is to be covered in the October edition of Classic Boat magazine. I have also - if only to get my own boat involved - suggested a mini BCYC, but then if they suspect the motive, that will never happen!

New things

More than good fun, though, it was also really useful to see what goes on in a different part of the world. Indeed a number of ideas have emerged, perhaps chief amongst which is a combined effort with Harken UK to cover their blocks with wood. Now I know that it is a bit of fakery, but if you want the undeniably better performance of modern blocks, but the appearance of traditional blocks, I feel it is better to go for modifying the look of a modern block, than trying to completely re-engineer a wooden block. Anyway, a couple of pictures of the prototypes - what do you think?




I still haven’t done the boat lists from Dudley Dix yet - promise I will - but Iain Oughtred sent a couple of sheets of a modified Wee Seal MkII. The modification was to add an extra spar to make her yawl rigged. The changes from MkI to MkII, mostly an adjustment of the balance between hull and cabin, were significant improvements, but in my view, the yawl rig looks like a real winner. Were I building one, which I am not, but you can’t look at one of his designs without dreaming a bit, I would be sorely tempted to increase the length a couple of feet and move toward proportions similar to Strange et al. Here is a picture to whet your appetite. Also, after a long gestation, the MkII Caledonia Yawl (7 strakes) is now available, though you can have the 4 strake version if you like. Moving in the other direction, the sailing canoes Wee Rob and MacGregor are both in for overhaul. Tweaks to the principle dimensions and a reduction in the number of strakes are the order of the day.


Useful bits - I think/hope

I’m a sucker for books, and recently have stumbled on some good ones, which as the off-season approaches I thought would be worth a mention.

Every year I buy my father-in-law a copy of the Mariner’s Book of Days, compiled by Peter Spectre. He has never asked why it looks a bit secondhand by the time he gets it; can’t resist a quick flick through. So I was pleased to come across the Mariner’s Miscellany, which even though it may be not much more than the stuff which didn’t make the MBoD is still good value for dipping into. The kind of book to keep by your bedside or in the loo, for sea lore, useful rules of thumb, or eternal truths such as “the English sailors are generally savages”. (Spanish ambassador to Henry VII).

Next on the list is “A dictionary of the World’s Watercraft” from aak to zumbra with 4,600 stops on the way. Whether it is comprehensive or accurate I am not competent to judge, but there is more in it than I have ever heard of. Again a dip-into book. It probably has a secondary use for Scrabble - for example qyax (a variant of kayak) would be a real killer on a treble word score.

Finally a re-print of a work I have been looking for for years - Edgar March’s Inshore Craft of Britain. First published in 1970, it has been criticised for inaccuracies (not surprising in a work of this scope) and for being perhaps a little mean with the attribution of credit for some of the information. Nonetheless as a record of the boats and, just as importantly, the men in them, it easily stands the test of time. I’d get it while you can.

All these are listed in the books bit of the website.

People who have lost the plot even more than you have

While sailing with Foglio, we were in the process of trying to commission a cunning piece of equipment for stowing and furling an asymmetric spinnaker. Inevitably we got in a bit of a muddle, so as a last resort tried reading the manual. Under the general instructions the following was included:

  • Carefully read and understand the instruction manual before installing and using RollGen.
  • No special clothing is necessary.
  • Always keep this manual handy. Read it carefully in order to learn the instructions for both installation and use.
  • Do not allow people who do not have the necessary knowledge to use the system.
  • Never carry out installation or maintenance in the presence of persons that for reasons either of age or psychological/physical conditions can not guarantee the necessary common sense.

I think we were disqualified on all counts.


How the other half live .

Now I could go on about the matching uniforms of South Coast sailors, (maybe they really are Oopah-Loompahs?) and all that stuff, but I’m going for a different take on the other half this time - people who don’t own boats.

Eldest daughter wants a Mirror dinghy. Having said there was no way another boat was entering the shed without one leaving, that meant the Barrowboat dinghy was for sale. So at close of play one day at Beale Park, there was a chap hovering about looking at the boat with great interest. He explained that his employer wanted to make a long-term service award to him and that he would like it to be the Barrowboat. I would have to provide a bill of sale, and he would have to get a cheque sorted from his employer and so on. It also transpired that he wanted to get the boat to Barra (lucky it is a Barrowboat then, I quipped) in time for his holiday, and could I fix shipping to Glasgow. It all sounded somewhat unlikely.

But to my amazement, the deal came off. I took the boat up to a monastery in Norfolk (no I am not making this up) where his mother lived. And while showing him how it all went together, he explained the choice of his long-service award. “Well some people get a picture or something, and I suppose that’s OK. Others get a computer; well that is just like work. I thought I’d get something to change my life. Why not get a little boat, see how I got on with it, and if all went well, get a bigger boat and use the little one as a tender? So this is the first day of the adventure.”



...and finally

An even more silly limerick than the last one:

There was a young curate of Salisbury

Whose manners were quite Halisbury-Scalisbury

He wandered round Hampshire

Without any pampshire

Till the Vicar compelled him to Warisbury

(OK - Salisbury is Sarum to churchmen, and Hampshire is shortened to Hants)

And finally finally, I didn’t launch on Friday 13th, despite most of you feckless people advising that it would be OK, so it was the day before despite having not really done all the jobs I should have. And have I done them afloat like I said to myself I would? No prizes for guessing the right answer.

All suggestions for improvements, ideas for content, quips and bright ideas for this letter would be gratefully received atThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . As mentioned before, if there is anyone you'd like to forward it to, please do so. The next edition will appear when it appears.