B26 - Christmas 2014

Well it's been some considerable time since the last newsletter – but we're back, just as helpful as ever – which isn't very much. It's great be involved with people and boats which are classic rather than ephemeral. But of course we all have to try to keep up to date. Usually it works, but just now and again...............


"You sold me a bronze ipad - or do I mean padeye?"

Or a series of emails which came through

"- Fant

- astic. Wonderfully fast service - have become so used to delivery times of weeks and months. please let me know when you are shipping as I will l

- et my sister in law know. Kind rega

- rds Ro

- bin I will get the hang of this device one day."

or sometimes just the slip of a keypad
"I will probably collect the weekend before Xmas - any god?"

Well it's a good question, and apt at this time of year, but let us move to more secular issues .

This month's theme is real boating, sparked off by remembering some words which Tom Cunliffe wrote for us when I was involved in organising the Beale Park Show. You can find his article here

Shows and other short stories

The London Boat Show at Excel is on from the 9th to the 18th January. Featuring heavily in the blurb is the 4D Experience which will "challenge your senses as you walk through a number of nautical locations. From the heat of the tropics to the cold icy blow of the Arctic, through the beauty of the northern lights the 4D Experience will assail your senses with sampled sounds of the various scenarios, sea breezes brought to life with computer controlled fans targeting your torso and all brought together in a stunning HD experience."

Which leads me in the direction of two thoughts. Firstly, and speaking as one who long ago swapped a torso like a 6-pack for a party 7 configuration, I can't help feeling that the computer control of fans targeting it won't be too technically challenging. Secondly, who dreams up this stuff?

Real boating? Literally not, so moving swiftly on......


There's Beale Park on June 5-7, with its proper boats, picnic atmosphere and the unbridled eccentricity of the Cordless Canoe Challenge. To re-iterate some words I wrote for Watercraft 107, "Our much esteemed politicians agonising over what it is to be British could have found the answer at Beale Park this year. They would have marvelled at the sheer variety of solutions to the relatively mundane task of proceeding a few hundred metres down a lake, picking up a passenger, and transporting them back to the start point. This was an attempt to make the objectives of the Makita Cordless Canoe Challenge a bit more practical. It was envisaged that things which looked roughly like a tender powered by outboard style propulsion would do nicely. The entrants, bless 'em, thought otherwise." See what I mean by going here  


What was more was that the entrants to the Cordless Canoe Challenge were out-eccentricked (new word, you read it here first) by the Steam Boat Association deciding that steam outboards would be just the thing, see here.

Is this real boating – well sort of! To encourage the next generation of people who scurry off to their shed at the slightest provocation I'm giving a prize for the best entry in the Cordless Canoe Challenge 2015 from a team of students. Rules of engagement etc can be found on Watercraft Magazine's site

Even worse than that Classic Marine are looking to enter a team – and we are looking to be radical, so watch this space. More in the next issue of Bowlocks.

Goings on

Lunatic takes over Asylum!


To continue the theme of real boating (and the name Beale) – and the people like us who try to support it – I was delighted to hear that Arthur Beale has been given a new lease of life recently. Established for more than 400 years in the heart of London, it has been a treasure trove for as long as I can remember. While a student in London, I was a frequent visitor, even buying a wetsuit there. (Why I still have it I have no idea – absolutely no chance of it fitting any more.) Against all sensible advice – who needs sensible advice anyway? - Alasdair Flint has taken over the helm of this very traditional shop, and is keen to make a success of it, adding talks and other events to the offering.

For example, I went along to an excellent talk given by Dick Wynne of Lodestar Books  on the yacht designer Albert Strange, at the end of which it seemed quite natural for both speaker and audience to repair to a nearby pub. A great evening. And in a grand flourish of oddballness he hosted a Noggin the Nog day. It really doesn't get better than that. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, see here.

So if you are in London, and need a bit of relief from normal shopping, head for 194 Shaftesbury Avenue.

Shock! Horror! New boats don't have to be all the same!


Far from the rather homogeneous offerings of much of the marine industry (they thought it would be a good plan to become more like the car industry, and much good has it done them) there are those who work to combine the best of the old with the best of the new to create boats worth having. Modern classics if you like. Occasionally they border on a sort of nostalgic pastiche, but every so often comes along a real work of genius. Classic Boat magazine organise a number of awards for this part of the industry, amongst which are two categories for "Spirit of Tradition". Classic Marine are proud to sponsor the under 40ft section of this section – please go to their website to vote in that and/or the other categories on offer. 


Raid England


The original idea of a Raid – dreamt up in large part by Charles-Henri Le Moing – was a sail and oar progression or expedition. The "raid" based more on the Velo-Raid for bicycles rather than the Viking Raid for marauders.

The logistics of an expedition are quite demanding – strike camp, pack all gear away, do the sailing/rowing bit, dig out the now possibly damp camping gear, make camp. So on a couple of occasions where the geography permits it has been organised into a base and day sail arrangement – in Shotley (2012) and Falmouth (2014). Purists would (rightly) argue that this is raiding for softies, but what is lost in purity is made up in the time available for exploration, visiting creeks you would never normally find on a casual visit.

Have a look here  for pictures of the 2014 raid of which I would argue that the lunch stop at St Just in Roseland was the highlight. However in the latest Watercraft, Andrew Wolstenholme reckons it was the cream tea!

I'm not sure yet what the scheme is for 2015, but will keep you informed.

Our own stuff

O tempora, O mores – but develop we must!


We asked our customers to help us to progress into this century. Did they use social media, and – if we did – would they follow/like us on it. We also asked what they liked about us, what they didn't like and what we ought to do that we don't.

Turns out that of those who use social media (about half of respondents) most had a Facebook page, so we started one! Please forgive our rookie errors as we climb the learning curve, but developments will include:

  • quarterly newsletters on the site, summarised in a post on Facebook
  • random – both in terms of content and timing – updates to the page
  • links to articles and other useful things, both on our website and other people's
  • a comprehensive update of the website

all in the most traditional manner, of course!

For a fuller screed on what's planned see here

Useful stuff

A new part of the website is where I've collected some hints and tips - some of our own, some from customers. I have called them "Nuggets" , and inevitably when I was looking for a picture for the header (imagining gold nuggets) instead it was pages of chicken nuggets! See here. Anyway it is searchable, and please feel free to email us with your hints and tips.

Boats for sale – and one is free!( but only to the right sort of home, of course)

Free Folkboat to good home....


TRADITIONAL NORDIC FOLKBOAT. Good home sought by owner building new boat: so JASP, a very well-travelled solidly built wooden cruising boat is available FREE to any sailing club, youth sea-training group, or similar charitable organisation who will use the boat regularly and maintain her.
Built Norway c.1958, completely re-built from the bare hull in 1998, including new spars and rigging. Low coach roof. Sprayhood. New wrought iron keelbolts 2008. Full cruising inventory, in commission and wintering ashore under covers in Fowey, Cornwall. No inboard engine, but a small outboard for harbour work.
Anyone interested please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for full details & photos.


Here's a proper boat...


First of May - the first modern Orwell Corinthian - is for sale. As the owner of sister vessel First of April, so named because it always comes before first of May (!) I can vouch for the style, speed and loveliness of these dayboats. It's advertised on the Royal Harwich website  and Apollo Duck . Apollo Duck put it in sailing dinghies when it was meant to be in day sailers. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. is the man to get in touch with

Stuff you really need

I'm sure you will all have your boats to a level of perfection whereby you are now scratching around for something else to buy. Don't panic, I have an idea for you – special nautical cutlery/ rigger's knives/ pen knives handmade in France – see http://www.neptunia.fr/index.php for the chance to spend hundreds of euros per item. Me I prefer my trusty Opinel.


With tongue firmly in cheek Messrs Davey are now offering a bronze star for your boat. As they say "A star on board gives positive energy. It can make good things better and stop bad things getting worse". At £14.40 that has to be a bargain.


Meanwhile, off season we tend to sell quite a lot of stuff which doesn't end up on boats. Two recent examples spring to mind, both concerning rope.

A woman came in looking for rope, but was more interested in colour and texture than strength and stretch. She settled for about 20m of 10 mm 3-strand. To try to make sure she had the right stuff before cutting it from the reel, I asked what it was for. "For my cat", she replied. " How big is this cat?" I asked, with visions of lions or tigers being restrained by this rope. "Oh, the rope is for a scratching post".



Some days later we were asked for the cord used for covering steering wheels in vintage cars. Since we had already equipped a Vauxhall Prince Henry and a 3-litre Bentley in this way, we had no problem in recommending hard-laid hemp for binding the wheel. But we had to ask what car it was for.

"Nothing as expensive as the Vauxhall or Bentley, but rarer ( eg 4 now known in the world - two in UK, 1 in S Africa and 1 in N Zealand - since the discovery of mine earlier this year) - a 1930 Riley WD ( for War Dept ) Tourer that I recently found and am fully restoring - these were ordered by the Army from the Riley factory with differing specifications than the standard tourer for overseas expeditions in the days of " the empire" ! They were specified with modifications - long distance fuel tank, strengthened chassis and springs, different style body in steel (rather than fabric covered) , differing hood arrangements a high axle gearing and 21" wheels for ground clearance - as they were to be used over rough terrain, in soft desert sands etc etc - so hopefully will be ideal for use up muddy trials hills! The factory also used them in the Monte Carlo Rally on two occasions, and for a trip into the Arctic circle to promote reliability etc." Shame we don't do pith helmets.

People who have really lost the plot.....

A flight between Tunisia and Scotland had to be diverted after a drunk passenger attacked cabin crew with her prosthetic leg. The woman demanded "cigarettes and a parachute" and became aggressive when staff asked her to calm down. Apparently she unfastened her leg and then assaulted the cabin crew with it. They took it off her but she started kicking them with her good leg.

The crew managed to put her in handcuffs while the pilot of Thomson flight 297 from Enfidha to Edinburgh made an emergency landing at Gatwick. As the woman was escorted from the plane by police, the passengers broke into a rendition of the hokey cokey.

Competition Time - or Complete Silliness

As part of the aforementioned post-talk pub session we started to explore the possibilities offered by mixing metaphors. Some suggestions included

  • up the creek without a leg to stand on
  • the thin end of the white elephant

and I thought this turkey has got legs, so there's a bottle of malt whisky for the most ludicrous and/or convoluted mixed metaphor.

I look forward to your suggestions!

For our next trick

The next edition of Bowlocks – Lady Day 2015. Suggestions always welcome to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In the meantime, all best wishes for 2015.