New and Neglected Nautical Writing

Forgotten and lonely backwaters

Tony Smith is now the keep­er of Charlie Stock’s game little 16-foot gaff cut­ter Shoal Waters, and has made it his busi­ness to take her the length and breadth of the Thames estu­ary, and into nooks and cran­nies most of us have never heard of, let alone vis­ited. One such…

An invitation I just couldn’t resist

Charlie Stock was a sin­gu­lar sail­or, who was for sixty years a part of the scenery on his home waters of the Thames Estu­ary. In his last book, pub­lished posthum­ously, he describes and handles the local fea­tures and haz­ards meet­ing the small boat sail­or, not only in…

Cruising in Denmark

George Holmes’s illus­trated and often hand-writ­ten cruise accounts fre­quently appeared in the pages of the Hum­ber Yawl Club Year­book, and later in The Yacht­ing Monthly. Here is a cruise he made in Den­mark in 1894, and writ­ten up a few years later. He and his com­pan­ion…

Too fast for accurate navigation

The year was 1955 and H W Tilman was under­tak­ing his first ‘sail to climb’ exped­i­tion, aim­ing to cross the Patago­ni­an ice-cap in both directions—starting from the ‘other side’. This would neces­sit­ate a trans­it of the Magel­lan Strait; as Sir Robin Knox-John­ston puts it…

Tilman and ‘Viola’—lost footage unearthed

The BFI has recently unearthed and put online ‘lost’ col­our film foot­age of a num­ber of Tilman exped­i­tions. It cur­rently lacks any form of com­ment­ary and needs a bit of an edit. There are links to it on Bob Comlay’s web­site. Two reels fea­ture a 1971…

A bit ‘Father Ted’

I became the new keep­er of the Albert Strange canoe yawl Emer­ald in Octo­ber 2017. Although she was func­tion­ally in very good order, her extern­al bright­work (var­nish) had suffered lately, as her owner of the pre­vi­ous twenty-five years had been unable,…

A Strange weekend on the Deben

The week­end of 1–2 Septem­ber 2018 saw the largest ever gath­er­ing afloat of yachts designed by Albert Strange; this took place in idyll­ic con­di­tions on the River Deben in Suf­folk, with seven boats tak­ing part. Wood­bridge pho­to­graph­er Gill Moon gave chase on…

Curry, duff, cocoa & rum – ‘The video’

Our co-pub­lish­er on the Tilman series, Ver­teb­rate Pub­lish­ing, has recor­ded a fas­cin­at­ing inter­view with ex-Tilman hand Bob Com­lay, who was instru­ment­al in draw­ing togeth­er the many con­trib­ut­ors to the new edi­tion, and in advan­cing the cause via the sail­ing press and…

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Getting sea-value

My good friend Fabi­an Bush built me a (-noth­er!) boat a few years ago and we launched her togeth­er in 2014 at West Mer­sea in Essex. Teal is named for the ‘small dab­bling duck’ in recog­ni­tion of the dir­ec­tion my sail­ing was expec­ted to take in my dot­age, and she has…

Too fast for accurate navigation

The year was 1955 and H W Tilman was under­tak­ing his first ‘sail to climb’ exped­i­tion, aim­ing to cross the Patago­ni­an ice-cap in both directions—starting from the ‘other side’. This would neces­sit­ate a trans­it of the Magel­lan Strait; as Sir Robin Knox-John­ston puts it…

A quiet sense of achievement

Spring 2009: Con­stance is just back from her first Old Gaf­fers event, the annu­al East Coast Race week­end at Bright­ling­sea, where she mixed it with craft large and small, and attrac­ted much admir­a­tion for both her looks and speed, praise which rightly belongs to her…

Extreme limit of the credible

A cor­res­pond­ent famil­i­ar with the first edi­tion of Mess­ing About in Boats wrote to me: a delight­ful book of real sail­ing from a man who comes over as being kind, com­pas­sion­ate and con­sid­er­ate. He bought three cop­ies of our new edi­tion as gifts—an example worthy of…