New and Neglected Nautical Writing

Handy with a toolbox

Mar­tin O’Scannall has enjoyed a love affair of more than forty years with his 1913 gaff cut­ter Saunt­ress, begin­ning with her rebuild and cul­min­at­ing in the glor­ies pic­tured here. Below is his account of her sojourn in a boat­yard at Brent­ford on the Thames in west…

In all weathers by a crew of two

Tom Cun­liffe writes:For fifty glor­i­ous years from the time of the 1861 Pilot­age Act until the Great War nailed down the coffin lid on com­mer­cial sail, the Bris­tol Chan­nel was a free-for-all for com­pet­it­ive pilot­ing. This great fun­nel of tide-swept water stood wide…

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 preposterous proposal

Philip Temple’s 1965 account of an out­rageously bold exped­i­tion was pub­lished without fan­fare, without many good pho­to­graphs, and without even the bene­fit of a copy-edit­or; it van­ished without trace. The Sea and The Snow came to our atten­tion a few years ago as we…

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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Ghost ship of Grytviken

The Albert Strange Asso­ci­ation (bear with me), in which I am heav­ily implic­ated, held its Annu­al Gen­er­al Meet­ing in Lin­coln a few years ago, and our very enga­ging guest speak­er was Dr Robb Robin­son, a mari­time his­tor­i­an at the Uni­ver­sity of Hull. His sub­ject was…

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…

The rough with the smooth

Bob Com­lay is a vet­er­an of two Tilman exped­i­tions to Green­land, and has cajoled many sail­ors, climbers and writers into con­trib­ut­ing fore­words and after­words to our new Col­lec­ted Edi­tion of Tilman, shed­ding fresh light on a fre­quently mis­un­der­stood fig­ure: I…

In all weathers by a crew of two

Tom Cun­liffe writes:For fifty glor­i­ous years from the time of the 1861 Pilot­age Act until the Great War nailed down the coffin lid on com­mer­cial sail, the Bris­tol Chan­nel was a free-for-all for com­pet­it­ive pilot­ing. This great fun­nel of tide-swept water stood wide…