New and Neglected Nautical Writing

A serious kind of joy

Some­how, and to his incredu­lity, I had never read an Arthur Ran­some book when Peter Wil­lis approached me with Good Little Ship. Nancy Black­ett, the real-life ori­gin­al of the Gob­lin in We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea, was a famil­i­ar sight on the East Coast and clearly much…

The Yorkshire Coble

Per­haps the most curi­ous craft which is found in use by the fish­er­men round the coasts of Bri­tain is the York­shire coble [writes George Holmes in 1912]. Along with the Sher­ing­ham boat—referred to and described in a former number—this type is used for crab­bing by the…

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…

Words written on water

Our first book had sold out a few years before, and we had the feel­ing it was time for a new edi­tion in our now-stand­ard robust soft­cov­er format, and that there remained an unplumbed audi­ence among people who, though per­haps not habitu­al read­ers of sail­ing books,…

Progress on Emerald

One of the reas­ons these blog posts are so infre­quent is I have a few dis­trac­tions, two of which are Albert Strange yachts. One, Leona (1906) awaits atten­tion when I finally retire from the day-job (or make me an offer). The other, Emer­ald (built 1937 to a…

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…

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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…

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…

Like a box of jewels

Someone, some­where wrote that George Mil­lar was incap­able of writ­ing a dull sen­tence, and never was that more true than in his three books of sail­ing mem­oirs. Oyster River, set in the Mor­bi­han in Brit­tany, and Isa­bel and the Sea, relat­ing a voy­age through the French…

The Yorkshire Coble

Per­haps the most curi­ous craft which is found in use by the fish­er­men round the coasts of Bri­tain is the York­shire coble [writes George Holmes in 1912]. Along with the Sher­ing­ham boat—referred to and described in a former number—this type is used for crab­bing by the…