New and Neglected Nautical Writing

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…

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…

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…

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…

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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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…

A mindful scrutiny

Glor­ia Wilson has been writ­ing about, pho­to­graph­ing and draw­ing the North Sea fish­ing industry for half a cen­tury. Of her draw­ings in par­tic­u­lar she writes:In mak­ing the draw­ings, with my own pho­to­graphs for ref­er­ence, I have enjoyed a mind­ful scru­tiny of the boats…

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…

That unique engagement

For most of my life my sail­ing was of the arm­chair kind, and in the mid-1970s much of it was in the delight­ful com­pany of Ken Duxbury, a writer whose light touch belies the skill and resource­ful­ness which under­pinned the voy­ages made by him and his wife B. in their…