New and Neglected Nautical Writing

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

More stor­ies »

Earli­er news »

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…

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…

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…

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…