New and Neglected Nautical Writing

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…

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…

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…

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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This was living, at its best

Around the turn of the twen­ti­eth cen­tury the Hum­ber Yawl Club exer­ted a nation­al, and inter­na­tion­al, influ­ence in the world of cruis­ing under sail which com­pletely belied the paro­chi­al hori­zon its name sug­gests. George Holmes (1861–1940) was for dec­ades the lead­ing…

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…

Hole Haven

Des­pite its unpre­pos­sess­ing name Hole Haven, the creek to the west side of Can­vey Island on the lower Thames, is a wel­come bolt-hole for those bound up- or down­river need­ing to get some rest or wait out a tide. It has ful­filled this ser­vice since at least the 1890s…

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…