New and Neglected Nautical Writing

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…

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…

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…

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 »

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…

Cruising in Denmark

George Holmes’s illus­trated and often hand-writ­ten cruise accounts fre­quently appeared in the pages of the Hum­ber Yawl Club Year­book, and later in The Yacht­ing Monthly. Here is a cruise he made in Den­mark in 1894, and writ­ten up a few years later. He and his com­pan­ion…

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…

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…