New and Neglected Nautical Writing

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…

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…

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,…

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 (or make me an offer). The other, Emer­ald (built 1937 to a design of 1910),…

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,…

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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…

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…

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…

My last cruise in ‘Cherub II

Albert Strange had a gift for what might be styled ‘com­pan­ion­able writ­ing;’ the abil­ity to take the read­er with him, in ima­gin­a­tion, on his voy­aging remin­is­cences. One of these exper­i­ences is related here, a cruise in the Cher­ub II, “My most beloved boat” as Strange…