Friday, October 02, 2015

Topper Sailing Dinghy

Here are photos of a Topper dinghy recently seen sailing at Hullbridge. A quick search at Ebay revealed that more than half a dozen are for sale, ranging in price between £350 and £600. A new one can be had for £2,695! Fifty thousand of them have been sold worldwide.* Ian Proctor, who designed the boat back in 1977, certainly got it right. They were originally made from GRP, but they were soon being produced in large numbers by the speedy process of injection moulding with Polypropylene. Perhaps one of the reasons for their popularity is that they can be car-topped! Maybe that is why they are called Toppers.


Topper Dinghy

The Topper Dinghy (Tuning and Features)

International Topper Class Association – about Topper

Topper Dinghy for Sale at Ebay £350

Topper Dinghy for Sale at Ebay £395

Topper Dinghy for Sale at Ebay £420

Topper Dinghy for Sale at Ebay £450

Topper Dinghy for Sale at Ebay £500

Topper Dinghy for Sale at Ebay £600

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Hunter Minstrel – Part 2

For Part 1, click the first link below.* Photos are of the same boat featured in October, 2011.

Below, there are a number of new links to Hunter Minstrel websites.


*Hunter Minstrel

Hunter Liberty and Minstrel Owners Association

Keep Turning Left – Hunter Minstrel

Hunter Minstrel Details from

Hunter Minstrel Details

Hunter Minstrel – Keep Turning Left

Hunter Minstrel Outboard Well

Hunter Liberty Boat – same hull, but ketch rigged

Katie – L Sea Launch

How does Katie L handle?

Hunter Minstrel’s World

Hunter Minstrel for Sale - £5,950

Hunter Minstrel 23 for Sale Essex - £6,950

British Hunter Boats History

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Solo Dinghy

I saw this Solo dinghy when I was rowing ‘Pike’ on the River Crouch at Hullbridge. I believe she was being sailed in a handicap race, as she was with other dinghies heading for a particular buoy around which they turned before entering Fenn Creek.

Years ago when I was younger I would have loved to have raced a Solo, but I suppose there was time and money for sailing other boats; therefore I never got around to buying one. Now, I’m not agile enough or strong enough to sail a Solo safely………….. ‘Pike’ is enough to manage.

The Solo dinghy was designed by Jack Holt in 1956, and ever since she has been a popular choice for those who want to race single-handed. Thousands of them have been built, both by professional builders and amateurs alike. There are many clubs with Solo racing fleets in the UK, Holland and Australia.

I’ve heard of people who have modified their Mirror Dinghies for cruising, and I was astonished to discover that at least one Solo has been modified for that purpose.*


National Solo Dinghy Association

Solo (Dinghy)

Scottish Solo

New Solo Dinghies

Solo Dinghy Sailing Video

Solo Dinghy Action in the Tipsy Series Video

Solo Dinghy description by Go-Sail

Solo Dinghy Reviews at Pre-Loved

Solo Dinghies for Sale at Apolloduck between £450 and £6,995

Fenn Creek

Monday, September 28, 2015

Ocean Rowing

In recent years more people have rowed across oceans than at any time in history. You might say it is a modern phenomenon.

However, Frank Samuelsen and George Harbo are credited with being the first to row across any ocean. Departing from Battery Park, Manhattan on 6th June 1896, they rowed across the Atlantic to the Scilly Isles, taking 55 days. From there they rowed to Le Havre, in France.

John Fairfax became the first person to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean. That was in 1969. Setting off from the Canary Islands he arrived in Florida after being at sea for 180 days! Not satisfied with that, he, along with Sylvia Cook, became the first couple to row across the Pacific. They put to sea from San Francisco on 26th April, 1971, and after 361 days they arrived at Hayman Island, Australia.

The record for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic by a solo rower is held by Charlie Pitcher,* whom I had the privilege of meeting last Saturday at Burnham Yacht Harbour. He took 35 days and 33 minutes to complete the crossing.**

When I met Charlie he was helping to launch one of his ocean rowing boats, designed and manufactured at the Ocean Rowing Company.*** The photos above were taken at the time, and they give a snapshot of view of the high-tech vessel.

***The Ocean Rowing Company:

Other Links 

Ocean Rowing

Frank Samuelsen and George Harbo

John Fairfax

Sylvia Cook

Roz Savage

Roz Savage Rows Again

Charlie Pitcher Again

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Had a Brilliant Sail with ‘Pike’ – Part 2

'Greensleeves', Roy Hart's Memory class gaffer entering the Yacht Harbour

Bridgemarsh Marina astern

Bridgemarsh Island to port

One of many yachts and motorboats that passed by while I was having lunch

A Squib heading upriver

A Rannoch two-man ocean rowing boat

'Pike' being put to bed in her boathouse

When it comes to having a sail, good weather makes a big difference. Yesterday’s was perfect, and the most important aspect was the character of the wind – its direction and speed. The wind was generally from the north and never more than a Force 2, which was ideal for exploring Bridgemarsh Creek, a backwater where I seldom sail, on account of it being shallow and because the prevailing wind is from the SW. It is best done when the tide is making, so that if the boat gets stuck on the mud she will float free.

Burnham high water was at 1140, and by arriving at the eastern entrance of the creek at 1015 I had ample time for a leisurely sail to the exit at the other end before the ebb. The flood tide enters at the eastern end, and on approaching the creek I felt the speed of water increase. ‘Pike’ was being lee-bowed into the narrow orifice from where I could see the masts of yachts poking up above the muddy bank of Bridgemarsh Island.

I was amazed at how quiet it was - the only sound I could hear was that of tiny wavelets slapping ‘Pike’s’ bow. These happy, chuckling notes, resonated by her bow chamber, lifted my soul; as did the dancing peak of her tanned sail that jigged to and fro before an infinite, azure, cloudless sky. Around the corner, two scruffy buoys marked the channel, and there ahead lay many yachts berthed at pontoons that straddled the creek. Uncertain if they were linked to the northern shore by walkways, I chose to glide through a gap to the south of them. I wove a course between clumps of motionless weed floating on the surface, and I occasionally glanced astern to see if any had lodged on the rudder.

This was an adventure. Having no chart and no GPS, it was back to basics. Deeper water was generally to be found closer to steep-sided banks, but I came to a point near the end of the creek where there appeared to be an island, one that I could not remember being there on previous excursions. To starboard and beyond it, I could see a high bank along which runs a footpath from North Fambridge Yacht Station to Bridgemarsh Marina. A choice had to made, which side of the island to go, and I chose the wider stretch of water to the SW, beyond which I could see what looked like the exit leading to the Crouch.

Once again, back on the river, I was free to take a break and to have an early lunch. I brailed the sail and left ‘Pike’ to her own devices. She very slowly drifted towards the Fambridge moorings while I relaxed, munched and took in the many comings and goings of yachts and motorboats. I was reminded that it was a Saturday, and like me, all of us were there seeking what pleasure we could find. Therefore I could not grumble when my little boat was tossed like a cork on the wakes of gin palaces, of which there were several, seemingly taking part in manoeuvres resembling a naval exercise. They proceeded down river in convoy to a distant buoy and returned to the Fambridge moorings.

As I made sail and got under way for Burnham Yacht Harbour the wind veered, causing ‘Pike’ to be close-hauled, but the sailing was delightful. I lay on the floor of the boat with my feet facing forwards elevated on the thwart; I held the tiller with my raised right hand and the sheet in my left. I felt the wind on my cheek, inhaled the fragrant air and thanked God for His love and kindness to me.

Back at the Yacht Harbour I skipped past the queue of motor yachts waiting for fuel, and the boat came to a gentle halt at the slime-covered slipway, the tide having fallen several feet. Getting ‘Pike’ on her trolley past the green sludge without sliding and landing on my backside required patience and tiny steps taken with caution.

Just before leaving the Yacht Harbour for the journey home, I had the privilege of meeting Charlie Pitcher who was there helping someone launch a two man rowing boat manufactured at Charlie’s yard.


The Ocean Rowing Company

Charlie Pitcher

Bridgemarsh Marina

Battlesbridge (Where I first saw ‘Greensleeves’, a Memory class gaffer)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Had a Brilliant Sail with ‘Pike’

This is to let readers know that I had a super time sailing ‘Pike’ today.

The photo taken at the slipway of Burnham Yacht Harbour is an appetizer.

There will be more to come tomorrow, along with a short account of our ‘voyage of exploration’ into Bridgemarsh Creek.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Matilda 20 Trailer Sailer

I couldn’t resist taking photos of ‘No Worries’, a wrecked Matilda 20 trailer sailer. If the owner didn’t have any worries before she got into this state, it’s pretty clear he’s gone past worrying!

Seriously, Matilda 20s have been a success story, especially in Australia and Canada. They were designed by Robert Tucker who also drew the lines of similar small boats for amateur construction; as such they were made from plywood and they were hard-chined. Some of them were built in large numbers; for example, the Silhouette, the Caprice and the Debutante. Subsequently, later models were re-designed for professional production in GRP which lends itself better to round bilge construction; hence, boats were modified, and different manufacturers under licence added their own touches.


Length OA
19' 6"
Length WL
16' 4"
7' 10"
Draft - Keel Up
Draft - Keel Down
4' 2"
Air Draft
24' 0"
Sail Area
195 sq ft
1,550 lbs
300 lbs


Matilda Owners Association

Matilda 20 - Details supplied by

Matilda 20 – Sold, but good photos

Matilda 20 Sailing Yacht – Sold, but good photos

Mullholland’s Matilda – Blog

Sailing Winded – A Matilda 20 Blog

Matilda Centerboard Corner

Robert Tucker

Silhouette, a Robert Tucker Small Sailing Cruiser

Caprice, a Robert Tucker Bilge Keel Yacht

Molly, a Debutante Pocket Cruiser