Monday, March 23, 2015

‘Galway Blazer 11’ renamed ‘Galway Blazer of Dart’

'Galway Blazer 11'

'Galway Blazer 11' again

Bill King at 100

Peter Crowther

See link***

Yesterday in the comments section, Alden Smith mentioned there was a similarity in appearance between Julian Mustoe’s ‘Harrier’ and Commander Bill King’s ‘Galway Blazer 11’. I met Julian when he was preparing ‘Harrier’ for his great adventure, and I remember him saying he had deliberately designed her to have similar characteristics, for strength, for reduction of wave impact, for water shedding qualities and increased buoyancy. The drawbacks of the cigar shape were more windage and the unfriendly, hazardous deck, as with ‘Galway Blazer 11’. However, ninety-nine percent of the time both yachts were handled from the security of the cabin.

After returning home in 1973 from sailing ‘Galway Blazer 11’ around the world, Commander Bill King put her up for sale. I met him at the West Mersea Yacht Club when he gave an illustrated lecture about his voyage, and he said he had enough sailing to last him a lifetime. I remember seeing his yacht at the London Boat Show where she was the star attraction. Peter Crowther bought her in 1974 for £10,000 and he entered her in the two-handed Round Britain Race that year. He invited me and my brother to have a look at her when she was at Plymouth before the start of the race.* Peter renamed the yacht, 'Galway Blazer of Dart' and he owned the Angus Primrose designed schooner for many years before she was lost in the 1996 Single-handed Transatlantic Race and he has written a book** about his experiences sailing her.

*Small Fry, Part 1 (With a mention of ‘Galway Blazer of Dart’)

**Single-handed Sailing in Galway Blazer by Peter Crowther
Other Links

The Life and Times of Commander Bill King

Hall of Fame - Bill King

Peter Crowther and ‘Galway Blazer 11’

Peter Crowther – Landlord of the Dragon
Golden Globe Sailor Celebrates His 100th Birthday

Bill King (Royal Navy Officer)

In the Company of a True Hero – Commander Bill King

Commander Bill King Obituary

Commander Bill King Obituary

Commander Bill King - Galway Blazer II – 1968

Commander Bill King - HMS Snapper - 1940

Commander Bill King - Interview - 2006

Commander Bill King Obituary - RTE News - 2012
Commander Bill King - RTE Nationwide - 2002

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Julian Mustoe and 'Harrier'




'Harrier of Down'

It was with great delight that I recently came across a reference to Julian Mustoe. He is the intrepid sailor who set out in his modified Folksong ‘Harrier’ to sail around the world in the wake of HMS Beagle, aboard which Charles Darwin, the naturalist, developed his extraordinary theory of evolution.

Julian’s voyage was of particular interest to me, because ‘Harrier’, formerly ‘Zeta’, in her original glory, was built by me from a basic bonded deck and hull to the design of Eric Berquist. Julian stripped her out completely, only wanting her for her hull and junk rig. She was well ballasted with a ton of lead and her hull had no seacocks. He built a new raised deck to provide increased headroom and for greater internal volume.

To cut a very long story short, Julian succeeded in following the wake of HMS Beagle, but not without suffering the loss of ‘Harrier’ when she was wrecked on the Brazilian coast. He subsequently fitted out another vessel that he named, ‘Harrier of Down’, and he continued his great adventure, finally returning home after eleven years, not all of them at sea, on account of spending time ashore in pursuit of his interests and adding to his income.

An enthusiastic supporter of Darwinian Theory Julian wanted to see things for himself and to present in a book his own observations in light of Darwin’s voyage and discoveries. Here’s what he says about the book, which has yet to be published, ‘for the person who seeks pleasure and enlightenment from a truthful and informative book, and who can respond to the lure of past times, the interest of a modern journey and to the prospect of distant horizons.’

I congratulate Julian on his achievement and wish him every success in his new endeavour in 2015 to sail ‘Harrier of Down’ to the Baltic Sea for carrying out another historically based cruise exploring the territory and activities of the Hanseatic League.


*Julian Mustoe – Voyage of the Harrier

Julian Mustoe in the Wake of Darwin’s Beagle

‘Harrier’, a radically modified Folksong yacht

‘Zeta’ – Folksong

Second Voyage of HMS Beagle

Charles Darwin

Personal View of Evolution


Hanseatic League

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Eclipse of the Sun, 20th March 2015

Yesterday, along with millions of TV viewers, I had the privilege of watching the eclipse of the sun. Cloud cover where I live in Essex prevented me from seeing it firsthand.  I thought the BBC produced and presented their programme very well. With great technical skill they showed live footage of the eclipse from different parts of the UK and from the Faroe Islands.

The moon’s shadow first passed over S W England at Newlyn.  From there it progressed in a northerly direction over England and Scotland. Perhaps the trickiest part of filming was from an aircraft in flight north of the Faroes from where it was possible to film a full eclipse. Liz Bonnin was the commentator.  Elsewhere in the UK the eclipse was only partial. The further north you were, the fuller was the eclipse.

The 20th March 2015 also coincided with the Spring Equinox, the first day of the year when there are twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of darkness for those at the equator. Coincidentally, the Moon happens to be in perigee; that’s when it is closest to the earth while travelling on its elliptical orbit. Because the sun, earth and moon are lined up, it is also a time when the difference between high and low tide is at its maximum – a time when tidal streams run at their fastest.


‘Breathtaking’ solar eclipse witnessed by millions

Solar Eclipse Photos from Europe

UK’s First Glimpse of Solar Eclipse

Solar eclipse: amazing picture from International Space Station was photoshopped

Solar Eclipse 2015: LIVE updates as the eclipse happens across the UK

Eclipse – Wikipedia

Faroe Islands

Freaky Friday: Solar eclipse, Supermoon, spring equinox

Not just a solar eclipse! Today sees THREE astronomical phenomena take place as the supermoon and spring equinox align

Total solar eclipse, supermoon, equinox: Friday’s celestial triple play

Southend Tide Tables for March 2015 (Highest tide 2 days after the equinox.)

Liz Bonnin

Friday, March 20, 2015

Newbridge Navigator Junk Rigged Yacht

There are three versions of the 19’ 3” Newbridge Navigator: those with a fin keel or with a lifting keel or with twin keels. The original Navigator 1, first launched in 1979, was designed by Robert Tucker and Newbridge Boats. The Mark 111 version came with the option of being rigged with a Chinese lugsail, referred to as a junk sail. I like her wide side decks and her uncluttered foredeck which has a draining anchor well.  I also like her high coamings for added security for the crew when in the cockpit which can accommodate up to four persons.  There’s no need to hang over the transom for getting at her outboard, because it is conveniently mounted in a well at the aft end of the cockpit.

A really good description of her can be found at this page:

Being junk rigged, she has a special appeal to me, because I have owned four junk rigged yachts, and I found them exceptionally good cruising boats on account of the ease with which a junk sail can be reefed.

Modern versions of junk sails can be seen here:

Links Newbridge Navigator

Newbridge Navigator Junk on YouTube

Newbridge Navigator and Ventura Association

Junk Rig Association

Robert Tucker – Yacht Designer

Yachts Designed by Robert Tucker

Newbridge Navigator Junk for Sale £1,650

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Smallgains Creek Boats

There are many boats in the locality of Smallgains Marina: large, small, sail and motor. You name it and it will be there: catamaran, trimaran, monohull, houseboat, motorboat, day boat, open boat and dinghy.

Without being too selective, I took a few photos of some them, and here they are. I’m making no further comment, than to say I saw one or two newer boats, none of which are shown here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Smallgains Marina, Canvey Island

While I was at Canvey Island last Friday, I walked along the footpath at Smallgains Creek that runs beside the Marina.  This place is a photographer’s dream, because the visual images are so rich with texture and colour, and for the marine photographer it is astonishing. Rarely can there be such a dump-yard of dying and dead boats*, and in between and around, there are hives of activity with people working on ‘projects’ – I call them projects, as some are nothing more than fantasies. Don’t get me wrong, because there are other very sound and excellent craft at the Marina, the sort that can be admired and valued by their owners.

I have no doubt that people who keep boats there, and those who live aboard them, love the atmosphere, with its apparent lack of regulation and freedom to create ones own lifestyle, though I suspect there are rigid rules and regulations; for example, where to dispose of trash and where to assemble in case of emergency, such as if a fire were to occur. I spoke to the harbourmaster who described his domain as a ‘do-it-yourself’ place, and as an afterthought he told me that to the best of his knowledge no murders had been committed there so far.  I feel he must be a very resourceful person who can manage ‘his’ community with tact and sensitivity and at the same time he must be very good at arranging practical aspects of running a harbour. Boats have to be launched and retrieved; when being laid-up ashore, they must be set up safely; piled walkways have to be maintained; mooring and storage fees have to be collected; toilets must be cleaned and a close watch must be kept on all happenings– especially as the site is not secure.

*Smallgains Marina Graveyard (Click 7 photos from the right to see dead and dying boats)

Other Links

Halcon Marine – Smallgains Marina

Smallgains Marina

Boat Launch - Smallgains Marina

Sail the – Halcon Marina

Halcon Marine

Visit My – Canvey Area

Boating Water Sports - Smallgains Marina

Prince Edward’s Visit to Smallgains Marina in 2008


Monday, March 16, 2015

Island Sailing Club – Canvey Island

Essex is not short of sailing clubs. I have belonged to three of them: the Up River Yacht Club, Hullbridge Yacht Club, and the Marconi Sailing Club.

There are a several advantages in belonging to a club, and perhaps the most valuable is being able to use a club mooring, which is almost invariably cheaper than one supplied by a boatyard or a marina. Another advantage is friendship found with other members, especially those who sail similar boats to yours. For sailors who are socially minded, a club may be found that offers facilities for socializing, such as a bar and a restaurant. At certain times of the year, members may organize get-togethers; for example, a combined meal and prize-giving, or a dinner and dance evening, or a summer barbecue -  even an AGM can be a bit of fun if it is creatively organised, perhaps with a video presentation of club events. A big club will require a lot of upkeep; therefore organizers will be looking for members with time on their hands to do things like painting the premises, keeping boat parks in good shape, scrubbing the slipway, laying moorings, launching and retrieving boats etc.

Last Friday I was invited by a member of the Island Sailing Club to have a look at the Club’s facilities. I was very impressed. The clubhouse has a large, well-furnished lounge and a decent bar, plus the usual changing facilities. The boat park is enormous, and there are two large mobile hoists for moving vessels with the aid of a tractor. You could not want a better slipway, which has a perfect angle of descent, being not too steep, nor yet too shallow for manoeuvring craft in and out of the water.  There are many piled walkways to which yachts can be moored, facilitating access to them by foot at all states of tide. One drawback is that it is only possible for most yachts to sail in an out of the creek from two hours before high water to two hours after high water.

Despite the rather uninviting signs at the entrance to the club, and the Fort Knox appearance of the gate, I’m sure you will find a very warm welcome from members, as was my experience, last Friday. I say, thank you once again BD for being my host. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting you and your beautiful ‘Scruffie’.


Island Sailing Club
Up River Yacht Club

Hullbridge Yacht Club

Marconi Sailing Club

Australian Scruffie