Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sea Kayak Sailing

'Acadia' rigged for sailing



As I am about to start building ‘Sharpy’, a 15’ sailing canoe designed by Derek Munion, I thought I would remind myself of the time I modified an Acadia Perception kayak by giving her a sailing rig. The boats are very different. My 12’ 3” Acadia was designed for paddling, and there was never a hint that she should be rigged with a sail and a leeboard, but she did have a standard kick-up rudder.

I happened to find links to a Tasmanian website run by Jeff Jennings. He and members of the Maatsuyker Canoe Club pioneered the use of sails on their sea kayaks, and they became very skilled at using them, even when the sea was rough. Jeff’s website had a page devoted to sail design that gave details of the rigs they used. I made up my own sail, based on one of Jeff’s patterns, and fitted it to a flexible mast, which was nothing more than a length of plastic kitchen drainpipe. This combination worked well. The rig was especially effective in gusty conditions, because wind was automatically spilled from the sail, thus reducing the chances of the kayak being capsized.

I never felt entirely happy with my Acadia, because of my rather slow reactions when trying to keep her upright. If the wind increased, and it became too strong for sailing, I was able to stow the rig on her foredeck, and continue by paddling the kayak.

I feel sure I shall be more relaxed aboard ‘Sharpy’, on account of her ballast keel. As can be expected, she will heel at about 30 degrees when the wind is approaching a Force 3, but unless I do something very foolish, like pressing on under full sail, she should never heel more than 40 degrees. I realize that she could capsize, but the chances of it happening are far less than they would be with ‘Acadia’. As with the latter, I shall be able to paddle ‘Sharpy’ when the going gets too tough for sailing.


Perception ‘Acadia’ Paddling Kayak

Sea Kayaking in Tasmania

Kayak Sail Design

Jeff Jennings’s YouTube Channnel (Some amazing videos here)

Maatsuyker Canoe Club


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Skipper 17 Trailer Sailer

I think this is a Mark 11 'Skipper Mariner' with twin retractable keels.

The Skipper 17 trailer sailer was designed by Peter Milne who also drew the plans for the Fireball racing dinghy. Skipper 17s went through a number of transformations from the time when Richmond Marine produced them in the late 60s. The original boat was in the form of a day sailer that had a small, unobtrusive cuddy up forwards. She had a capacious cockpit, large enough for a crew of six, and she was fitted with a heavy retractable steel plate that was housed in a centre case. In the early 70s she was given a different cuddy that was rather bulbous, and in my opinion it looked completely out of place - even ugly! This version was marketed as the ‘Skipper Mate’.

In 1972 the whole superstructure was revamped, so that she had a larger, more conventional cabin placed more or less in the middle of the boat. Unfortunately, the width of the cabin top only left very narrow side decks that didn’t lend themselves to easy access by her crew to her small foredeck. Getting forward to do anchor work, or to pick up a mooring, was not the easiest or safest of activities. Valuable interior space was taken up by the centre case moulding which was slap in the middle of the cabin. Later, when the boat was updated, this annoying obstacle was removed and replaced by twin bilge plates. At that time she was marketed as the, ‘Skipper Mariner’.

In 1992, Richmond Marine relinquished their ownership of the moulds, and sold them to Morton Marine who redesigned parts of the boat. They added an inboard well for an outboard engine, and gave her an adjustable backstay. She was re-branded as the ‘Eagle 525’, but that was not the end of the story, because in 1999 they added more ballast, and increased her sail area. By then she had undergone many transformations, so that she had evolved into a boat that I would describe as a capable, small coastal cruiser. I would label her as a boat that can be transported by road trailer, rather than a trailer sailer. Sadly, production ceased in 2003.


Skipper 17 Website

Go Sail Info Page – re the Skipper

Skipper 17 for sale £1,950

1981 Skipper with Trailer for Sale £2,100

1985 Skipper 17 with Trailer - was for Sale, now SOLD £2,900

Photos of a Skipper 17

YouTube Video of a Mariner 17 (Skipper 17) Sailing on Grafham Water

1993 Eagle 525 (Modern version of the Skipper 17) recently sold £6,200

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

‘Sharpy’ Plans


Derek's 'Sharpy'

The awaited boat plans arrived, as I expected they would on Monday morning. Derek Munnion, the designer of ‘Sharpy’, was as good as his word. I couldn’t open the package immediately, because I had other things that needed doing. By Monday afternoon the excitement built up. I carefully inserted the opener under the flap of a large brown envelope and purposefully slit it open. Inside, there was a folded package of crisp white drawings, plus a letter and a few sheets of printed paper along with a photo of a partially built boat.

I spread the drawings out on my bed and examined them, starting at sheet 1. At first I was a little awed by the delicate and precise graphics. I did not understand everything at a glance, and I began to wonder if I had taken on more than I could chew, but bit by bit things became clear as I compared one diagram with another. The whole picture fell into place, and I was able to grasp the three-dimensional aspects of the boat’s structure. The more I looked at the drawings, the clearer my understanding of them became. Then I realised that building ‘Sharpy’ should be easier and quicker than any of the boats I had recently built, but that remains to be seen.

Some parts are fashioned from stainless steel - things like the retaining pins for the lead ballast at the bottom of the keel, and the rudder fittings. Unless I can find a way of substituting them for proprietary parts, I’ll have to have them made by someone who has the skill and equipment to do it. The sail should not be too difficult to cut and sew, but I’ll reserve judgment on that. I may have it done professionally.

I shall need to tackle things in turn. First, order the plywood, timber and adhesive; next shape and assemble the components of the hull, and while this is being done, work at getting the metal parts finished. The spars are nothing special, and they should not require a lot of effort to make. After building the keel and rudder, and a few other subsidiary parts I shall only need to paint the boat. Hopefully, if all things go well, my ‘Sharpy, should be ready for the water by mid or late summer of next year.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Express Pirate

Express Pirate at Hullbridge

I have previously looked at the Leisure 17 and the Leisure 17 SL. Today, I’m focusing on the Express Pirate 17. The original Pirate was designed by Ian Proctor; he was the genius responsible for the very successful Wayfarer dinghy and equally popular dinghies, i.e., the Gull, the Topper, the Osprey and the Kestrel. He also designed the Nimrod trailer-sailer, the Tempest keelboat and the Prelude pocket cruiser.

Both the Prelude and the Pirate were manufactured by Ridgeway Marine in the early 1970s. The Pirate was available with a fin keel or a swinging drop keel. Later, in 1978, Express Pirates were manufactured by Ryplas, who revamped the boat so that she had encapsulated bilge keels and a wooden rudder. These boats could be purchased in kit form for home completion.

Sometimes second-hand twin keel Express Pirates, when being offered for sale, are described as trailer-sailers, but with a draught of 3’ 9”, they do not lend themselves to repetitive launching and retrieving. Perhaps launching procedures can be speeded up and made easier by modifying the boat’s road trailer, but deep water ramps or slipways will be required, and inevitably, wheel bearings will be submerged every time.

I have never sailed an Express Pirate; therefore I cannot comment on the boat’s performance, but my guess is that she’s probably a good performer that may hold her own against a Leisure 17. Is there anybody out there who knows?


L.O.A 17’ 3” / 5.26 m
L.W.L. 15’ 0” / 4.57 m
Beam 6’ 9½” / 2.07 m
Draught Fin Keel 3’ 9” / 1.14 m
Draught Drop Keel 2’ 0” to 4’ 9” / 0.61 to 1.45 m
Draught Twin Keel 2’ 3” / 0.69 m
Mainsail 90 sq ft / 8.36 m²
Working Jib 54¼ sq ft / 5.04 m²
Displacement Fin 1350 lbs / 612 kg
Displacement Drop 1250 lbs / 568 kg
Displacement Twin 1430 lbs / 650 kg
Ballast Fin Keel 427 lbs / 194 kg
Ballast Drop Keel 340 lbs / 154 kg
Ballast Twin Keel 606 lbs / 275 kg
Internal Headroom 4’3” / 1.30 m
Portsmouth Yardstick Fin 1110
Portsmouth Yardstick Twin 1269


The Pirate 17 Yacht

Pirate Express bilge keel version(Was for sale – good photos)

Creek Sailor’s Blog about his Express Pirate

Express Pirate for Sale £2,000

Express Pirate for Sale £1,650

Express Pirate for Sale

Express Pirate for Sale £1,300

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Woods Gypsy Catamaran

Woods Gypsy Catamaran 28 (Maybe - not sure)

I hardly ever mention catamarans here at my Blog, but today is one of those rare exceptions. Many of you will know that I have a favourite walk along the south side of the River Crouch at South Fambridge. As I take in the air and exercise my limbs, my eyes focus on the yachts moored in the River. Now and again I imagine I’m the owner of one that takes my fancy. I picture the yacht dancing over the waves and see the clouds skipping for joy. I hear the wind’s tune, and feel the throb of the hull as the boat slices through wave top spray; behind, there’s a wake of golden bubbles and the sun’s rays warm my heart.

Well, there’s a lot to the imagination for those who can imagine. And when I see the potential of a yacht and an owner sharing their dream, I delight in letting my imagination run riot. A yacht is not an inanimate object, but a creature with a soul and a life. She lives for a time then dies. In between, she sometimes almost dies, and then is restored for another chance of life. She almost dies because her partner lets her down. He neglects her, and leaves her to the ravages of destructive forces: the driving rain, frost, snow and even the baking sun. Moth, worm, dust, wind and storm, all combine their intent to reduce a thing of beauty and purpose into a worthless heap, no more to have life, but while the owner and his partner delight in one another there is care and protection, harmony, life, fun and a future.

I know these things, for I have seen them and experienced them. When I consider a vessel such as the catamaran pictured above, I wonder if her owner loves her as she deserves. I believe he does, because she is in fine fettle and her paint sparkles. She bobs to her mooring, waiting faithfully for shared adventures to come.


Woods Gypsy Catamaran

Saturday, September 25, 2010

‘Gypsy Moth 1V’

Most people will have heard of Sir Francis Chichester who was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen on 7th July 1967 in recognition of his record-breaking circumnavigation. This voyage aboard his purpose-built ketch, ‘Gypsy Moth 1V’, took just over nine months to complete, of which 226 days were spent sailing, and 48 days ashore. Francis left Plymouth on 27th August, 1966 and arrived back there on 28th May 1967.

The 28,500 mile marathon was not without its problems, some with failures of gear and others because of difficult sea conditions. The 54’ cold-moulded yacht designed by Illingworth and Primrose had a fundamental design flaw which, in certain sea states, caused her to broach. At a stopover in Sydney, Francis employed Warwick Hood, the Americas Cup designer, to come up with a remedy, which was a modification to her keel, in the form of an extra section added to it. With more than 2,000 miles to go before the yacht would reach Sydney, the wind vane steering system failed. This necessitated Francis to devise a method of self-steering which he accomplished by balancing the sails in conjunction with shock-cords attached to the tiller. On the homeward leg, he had a very hard time when he encountered heavy seas near the Cape of Good Hope, and the yacht suffered a 140 degree capsize.

To commemorate Francis Chichester’s achievement, ‘Gypsy Moth 1V’ was incarcerated in a dry dock at Greenwich, near the tea clipper, the ‘Cutty Sark’. She was open to viewing by members of the general public, of which I was one. I remember being intrigued with a pendulum chair in which Francis could relax and remain upright. His body would have been subjected to vertical movement and some sideways movement as the yacht rose and fell to the undulating seas. I sat in the chair and was completely motionless. I tried to imagine what it would have been like for him during a raging storm.

In 2005 ‘Gypsy Moth 1V’ was completely restored from severe damage caused by rainwater and the pounding of visitor’s feet over a period of years while stationary in her concrete tomb. Under the sponsorship of the Yachting Monthly Magazine and the UKSA Sailing School, she was commissioned to undertake another circumnavigation, but this time with crews comprised of disadvantaged children who sailed on various legs of the voyage. Through a navigational error the yacht suffered a catastrophic grounding at Rangiroa, an atoll in the Tuomotus. She was taken off the reef by a team of experts and shipped to Auckland, where she was repaired, before continuing and completing her second circumnavigation.

Today, she is up for sale at Berthon Shipyard, Lymington. There I took the photo you can see above.


Gypsy Moth 1V

Berthon Brokerage - Gypsy Moth 1V

Virtual Tour of Gypsy Moth 1V

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pioneer 9 'Aziz'

The Pioneer 9 that reminds me of 'Aziz,

'Aziz' at Calstock

'Aziz' at St. Helier

'Aziz' at Ramsgate

I spent the months of June and July cruising ‘Ladybird’ from the River Crouch to Falmouth and back. On the way, I visited a friend who lives at Calstock. This is a pretty village that nestles beside the River Tamar. There I picked up a mooring belonging to the local boatyard. Less than 50 yards away, chocked up on the hard, I noticed my old Pioneer 9, ‘Aziz’.

A close inspection revealed that she had been neglected for a year or two. I was saddened to see her like that, not just because of happy memories of ownership, but because she has a history worth preserving. She was sailed across the Atlantic non-stop in 1971 by Nicolette Milnes-Walker, who was the first solo women sailor to accomplish the feat without putting into port. Nicolette gave an account of her voyage in her book, ‘When I Put Out to Sea’. Anne Davison was the first woman to sail alone across the Atlantic, but she put into Brittany, Portugal and the Canary Islands.

When I take a walk beside the River Crouch at South Fambridge, I am reminded of ‘Aziz’, because I cannot fail to notice an almost identical Pioneer 9 moored among the other yachts. I took a photo of this lovely vessel, only a few days ago, and I’ve posted it here for you see. If my financial circumstances were such that I could afford to run another Pioneer 9, I would go for it. There are several on the market just now; see the links section below.


Nicolette Milnes-Walker - Wikipedia

Book – When I Put Out to Sea –

Previous article about ‘Aziz’

Pioneer 9 for Sale, Sandwich, Kent £13,225

Pioneer 9 for Sale, Pwllheli £12,500

Pioneer 9 for Sale, Maidstone, Kent £9,995

Pioneer 9 for Sale, Plymouth £6,995

Calstock Boatyard


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wing 25

Wing 25 no. 51 sailing at Fambridge

At her Hullbridge mooring

Colin Mudie designed the hull of the Wing 25 fin keel yacht in 1964, and E. G. van de Stadt designed her superstructure. She was built by a number of different manufacturers and I recollect she was available in kit form from a yard at Canvey Island, Essex. A member of the Up River Yacht Club bought a hull and deck moulding from that yard for Wing no. 51 and fitted her out - that must have been in the late 70s. Today, the same yacht has her mooring adjacent to the U.R.Y.C. where she partially dries out at low water when there is a spring tide.

The production of Wing 25s finished in 1981 with the Mark 1V version. Mark 1s had keel hung rudders, but later boats were modified by being fitted with skeg hung rudders for better handling. The long overhangs at bow and stern made for sea kindliness, but resulted in reducing her waterline length to 18’. With an excellent ballast ratio, and minimal wetted surface she sails well to windward, and of course, on that point of sailing, her waterline length is increased, on account of the yacht heeling. The rule of thumb is, the longer the water length the faster the vessel, and Wing 25s are no slouches. I believe I’m right in saying that they have standing headroom at the companion way.


Yachtsnet Archives – Wing 25

Wing 25 for Sale with Skeg Hung Rudder £8,000

Wing 25 for Sale with Keel Hung Rudder £4,950¤cyunit=GBP

Wing 25s SOLD, but good photos

Sailing the Web info page for the Wing 25

Sailboat Data, Wing 25

E. G. van de Stadt

Up River Yacht Club

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Westerly Centaur

'Tripper', at Hullbridge (I think she's a Centaur, but I'm not sure.)

Arguably, the 26’ Westerly Centaur was the most successful UK coastal cruising yacht ever. Why was she so popular? Not only did she have spacious accommodation with standing headroom, but her performance under sail and motor was very good.

She has a history dating back to 1968 when Laurent Giles designed her for mass production by Westerly. One of the keys of her success was her towed in, splayed out bilge keels that not only helped with windward performance, but gave her stability when dried out or on the hard. The early version had an unsupported spade rudder and circular ports at the forward end of her cabin trunk, and the later version had a skeg hung rudder and rectilinear ports at the forward end of her cabin.

Her hull form and generous ballast made for a very stable boat, and along with her massive GRP mouldings she gave a reassuring feel to those who sailed her. There were three internal accommodation options, the favourite being the ‘B’ layout which had a long fore and aft table, which was offset to port from the centre of the cabin, and a galley forward to starboard. The ‘A’ layout was similar to the ‘B’ layout, but this option had a dinette arrangement to port. The ‘C’ layout was as per the ‘A’ setup, except the galley was by the companionway on the starboard side.

Her spacious deep cockpit provided security for her crew and her generous side decks with high guard rails made for safe deck work. She was no sluggard, either under sail, or when being powered with her diesel engine. Most Centaurs were fitted with 25 HP Volvo engines, some with 13 HP Volvo engines and others with Watermoto diesel engines.

The production of Centaurs ceased in 1984, after a run of about 2500 yachts. Today, many abound in good fettle, and second-hand bargains can be found. A trawl of what Centaurs are on offer through brokerage services would seem to suggest the average asking price is around £10,000 to £12,000, although much will depend on the state of the boat. If one is prepared to put in some tender loving care on renovating a Centaur, the possibility exists of finding one for as little as £5,000.


Yachtsnet Westerly Centaur Archive (Excellent information, including many photos)

Western Horizon Yachts – details of a ‘B’ Layout Centaur NOT for sale

Sandpiper in Action – video showing a Centaur sailing

Short Video of a Westerly Centaur sailing in Cardigan Bay

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Little Wing 15.5 Kayak Sailing Trimaran

Yesterday, I looked at two sailing kayak trimarans: the ‘Viroga’ and the ‘Triak’.

‘Little Wing’, the kayak I’m considering today, differs somewhat, because instead of having short stabilizers attached to her main hull from behind her cockpit, she has long outriggers joined to her hull by fore and aft athwart-ship supports. These outriggers have integral fins for creating lateral resistance; hence there is no need for a daggerboard within the main hull. She’s a very light boat, weighing only 68 lbs when fully rigged, capable of taking a solo crew of 125-300 lbs. This does not come cheap, at $7985, but all these types of high-tech craft are constructed from expensive materials, and the plant needed to produce them is costly.


Length 15' 6"

Width Overall 10' 5"

Sail Area 82 sq. ft.


Warren Lightcraft (Manufacter)

YouTube Video

Sail Demo

Cruising World Video Review

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sailing Kayak Trimarans



There is a distinction between small sailing trimarans and kayak sailing trimarans. Small sailing trimarans are exclusively designed for sailing; whereas, kayak sailing trimarans are kayaks equipped with sailing rigs, including two floats for added stability. In this latter category I have come across two production boats that are well worth looking at; they are: the Triak and the Viroga.

I have assembled a number of links to websites extolling the virtues of both models. By examining the contents of the sites and related sites, you can come to your own conclusions as to the merits or demerits of the boats.

I like the portability of both trimarans. Each can be transported on a car roof rack and quickly assembled where they are to be launched.



Viroga Tri Video

Triak Sailing Kayak

Videos and Photos of Triak

Labor Day Triaking

2010 Triak Preview

Sunday, September 19, 2010



'Sharpy' again


I’ve had it in mind for a number of years to get hold of ‘Sharpy’, Derek Munnion’s unique, drop keel sailing sharpie which is like a wide decked canoe with a small transom stern. He designed and built this plywood vessel some years ago when we both exhibited boats at the Beale Boat Show. My ‘Micro’ was at the DCA stand which was only a stones throw away from his. Despite pleading with him, he has never parted with his beloved ‘Sharpy’. Therefore, it looks as though I am left with the only alternative, and that is to build my own!

Those who have been following my Blog will be aware of the struggle I’ve been having on deciding my next boat project. I’ve been looking at all manner of small sailing craft, either to build or to buy. I’ve not yet made a decision, but ‘Sharpy’ is high on the list of options. I’ve even got around to asking Derek for a set of building plans, and they should be delivered to my home within the next few days.

If I had the cash, I would consider getting hold of a Hobie Adventure Island Trimaran, but I would need to find £3,495, which is way out of the question. A much cheaper alternative would be to build a Chesepeake 17 Kayak Trimaran, or the equivalent boat in the UK, namely the Mill Creek trimaran. On balance, I think I prefer Derek’s ‘Sharpy’. To see why, have a look at a previous Blog.* I’ve cooled a little to building a clone or replica of Matt Layden’s ‘Illusion’.


Plans for building ‘Sharpy’ can be obtained from Derek Munnion via . Study plans are £4.00 and full building plans are £40.00 – that’s for the UK. A small extra charge is made to cover the postal fees for those outside of the UK.


An Article by Gavin Atkin that mentions Derek’s ‘Sharpy’ and my ‘Micro’

My Article about the Hobie Island Adventure Trimaran

My Article about the Hobie Mirage Tandem Trimaran

*My Article about the CLC Mill Creek Trimaran

Brighton Canoes, Hobie Island Adventure £3,495

Chesepeake Light Craft Trimaran

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pleasant Sail

Ambling down the River Crouch

The weather has not been all that kind lately, but the sun shone yesterday afternoon when three of us had an enjoyable sail aboard ‘Ladybird’. We ambled down the River Crouch to a point beyond the entrance of the River Roach, where we messed about sailing the boat on various courses. We also practised reefing, not because it was rough, but to because it was a good time to familiarise the crew with how it should be done.

‘Ladybird’ has been afloat since April, and she has sailed many miles; consequently the leaching antifouling has lost some of its effectiveness, particularly along the waterline. Therefore, when we returned to the mooring, we used the ship’s long-handled scrubbing brush to good effect. This was done without a great deal of effort by a volunteer who sat in the dinghy and worked his way around the boat.

After that minor chore we relaxed in the cockpit, drank coffee and ate chocolate bars. Then the Rice and Cole boatman gave us a lift back to the pontoon. We had had a very pleasant sail and a super afternoon out on the water.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Don Elliott’s ‘Illusion’

Sail Plan

Hull Profile

Don Elliott passed away on 2nd December, 2008. He is best remembered by small sailboat enthusiasts for his innovative and sometime controversial boat design. Many of his detailed illustrations are still available in the archives of Yahoo Groups. Perhaps he was not so well known for his general illustrations, such as those he drew for ShopBot*.

This talented artist could make ‘cutaway’ drawings that clarified the relationships of various parts of structures, such as those of the interior of a boat. Before his death, he was working on the design of a 3 metre, micro-sailboat which he named ‘Illusion’. This tiny vessel was rectilinear in the style of a Bolger ‘Brick’ dinghy and a Puddle Duck Racer.

Don’s ‘Illusion’ in no way resembled the one design miniature keelboats based on a scaled version of ‘Lionheart’, the British 12 metre yacht that contended in the 1980 Americas Cup. These one-man micro-yachts are keenly raced at Bembridge Sailing Club (Isle of Wight), West Kirby Sailing Club (Wirral) and Aldenham Sailing Club (Herts).

There are marked differences between Don’s ‘Illusion’ and Matt Layden’s boat with an almost similar sounding name, ‘Elusion’. (See my article on ‘Elusion’ here: )

Sadly, it looks as though we shall never see the completed plans for building Don Elliott’s micro-sailboat, unless Don’s widow or son is able or willing to put forward a package available to the general public.


Don Elliott ShopBot Illustrations

Puddle Duck Racer

Origin of the Puddle Duck Racer

My Bolger Brick Dinghy

Bolger Brick ‘Tetard’

Paradox Yahoo Group

National Illusion Class

Illusion Class Sailing Part – 1

Illusion Yachts

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Valiant 18 Bilge Keel Yacht

You don’t need a fortune to own a small second-hand yacht such as the Valiant 18, built by Fi-Craft in the early 70s. They turn up on a regular basis at various brokerages, and a Google search will reveal where they are. If you can find one in good condition you can have loads of fun sailing her, but bear in mind the running costs which could run to well above £1,000 a year, depending where your boat is moored. East Coast River Crouch fees for a mooring plus craning in and out, can amount to £1,300 for a small yacht; on top of that, you have to add the cost of maintenance, including antifouling, but by comparison with expenses incurred when running a larger yacht, the ratio of fun to cost, is greater for the smaller vessel.

On paper, the Valiant 18 offers 4 berths, but in practice she is probably only comfortable with two sleeping aboard. A 4 HP outboard will be more than adequate to push her along nicely. With a draught of little more than 3 feet, she can poke her way into most creeks and settle on her twin keels. Performance is not going to be brilliant by comparison with modern bilge keel boats - even ones built a few years ago, such as ‘Lamorna’, the Pegasus 700 that was twice top boat at Burnham Week.


Valiant 18 Statistics

Valiant 18 for Sale £1,000

Valiant 18 for Sale, Exeter £600

Valiant 18 Sold, but good photos

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Access Dinghies





Today, I’m going to leave you with a list of links that lead to websites promoting Access Dinghies for the disabled and less agile people.

In my search for a new project, I’ve been considering a similar type of vessel for my own use, not that I am disabled, just less agile than I was in my prime. I’ve been looking for a dinghy that can be sailed without the need for gymnastics to keep her upright, but getting hold of an Access Dinghy without paying a fortune for her is not easy. There don’t appear to be any second-hand ones for sale in the UK, presumably because they are much used by those who really need them, not partially immobile fuddy-duddies like me in their 70s who just want to get out on the water for a bit of fun.

I make no excuses for using photos from websites promoting Access Dinghies, because more publicity can only be beneficial for all parties concerned, i.e., the manufacturers of these boats, organisations and clubs that provide facilities and tuition for those who sail them.


Access Dinghy Org

Access Class Org

Sailability Online

UK Sailability

Liberty Page

Access 303 Dinghy

Access 303 Operations and Safety Manual

Access 303 Sport

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Phantom Dinghy

The Phantom sailing dinghy is a high performance racer suitable for heavyweights, i.e., people weighing around 100 kgs (220 lbs). The Phantom is a strict one design class of boat for one person that can be built from a variety of materials. All of the early ones were made from wood, and they had metal masts and Dacron sails. Today, production Phantoms are made from epoxy GRP and they have carbon masts and Kevlar sails. Despite lighter and stronger materials than wood being used in the construction of Phantoms, wooden boats remain competitive, as was demonstrated by Len and Simon Smith’s ‘woody’ coming second overall in the National Championships.

The Phantom East Coast Championship was held at Burnham-on-Crouch over the August Bank Holiday weekend, and as I watched some of the action I was able to take photos at the same time.


LOA 4.42 m -14' 6" Beam 1.64 m - 5' 6" Mast Height 6.1 m - 20'

Sail Area 9.75 sq m - 105 sq ft Weight 61 kg - 134.2 lb Rig Una

Crew One


International Phantom

Phantom Dinghy

VanderCraft – Builders of the GRP version of the Phantom

Wooden Phantom Construction Photos

A good article here about Phantoms

Another Article

Wooden Phantom for Sale

Monday, September 13, 2010

Day Sailer

A pretty Herreshoff Haven 12.5

The Day Sailer

Wineglass transom

Adjustable Rudder

Lever for lowering or raising the rudder

You know ‘class’ when you see it. Yesterday, at Burnham Yacht Harbour I came across a very classy day sailer, in the style of L. Francis Herreshoff’s beautiful Haven 12.5. Herreshoff loved wineglass transoms, spoon shaped bows, rounded bilges and moderately deep keels. He often incorporated these stereotypical features into his small sailboat designs.

The boat at the Marina had similar lines, but she was about six feet longer than the Haven 12.5, and she had a centreplate that passed through a long shallow keel. Instead of a keel hung rudder she had one that could be tilted upwards by a mechanism that was linked to a lever attached to her tiller. The quality of build of this yacht was outstanding, including her functional, but attractive teak laid decks.

Just by looking at her lines, you know she will be fast, and her tall Bermudan mainsail and roller Genoa will make for efficient windward performance, coupled with her metal centreboard. Her folding propeller will offer little resistance and when it’s calm, her inboard engine will speed her along at a rate of knots. She is slung very low on her trailer, which means she can be launched into shallow water.

All in all, she is a very attractive day sailer that could be used for the occasional short cruise. Her boom tent would provide adequate cover overnight.

I wonder if her lines were drawn by L. Francis Herreshoff or by another designer influenced by him.


L. Francis Herreshoff

Herreshoff 12.5 for Sale

How to Build the Haven 12.5

14'5" Biscayne Bay Daysailer

Burnham Yacht Harbour

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mystere Flyer 26

'Miss de Mina'

'Miss de Mina' again

‘Ladybird’ had been on her mooring for a fortnight since I last saw her; therefore I checked her out today and found that all was well.

Back at the Rice and Cole pontoon, I noticed that a Mystere Flyer 26, ‘Miss de Mina’, was berthed alongside. About three weeks ago I spoke to her owners when they were preparing for a cruise to the Medway. This time I asked them how they got on. They replied that Hoo Marina had become badly silted, and as a result they had to make an exit earlier than they had wanted; this was because of the silting. They had had to leave the Marina at four o’clock in the morning, and because it was dark they had difficulty in finding the withies that marked the narrow channel.

I later discovered that according to the Marina website, access in and out of the Marina should be available from 3 hours either side of high water, which caused me to wonder what depth of water one could expect there at neap tides. I can understand the owners’ concern, because a Mystere Flyer 26 draws 4’ 7”. That’s not too outrageous for the East Coast, but when the boat has to settle into soft mud, those aboard would be conscious of a fair amount of squelching, which was the case with the crew of ‘Miss de Mina’.

I noticed that the yacht has wheel steering, which is quite nice, because her helmsman has a good view forward. On the other hand, boats that I’ve sailed with wheel steering gave me little feedback, unlike those I have steered with tillers. At 26’ she has good accommodation, including the comfort and convenience of a dinette. I am told that she has a good performance to windward, which is due to the shape of her hull, her fin keel and skeg rudder.

When I got home, I searched the Internet for Mystere Flyers and I discovered that ‘Miss de Mina’ was for sale!


Designer Fred Parker
LOA (Feet) 26'0" LOA (Metres) 7.92 m
Draft (Feet) 4' 7" Draft (Metres) 1.4 m
LWL (Feet) 19' 6" LWL (Metres) 5.64 m
Beam (Feet) 9' 7" Beam (Metres) 2.62 m
Displacement 4900
Berths 6 Cabins 1


Mystere Flyer for Sale - Asking Price £8,500

Mystere Flyer for Sale - Asking Price £8,425


Mystere Flyer for Sale - Asking Price £5,250

Hoo Marina

Saturday, September 11, 2010


The ubiquitous Squib designed by Oliver Lee is as popular now as when she was first produced by Oliver in 1967 at Burnham-on-Crouch. Over the years the mould has been passed to other licensed builders: namely Hunter Boats, Barker Brewer Boats and Bruce Parker Sailboats - the current builders.

A new version of the Squib is about to be launched. According to the description at the website of Bruce Parker Sailboats, she’s from the first ever ‘new’ mould, “sleeker and better than before.”

I'm not clear if this will affect the one-design status, as the boat was adopted by the RYA to be the UK National Keelboat.

Squibs are also used for cruising; apparently one has crossed the Atlantic!


Squib Sailboat

National Squib Owners Association

Bruce Parker Sailboats – Builders of Squibs

New Squib Prices

Squib for Sale


Friday, September 10, 2010

Confessions of an Old Salt

Two GPS Units in operation

Lowrance Expedition c GPS

This article may best be described as, ‘The Confessions of an Old Salt’.
I was a self-taught sailor who started sailing at the age of 13. I had rigged my 11’ canoe with three sails!! How they all fitted on such a short boat is rather puzzling, and how I managed them I do not know. I used to balance the canoe by sitting on a plank I had secured across the cockpit and steered her with a tiller fitted with an extension. Thinking about it now, my mind boggles, but such was the audacity of my youth that I got away with it, and I never capsized the tiny craft, which was just as well, because she did not have any internal buoyancy in the form of pneumatic bags or waterproof chambers. Lifejackets were hard to come by, and like others, I did not have one.

Learning to navigate was a self-taught skill. At first, it took the form of simple pilotage, as when I crewed for a friend who sailed his father’s sharpie from Highbridge to Combwich and back. We noted our progress along the River Parett and memorized features so that we could have some idea as to where we were on the return trip.

I made a cursory study of navigation in 1971. That was before I sailed my Torbay Class 2 Racer to Alderney, and I confess to being a green novice at that time. Years later, before GPS systems became widely available, I qualified as an RYA Ocean Yachtmaster. Chart work entailed plotting courses that allowed for variation, deviation, leeway and tidal vectors. Hourly positions were marked on the chart. Navigation was a time-consuming activity, and the workings often contained errors. I would be very content if, after crossing the English Channel, my calculations took me to a position five miles from where I intended to go!

GPS has made all the difference. Today, I use a Lowrance Expedition c, handheld GPS unit. This displays a coloured chart that moves relative to the position of the yacht, so that the symbol representing the yacht remains in the centre of the display. By zooming in on the chart, more details can be seen. The digital chart has all the features of a conventional paper chart, such as soundings, metre lines, buoys, lights and beacons. I take a real chart with me which I use for passage planning and for marking hourly positions, but I rely on the GPS for accurate positions. I confess that I seldom work up courses these days by using a plotter and dividers. Instead, I run two GPS units: my Lowrance Expedion c for visual guidance, and a Garmin Etrex Legend for recording waypoints and for sailing courses to them.


GPS Details


‘NauticPath 108-195 International NP-Europe West’ £59.00

Burnham-on-Sea and Highbridge

River Parett

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Parker 21

Parker 21

More detailed view of the Parker 21

The Parker 21 was designed as a high performance trailer sailer, but Parker Lift Keel Yachts ceased building this model 1998 and replaced her with their 235HS model.

I managed to take a couple of photos of No 63 as she sailed close to ‘Ladybird’ when she was on her mooring at Rice and Cole, Burnham-on-Crouch.

If you fancy a Parker 21, I’ve found three advertisements for the same boat currently on sale. (09.09.2010)


Parker Seal Org – 21’ Brochure

Parker 21 for sale (as at 09.09.2010)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Royal Corinthian One Design

Royal Corinthian One Design

I moved to Essex from the West Country in 1972, and from that time much of my boating has taken place on the River Crouch. Even before setting up home in Essex I had sailed on the River when I was employed as a sailing instructor by the Central Council for Recreation. This organisation sponsored dinghy sailing courses based at the Royal Corinthian Yacht, Burnham-on-Crouch. Students were given practical instruction on Wayfarer dinghies.

I remember being very impressed with the Royal Corinthian One Design keelboat racing. The boats were in tiptop condition and their owners obviously enjoyed the competition. Remarkably, several of these boats still race today. The Class 70th Anniversary took place in July, 2005.

Note added 10th December 2011

Please see Part 2 at

This corrects the error I made with the photo above which is of a Royal Burnham One Design, not a Royal Corinthian One Design.


Royal Corinthian One Design

Royal Corinthian Yacht Club

Central Council for Physical Recreation

‘Cormorant’ was for sale

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Character Boats

'Finda', a miniature Hastings Beach Boat

'Finda's' stern

I think I’ve rambled on about character boats before, but you may tolerate a second airing of the subject. Here I am not referring to the range of vessels produced by Character Boats* that you will be able to see at the Southampton Boat Show, from 10th to 19th September, but to a variety of vessels that ooze ‘character’, and one in particular that I frequently see at Hullbridge; she’s a miniature Hastings beach boat rigged with sails.

Boats that have character stand out from the crowd. Their features usually come about as a result of pragmatism and adaptation for meeting conditions or circumstances. Sailing work boats such as the Falmouth Pilot, the Plymouth Hooker, the St. Ives Lugger and the Itchen Ferry were all designed to sail the waters where they were worked and to do the jobs required of them.

‘Finda’ is a miniature Hastings beach boat with a duck’s ass of a stern for providing buoyancy and lift when she is being launched or retrieved off a beach. Her rudder and propeller are protected by her long skeg, and her firm bilges keep her upright. Her almost vertical sides give space within her hull for the stowage of fishing gear and her catch.


*Character Boats

Hastings Beach Boats

Itchen Ferry

Falmouth and Scilly Pilots

Cornish Luggers

Hastings Beach Boat Print

Photo of a Plymouth Hooker

Plymouth Hooker

Monday, September 06, 2010

Elizabethan 23

'Serenade', an Elizabethan 23

Certain boats have been in the Hullbridge area for the past thirty years. Year in and year out they turn up on their moorings at one or other of the four yacht clubs along that stretch of the River Crouch. One of them, an Elizabethan 23 with the name ‘Serenade’ was owned by a member of the Up River Yacht Club in the early 1970s. For all I know, she may still be in the same ownership, because she is moored to a mooring supervised by the Up River Yacht Club. I remember crewing aboard her for a cruise to the River Blackwater.

She had an inboard engine and her accommodation was to a high standard. Although she had a beam of 7’ 1” I felt she was cramped, probably because she lacked standing headroom. She sailed very well on all points, but she was wet when on the wind in a Force 3 and upwards. Because of her lifting keel and shallow draught she was a good boat for East Coast cruising, except she settled on her side and there was the potential for muck to get into her keel box.

For more information about Elizabethan 23s visit the links below.


LOA 23ft (7m)
LWL 18ft 6in (6.6m
Beam 7ft 1 in (2.2m)
Draught 2ft 6in to4ft 11 in (0.8m to 1 .5m)
Displacement 3,8081b (1,727kg)


Elizabethan 23

1971 Brochure

G. Drummond Bayne (Marine) Ltd. Brochure

Elizabethan Yacht Builders Brochure