Monday, February 28, 2011

MiniCat 310

Today I received a comment from Thomas who has a Facebook page for supporters of Laura Dekker. He pointed out that I had incorrectly stated in yesterday’s Blog that she would be attending the Amsterdam Boat Show in September. In fact she will be in attendance at the Boat Show from 1st to 6th March.

From Laura’s News page at her website I read that she had enjoyed sailing a MiniCat 310. I didn’t give this much thought until I visited Thomas’s Facebook page where I saw a photo of Laura and a friend sailing the MiniCat. (See the first link below, which takes you to a number of photos, including the one I’ve just mentioned.)

This miniature inflatable catamaran does indeed look like a load of fun. I like the fact that it can be packed in a bag which measures 1,350 x 300 x 400 millimetres and the total weight is only 35* kilograms. There are 3 options from which you can choose: the ‘Standard’ boat with one sail; the ‘Super’ version with a jib to go with the mainsail, or the ‘Sport’, which is like the ‘Super’ but it has a furling jib and a lighter mast.

This 3.1 metre by 1.4 metre catamaran that can be sailed by one or two people.

If you want more details, search the websites listed below.

*Depending on the version, the weight of the package can be between 35 and 38 kilograms.


Photos from Zeilmeisje Laura Dekker

Laura Dekker’s News Page (See entries for 21st and 22nd February, 2010)

MiniCat The Boat that fits in your car

MiniCat 310 Options


MiniCat the Gadget Show

MiniCat Sailinginfo 4 All

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Laura Dekker again

My first article about Laura Dekker was in September, 2009. At the age of 13, she had aspirations to become the youngest person to sail alone around the world. She met opposition from the authorities on account of her age, but she was a very determined youngster who was sure that she could accomplish her dream. Many people, including me, likened her to Abby Sunderland, Zac Sunderland and Jessica Watson, all of whom wanted to become the youngest solo non-stop circumnavigator of the globe, i.e, doing it without putting into port or setting foot on dry land. This was a misunderstanding brought about by the media. In fact Laura’s aspiration was never to sail around the world non-stop; indeed it was exactly the opposite. She wanted to visit interesting places, explore them and learn about people she would meet.

In her recent update to the News section of her website she makes it clear that she never intended to sail non-stop, and she also points out that if she is successful in completing a circumnavigation and becomes the youngest to do so, the Guinness Book of Records no longer includes a section on the ‘youngest’ to achieve anything. As far as she is concerned her record would stand in its own right, and I feel sure the majority of us would go along with that. The World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC) responsible for monitoring and ratifying ocean sailing records would not approve and uphold her record because it is not their policy to encourage either the very young or the very old to embark on such voyages.

Laura was inspired by Tania Aebi and Robin Lee Graham by their around the world adventures. Tania was a novice sailor who set out from New York in 1985 and returned there in 1987. The following year she wrote ‘Maiden Voyage’, a book relating her experiences, which can be obtained from (See link below) Robin Lee Graham took just under five years to complete his circumnavigation between 27th July, 1965, and 30th April, 1960. He also wrote a book detailing his voyages, which was the basis of the film ‘Dove’ with the same name; this was also the name of the boat he used for the greater part of his around the world adventures. On reaching St Thomas he sold ‘Dove’ and replaced her with a bigger yacht which he named ‘Return of Dove’.

Laura is not in a hurry, but she hopes to complete her adventure within two years, so as to sail at times when she will avoid hurricanes and make the best use of seasonal winds. She is content to briefly return home now and again and to have family visit her. She is booked to be a guest attraction at HISWA - the Amsterdam Boat Show which takes place 1st - 6th March, 2011.


Laura Dekker

Laura Dekker in the Canaries

Laura Dekker: the youngest person to sail the world solo

Laura Dekker

Mike Perham, Jessica Watson, Abby Sunderland and Laura Dekker

Tania Aebi

‘Maiden Voyage’ by Tania Aebi

Robin Lee Graham

‘The Dove’ – a film about Robin Lee Graham’s Circunavigation

‘Dove’ by Robin Lee Graham

HISWA – Amsterdam Boat Show


Saturday, February 26, 2011


My wife and I like to collect mementos that remind us of our holidays. Early in the year we visited Mexico and we stayed at a hotel near Playa del Carmen. In addition to examples of local wood carving and pottery we bought two small sea shells. I chose a brown and white one with a delicate pattern resembling fish scales, and my wife chose a black and white one with a spiral pattern. Hers had a prickly spine which spiralled from the thin end to the wider end that resembled a youthful nipple. My shell was eight centimetres long and my wife’s was approximately eleven centres in length.

I have always been fascinated with seashells. Molluscs that live within them are invertebrates. They protect themselves by forming their hard outer coatings which also support their bodies. As they grow larger, they add material to the leading edge of the opening through which they can extend their bodies for feeding and moving from one place to another. The added material on the leading edge forms ‘growth lines’ which are responsible for producing patterns that are sometimes defined by delicate hues or sharp tonal contrasts. Whether the colours are subtle or contrasting I quite often find them attractive. No two shells are identical, and similar shells have individual differences, just as we human beings have unique fingerprints.

The study of, and the accrued knowledge of natural species is vast, and the systematic scientific study of shells (conchology) is no exception. My mind boggles when I scratch the surface of the subject and come across words like Gastropoda, Polyplacophora. At that point I realize I have no real desire to become a conchologist. Instead, I am content to gaze in wonder at the variety and beauty of seashells, while believing they have been created by the great and wonderful God who made the universe. (Genesis 1:1)


All about Seashells,_traditional__sea_shells_


Friday, February 25, 2011

Extreme Sailing

Vito Dumas

There have always been adrenaline junkies; they are not happy unless they are testing their bodies and minds to the limit. For them, life on the edge is the only raison d'ĂȘtre. Examples of such people today are the world champion snowboarder, Peetu Piiroinen, and the daring base jumper Gary Harbird who died while attempting a jump at the infamous Swiss Leap which had already claimed the lives of twenty two base jumpers since 1994.

There are examples of single-handed ocean sailors who have tested themselves to the limits of their endurance. Dr David Lewis was one such man. He attempted a circumnavigation of Antarctica in 1972, but his boat was dismasted and later capsized. After much hardship he made it to Cape Town, where he was treated for exhaustion and frostbite.

Before him in 1942, Vito Dumas was the first person to sail alone around the three great capes: Cape Agulhas, Cape Leeuwin and Cape Horn. He paid a high price by having to amputate an arm because of severe infection. In 1957 he was awarded the Slocum Prize by the Joshua Slocum Society for his sailing achievements.

'Spartan', sailed by Chris Stanmore-Major, a British competitor in the Velox 5 Oceans Race

Right now, solo sailors are competing in the third leg of the Velox 5 Oceans Race. Out of 123 brave souls who have entered previous races, only 73 have finished, and two have died! This is perhaps the most extreme ocean race ever, because competitors give it their all on each of the five legs, treating them as sprints between the ports of departure and arrival. They push their 60 foot yachts to the limit and at the same time punish themselves with sleep deprivation and hard physical labour. They sail the most dangerous waters around the three great capes, Cape Horn quite often living up to its fearful reputation, since it has been the graveyard of numerous sailors and the place where many fine ships have foundered.


Peetu Piiroinen

Arctic Challenge - Peetu Piiroinen TTR World Champion

Gary Harbird’s Death at the Swiss Leap

Base jumper Gary Harbird dies in daring plunge in Swiss Alps

Dr David Lewis

Velox 5 Oceans Race

Extreme Sailing

Single-handed Sailing

BVL PROMO GNR 3 MIN NTSC (Brad Van Liew promotional video)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Coastguard Reorganisation

MCA Logo

My local Coastguard station is at Walton-on-the-Nez. I must admit that when I have sailed in the vicinity I have seldom filed a passage plan, but I’ve always felt comforted that at least I could contact the Coastguard via my VHF set. Only this week I learned that there is a proposal to sell off the Coastguard Station at East Terrace. This would happen if the Maritime Coastguard Agency’s proposals for reorganising Coastguard services go ahead. The Agency is currently conducting a consultation on their Proposals for Modernisation of the Coastguard Service. (Details can be found online – see link below.)

Walton Coastguard Station

Time does not stand still and situations change, but people often resent change, especially when it directly affects them, perhaps by loss of services, salary or employment. In these hard times of financial restraint when national and local government are considering means of reducing costs there will inevitably be pain experienced by those affected by cuts. Modernisation of the Coastguard Service will in my opinion far improve the effectiveness of monitoring maritime activities around our coasts and at the same time, because less staff would be required to operate systems, costs would be remarkably reduced. Not only would the new setup be more effective, but the deployment of rescue services would be better coordinated.

Things are vastly different to when I first started coastal sailing in 1951 aboard a St Ives lugger that had been converted into a gaff cutter. The practice was to sail from one Coastguard station to another and communicate with an Aldis lamp. Later, VHF played a big role in facilitating communication between small boats and the Coastguard. Now there are systems in place that pinpoint the location, speed and direction in which ships are travelling, i.e.,( AIS) – Automatic Identification Systems. The seas can be monitored by electronic means using computers, digital charts, satellite observations etc. The ballgame is now so different to 60 years ago.

Nevertheless, some people favour keeping things as they are because they say local Coastguards are familiar with local conditions, topography and even know local fishermen and yachtsmen, but let us not forget that the Royal National Lifeboat service has vastly improved over the years. Lifeboat men have better and faster craft than in the past; they even have specialised vessels for particular areas, such as the inshore lifeboat with its new floating boatshed at Burnham-on-Crouch. Rescue by helicopter also adds another dimension, because of being able to reach a distress situation in a matter of minutes, not hours.

All of these factors lead me to believe that modernisation of the Coastguard Service will be a good thing. Coordinated response can be available 24/7. The two Maritime Operation Centres, one at Aberdeen and the other at Southampton, will control operations through six sub-centres around the coast, plus the existing setup at Dover, which monitors movements through the Straits of Dover and the Southern North Sea.

There is one drawback as far as I am concerned, and that is I shall no longer be able to use my VHF set to contact the Coastguard, because it does not have a facility for broadcasting a GMDSS Mayday signal, and the old-fashioned continuous watch over Channel 16 will no longer be available.


Proposals for Modernisation of the Coastguard Service

Consultation Document (Closing Date 24th March, 2011)

Coastguard Station looks doomed (Walton Coastguard Station)

Petition launched over Walton coastguard closure plans

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Additions to this Blog

Trying my Paradox sailboat for the first time

I have been playing around with the presentation of this Blog. To improve what is offered, I’ve added a really good search engine. You can find it at the very bottom of the page. Whatever you are looking for, be it a single word or a phrase, key in the word or phrase into the search box, and hey presto! Most probably something pertinent will turn up. Well done Google. You have done a good job.

Now try it yourself. If you are interested in ‘canoes’, for example, type the word into the search box; then click ‘Search’, and there you are. Links to the appropriate postings appear at the very top of the page. You’ll have to scroll to the VERY TOP to find them. Utterly amazing! By the way, you can delete your findings by clicking the delete symbol at the top right-hand corner. Try your hand at other searches. To date there are 891 entries from which you can gather information. Most of my articles are on the subject of small sailing craft and related matters, and many others reveal my personal interests, concerns and opinions.

Another new feature that I’ve recently added is the email facility. If you happen to like a particular article, you can easily email a link to your friends by clicking the email icon at the end of that entry. To see how it works, have a go at sending an email containing the link to your own inbox.

I’m open to suggestions regarding improving my Blog; therefore please drop me a line in the comments section. In this regard, I am aware that a few people have found difficulty in registering with, which is a requirement before one can use the comments feature. Somehow, I feel Blogspot should make it easier for people to participate, thereby improving the interactive nature of the Blog and encouraging more people to join Blogspot.

Incidentally, I’ve being trying to add a Twitter button my Blog, but I’ve not been successful. If you know how I can do it, please tell me.

To find me on Twitter, visit and enter ‘barnacleid’ without the inverted commas, into the search box at the top of the page. That should open my Twitter homepage where you can find my latest postings and those of people and organisations I follow. You could join Twitter too, and we could easily ‘chat’ about things in common. Twitter is a bit of an eye-opener, because through it you have access to millions of people around the world. One of the most active members is ‘Sailing News Magazine’ with links to features reporting on the sailboat racing scene – amazing photographs and videos.

P.S. A follower at Twitter told me how to add a Twitter button to the blog, and it works for me, so it should for you. I'm looking forward to hearing from you in Twitter Land.



Tuesday, February 22, 2011



The UK Confidential Reporting Programme for Aviation and Maritime

Hello Reader,

If you want stimulation before going to bed, then I recommend you read just a few of the amazing confidential accounts of hair-raising incidents at sea on this website:


On the other hand, you may not want to be stimulated before going to bed, and you may not want to have nightmares during your fitful sleep, if you get any rest at all!

To read the stories, you will need an Adobe PDF Reader on your computer. If you don’t have one, you can download a free version from: .


The photos relate to the YouTube video in the link below. There is no connection between these photos and reports published by CHIRP.


Collision 2 sea ships on river crossing in Holland (Aanvaring 2 coasters Dordtsche kil) 26 08 2010

Monday, February 21, 2011

‘Caleb’ 50/50 Canoe on

If I were not building a Derek Munnion ‘Sharpy’ roof rack keelboat, I would be bidding on my old 50/50 Paul Fisher canoe on For anyone living in the UK, it’s now your chance to pick up a lovely sailing and paddling canoe. I say this myself, because I know how I built her from the best materials.

Derek Clark became her owner when I exchanged her for a self-steering gear for my yacht in 2005. He has lightly used her, and made a few modifications - principally exchanging the forward reverse tiller for two cane rods attached to the rudder yoke. On reflection, I think this arrangement is better, because it leaves the cockpit clear.

I found that ‘Caleb’ sailed very well, even to windward in a Force 3. The single leeboard and rudder combined to provide good lateral resistance. She was a bit heavy for me to lift onto the roof rack of my car, but if I had her now, I would tow her on a lightweight road trailer. I intend to do this with the boat I am building.

Paul Fisher designed ‘Caleb’ with a wide cockpit so that her crew could act as internal ballast by sitting low and moving to the windward side. I felt that she was a little wide for effective paddling when using a double-bladed paddle. Derek has wisely improved the seating arrangement so that the paddle can be kept clear of the coaming and side decks. For shallow water use, the rudder and leeboard can be lifted clear of the water.

She has ample dry storage for camping and other items in the forward and aft compartments which are accessed through watertight hatches in the decks. With some fiddling, the mast, boom and sail can be stored in the cockpit, but I usually preferred having them lashed together so that they protruded over the front of the coaming.

I shall be following the bidding with some interest, and truly hope that ‘Caleb’ will go to someone who will look after her. In this respect, Derek has completely encapsulated her in tinted green epoxy which will do well to protect her from water ingress.

If you are the lucky person who ends up being ‘Caleb’s’ owner, you may like to drop me a line. I would love to keep in contact with you, as my interest in the boat continues. After all, she is part of me! I put so much care into building her.


You can find ‘Caleb’ on by keying in this number in the search box: 200578330913


Caleb’ on Ebay until 26th February, 2011, 1844hrs

‘Caleb’ 50/50 Canoe

Photos of ‘Caleb’ Part 1

Photos of ‘Caleb’ Part 2

Building 'Sharpy' Part 34

Sunday, February 20, 2011

River Crouch Love Story Continues

Love Song

It was love at first sight when my eyes lighted on the River Crouch. I moved to Essex in 1972 from the heart of the West Country, where I lived in the historic City of Exeter, the Jewel and Guardian of Devon, Somerset, Dorset and Cornwall, all beautiful counties – Dorset with rolling hills, Cornwall and Devon with their rugged north coasts - estuaries, moorlands and sandy southern bays. Rural Somerset is gentle with a patchwork of farmlands, sleepy villages, woodlands, streams and hills where even now deer roam freely.

Secret Place

How could I find another love to rival the first? I was shocked at the low-lying land of Southern East Anglia, not unlike that of Holland where the sky opens and a special light delights the eye of an artist. Clouds, sunlight, showers, rainbows for me, all took on a new significance. It was Constable Country where the green leaves danced, casting their spell on one of England’s finest painters, a man inspired with reflective sunlight, to my mind the father of the Impressionists, the great John Constable. Renoir, Monet, and Cezanne followed in his footsteps and were perhaps influenced by the greatest painter of all time, William Turner, who by some, is considered to be the Father of the Impressionists, particularly masterful Monet who marvelled at shimmering light and who captured magic in paintings of the Thames at the Houses of Parliament, and gloried in portraying transitory images of a glowing haystack in the middle of nowhere.


The River Crouch for me was like an exploding star, full of light, subtle hues, vast horizons, secret places where the spider hides, the moth flits in the early dusk and the bat silently glides in the dark of night while the big full moon lifts above silver clouds. The cricket and the coot, the fox and hare come to life with the early sun, and the wildfowler lies undercover in shadows at the edge of the pool where his decoys wait. Unsuspecting duck alight; then there are puffs of smoke, followed by double blasts of doom, and helpless birds lay limp; one aimlessly flaps it wings, but the retriever puts and end to that.

Home for Some

These are but a few images of my love of the River Crouch. She is a vibrant river that ever moves with the falling and rising of the tides. Her rhythms are far more seductive than those of a fair maiden. She can be ruthless by taking the lives of the unsuspecting and yet she can open her arms and make a stranger welcome; she can be an enchantress who captivates the soul, and this she has done to me! One day I shall be enveloped in her womb when she receives my ashes, and we shall be entwined together for ever.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Open Horizons



As I write this, two guys, Russell Belcher and Aaron Price, are setting off from West Mersea in their specialist Synergy Safari kayak to circumnavigate Britain. Their intention is to use the natural elements of tide and wind to supplement their paddling on the clockwise circuit over a planned period of 90 days. That will take some doing, but with power kites the expedition aim may succeed. I surely hope so, because they are raising money for the Motor Neuron Disease Association .

I shall be following their progress both on their website and via Twitter at .

Their Kayak

This morning the weather is not at all encouraging. Burnham-on-Crouch Weather Station shows that the wind is coming from the southeast at 8.1 mph with gusts of 13.8 mph and moderate drizzle. Their intention is to cross the Thames to the Kent coast – rather them than me!

Their kayak is stuffed with food, provisions and camping gear. Altogether they have planned to stop at 30 campsites and have arranged food stores en route at 5 locations. They have a band of helpers and several commercial sponsors, including Atlantis Kayaks, , Mitchell Blades, and C-Tug . Ozone is their kites sponsor . My guess is that Russell and Aaron will be relying heavily on their kites for achieving their aim of getting around Britain in 90 days. May they have fair winds, wisdom, strength and God with them along the way.


Synergy Safari Tandem Kayak

Friday, February 18, 2011

My Love of the River Crouch

Up River Yacht Club Slipway

I have frequently cruised my boats to the West Country, sometimes as far as the Scilly Isles from Burnham-on-Crouch, and yet when I speak to people who live in Cornwall, Devon or Somerset, I quite often find they have never heard of the River Crouch! Maybe, that is the best kept secret for those who know of its delights? I am referring to sailors who sail on the Crouch and the Estuary leading into the outer reaches of the River Thames.

Salting near South Fambridge

The delights that sailors find at Burnham are not young Essex Girls, but muddy expanses at low water, tumbling waves when there is a wind against tide situation, gorgeous sunsets, brisk cold east winds, vast open skies where geese fly in formation and tiny creeks where solitary heron stalk their prey and grey seals frolic at the water edge. High river banks at secluded anchorages shield sailors and their craft from equinoxial gales when the wind shrieks and moans across the saltings and the bittern calls.

At Hullbridge

Essex Rivers are truly romantic places where those in shallow draught vessels can commune with nature, breathe salt air and smell marsh dew. Within minutes, a Burnham boatman can be lost in a wilderness of silence as his yacht glides with the current towards the sea, or pokes westwards past Cliff Reach to Bridgemarsh Island and on to Fambridge. There, ringed plover and dunlin scour the mud and common tern joust over small fry that are invisible to the human eye. They twist and turn, screech and dive, then bring to the surface their silver quarry.

South Fambridge

Only now and again is the yachtsman disturbed by a motor fisherman or some guy driving a gin palace that leaves havoc behind and the cry of wailing birds. Speed limits do little to mitigate erosion of muddy banks, and only those places that have been covered with concrete slabs are secure. In an effort to meet the threat of ever-rising sea levels, breaches have been made in the lower sea walls of the Crouch at Wallasea Island for the overflow of flood waters in the event of a North Sea surge - all done in the name of conservation and providing habits for birds and wildlife. Rather than fighting or resisting the forces of nature, Essex Man wisely intervenes to work with them.

Royal Corinthian Yacht Club

This is my love relationship with the River Crouch, a perfect wildlife habitat where butterflies flourish, skylarks trill the early days of spring, the cuckoo calls and starlings swarm in the autumn trees of Hullbridge. Busy sparrows chatter in path-side bushes and shy kingfisher dart across the narrows at Battlesbridge. Swans grace the slipways of Hullbridge; children lure crabs on lines and search the muddy water for tiny creatures with their nets. Holidaymakers seated in the Anchor Pub’s garden overlooking the River sip their drinks while goggling at ski boats being launched and an incomprehensible pattern of dinghies racing, all accompanied by the raising and lowering of flags and the intermittent sound of a horn.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dredger ‘Beaver’ Incident

Unhooking fouled wire

'Beaver' heeling

If you happen to be in the right place at the right time you may end up with a news scoop.

The dredger, ‘Beaver’, was in the process of ‘scooping’ mud from Burnham Yacht Harbour on the afternoon of Monday, 14th February, when I noticed she was heeling dangerously to her port side. Would she capsize, I wondered? I watched anxiously as she continued and came to a halt, when she beached on the mud at the side of the entrance to the Yacht Harbour. At that moment a Police launch appeared and one her crew asked the man operating ‘Beaver’ if he needed assistance, but he declined. I observed the man getting onto the dredge which he had hoisted clear of the water. Thereupon he nonchalantly unhooked a wire that had fouled the dredge. Having freed the wire he reversed ‘Beaver’ into the Yacht Harbour and moored her beside one of the pontoons.

I was relieved that the incident had not resulted in something very serious, such as the dredger capsizing and the man having to swim for his life. I was glad I had not ended up with a news scoop, and I was thankful that I had not been required to play a part in a rescue mission. Incidentally, the man operating the dredger was wearing an overall, under which there may have been a life jacket. If it has been his practice to wear a life jacket when working the dredger, may he continue to do so.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cornish Crabber 24

I happened to be having a walk at Burnham when I chanced on a Cornish Crabber 24 for sale. She was on the hardstanding by the office of Clarke and Carter which is at the Yacht Harbour. She was way out of my reach at £57,000, even if I had been looking for another yacht, but I couldn’t resist giving her more than a cursory glance.

Traditional, classic wooden sailing boats are always of interest to me, but here was a modern GRP yacht incorporating several features found in the genuine article. I studied her lines and features and came to the conclusion that she would be attractive to someone who wanted what the old boats offered, but did not want the hassle of maintaining them. Keeping an old wooden boat in good fettle takes a bit of doing, particularly one which requires a lot of varnishing.

Below I’ve listed several links with information on the Cornish Crabber 24. Basically, she’s been designed for those who would like to do serious coastal cruising, and the occasional race, when the topsail may prove its worth. Her draught of 3’ 6” will keep her out of very shallow water, but her internal depth gives standing headroom for the comfort of her crew. Bits and pieces of rope should occupy a family crew – even the kids may be able to manage them if shown how to use the sheet winches and headsail rollers. Her Yanmar 3YM20 auxiliary engine should push her along at a rate of knots, and with 63 litres of diesel at his disposal, her skipper will have the reassurance that if the wind fails, he’ll get back to port.


Cornish Crabber 24 ‘Andante’ for Sale £57,000 as at 15th February, 2011

Simon D’Arcy’s Blog – Solo Sailing Challenge for Prostate Cancer Awareness

Boatshed Essex Cornish Crabber 24 Sold

Yachtsnet Info Page – Cornish Crabber 24 Mk 1 Mk 11

Cornish Crabber 24 for Sale £32,250 as at 15th February, 2011

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Check on ‘Ladybird’

Besides holidaying in Mexico, lots of things have been going on, including attendance at a funeral which entailed a fair amount of travelling on my part. Needless to say, because I’ve been busy, there hasn’t been time or opportunity for checking on ‘Ladybird’. As some of you will know, I sold this little Seawych 19 twin keel yacht to my daughter who will re-commission her in April before launching her at Rice and Cole where she will be put on one of their river Crouch moorings.

I shall have use of the little boat whenever I like, providing she is not required by my daughter, and there will be opportunities for us to crew together on weekends. Hopefully, by mid summer, I shall also have my new ‘Sharpy’ keelboat for day sailing and camp cruising.

Well, yesterday I had free time, and the weather was perfect; therefore I had a look at ‘Ladybird’ to make sure her winter covers were in place. Despite the very strong winds we have recently had, her tarpaulins were as I had left them - neither had the snow or heavy rain managed to inflict any damage. I checked the boat’s interior to confirm that it remains dry and free of mildew. Before being laid up last October, she was given a thorough clean, inside and out. The addition of disinfectant in the water used for sponging off the interior has undoubtedly helped towards preventing mildew, plus the fact that the boat’s cabin and lockers have been left open for air to circulate. That mitigates condensation inside the boat when the sun heats the exterior.

Very little will need doing to her before being launched, as there are only a few things requiring attention, apart from antifouling. I shall strengthen her drop boards and repaint her rudder before applying two coats of antifouling. Her Honda 3.2 four-stroke outboard will require a service, and I believe my daughter is in the process of making new curtains for her boat.

All in all, by the end of April, she’ll be a smart yacht ready for another season.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Burnham and the River Crouch – Part 6

View over the River Crouch looking towards North Fambridge and the moorings of the Yacht Haven

Up River Yacht Club Slipway

Hullbridge Public Slipway

I’ll finish this series on the River Crouch by offering additional information.

Jack Coote’s pilot book, ‘East Coast Rivers’ has excellent charts and photos of the River Crouch, and the Cruising Association Almanac has up-to-date information. The Ordnance Survey Explorer Map Blackwater Estuary 176 has all the detail you require at £7.99.

Yacht/Sailing Clubs

Up River Yacht Club

Brandy Hole Yacht Club

Creeksea Sailing Club

Crouch Yacht Club

Royal Burnham Yacht Club

Royal Corinthian Yacht Club


Burnham Yacht Harbour

Fambridge Yacht Haven

Essex Marina


Jack Coote’s East Coast Rivers

Cruising Association Handbook

Cruising Association Almanac

Cruising Association

Ordnance Survey Explorer Map Blackwater Estuary 176


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Burnham and the River Crouch – Part 5

Map reproduced by kind permission of Ordnance Survey

Perhaps the most popular anchorage is snuggled close to the west bank of the River Roach near the entrance of the Roach; this is less than a quarter of a mile south of the Branklet Spit Buoy. In westerly gales the anchorage is totally protected, but it has no easy access to the shore. The holding ground being comprised of soft black mud is very good, but I would advise using a trip line to your anchor.

(Position of the anchorage on map is just to the left of the letter 'k' in Branklet.)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Burnham and the River Crouch - Part 4

Map reproduced by kind permission of Ordnance Survey

One of the more well known anchorages is at Cliff Reach. This is about two miles up river from Burnham-on-Crouch. Protection from winds is quite good, because Black Point to the west gives cover from that direction; land rises to form a hint of a cliff to the north and northeast; trees there also provide a lee, but when the wind opposes the tide, the anchorage can become uncomfortable. The holding ground is not brilliant either, since it is stony, unless you anchor more to the north-west, closer in to the beach, where there is mud, but your yacht may take the ground at low water.

The scenery there is quite pretty, and to the south you can glimpse Canewdon Church tower on the skyline. To the southeast there’s the quay at Wallasea Island where coasters offload their cargoes. At high water you can take your dinghy to a small stretch of sandy beach which is owned by a local farmer, but a public footpath runs along the river bank towards Burnham.

(The position of the anchorage on the map is just to the right of the letter 'h' of Cliff Reach.)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Burnham and the River Crouch - Part 3

Map reproduced by kink permission of Ordnance Survey

My second anchorage is to the west of the Fambridge moorings, before Stow Creek. The area is comprised of a gently shelving area of soft mud on the south side of the River which is exposed at half tide. You can anchor so as to dry out, or choose deeper water almost in mid-stream to the north of it. This is a superb spot for watching wader birds, including the odd heron. (Position on map - measure 30 mm to the left from the letter 'R'

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Burnham and the River Crouch - Part 2

Map reproduced by kind permission of Ordnance Survey


Most seasons over the past 38 years I have sailed various boats on the River Crouch between Hullbridge and Burnham. During that time I have spent nights at anchor in different locations. For the next few postings I’ll be explaining where my favourite anchorages are.

The first one is just to the west of Fenn Creek in a pool which never dries out. It is not the easiest place for getting ashore, although at low water one can wade to the southern bank. I like the anchorage because it is normally a peaceful spot, but even if dinghies from local clubs race by, any disturbance is short-lived, and watching the activity is great fun. (Position on map - measure 7 mm to the west of Fenn Creek entrance

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Burnham and the River Crouch – Part 1

Map reproduced by kind permission of Ordnance Survey.

The River Crouch is a marvellous venue for small sailing craft. It is particularly good for protected anchorages, especially for yachts that can take the ground, which in most places is soft mud.

Being a west to east river there is often the need for tacking against the prevailing westerly wind. When there are high pressure systems during the early spring, or even into the summer months, one finds the reverse. As the land heats up, a sea breeze is drawn off the North Sea.

When the centre of a low pressure area that brings a westerly gale moves to the east or northeast, the wind veers so that it comes from the northwest, or from the north. Under those conditions the high river banks provide cover for the water, but they are not sufficiently high enough to prevent the wind from reaching the sails, which makes for exhilarating sailing.

The River Crouch is well known for its wonderful sunsets, particularly in September when the sun sets due west.

As river estuaries go, the Crouch needs be navigated with care. There are numerous buoys marking a labyrinth of sandbanks. Novices beware, because the effects of fast flowing water over shallows combined with strong winds can make the estuary a very unpleasant and dangerous place.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

‘Sharpy’ Peep Show

Dormant Creature

If you are a new visitor to my Blog you may not have discovered my interest in a fifteen foot, roof rack keelboat. In fact I am in the process of building one such boat designed by Derek Munnion. The original keelboat he named, ‘Sharpy’. When I say ‘I am in the process of building’, technically that’s true, because I started building her last year and I have every intention of finishing her this year.

During these dark winter months I have made no progress whatsoever - mainly because cold temperatures and short daylight hours have not been conducive for working in the garage where her skeletal form is currently housed. However, she is sufficiently formed to have some awareness of life dwelling within her; meanwhile she patiently waits until she can be transformed into an aquatic creature suitable for serving her creator and master.

This morning I was inspired by bright sunshine to take a furtive peep at the dormant embryo hidden behind the garage door. When I saw the skeletal form I realized I was not dreaming - this nymph in the making was truly real. Around and under her there was an accumulation of odds and ends that had been thrown there for convenience.

When spring brings hope and temperatures rise, I feel sure I shall have the energy and enthusiasm for clearing away the rubbish, organizing my workshop and recommence building my ‘Sharpy’.


‘Sharpy’ (My first article)

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 36 (My last article until today)

Monday, February 07, 2011

‘Hobbit’, a JOG Boat designed by Laurent Giles

Under consideration today is the beautiful 20 ft clinker mahogany JOG yacht that was completely refurbished by craftsmen at Newson Boatbuilders. This ‘Sopranino’ Class yacht was for sale in November 2009, but she has since been bought by an Italian. She’s a real classic yacht in good fettle, well able to give her new owner loads of fun for many years.


Photographs of the Boat at Newson Boatbuilders

‘Sopranino’, my previous article about the original yacht

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Nice Photos of Nice Boats

My dictionary’s primary definition of ‘nice’ is, ‘giving pleasure or satisfaction’.

Back in the early nineteen-fifties when I was a pupil at Huish’s Grammar School, Taunton, I was taught by my English teacher never to use the adjective ‘nice’, because it was nebulous. The word contributed little by way of definition, since it could be applied to almost anything, while adding little to how one understands the object, feeling or emotion being described by the adjective. Nevertheless I shall use the word ‘nice’ twice in the title of today’s Blog to convey to the reader my pleasure in looking at these photographs. I hope you will enjoy them too.