Tuesday, 25 March 2014

From the Web

FACEBOOK, Monday: Neil "Leather Lungs" Calore and Bill "Jarhead" Fite high-five on becoming the only boat to row, sail, paddle and push their boat all the way round Florida in one of the most punishing small boat races in the world, the Ultimate Florida Challenge. The race includes a 40 mile portage from the St Mary's River to the Suwannee. 
Neil summarises: 
"Total time: 23 days, 10 hrs, 17 mins.
Total statute miles: 1290
Miles sailed/rowed: 940
Miles paddled: 310
Miles walked: 40
Jokes told: 1,000's
Good jokes told: 2
Amount of fun had by Jarhead & LeatherLungs: ∞"

HEAR THE BOAT SING, Tuesday: An interesting theory in linguistics. Were the Belgian 'vainqueurs' of the Henley Grand Challenge Cup 1907 the origin of the fourth most offensive word in English?

INTHEBOATSHED.NET, Monday: Riparian owners on the Rivers Tavy and Tamar want to stop traditional salmon netting to protect their stocks upriver. Salmon netting is done under oars by just four licenced fisherman, so it is totally sustainable. Sign the petition now!

DUCKWORKS MAGAZINE, Tuesday: Bill launches his smashing Mollyhawk skiff, designed by John Welsford. Says he 'needs to learn to row effectively'. The wonderful thing about rowing, Bill, is that if you just get out there and do it, you will be rowing effectively, efficiently and stylishly very soon.

MISSISSIPPIMILLION, Tuesday: Mark Stanley has completed the second traditional Thames skiff for John Pritchard's epic row down the Mississip.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Youth and Age on Beaulieu River, Hants

Driving back from rowing yesterday I switched the radio on and caught this poem, part of a 'words and music' compilation without any information. I was caught by the rowing reference and held by the bittersweet metaphor of the tide. Clearly by Betjeman, but not a work I knew. So I looked it up and here it is, with its lovely description of the Beaulieu River at dawn:

Early sun on Beaulieu water
Lights the undersides of oaks,
Clumps of leaves it floods and blanches,
All transparent glow the branches
Which the double sunlight soaks;
To her craft on Beaulieu water
Clemency the General's daughter
Pulls across with even strokes.

Schoolboy-sure she is this morning;
Soon her sharpie's rigg'd and free.
Cool beneath a garden awning
Mrs. Fairclough, sipping tea
And raising large long-distance glasses
As the little sharpie passes,
Sighs our sailor girl to see:

Tulip figure, so appealing,
Oval face, so serious-eyed,
Tree-roots pass'd and muddy beaches.
On to huge and lake-like reaches,
Soft and sun-warm, see her glide -
Slacks the slim young limbs revealing,
Sun-brown arm the tiller feeling -
With the wind and with the tide.

Evening light will bring the water,
Day-long sun will burst the bud,
Clemency, the General's daughter,
Will return upon the flood.
But the older woman only
Knows the ebb-tide leaves her lonely
With the shining fields of mud.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Sculling with Style

There is a simply wonderful video here in which Olympic silver medalist John Pritchard demonstrates how to scull with style. Lead with the left, tuck your right hand in underneath, click the handles over with your fingers to feather, repeat. Lovely.
So hypnotic that I really wasn't listening to his message, so I had to replay it to find out that later this year he is going to row a boat just like that ALL THE WAY down the Mississippi River. 2,500 miles in 25/30 mile legs. It will take him three months or more.
Two new skiffs are being built at Stanley and Thomas in Windsor, where the oars are also being made by their subsidiary J. Sutton.
Pritchard was in the eight that won silver in the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, and gained a silver at the World Rowing Championships in Munich the following year.
He rowed for Cambridge in three boat races including 1984 when the boat famously hit a barge and sank, and 1986 when Cambridge finally stopped Oxford's seemingly unstoppable run and prevented them from taking the trophy outright with a tenth win in a row.
The aim of the Mississippi row is to raise $1 million for the charity Right to Play, which helps children in deprived and war-ravaged areas of the world thrive through sport. It is a thoroughly good cause and you can sponsor it here.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Claydon Skiff for Sale

Sadly, the group of girls who own Claydon Skiff Myrto, based in Manningtree, are breaking up and the boat is to be sold. She is pictured racing at the Paddle and Oar festival on the River Stour a couple of years back.
She is in good condition, comes with a new set of Collar's oars and the old set for spares, and a trailer. I'm a big fan of these boats as part of any club fleet, as they are fun, safe and pretty much bullet-proof.
The asking price is £3,250. Interested? Ring Sally Pavey on 07790 311302 or email her at sally.pavey@hotmail.co.uk.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Sprite on Soton Water

Fernando in Brazil says he is 'in platonic love' with my Chippendale Sprite, Snarleyow, so here's a pic of her in action on Sunday going up Southampton Water, passing one of the iconic and much-loved Weston Shore flats (SARCASM ALERT).
I think you know this already, Fernando, but Sprite kits are supplied by Seabird Boats of Rye, although as you rightly say shipping one to Brazil might be eye-wateringly expensive.
There are no direct equivalent plans of this wonderful design, unfortunately, though you might take a look at Iain Oughtred's slippy little sliding seat skiff Snipefish, or if you fancy something more traditional, his Thames skiff Mole.
Francois Vivier does a very nice line of rowing boats including a double ender, Elorn.
John Welsford is an experienced rower and it shows in his designs, of which my favourite is Joansa.
The photo, taken by DCA member Alan Moulton from his Yachting Weekly Day Boat, shows the oar handles neatly crossed so I can hold them together with one hand to stabilise the boat, while I take a picture of Alan with the other. Very satisfactory to have the blades correctly adjusted again.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Row When You Must

Another glorious spring day so I loaded Snarleyow onto the car with only one major scratch to the paintwork to join a DCA rally to Southampton.
Well, actually things were delayed a bit by a technical issue. I had a bit of time available so I thought I would finally sort out the obviously maladjusted blades. Looking at them again, I realised I had set them last time right at the ends of the leathers, presumably to maximise the gearing. Why I did this obviously completely moronic thing I can no longer remember. Which means my memory is going as well as cognitive functions. Shoot me if it gets any worse.
Anyway the simple operation of moving the buttons two inches down the leathers took FAR longer than expected so instead of putting in at the official start point, Warsash, I had to take a short cut by going to Netley.
Netley is a lovely spot to launch if the wind is not to high, with a reasonably shallow slipway and lots of free parking. Unfortunately, when the weather is as fabulous as it was today every single spot fills up at about three in the morning. I had to wait half an age for someone to leave.
Entertainment was, however, provided by Roger Barnes, President of the Dinghy Cruising Association, endlessly tacking his Francois Vivier-designed boat Avel Dro up the Water and getting nowhere. Eventually he gave up and wisely dropped the sail and took to the oars, a long pair of sea oars that are much better set up for rowing than most dinghies. Most sailors regard rowing as an admission of failure.
But. of course, as soon as I had parked the car (barging past three hopeful but irresolute ramblers), Snarleyow's new, correct oar setting meant I soon overtook Roger.
Then I overtook Alan in his Yachting Monthly dinghy, Steve in his Enterprise and David in his Mirror.
The destination was Gavin Millar's garden. Envy is a deadly sin and I am going to hell, because Gavin's garden has its own pontoon on the River Itchen, and it is south facing and a total suntrap. And he has a rather wonderful derrick, to transfer his boats from water to garden more easily.
Incidentally, did you know that the inventor of the derrick was Thomas Derrick, Elizabeth I's most efficient and innovative executioner? His new gallows was a great improvement on the old method of slinging the rope over a beam.
The only sailor to make it before me was Ian in his Solway Dory sailing canoe, but he had launched at some ludicrously early time. We had home made soup waiting for the others.
At the end of the day, I left Snarleyow at the water's edge and went to collect the car. The tide flows fast at Southampton, and by the time I got back it was this far out:

Friday, 14 March 2014

Project Punt

The ultimate flat-bottomed boat is, of course, a punt, a type of boat that has surfaced on this blog at intervals. The Thames pleasure punt is, I believe, the best boat ever devised for cruising inland waterways. A punt can be propelled easily at a decent rate of knots while facing in the right direction. No oars stick out to obstruct narrow canals. And it offers simply acres of flat space for cooking, relaxing and sleeping on.
Members of the UK Home Built Boat Rally have been discussing the design of a punt for our annual pilgrimage to the Thames Boat Show at Beale Park. The aim is to produce a punt that will be reasonably cheap to build and easy to fit into and on a Ford Focus Estate (Car of Choice in West Sussex).
My concept is a punt in three parts, a square saloon, as the main part of the hull of a punt is called, and a pair of swims, the angly bits, which bolt on to the ends. 
The saloon will go on the roof rack and the swims inside the car.
Dr Chris Waite, designer of such classics as Octavia, Polly Wee and Katie Beardie, has stepped nobly up to the plate and developed shapes for the hull which should come out of one plywood sheet of 10 x 5ft and another of 8 x 4ft. His model is above.
So far, the design has been developed on the HBBR Forum but today the Design Committee met in the Dell Quay Committee Room to discuss the way forward. Teeth were sucked. Hands were waved. Napkins were drawn on. 
The next step is to decide where she will be built. Don't tell my family but the front runner is the dining room, which offers a flat stone floor of sufficient length and we hardly ever use it for dining in.
I will report anon...

I was being a bit optimistic about the bill of materials. Chris writes:
I hate to disembowel you of your dreams, but in reference to your postings of the day, you will need two (TWO) five by ten foot sheets, as well as the eight by four foot sheet, to build the most minimal punt as modelled by yours truly.  Don’t short your magnificent frame
Otherwise you’ll be punting an open-top,
Ten foot pontoon

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Flat bottomed boats

I've been meaning to post this for weeks, but idleness, sloth, work and the surprise arrival of spring and its associated need to go rowing a lot have prevented blogging. Sorry.
Anyway, the wonderful Duckworks Magazine had a link to this video from Offcenterharbor.com, a membership site with videos for boatbuilders. It extolls the virtues of flat-bottomed skiffs as harbour messabouts, with their ability to run the bow up a beach so you can get in without getting your feet wet, simplicity, strength and lots of other things.
I really like the idea of protecting the top of the stem with the heel off an old welly boot.
But, of course, I am already a fan of flat-bottomed boats. Remember Nessy?

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Daddy-daughter day

I actually managed to get Nichola out rowing on her half term. Here we are on the Hamble at Burseldon, joining the Hamble River Rowers in Philip Meakins' lovely home-built Acorn Skiff Kingfisher.