I have been photographing Sussex churches for years for Fishbourne Parish Magazine and the Looking at Sussex Churches blog, and if I spot a boat I snap it. Here is a slide show of all the ones I can remember.
Whitehall Rowing and Sail has launched an interesting new boat, the Stand-Up Dory or SUD. Just under 14ft long and 3ft 2in beam at the waterline, she is designed to be paddled but can also be rowed using a drop-in sliding seat unit with outriggers or, even more to my taste, a drop-in fixed seat unit with outriggers.
Readers with long memories may recall that I am restoring my grandmother's fishing boat with a view to propelling it along England's canals and rivers with a stand-up paddle.
Little Snarley is a Hampshire punt measuring 11ft 6in by 3ft 6in beam, so she is a good bit shorter and a tad wider than the SUD, but I think that the dimensions are about right. Unfortunately she is MUCH heavier - the SUD is 90lb at around 140lb for Snarley if my bathroom scales are to be believed (and you should see the lies it tells about my weight). Of course, Snarley is a symphony of old-growth mahogany and the SUD is foam-filled composite fibreglass so yer takes yer choice.
An interesting new take on the Cornish pilot gig is under construction the the Lake District by Fyne Boat Kits.
The boat was commissioned by the Whitby Friendship Amateur Rowing Club, which explains the confusing name - Cornish Whitby Gig.
The new boat was designed by John Harris and Jay Hockenberry of Fyne's American associates Chesapeake Light Craft, using their LapStitch system to lock the planks together for a light, strong construction.
The shape is exactly the same as a Cornish pilot gig and she uses thole pins, but the seating is novel. Each rower sits on a fore-and-aft plank with the feet in fixed stretchers so they adjust their bums rather than their feet. John Harris has used this principle before in his Team Dory but I have never got a chance to try it. It looks as if it might give a better swing on the oar - I wonder how it works in practice?
It is a bit obscure why Friendship want such a boat. They have their own lovely, traditionally built four-oared gigs which are very fast as demonstrated in the Great River Race every year. They won't be able to enter official Cornish gig regattas in it as it doesn't comply with CGRA rules. And I doubt if it will be much cheaper than a grp gig.
The Navy arrived in Chichester Harbour today, in the form of Acorn, possibly the first ever Cornish pilot gig to sail under the white ensign.
The plastic gig, completed in navy blue (of course) with a white gunwale, has been bought for use by trainees at HMS Collingwood, the Navy's training establishment and said to be the largest training orgaisation in Europe. HMS Collingwood is a stone frigate, a bricks-and-mortar establishment on shore, but still called HMS in accordance with tradition.
Called Acorn, the gig is kept at Whale Island in Portsmouth Harbour but will be appearing in Chichester Harbour fairly often, I believe.
Acorn was taken out for a spin by members of Langstone Cutters Gig Club, who said she moves well through the water.
A great addition to Britain's Navy. And despite the latest round of defence cuts, another is on the way.
An early tide meant a dawn start today. Geese everywhere. But it was just Les and I came along, though the gig club over the water filled three boats with dads who have to ferry their kids around most Saturdays.
We rowed to Emsworth for coffee. It started to rain just as we left but happily only a spot. The real rain came down on my way home. So we got away with it again.
Langstone Cutters' annual winter row to from Lee-on-the-Solent to Cowes was enlivened by the wreck of the humungous car transporter Hoegh Osaka on Bramble Bank. Apparently she started listing as she steamed down Southampton Water and was deliberately beached to stop her turning turtle.
We didn't row any closer because it would have meant fighting the ebb tide all the way and it flows fast when it gets going. And anyway I had queasy recollections of the last time I got a too-close look at the Hoegh Osaka three years ago:
We had just rowed past her and were turning right up the River Test. I looked round to see she had slipped her lines and was already approaching at an alarming rate. A hundred hard and we were out of her way. Phew.
Coming back from Cowes yesterday we took care to avoid these guys. Even at this distance they look threatening: