Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Bringing in the Boat

To mark the start of the rowing season, Langstone Cutters holds a little service to Bless the Boats. The vicar of Havant comes round, we sing the world's dirgiest hymn (For Those In Peril), he sprinkles holy water over the boats and we force him to go out rowing in one.
For that purpose, the Mighty Claydon skiff Gladys had to be brought in from her mooring. Usually this is done by two rowers and a cox in one of the Teifis but the weather was lovely and everyone seemed to be busy with stuff so I went out to do it on my own.
Here I am tying the painter onto the thwart and releasing the mooring buoy:
Towing her back was an odd sensation. When coming forward, Lotty slows down but heavy old Gladys comes right on, so half of the next stroke is taken up getting the tow rope tight again - then jerking Gladys forwards.
When I got her safely in I found they were all taking photos to record the disaster they were confidently expecting. Ha!
(Tnanks to Ron Williams for the pics).

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Time for a new camera

My super-cool Lumia phone is so silkily styled it keeps slipping out of my hands onto the floor - it has a less than cool line of dings round the metal edge already. So I changed to an older, cheaper, smaller Nokia with a plastic back that is less likely to end up in the drink.
Unfortunately, the camera is crap. I really like the idea of one of these:
but I haven't managed to psyche myself up to paying 150 smackers. Yet.
The picture, should you not be able to make it out through the gloom, is of Bembridge forging along in Langstone Harbour yesterday. A monster tide of 5.2m was predicted but as it turned out a brick north-easterly wind and high atmospheric pressure kept it down and the boat park was not flooded.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Sculling in Brittany Back in the Day

I love the hats in this picture of Breton fishermen's wives in a sculling race. No date, but evidently in the good old days or possibly way back when. 
Fearlessly pinched from Roger Barnes's Facebook feed.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Boats in Glass

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.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Stand-Up Dory

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.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

A Cornish gig...from Whitby?

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.
It will sure look nice, though.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Navy Day

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.