Inshore Craft 2 – the hobble boat

Hobble Boat

 The Bude Hobble Boat.

The picture shows a beamy rowing boat moored in Bude sea lock. It has three thwarts (rowing seats) and a stern seat. The gunwales (sides) are raised to cope with big seas and, instead of rowlocks, the oars fit into these gunwales. Of the three thwarts, the forward and aft ones have places for oars on the port side, the middle thwart has a place on the starboard side and there is one on the starboard side just forward of the stern seat. There is also a position in the stern for a steering oar, (being used in the picture below).  There are  four oars in the boat. The bows have some form of strengthening, presumably for towing and/or pushing.

Hobble Boat being towed

The following is taken from my grandfather’s notes and refers to meetings held in 1839 regarding the Bude Hobble Boat, which supplied a pilot and, sometimes tow, to sailing vessels entering Bude in the days before engines. The notes seak for themselves. The accompanying photographs were taken much later, after engines had been installed. Entering Bude Haven under power was a totally different procedure to entering under sail.


At a meeting of the proprietors of the Bude Pilot Boat held at the Bude Inn on the 13th January 1839:

1st: George Hambly’s appointment as master of the Boat, which was made some time since, is this day confirmed.

2ndly: The Master is fully empowered to appoint his own Crew (subject only to the approbations of the Owners of the Boat) and he is hereby authorized to discharge any man who neglects his duty.

3rdly: It is imperative upon the Master to enforce the fines for non-attendance, neglect of orders or drunkenness, and he is requested to keep an account of the dates and the names of parties and to deliver the same to the Owners of the Boat with the half yearly accounts. The amount of the fine to be one shilling and sixpence.

4thly: Each man of the Crew is in turn to keep a good and sufficient look out at tide time, the arrangements to be under the direction of the Master.

The subject of the amount of Pilotage and the necessity of charging recall* Hobbles in particular cases having been discussed, it is resolved that to give the Master sufficient time for preparing a list of the ships with old and new admeasurements of each, that this meeting be adjourned to Monday the 7th instant.

Signed: John Hockin, J.S.James, Davey (pps J.T.Davey)

Hobble Boat waiting

At the Adjourned Meeting held at the Bude Inn on Monday Jany 7th (sic) 1839:

Resolved that the Pilotage on vessels entering Bude be on the following scale according to the New Register.

Tonnage below 20 tons                                     5 3/4 (pence) per ton

                ditto         25 tons `                                   5 1/2 (pence) per ton

               ditto         30 tons                                       5 1/4 (pence) per ton

               ditto           35 tons                                     5 per (pence) per ton

              ditto           40 tons                                      4 3/4 (pence) per ton

              ditto           45 tons (and all above)  4 1/2 (pence) per ton

The foregoing scale is for the Pilotage In and Out and to be paid before the Vessel enters the Sea Locks on her departure.

In case a Vessel should not get into the Lock (on) the tide she enters the Harbour, the Hovellers are bound to attend two extra tides if necessary but if further attendance still should be required, the Vessel will be subject to a recall* Hobble of One Shilling and Sixpence.

Any Vessel going out of the Locks and not putting to sea the same tide to be the subject of a recall* Hobble of 1/6 for every tide the Hobblers may be required before she leaves the Port.

Signed: John Hockin, Wm Davey, J.S.James, Daniel Lane

* the handwriting makes this word difficult to decipher, and I am not convinced it is the correct one but I believe it expresses the correct meaning.

Hobble Boat

For the background to the Inshore Craft series click here.

This is one of a number of posts on the Ketch “Ceres” – in this case regarding pilotage. They have been presented in a random order as and when I have found, or been given, new material. They represent steps in a personal quest to find out more about one branch of my family.

If you are interested in maritime history or would like to read more, please use the Search facility at the top right hand side of this page (‘Ceres’). If this is not available on your current screen, then click on ‘Bill’s Boat Blog’ – (or the title of this entry, then ‘Bill’s Boat Blog’), to be taken to the correct page.

3 thoughts on “Inshore Craft 2 – the hobble boat

  1. Pingback: Inshore Craft 3 - the hobble boat « Bill’s Boat Blog

  2. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be actually something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and very broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

  3. Pingback: The ketch ‘Ceres’ entering Bude « bill's boatblog

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