Pass it on

In book-sailor mode, I found the following – the first paragraph of the preface to Deep Sea Sailing, by Erroll Bruce:

In 1950 I enjoyed an exciting sailing race across the North Atlantic and was soon afterwards sent for by Lord Fraser of North Cape, then First Sea Lord at the Admiralty. He asked many questions about the handling of the yacht, and finished by saying, “What you have learnt of the sea in small craft is not your private property, so I trust you will pass it on to others.”

I warm to the phrase ‘pass it on to others.’

It stands back from ‘teach’ or ‘tell’ or ‘inform’. It somehow has less of the tinge of intention created by a modern trend that seeks to ‘improve’ everyone.

It says: “I have done such and such. This is what happened and this is what I learnt. You can pick it up and use it or you can leave it alone. Either way, our ideas meet for a short while and then move on.”

The importance is in the communication. The effect is up to the recipient.

For love of a boat – Teignmouth, Devon and Poole, Dorset

Two boats this time, the second one for comparison.

Teignmouth, Devon, UK 2009

This is one of, I believe, the last four of the original seine boats on the river Teign, net fishing for salmon and also used for the collection of mussels.

The net is cast from the stern, hence no stern thwart. Thole pins are used for the oars, although, by the positioning of the forward fenders, it looks as though they are used less these days.  The pins are set so that the oarsman can row conventionally from the bow thwart or facing forward from the main thwart.

Teignmouth, 2009

Compare the seine boat above with a similarly-sized boat seen at Poole Harbour this week.

There are a number of differences in construction – their functions are not same.

She is broader in the beam, with supported thwarts.

There are positions for three oarsmen, with rowlocks rather than thole pins for the oars.

And there is a hole in the forward thwart. Does anyone know what this is for? Evidently ‘a mast’, but why in this paricular boat?

Poole Harbour, Dorset, UK, 2009

Poole Harbour, 2009

The River Thames at Richmond – inclement weather

River Thames at Richmond, 2nd February 2009, 7.30am

We were in London earlier in the week, returning just before the weather turned for the worse in south Devon yesterday evening.

I am posting these images because the conditions were so unusual thereabouts.

The little red yacht was still carrying its mainsail on the boom.

River Thames at Richmond, 2nd February 2009, 7.30 am

River Thames at Richmond, 2nd February 2009, 11.00 am – canal boat in the foreground

Thus is a frustrating day.

I had planned to move Blue Mistress this  morning because Cattewater Harbour Commission want to work on our moorings and we are in the way.

The plan was “weather permitting” – well, it’s not.

On Steeple Point – “Treachery at Sharpnose”

Steeple Point

Jeremy Seal, in Treachery at Sharpnose, covers a story that I have wondered about since, as a small child, I first saw the figurehead of the Caledonia in Morwenstow churchyard. Somewhat taller than me at the time, holding cutlass and shield, she ignored me, looking blankly towards the sea.

Higher Sharpnose Point, February 2008

Higher Sharpnose Point is two miles north of Steeple Point, which I have written about before – here. I was christened in Morwenstow Church more years ago than I care to remember. This coast has deep meaning for me, just as it does for everyone born in the immediate hinterland.

The Reverend Hawker viewed our forefathers as ‘a mixed multitude of smugglers, wreckers and dissenters of various hue’. A colourful population in those days, obviously, but I wonder if this was the whole story.

Today, I am happy with the label ‘dissenter’, and I have done some casual wrecking in my life – (wrecking: a term used locally for scouring the shoreline for whatever washes shore – in my youth it was wood and various floating objects that had washed overboard from passing ships – nowadays it is plastic junk. Shipwrecks still occur but very rarely).

But ‘smuggler’? No.


It is strange to read about your own locality. It never quite sounds like the place you think you know so well, and, although it is a pleasure to read about it, (like seeing your name in print), it is a shock to find that someone else sees it in another light.


Above Hawker’s Hut, February 2008, The rocks that swallowed the Caledonia.

What happened to the nine man crew of the Caledonia, from Arbroath, on 8th September 1842 was truly terrible. The recently restored figurehead in the churchyard is a poignant memorial to those interred there.

The author tells of his research and the journey he took to find the ‘truth’  of what happened. In the end he comes up with definite facts through which he weaves an interesting story. I found the research fascinating; I was disappointed at his apparent dismissal of Hawker, and felt the fictional account of the final voyage to be ‘film-of-the-book’ and tending  to take the edge off it – (a clue to this is in the title):

“He laid a hand upon his brother-in-law’s shoulder. It had been nine months, he briefly realised, since he had laid his hand there, on their departure from Rio. Then the business of the ship was calling and their reconciliation was done.

……. An hour later, somewhere off Boscastle, the storm hit them.”

That’s not my idea of real history. One of the problems I have with the book is that, by interpreting the facts in this way, the author is straying into areas that he has condemned the eccentric parson for entering.

But do read it. It is a good tale. I enjoyed it and read it straight through – beginning to end.

Higher Sharpnose Point, February 2008 – a fraction of the sea met by the crew of the Caledonia.

On sailing a Folksong – Speed formula

A calculation I have never made before:

The speed that a yacht’s hull can be made to travel through water is related to waterline length.

The formula for an average sea-going yacht of conventional shape is:

Speed in knots = 1.4 x Square root of the L.W.L. in feet

The multiplier is altered according to the type of hull. It may range from 1.25 for a tubby hull to 1.5 for a large racing yacht.

Therefore Blue Mistress’ theoretical maximum speed at L.W.L of 19′ 8″:

= 1.4 x Square root of 19.66 ft

= 1.4 x 4.434

= 6.2 knots (Always remembering that speed through water is not the same as speed over the ground).

We were doing a little less in the clip below

Emergency on the Hudson

The incredible rescue of the passengers from the emergency landing on the Hudson River is here on the Sea Fever blog  – (thanks to Tugster for pointing it out).

It was not just the landing itself that was so noteable, but the large group of people standing on the wings of an aeroplane on a freezing river being carried swiflty along by the current.

And the skill of the skippers and crews of the vessels that took them off.

Watch the 10 minute film – then watch it again.