Lifting Blue Mistress

There are a number of reasons why I might not have shown this image – personal embarrassment being high on the list, But then I thought, “Hey, this is what happens if you don’t lift the boat often enough. Not many people have seen this on their vessels, so maybe it will make them feel even better about the refitting work they do.”

I haven’t posted this year. One of the results of a difficult year has been a lack of time afloat. So when, on one of the few times I was able to go to sea, I had engine trouble, I finally decided it was time to lift her and spend some productive refit time over the winter.

And yesterday we did lift the boat, and this is what we saw in the early evening gloom (click on image to enlarge) . . .

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. . . not just barnacles but a whole colony of mussels – on the rudder and around the propeller. So this was why the helm was sluggish and the engine was difficult to start.

There were some ripe comments from the lifting crew!

However, Blue Mistress had always cleaned up well and today . . .

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She won’t be back in the water until early May. There are a number of jobs I want to do on her, including major work on the engine. And we also have other adventures planned before then.

I will post on the boat again.

5/7: A touch obsessed . . .

from John: Lovely boats Bill, they all seem to be double enders, is that cos they are the most common or are you touch obsessed?”

The answer is yes and no – yes, I am a touch obsessed, but not about canoe sterns. As you say, canoe sterns are common to these boats.

My ‘obsession’, such that it is, is for the individual boat builders, the fisherman and all those who work these boats.

I became fascinated by small boat design when I read Edgar March’s book ‘Inshore Craft of Britain in the days of sail and oar’, published in 1970.

“. . . before the days of marine engines, scores of picturesquely-named craft, worked out of tiny harbours and off open beaches around the coasts of Britain.” It was the differences in the boats that I found so interesting.

For example, these were all designed to be fishing boats. Why did this one evolve like this?

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. . . .when, only 150 miles east as the crow flies, this one evolved like this?

. . .  and some 300 miles north this one like this?

Obviously, the differences came about to suit the the needs of the people who worked them. Therefore the design of working boats tells us  a great deal about the coasts they are found in and the  knowledge, skills and attitudes of the people who live there.

But local boat design is disappearing. Fishing is being discouraged, fewer people work in the industry, boat production has moved to the factories. There is no a need for the local boat-builders who were found all along the coasts in the days Edgar March was describing. There are fewer and fewer true examples of local working boats in the UK.

Similarly in Crete and mainland Greece. The local fishing boats are disappearing.  Apparently, the average working life of these wooden fishing boats is 26 years. They come, they go – they are no longer replaced. Tourism is taking over (and, yes, I am obviously part of that).

The real tragedy is the loss of the local knowledge behind the boats. If the boats are no longer needed in this form, certainly the knowledge, skills and attitudes behind them are. The local population, not the tourist, lies at the heart of  a coastal community. However important tourism may be  for a local economy, it’s influence is negative if it takes away the character of the area it occupies.

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John, that’s a long way for canoe sterns. I will come back to them, I promise.

There are at least two more in the short series of fishing boats in Crete.

For Love of a Boat.

3/7: Eight fishing boats – no longer fishing

These are beautiful boats. If I  lived in the Mediterranean I would be proud to own one. But, as I mentioned before, there is something missing.

They were surely built for fishing. Where’s all the fishing gear?

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It isn’t that they don’t give pleasure to their owners – or to those of us looking on. What is missing is the original purpose – the drive that created them in the first place.

Perhaps they have been saved the fate mentioned in my last post, but I can’t help thinking that Captain George would have thought the same thing.

In the For Love of a Boat series.

2/7: Nine bow posts

I don’t know the Greek for bow post.

They are very distinctive to the small inshore boats in Crete and throughout Greece.

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“Greek island fishing boats destroyed”.  The website is Greek Island Travel and there is an understandable slant  towards preserving these boats for people to enjoy their holidays in Greece. OK, if that what it takes. But these are essentially work boats.

I have plenty of images of boats that are no longer used for fishing, many of them fine-looking craft in their own right.

But it is the fishermen himself that gives life to his boat – gives it its unique character.  Lose the fisherman, you lose the character.

I will try and demonstrate this in later posts.

in the For Love of  a Boat series.

1/7: Four tillers

This is a continuation of the For Love of a Boat series.

From my last post, you can see I have been thinking about Crete.

Here – and in a number of posts to come (I don’t know how many yet), I am putting together groups of ‘boat pictures’ taken in Crete over the past ten years.

Time goes on. Political, economic and social pressures mean that some (many?) boats will end up like this:

This boat happened to be in Crete, but there are boats like this all over the world. They become neglected, then irreparable – and then they disappear. Whatever the reasons for it – and there are reasons aplenty, most of us would prefer to see boats maintained and cared for. There follows a record of some of these :

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Four tillers (click on an image to enlarge it)

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Bude, Sunday

Bude, Sunday, cloudy skies, low tide

Beginning of the season, the RNLI out in force

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The beach crew were checking their gear

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The lifeboat crew were about to launch on exercise.

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Elsewhere, the surf school was in full swing.

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I had just been to my favourite bookshop, Books by the Sea, which was fatal. I was walking across a beach carrying two books having narrowly avoided buying a third.

The first was a good copy of Eric Hiscock’s Voyaging Under Sail, a 1977 edition of a book originally published in 1959. It is a companion to Cruising Under Sail which I bought many years ago.

Eye-brows are usually raised when I return home with more ‘boat books’. The question has even been asked, “Why buy books when you can get most of the information for free in easily digested packages via Google?” Well, maybe you can, but you don’t get the author.

Even if the technology is outdated,( and it certainly is in the chapters on electrics and photography), Eric and Susan Hiscock’s books reflect their day-to-day learning from their own experience and their continual application of other ideas that they have picked up in their travels. The knowledge, skills and attitudes reflected here are hard won,

Put glibly, their’s is on-the-job learning. Those of us who spend a lot of time book learning a) should get out more, and b), as importantly, should very carefully pick the authors we learn from. With that in mind, the Hiscock’s books should be compulsory reading for anyone who wishes to put their nose beyond the breakwater.

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I was dubious about the second book, then bought it anyway – The Design of Sailing Yachts, by Pierre Gutelle.

This is technical stuff. “The author first considers the air, wind, water and wave and then goes on to the theory of aero- abnd hydro-dynamics and such topics as friction, form-drag, cavitation and viscosity. There follow chapters on the equilibrium of both transverse and longitudinal stability of sailing yachts . . .”

It is full of diagrams, graphs and formulae, a combination that I would normally run a mile to avoid. However, I made myself comfortable in my mother-in-law’s front room, ignored the football on the television and had a go. A while later, I realised I was absorbed. This was physics at a much higher level than I normally tackle, put in a way that I can understand. Extraordinary!

Sailing Blue Mistress has taken on a new dimension.