Author: admin

24 Jan

0 Comments

Good Little Ship

by

An excerpt for the new book, Good Little Ship: Arthur Ransome, Nancy Blackett and the Goblin, by Peter Willis.

Product-Shot-Good-Little-Ship-510x680

‘A little white cutter with red sails was coming in towards the moored boats.’For the four children, paddling about in a dinghy among the moorings, this sighting is the beginning of an encounter which will lead to them sailing this same boat—alone and unaided, through varied perils—across the North Sea to Holland.

The children are fictitious as, for the most part, is their adventure: this is the start of Arthur Ransome’s We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea. But the location is real enough—Pin Mill on the River Orwell in Suffolk, where Ransome was living while he wrote the book. As for the ‘little white cutter’, she has a fictional name, but she was, and is, very real indeed. Ransome had not long previously sailed his own newly-acquired boat up that same river, and into those same moorings. He had named her the Nancy Blackett, but in We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea, she becomes the Goblin.

‘Funny name for a boat,’ comments Roger, the youngest of the children, who is reading the name on a vacant mooring buoy. ‘I wonder where she is?’

They soon find out, for sure enough, the boat coming up the river is the Goblin, and she is being sailed single-handed.

Someone was busy on her foredeck. As they watched, they saw the tall red mainsail
crumple and fall in great folds on top of the cabin. ‘There’s no-one at the tiller’,
said John. ‘I say,’ said Roger. ‘Is he all alone?’

Indeed he is, but he seems to know his boat well enough, as he prepares to sail onto his mooring, using the jib, watched by the children who pull their dinghy clear just in time.

He was standing up, steering with a foot on the tiller, with his eyes on the buoy ahead of him. Suddenly, when he was still a few yards from it, they saw him stoop and then run forward along the side deck. The jib was flapping. The young man had grabbed the boathook, and was waiting, ready to reach down and catch the buoy.

‘He’ll just do it,’ Titty said, almost in a whisper.
‘Beautifully,’ said John.
‘Oh,’ gasped Titty. ‘He can’t reach it.’

For the boat has stopped moving a moment too soon. The boathook is an inch too short, then a foot. She is being swept back by the tide onto other moored boats. In desperation the skipper hurls a rope to the children in the dinghy; John makes it fast to the buoy in a swift, seamanlike manner, and they are thus, with a bowline knot, instantly bonded with the Goblin and her skipper.

These are the children originally encountered by readers of Arthur Ransome as the Swallows in Swallows and Amazons, the first of his children’s novels, where they enjoy dinghy-sailing adventures in the Lake District. Swallow, sailed by the Walker children, Captain John, Mate Susan, Able-Seaman Titty and Ship’s Boy Roger, and Amazon—of which the ‘master and part-owner’ is Nancy Blackett, with her sister Peggy ‘mate and part-owner of the same’—were both based on real dinghies. Their lake is a fictional construct, but it combines elements of Coniston and Windermere, and individual locations are identifiable.

Book for sale from SCA here.

Filed Under: Uncategorized

24 Jan

0 Comments

When Steering is a Drag

by

littleboatBUCKETSCAMARINFINALaug92017
WHEN STEERING IS A DRAG

The rudder began vibrating and then groaning. In a quick-rising Lake Superior storm I was slewing along on a series of big waves, sometimes going sideways. My home-built plywood rudder was taking a beating.

Bending over Persistence’s transom, I saw that the blade seemed OK. Still with all the racketing and noise, the rudder was under considerable stress.

What if the rudder broke? How would I steer in a storm?

I had a plan: I would attach a line from my portside cockpit winch to my big 14-pound Danforth, and then attach another line from my starboard winch to the Danforth. And throw everything overboard. The Danforth would drag in the heavy weather’s following seas but I could crank it from side to side.

All this was theoretical.

I had tried something like this before. For my young son I had built a toy boat out of a 2 x 4 piece of lumber and wrapped a knot around one end. In the water, towing it behind my boat, the toy boat swung to one side and my 17-foot sailboat would turn that way. Eureka! Accidentally, I had another steering method.

That would be my untried plan. But one day I heard the tale of Dudley Dix, the ingenious South African designer who draws and sails marvelous ocean racers—built out of plywood—to frolic in the boisterous waters off Cape Town, not far from the horrific seas at the Cape of Good Hope.

He was blasting along in his 36-foot plywood rocket in the Cape Town-to-Rio ocean race. Suddenly his plywood blade broke. Black Cat spun around. Dudley went below, found a large bucket, tied two lines to its handle, connected each line to a cockpit winch, and threw the bucket overboard.The steering drogue worked fine, he told me, and he and his crew sailed confidently several days with the lash up, ignoring offers of a tow from other boats.

The bucket? It was a heavy-duty metal bucket of the type South African construction workers and bricklayers use. In the trans-oceanic race, rules require the sailors to carry a bucket aboard.

I don’t carry a bucket, but I do have three Danforths and a mud anchor onboard. Maybe they’d work in an emergency.
————-
Marlin Bree (www.marlinbree.com) used the bucket steering story in a chapter in his novel, Broken Seas (SCA Library). He is a contributing writer to Small Craft Advisor and the author of numerous boating books. He has twice won the coveted Grand Prize Award in Boating Writers International’s annual Writing Contest.

Filed Under: Uncategorized

05 Oct

5 Comments

How fast can you go in a small cruising boat?

by

marlinbree-330-exp-Yankeegirlarrfa

Gerry Spiess and Yankee Girl arrive in Honolulu. Pic by Marlin Bree.

“When it comes to small boats,” my friend Gerry Spiess was explaining to me, “all the rules go out the window.”

Gerry is the champion small-craft sailor who set two world’s records by sailing his 10-foot homemade plywood sloop, Yankee Girl, across both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans.

On the long reaches across the Pacific, he took only 34 days to sail 2,539 miles from Long Beach, California, to Honolulu, Hawaii. He had averaged 74.5 miles per day—an extraordinary run for a heavily laden boat with only a 9-foot waterline. Much larger sailboats do well to average a little over 100 miles per day.

He was bettering his North Atlantic record run. He had sailed out of Virginia Beach, Virginia, heading eastward to England. That sail took him an elapsed time of 53 days, 5 hours nonstop to Falmouth, 3,780 statute miles. He had averaged 60 miles a day an average speed of 2.5 miles per hour in storms, high waves, doldrums, and some good sailing. His best day’s run was 84 nautical miles.

Out of Honolulu and in the South Pacific’s trade winds, Yankee Girl began hitting 100 miles per day under her twin 29 square foot jibs.His best day’s run: a whopping 138.09 miles.

He abashedly jokes about his little boat’s speed: “I was asleep a third of the time.”

___________

Marlin Bree (www.marlinbree.com) is a contributing writer to Small Craft Advisor and the author of numerous boating books. He has twice won the coveted Grand Prize Award in Boating Writers International’s annual Writing Contest.

23 Jun

7 Comments

Pursuit of the Perfect Pram Continues (Readers’ Prams)

by

As part of the research for our article In Pursuit of the Perfect Pram (SCA Issue #106), we asked readers for information on their favorite prams. To our surprise we received a huge response, with many stories and photos. Because we couldn’t possibly include a photo of them all in the magazine, we’re publishing a bunch of them below. Thanks again to those who participated. —Eds

Christine DeMerchant built this 7′ Chuck Merrell-designed Apple Pie pram several years ago as a tender to her Tanzer 22 sailboat.
applepatdock

applepieintruck

applep2inboat

Jim Dumser’s young daughters, Hannah and Kyla, did most of the work in building the 7′-10″ stitch-and-glue D5 pram from plans available at Bateau.com

IMG_1332

IMG_1344

Gabe Leavitt of Oregon sails the Chesapeake Light Craft Eastport nesting pram with his daughter on Trillium Lake. Gabe says the kit went together in about five weeks, including paint, and it sails and rows well.

3

1

An 8′ pram designed by Graham Byrnes of B&B Yacht Design serves as a buffet table during a small-boat cruise to Panther Key by members of the Sailing Association of Marco Island, Florida. The nesting pram was built and photographed by Dan Singer.

20170115_124823_001

Reader Mike Harper built this Howard Chapelle lapstrake pram, lofting the hull from lines in a Chapelle book. The pram is mostly used on Donner Lake in California.

LUSTY IN DONNER 012

LUSTY IN DONNER 005

Jack Vincent built this L. Francis Herreshoff-designed Neria pram more than 35 years ago, and recently restored the tender. He confirms Herreshoff’s view that the pram rows and tows very well.

IMG_0023

Capt. Charlie Huie built this CLC Passagemaker Pram during a workshop in Port Townsend, WA, and finished it back home in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 2011.

IMG_1907

This CLC Eastport pram was built eight years ago (and has survived a “lot of abuse” since then) by Syd Roberts, who says it’s easy enough to drag the 42-pound tender aboard his larger boat. “The boat tows well and is stable for an old dog,” reports Syd.

IMG_3678

IMG_1998

If you really want a lightweight pram, consider the skin-on-frame approach. This Stasha 7′ design, a 22-pound nesting model, is available from www.woodenwidget.com and was built by reader Martin Arlidge.

IMG_0053

IMG_0038

Richad Maldonado studied other pram designs and wondered if he might be able to come up with his own design…and build it from a single sheet of luan plywood and leftover scraps of wood. The result was Tartlet, an under-30-pound one-person micro-pram Richard uses on protected waters. “At its best,” says Richard, “the boat can look almost elegant, and at its worst Tartlet makes me think it looks like I’ve painted a coffin and put it in the water.”

Tartlet042113

DSCN0070

Crayfish is a 4′ x 8′ stitch-and-glue pram designed by Richard Woods of Woods Designs. It weighs about 40 pounds, carries three adults, and as indicated in the attached photo of Richard standing on one side of the tender, it’s a very stable design.

Crayfish rowing

crayfish stability

Here’s another skin-on-frame pram with solid bottom panel and transoms, designed by Dana Munkelt. The 9′-6″ tender weighs about 47 pounds, and plans are available from Duckworks Boat Builder’s Supply.

807626C2A2864E42B49EE30851DFC2B2

0EA07A21559347D8B3289CDBCFF21CFA

Roy Schreyer designed Thorn several years ago for rowing, sailing and electric-outboard power. The 8′ pram is built with three sheets of 1/4″ plywood, and one of its unusual features is the full-length fore-and-aft bench seat, which allows different sitting positions for the rower and passenger(s). It also appears to be lower-slung than a lot of other pram models, so less windage but also less freeboard.

DSCN9984

DSCN9962 touched upRSCN0097

Drew Fetherston built a modern version of an old Auray Pram design that was first celebrated more than 100 years ago, when British yachtsman Claude Worth visited the French fishing village of Auray and drew lines of the original 10′ prams used there. The newer, smaller plywood version is 7′-6″ and has a small bow transom that’s reminiscent of Norwegian prams. Drew found the Hannu Vartiala plans online, but mentions that the Vartiala website appears to have been dismantled. (Philip Bolger also drew plans based on the Auray Pram, for those who might be interested.) The photos show Drew’s pram, along with a shot of an original, smaller-model Auray Pram in France.

image6

image4

image3

Reader David Whitehead send along this photo of his Carl Stambaugh-designed Baby Dink pram, built by Tieman Roe.

IMG_0778

Donall Cullinane of Limerick, Ireland, built this Iain Oughtred-designed Granny Pram five years ago for his son Paul (then 6, now 11). Donall has a lug rig for the pram, which he says “works great,” allowing for a relatively large sail area and a mast that’s far forward in the boat.

2013-07-10-408

Reader Chris Harlan has enjoyed sailing and racing many dinghies over the past 25 years, but one of his favorites is the Chesapeake Light Craft Passagemaker pram he built. “She’s a feisty, salty and capacious little pram,” Chris says, “performing best with two aboard. Despite the boat’s light weight, she can easily handle a 20-knot breeze. The pram bow makes for a very dry ride, even in blustery conditions, and her curvaceous lapstrakes produce a lovely and confidence-inspiring gurgle that continues to ring in my ears.”

P7110328

David Whitney, of Auburn, Maine, bought this 7-foot fiberglass “mystery pram” on Craigslist and says it “rows like a charm and tows well behind his cruising sailboat.” He’d like to know who built the pram, if any fellow readers recognize the design.

Pram3

Pram1

Reader Marian Buszko built a CLC Eastport Pram, 7′-9″ overall, and entered the 2013 Everglades Challenge, becoming perhaps the smallest boat to finish the race. (Not only that, he continued beyond the finish line to circumnavigate the Florida coast, hauling out at St. Augustine…closer to his home.) During the event he hit a channel marker and damaged the pram’s bow, not compromising integrity of the hull but calling for repairs. During the repair, Marian’s friend Hugh Horton converted the pram to a pointy bow and extended the stern…making the boat about 11′ overall, but both of the extensions were above the waterline, so the hull is still essentially the same as originally built.

image1

Scott Christianson was doing some volunteer work for The Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle, and was asked if he’d like to take on restoration of a damaged 9′-6″ Nutshell pram that had been donated and was taking up space in a storage container. Having graduated from a local boatbuilding school, Scott figured he could replace the split garboard plank, so he did a nice job of repairing the Joel White-designed pram–built originally in 1984 with cedar planks, copper clench nails and nice mahogany rails. Scott added a sailing rig, daggerboard trunk, rudder and tiller, and has enjoyed rowing and sailing the boat in local waters. (He even caught a coho salmon from the pram while rowing in Lake Washington last summer!)

IMG_0303

IMG_3298

###

Filed Under: Uncategorized