Friday, May 29, 2009

Roger Taylor's 'Mary Ellen' is available

courtesy Mick King

courtesy Hugh Bourne

courtesy Roger Taylor

Roger Taylor, skipper of Mingming,  and author of Voyages of a Simple Sailor is reluctantly offering his 1934 Gaff Cutter Mary Ellen for sale. Roger is preparing to leave shortly for the Arctic Ocean on Mingming, and gearing up for the 2010 Jester Challenge. Here's the lowdown:

Mary Ellen was built in 1934 by Kidby and Sons, Brightlingsea, Essex. They were builders of fast smacks and built her to their own design as a gentleman's yacht for a local farmer. The hull shape is that of an Essex smack, but with a spoon bow and a transom stern.
LOA 38'
LOD 30'
Heavily double sawn oak frames, pitch pine planking, solid mahogany interior, all original. She displaces approximatly 7 tons, has 4 berths in 2 cabins, and a Vestus c.550. 
Since 2000, Roger has been making steady improvements, including: 
Refastening the hull with bronze screws.
A new hollow spruce mast and yard.
A new Douglas fir boom and bowsprit
New sails by James Lawrence of Brightlingsea
New hand spliced standing rigging
New blocks and running rigging

Roger has an extensive archive on the yacht, which has been cruised as far as St. Petersburg.

Asking £12,000. GBP, or just under $19,500. US.
Interested parties should contact me via email (available at the top of  this page) and I'll put you in touch with Roger.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Request to Bolger Fans

courtesy Bill Samson

I'd like to ask readers who have built, bought or commissioned a Bolger boat to send me an email with your story and some photos. I'd like to do a small tribute to a great designer in this way as Phil worked so often with home builders in mind. Please send your stuff via email, available on the right. 
Bill Samson, a former editor of The Chebacco News and home builder of Bolger boats, as well as an avid skin on frame kayak builder, built the Chebacco seen above. Bill and I met through the Qajaq USA Greenland Forum and let me tell you, this man is a prolific boatbuilder (there are more  of Bill's Bolger boats and a reminiscence for later). 

Thanks Bill.

Send me your stories, and a couple of photos.

Michael Bogoger, aka DoryMan, wrote me suggesting I include designers influenced by Phil Bolger, and I agree! An oversight on my part. 

Let me hear from you!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Iain Oughtred and Nic Compton's beautiful biography

Nic Compton's new volume on Ian Oughtred, published by and available now at WoodenBoat
courtesy WoodenBoat

Iain's Elf, after the Hardanger Faering
courtesy Bootbouwer

A sailing version of the Acorn Skiff, the design credited with 'making' Iain's career

The Arctic Tern, says Iain, is a 95% scaled down Ness Yawl. These boats take their inspiration from the Shetland Yoals, but are lightened and narrowed for faster recreational performance. This example has a gunter sloop rig,  giving increased windward performance

Jeanie II, the prototype for the Arctic Tern, named for Iain's mother.

The Arctic Tern profile drawing as found in Iain's design catalogue, a desirable piece of literature, which can be ordered from Iain . Find his mailing address below.

For comparison, here's a photo of a Shetland Yoal, a foureen from about 1895 with a high peaked lugsail, found in " Inshore Craft of  Britain" by Edgar J. March

Interor view of a JII or Arctic Tern built by Andrew Kitchen

One of  Iains most popular designs, the Ness Yawl
this photo was originally taken by Owen Sinclair from his Welsford Navigator and is of John Hitchcock's Ness 

Bumblebee Pram, courtesy Strathkanchris

Macgregor sailing canoe, also courtesy Chris Perkins, aka Strathkanchris,via Intheboatshed

Here's Iain sailing a sprit rigged Elf
courtesy Bootbouwer

Cover of  Iain's design catalogue which is in itself a formiddable work of art.
Order from iain direct at the address given below.

Albannach, or Alba, Iains own Ness Yawl, is now for sale. Details here.
I believe this boat has won a Glen Raid or two

A Wee Seal at the Port TownsendWooden Boat Festival (I have no idea what year)
courtesy John Welsford, a formidable small boat designer in his own right, via  Duckworks Magazine

Eun Na Mara

Haiku, Iain's interpretation of Ralph Monroe's noted sharpie Egret
There's an article on the designing and  building of this wishbone cat ketch to be found in Water Craft #61

I've included this photo simply because I found it compelling, a Ness or Caledonia Yawl, most likely, but I was intrigued by the extended stem and stern  posts, a more traditional Norwegian detail
courtesy Bootbouwer

Author Nic Compton, in colusion with WoodenBoatBOOKS and Adlard Coles has produced a sumptuious feast of a biographry about Iain Oughtred, his life and his designs. It takes one from Iain's early years in Melbourne and Sydney, his migration to Britain and his participation in the wooden boat revival there, and his eventually settling in his adopted homeplace, beloved Scotland. It also chronichles the arc of his career and follows the development of his design philosophy. The book also includes a beautiful design catalogue. Copious photographs accompany and illustrate the text. Biographies are often slow going, even a bit moribund, but for me this one (so far anyway, I haven't finished) reads more like a thriller, pulling you forward, wanting to find out what happens next. Iain started his sailing career as a racer and has  not denied these roots in his design, even as he turned more and more to maritime tradition for his inspiration. His entire ouerve has seen him grounding his designs in seaworthy tradition while updating them for contemporary use, building techniques and speed. He has been instrumental in putting forward the lapstrake plywood/epoxy building program (he wrote a book on this technique), and his design always takes into account the homebuilder. Mr. Compton has knit all this together into a flowing narrative that stays out of the way and allows the story unfold like a satisfying afternoon sail. Highly recommended. Iain Oughtred's life is and has been an extraordinary journey and this book is testimony to it.  Amazon is taking orders, but you can get the book now at WoodenBoat. I suggest you do so.  Iain doesn't maintain a web presence but some of his plans are available through WoodenBoat, Classic Marine, Jordan Boats UK or directly from Iain  the old fashioned way, here:

Iain Oughtred
Struan Cottage
Isle of Skye
IV51 9NS

Tel: 01470 532732

 Iain is selling his Ness Yawl, Albannach, offered on the Jordan site.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Phil Bolger

The hard chined Chebacco, this one from Openboat in NZ.

Phil chatting with Chebacco owner Ben Ho
courtesy the Chebacco website

Phil Bolger with partner Susanne Altenberger

Phil Bolger took his life yesterday. From what I've read, he had his reasons. Someone suggested, recently, perhaps a little ironically, that I would soon be writing about Iain Oughtred and Phil Bolger. I replied that yes, I would soon be writing about Iain as I had just received his recent biography. I didn't respond about Phil because I've always viewed him as a little larger than life and so was more than a bit in awe of him. Such encompassing genius. Conventional and unconventional, iconoclast and icon. I do regret never meeting him. And I miss those wonderful cartoons he did in the Small Boat Journal. So as a small gesture, I'm putting up a photo of my favorite Bolger design, the hard chine version of Chebacco and a couple of others. Curiously, I worked into the wee hours last night on a post about Iain, which will be up soon. Life is strange, sometimes.

Phillip, may the force be with you.

There's more here.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Around without instruments:Marvin Creamer celebrates the 25th anniversary of his circumnavigation

Map of the route taken by Globe Star

Globe Star

Heavy weather

and here

Marvin being feted
courtesy Liz Lourie

Marvin Creamer
courtesy Liz Lourie

Marvin explaining 'Transit Meridean' to me
courtesy Liz Lourie

There was a party for Marvin Creamer last Sunday. Celebrating the 25th anniversary of Marvin's amazing circumnavigation without using instruments. No sextant, no compass, certainly no gps. No clock! Only an hourglass for timing watches. Marvin first conceived this adventure during long night watches while cruising, mainly in the Atlantic. He put his ideas into practice on three Atlantic crossings prior to his circumnavigation. A geography professor at what was then Glassboro State College (now Rowan University), the professor worked out the problems such a voyage represented using mathematics  the stars, wave direction, bird life and in the daytime, using an "overhead point and sky geometry". He had read David Lewis'  'We the Navigators', he told me, from cover to cover. Marvin says the real motivation here was not to win glory but rather the intellectual challenge of working out such problems and the satisfaction of having done so. And satisfied he is. At 93, Marvin seems as intellectually sharp as he must have been at the time of his excellent adventure. He's a seemingly inexhaustible source of stories and anecdotes and is adept at explaining his methods to those of us less navigationally gifted.
While these ideas had most certainly been fermenting somewhere in the recesses of the professor's mind, it was chance which really brought them forward. My chronology may be off here, but it went something like this...during a cruise to England and back to NJ, the failure of a compass light gave Marvin the opportunity to use the stars to sail by, and he contemplated what it would be like, what it would feel like, to cruise without the 'toys'. In 1978 he deliberately made a return voyage from Ireland using no instruments and arrived at his destination only 4 miles off his mark. Feeling that his ideas and techniques were thus confirmed, he set off for Pico, off the coast of Africa in 1980. On that voyage he turned back (a little) early due to protestations from crew about 35' seas. The return was made again without instruments and Marvin was able to find both the Cape Verde Islands and Bermuda on the way back to NJ.
He was ready, and shortly after retiring, Creamer, now in his mid 60's, and crew set off from Red Bank Battlefield on December 15, 1982 having received much help in their preparations from local people. Initially sceptical they were undoubtedly won over by Creamers confidence and enthusiasm for his project, which remains unabated today. They returned May 2o, 1984, proving Marvin's theories and having never opened the sealed package of instruments carried on board. The biggest challenge, said Marvin, was how to get 'round Cape Horn in overcast.
You can delve into the solution of that problem, and many others by purchasing a DVD put together by Ralph Harvey, webmaster for the Globestar website.  The DVD includes powerpoint presentations by Ralph, the entire Furled Sails interview w/Marvin, and an unpublished manuscript of Creamer's book The Voyage of the Globe Star. Contact Ralph" here. Marvin says that prospective publishers have declined the project, because there is too little tragedy in the book, and the adventure is primarily an intellectual one. So if anyone is interested, contact me. I'd like to thank Ralph for inviting me to the celebration, giving me the opportunity to meet himself and Marvin and hear his story firsthand and for hosting the website. And of course,I'd like to thank Marvin himself and congratulate him on his marvelous achievement.

I would have posted this story much earlier but for difficulty in posting video on blogger. Ultimately I am unable to do so, always encountering error messages. Any readers who know how to work around these problems, please write me.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Kayak History 2.3. The Historian Builders: George Dyson

435 West Holly Street 

Frames displayed at the storefront

Dyson Baidarkas

Double bat wing sail.

George and his father Freeman

Here, three generations

Interior of a Dyson boat with a redwood floor

Another interior, this one is a James Shields replica

Imitation Sinew, one of the products availanle at DB & Co.

Here's a sample of George Dyson's drawing skills.

Opening Day at the new bar

George relaxing, I think, opening his bar

All photos courtesy Thomas Gotchey

Certainly the single most important figure in my developing interest and understanding of the traditional kayak has been George Dyson. First I read the Starship and the Canoe, Ken Brower's book about George and his father Freeman Dyson, a noted astrophysicist which takes one through Georges early years, his treehouse in the woods near Bellingham  and his discovery of the badairka. Next came George's opus on the history and evolution of baidarka, aptly titled, Baidarka! It was a revolution for me in the mid eighties, informing me of the Russian history in Alaska, and the development of the baidarka before and after European contact. George also applied high tech materials to skin on frame constuction, aluminum for the frame, high strength nylon for skin, introduced a sailing rig, all without compromising the basic Aluet design genius. And began to build them. And to help others build them. And to make the materials available , through Dyson Baidarka and Company. In a phone conversation with George in the 80's, he was affable and encouraging. I doubt that has changed, notwithstanding the fact that he has since become a highly respected author of books on the history of science with Darwin Among The Machines: The Evolution Of Global Intelligence and Project Orion: The True Story of the Atomic Spaceship. For many years Dyson, Baidarka and Company have maintained a storefront space at 345 West Holly Street in Bellingham as a workshop and showroom, and recently added another public amenity, a bar! Almost too good to be true, but there it is. I am indebted to Thomas Gothcy for the photos and his communication on George. Thomas helps with the store and the builds. He is also responsible for these great photos. A climber and ardent hiker, you can find out more about Thomas here. I would like to add in closing, that I think that Mr. Dyson's kayaks are some of the most beautiful I've ever seen. You can write to 431 W Holly St. Bellingham, WA 98225 or phone 1.360.734.7226.

Friday, May 8, 2009

PROA 1.1 To the ...Sublime: Bernard Smith and SailRocket

cover of  the Forty Knot Sailboat

an early model

and another




all photos above  courtesy Paul Dunlop

I was generously loaned a copy of Bernard Smith's "'The 40 Knot Sailboat" today by a client and friend who is also a sailor. It has reignited my interest in this obscure genius. By 'co-incidence' (Jung)  Sandy K @ Casco Bay Boaters posted today an article on the Vesta SailRocket. SailRocket is attempting to set the world record for sailboat speed. She has achieved  an astounding speed of 52.26 knots. This entire project is based on and inspired by the work of Bernard Smith. A civilian employee of the U.S. Navy, Smith had yearned from an early age to create the fastest sailboat ever. He took inspiration from the phenomenal performance of the indigenous Pacific proa. He began his research and experiments on his own time building models to test his theories, but eventually the Navy took notice and funded his research and the development of full sized craft. The results are unconventional and astounding, and his models have a charm and beauty that is as unexpected as it is welcome. There's as much an artist at work here as an engineer. The vessels take proa as a starting point for investigation and then just fly. His book  40 knots begins with an history of the evolution of sailing craft, and though I've  just begun to read, it is, surprisingly, engaging and warm and not just straightforwardly technical. Smith even make apologies to the mathematically challenged that some mathematics must be involved. And this is in1963! The start is promising, I don't know what I'll learn from this book, but I believe it will be an enlightening journey. There's scarce little information on Bernard and his projects on the internet, but there's a very informative site titled 'Mr. Smith's Amazing Sailboats', which has been my source and guide. It was built by Paul Dunlop of Christchurch NZ, has lots of good information on Smith and his work and is highly recommended. Bernard Smith followed up his first book with a second, further exploration of  his passion and investigations and recounting the results in'Sailoons and Fliptrackers'. Anyone who has additional information on Bernard and his explorations of aerohydrodynamics, please share.