Other PicoMicroYacht

Friday, 16 September 2016

How big a boat do you need?

According to the great yacht designer and writer, Uffa Fox, a person should have a foot of boat length for every year of their age.

But I don't believe he really meant this because when aged 50 years he was writing about the need for him to upgrade from racing 12 to 14 foot dinghies to using an 18 foot dinghy, the Jollyboat, which he designed.  He was also sailing small boats later on than this, including with Prince Phillip and his son, Prince Charles.

Anyway, I digress. I found another rule of thumb in a charming book called 'Dinghy Cruising' by A. G. Earl, a classic book of this type of genre, written towards the end of the Second World War.   His view is that for single-handing  dinghy cruising the overall length of the boat should be between ten and thirteen feet and the length of the boat should be equal to the weight of the crew in stone (what about if you are 14 stone or more -  no matter!). His reasons cited are being able to use weight to keep the boat upright and having the strength to pull the boat up a rough beach. A. G. Earl knew his stuff and was doing the same adventures of  PicoMicroYacht, but 80 years ago in a ten foot open clinker sailing boat, as shown below.  A brave man, given his boat.

A. G. Earl with an illustration of his 10 foot clinker dinghy

So how does PicoMicroYacht match up? Well, 11.5 feet translates into 11.5 stone or 73 kilograms. This roughly matches the weight of PicoMicroYacht's crew.

By the way, digressing again,  that generation knew a thing or two, being much more adventurous in dinghies. Quoting directly from the Class Boat Museum website about Uffa Fox:

UFFA Fox designed many fast racing dinghies during the 1920’s and 30’s. 
The most successful of these, which still has large fleets worldwide, is probably the 14 footer. 
Amongst the many famous names of these dinghies is his own Avenger - sail no. 135 – in which he won the Prince of Wales Cup at Lowestoft in 1928.

Five years later, with crew of Bob and Spike, he made an extraordinary voyage in July   1933 when they sailed Avenger across the Channel from Cowes to take part in a regatta in Le Havre, sailing for 29 hours, bailing much of the way.
Once there they took part in the last two days of racing, winning


K135 Avenger, and Uffa in Le Havre after Channel crossing, July, 1933
on the last two days of racing, winning on both days, and then left on 14th July, taking 37 hours to sail home, breakfasting at Seaview in the dawn. 

They arrived off Ryde just in time to race in the Regatta there, but were too tired to do more than come third.


Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Keep Turning Right (well ... sometimes left)

In my mind the best blogger of small boats is Dylan Winter, whose accounts of sailing round the UK in a Mirror Offshore and other boats are legendary. His blog title 'keepturningleft' is no doubt influenced by his political views, or is it that he is just circumnavigating the UK anti-clockwise?


Dylan has it all. Firstly he has the necessary wit, eccentricity and quirkiness; secondly, he has all the blogging skills, being a BBC cameraman,  a naturalist and writer. A perfect combination.

Whilst Dylan keeps going left in bits, mostly on the East Coast, my mission is to keep going, but with  no political ambition - I am just drawn the South Coast and South West, so it makes sense to turn right,  whilst he is drawn to the great East Anglia coastline of his youth, with the amazing wildlife.

Dylan's Mirror Offshore, that he called the Slug after it's great looks and speed capabilities.

But I am having a go at the East Coast, still Turning Right by going up the Thames Estuary on the north shore, this time from Thorpe Bay to the small Two River Island, near Leigh on Sea, which I did yesterday.

I started opposite the Isle of Grain, where the power station is being decommissioned and the great 801 foot chimney was having it's last day. A lone cyclist stopped to photographic it with me, lamenting the end of the landmark, although I prefer the coast to be desolate and flat.

The Grain Tower from the Thorpe Bay Yacht Club on it's last day - photographed in the evening.

A grey overcast sky surrounded me as PicoMicroYacht was launched. A lazily moving finishing boat seemed to be stalking PicoMicroYacht as we headed off towards the Southend Pier.

The pier has to be appreciated from the water, the pier head being 1.34 miles from the land.

The next stage was to row up to Canvey Island - looking round I saw some large boats coming down the estuary, the sky especially gloomy but atmospheric.

I was soon at the Two Tree Island and pulling PicoMicoYacht up the slipway. The island was surrounded by salt marshes and abandoned boats, some of which blended into the landscape.

Postscript - the chimney went down as this post was prepared - here is it happening.

Postscript - From Dylan:
 'shucks! and I am full of admiration for your no frills voyaging. Goodonya.'
Thanks Dylan!

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Dover to Dungeness and the Kindness of Strangers

The sea can seem to bring out the best in people, which was certainly my experience on my 26th August voyage to Dungeness.

Image result for map sea dover dungeness

The plan was to leave Dover at Mid-day, and catch the tide down to Folkestone and strike out towards the Dungeness headland.

Before I launched a frail man in a wheel chair offered to keep an eye on it whilst I quickly got a sandwich and another man helped me down the steep ramp to launch the boat in the harbour, interrupting his can of cider.

Two teenagers then helped the boat into the water whilst I clambered in and got the oars set to row off.

The port authority cleared me to leave and I was exiting through the western entrance keeping a good distance from the pier heads.

Just outside the tidal stream from the harbour meets that going down the channel and makes the water rough.

But it was a neap tide and there was little wind, which meant it calmer, with only a subdued but latent menacing sea.

The tidal stream was reasonable strong and soon I was off Folkestone resetting the SatNav for Dungeness and then a long voyage across the bay, empty of ships.

A yacht sailing close into Folkestone  to avoid the tide going in the opposite direction

As the afternoon wore on the sea was getting more misty as a gentle wind helped me along the way.

As I got closer to Dungeness I saw two little sails along the shore line and realised this must mean a sailing club, a place to beach PicoMicroYacht. It had been a five hour row.

Soon I was rowing the last bit over the lengthy sands that are covered at high tide. As I got close to the shore the two dinghies were still there, with youngish crews learning to sail.

A man in a wetsuit was standing in the water and  he walked out towards me. He introduced himself as Paul and I explained to him where I had come from. He turned out to be the Varne Boat Club treasurer and he said he would get some help.

A group of people got the boat out of the water an into a secure compound. I was a bit relieved, feeling the effects of the five hours rowing and glad to not have to pull PicoMicroYacht up the steep shingle beach on my own. Later on I met a friendly crowd in the bar.

I chatted to two lifeboat men from the neighbouring Littlestone on Sea lifeboat station. They told me about their large rib lifeboat, an Atlantic 75. It looked quite fun to go in the rib, but then I was thinking that saving people off Dungeness in the winter is a serious business and they potentially risk their lives.

The Atlantic 75

Image result for littlestone lifeboat

The Varne Boat Club - a very friendly place to visit.