|After some years of failing to make it, this year I finally managed
to get to Boats on Show, a relaxed Thames-side exhibition of commercially
built small craft, and of home-builts. Naturally, I took a shed-load of
photos, of which the following are just a few.
|Let's start with the three men. The first one I
would like to introduce is Bill Serjeant, one of the select band of
true nature's gentlemen, and a chap who built a modified version of
the Swallow Boatworks Storm Petrel (http://www.swallowboats.com/storm-petrel.htm)
for solo cruising. Anyway, the little boat has an open flat cockpit
unencumbered by a centreboard, and clearly designed for sleeping. Bill
has a great website by the way:
The second I met was Derek Munnion. Derek has done something that
many of us have quietly speculated about, and made a great success of it.
His Sharpy is a sailing canoe with a small rig, and a retractable
lead-ballasted keel. Despite its small sail, the little canoe sails pretty
well - and gives the lie to frequently-repeated argument that relying on
ballast rather than hull form for stability in small sailboats leads to
|The third man I encountered down by
the Thames was Colin Jones, an astonishing chap who builds boats in
what he calls 'rough-and-ready style' with children and teenagers
here and in Rumania and has created a charity called 'All in the
Same Boat' to make sure he can carry on with his work, which
involves creating the boats with the youngsters and leaving the
boats in the hands of a responsible adult.
For those who
think Mr. Jones is a charity
worth supporting. He's at:
|He's very much the back-yard builder, with a
definite low-budget slant to his work. Here's a skiff of the type he
developed for Rumania:
|Here's a 14ft light dory that a group of
late-teens were building during the show.
|Here's one some kids he has worked
with prepared earlier - and I must say I've seen rougher building
than this (this isn't Colin at the oars by the way).
|This dory has a number of interesting features
including twin stub keels that bolt onto the bottom of the boat -
yes he breaks all the rules and sails this thing with a 35sq ft
plastic tarpaulin sail copied from an Optimist rig. It goes pretty
well upwind, he says, but is very quick downwind. Colin is the man
nearest the bows, as it happens.
|I think the rudder he made for this boat is
notable for two things, first for its graceful form and clever
|And second for his use of plumbing fittings in
place of gudgeons and pintles:
|In the title of this blurb I promised
you a dog, and here he is, standing nonchalantly on his owner's
submarine. Well - it made me smile.
The Dinghy Cruising Association (www.dca.uk.com)
had a number of interesting craft at its stall in addition to Bill's
little cruiser. First I should show you this striking little sharpie.
Also, anybody would fall for this little dinghy with a bamboo mast,
which was also on the DCA stand. Though I gather it is very heavy for it's
size, it's cute enough to take home for an ornament.
There were some invited entries for the Watercraft Magazine Amateur
Boatbuilding Awards. I won't show you all of them, but the following were
This is Paul Bentley's Faering, which won the
This Thames Whiff by David Jones came second.
But for me the star of the competition was probably this well-used
20-year old boat. It sailed well, and its owner tirelessly piloted an
untold number of visitors around the lake. I gather the design can still
be obtained from Practical Boat Owner magazine - go to their website's
copy facility and search for the name 'Aston'.
Finally, just before leaving the show for home,
myself reflecting on how cuteness can come in simple packages.
|And in very complicated ones. Just
think about this laminated tiller for a moment... This one is from
Hoad Sailboats, and I gather they are about to launch a new website.