It's been another interesting month on the go as usual.
While some were mowing the lawn or having a lie-in on Sunday morning, June 12th, I was speeding in my electric Wunder-Auto to the south coast where the estuary in Warsash is really something to behold.
Early bird yachts, ribs and other vessels of all shapes and sizes head for the sunny Solent and a possible mooring on the Isle of Wight for a lazy lunch.
One boat glistening across the busy passageway was the 50ft Camper & Nicholson design, ‘Allegiance’. She can only be described as a ‘passion project’ built over 11 years by a group of skilled French master boatbuilders heading for imminent retirement.
The boat is built in a traditional way but with the addition of modern West System making the hull a true example of construction ‘in the spirit of tradition’. So while the plans dated from 1925, the actual construction period ran from 1992 to 2005 due to the limited amount of labour time per year that constructor Marijon in Port Camargue was able to devote to the project.
Her current owner brought her to the UK via Rotterdam earlier this month, and with her twin Yanmar engines she cruised comfortably at around 15 knots to her UK mooring at Warsash sailing club.
Leaving busy Warsash behind me I headed east to Chichester, where a boat restorer with a passion for Storebro cruisers had invited me for a visit. I arrived at sleepy Birdham Pool only to find the annual knees-up in full swing complete with band, hot dogs and copious bunting.
I finally got to meet Tim, owner of Dolphin Quay Boatyard, who specialises in wooden boat restoration. His own Bates Star Craft named 'Talisman IV' had pride of place alongside the dock, framed by the 40ft Bates, 'Rajdhani', which we sold a few years ago to a local resident. Happily, Julia has had 'Rajdhani' maintained to the highest standard by the aforementioned Tim and his team.
Another blast from the past also gleaming in the sunshine was ‘Zenique’, a Rampart 39 which I sold in 2014.
And there, among the smattering of Dunkirk Little Ships present in Birdham Pool marina on Sunday and dressed overall was ‘Maimonde’ with its distinctive canoe stern.
When her current owner, Howard, found her some years ago languishing in a Grimsby harbour, he knew that he was looking for a Saunders Roe, but at that time, he had no idea that he was also buying a Dunkirk Little Ship. Subsequent research confirmed the vessel’s wartime credentials.
Howard then undertook a restoration which would have allowed him to traverse The Channel with a select few Dunkirk Little Ships in 2020.
The planned return to Dunkirk was cancelled due to the Covid regulations in force at the time. However, the Mayor of Dunkirk made plaques (like the one above) in recognition of the commitment of the ADLS to maintain relations with the city of Dunkirk.
The Dunkirk Little Ships will be welcome again to return to Dunkirk in 2025, and the ADLS are determined to make the event even more memorable.
If you are tempted to join them, see the HSC website for the current list of Dunkirk Little Ships we have on brokerage.
"What a difference a day makes", sings Jamie Cullum. Indeed just the previous Saturday morning I had been at a genteel riverside breakfast with fellow members of the Hennerton Backwater Association on Willow Lane in Wargrave.
These lucky riparian owners care passionately about their reach of the Thames, and in the absence of maintenance by the Environment Agency the association has equipped itself to perform basic maintenance.
If you care about the Thames why not consider joining The River Thames Society (via their website).
Members receive their quarterly Thames Guardian magazine and branch communications, invitations to talks & river trips, news of current campaigns and planning issues affecting the river and its environment, opportunities to take part in voluntary activities, such as clean-ups, acting as River Wardens, rowing and supporting their watermen’s cutter, and many other events.
Two weeks ago HSC's Henley Houseboat finally arrived!
Here it is, leaving Ireland on the back of a lorry and getting hoisted into the water at its riverside mooring plot along the Wargrave Road.
Perhaps next year’s Hennerton Backwater Association breakfast will take place on board.
The word 'shutter slut' entered our vocabulary last week as a result of some of our skippers enjoying star status on set for the 'The Boys in the Boat' film.
From what I hear, filming was a rather stop-start process with hours spent at anchor interspersed with frenetic bouts of cinematic action.
The limelight fades as filming finishes for HSC.
Spring half term and the long Jubilee weekend provided us with an opportunity to meet ‘en famille’ on the north Norfolk coast.
Last year we explored the river Deben in Suffolk, so this year we decided to head further up the east coast for more exploration.
The north Norfolk coast is renowned for bird watching, crabbing and its basking seals.
The morning we had booked to go seal spotting was perfect in every way; the sea was calm, the seals were present, and the onboard banter was priceless.
The next day it was predictably chilly on the beach at Brancaster. While other families erected their stripey windshields, we dug a deep hole to shelter us from the wind.
Needless to say, a good time was had by all, although our crabbing efforts at Blakeney were a little disappointing for the grandchildren (but not for the crabs).
Fortunately, great seafood could be purchased from a famous fish monger in Burnham market (Chelsea-on-Sea) named Gurneys.
It is not too late to get your tickets for the Thames Traditional Boat Festivalwhich will soon be upon us following Henley Royal Regatta and the Music festival.
If you want a little Dunkirk Little Ship, we have ‘Deenar’ that has just gone up on the website. A boat with lots of history.
I look forward to seeing familiar faces at our TTBF stand in its usual spot upstream of the small bridge.
In the meantime, I shall be on the ocean waves cruising the Baltic in the wake of our Viking ancestors. More on that big adventure in next month’s summer edition of the newsletter.