On a more or less ‘approved mission’, I went for a day trip to the London Boat Show. It is clearly a bit of a sad shadow of its former self! No boats on the water and now just occupying the South Hall of Excel!
The mission; other than to have a nice day out, was to find a suitable day boat that we could use to creek crawl around Chichester Harbour or to tow to the Lakes or the seaside. I’d originally thought that my Gull dinghy would have been perfect for messing about the Harbour but after an erratic wobble around Olton Mere, with both Anne and I trying not to capsize or tip each other over the side, we soon realised that ‘Gracelet’ the Gull at 12 feet long was not going to work! We are just too big!
Gracelet the Gull
So that was how I found myself at the Boat Show………!
The Boat Show
My first stop was at the boating ‘essentials’; the helicopters, followed shortly afterwards by the amphibious Dutton cars. I particularly like the blue one. Oh and a hot tub! They would all make a very useful additions to the ‘fleet’.
There were some great ‘pop-up’ cleats on a new Dehler Yacht, which considering everything else on the deck to stub your toes on they seemed completely unnecessary but rather fun! I can’t help feel that they will always be ‘down’ when you really need them to be ‘up’! One yacht which I liked was a new 31 foot Sun Odyssey which had full 6’6″ headroom in the saloon. Perfect for me!
Finally I came to the purpose of the trip….. the day boats! I found a rather nice 20 foot Bay Raider from Swallow Yachts. I really like that it does not have a ‘traditional’ wooden gaff rig but lightweight carbon fibre masts. It also used water ballast instead of lead, so making the boat much easier to handle out of the water. This boat has got to go to the top of my list, although if it was between 17 and 18 feet it would be even better!
Bay Raider….my favourite for now!
Then there are the usual Cornish Crabbers and Shrimpers, I almost bought one some time ago and there are plenty in Chichester Harbour. Very nice and lots of used ones, these are now at the top of my list! There was a man with one on the Dutch Oostershede, as we edged our way onto a berth along side a rickety wooden pier, which had us grazing the bottom and squeezing in between two other yachts. He rocked up, chucked the anchor over the side and went to make a cup of tea! All very slick! As was his departure next morning; engine on, anchor up and off and away! Quite a contrast to our own departure from the beautifully quiet little bay where we had stayed that night. Plenty of engine revs and fenders, looked on by our anxious neighbours! I think if I had really understood ‘springing off’ it might have been less dramatic……but then again probably not!
Night time on the Oostershede
A peaceful little bay on the Oostershede !
Cornish Shrimpers…….now my favourite!
I also discover that I had not been greasing my Bruntons ‘Autoprop’ correctly and that I should be engaging ‘ahead’ when sailing and not putting it in ‘astern’ as instructed in the Volvo manual! On the stand I found myself selling the benefits of the prop better than the salesman! He obviously had never sailed a boat with one! 1.7 litres of fuel per hour, full power and little prop walk when going astern.
I also discovered how Ander in Denmark will fit Grace’s Christmas present – a whisker pole to fly the genoa when sailing down wind.
Grace’s Christmas whisker pole
The next thing that caught my eye was a sandwich and pie maker for the boat’s gas ring! I was keen to find out how this worked so while chatting to the chef, we developed quite a crowd! He was so grateful as no one had spoken to him all day that he made me a very nice ham and cheese toastie by way of thanks!
I finally found the boat we need, a Drascombe Lugger. It’s about 18 feet long and although gaff rigged, so not my favourite but at least the wooden spars fit inside the boat for towing. The Lugger is based on a Lancashire workboat that is very seaworthy and stable….and is now top of my list! The first Lugger, ‘Luka’ is in the National Maritime Museum at Falmouth.
Drascombe Lugger…..definitely my favourite!
Then, just as I was leaving for the train, I found the perfect addition to the fleet…….a folding canoe. I almost bought it there and then – except the picture on the display of the happy wanderer with the canoe in a bag on her back was clearly misleading as it weighed a tonne and needed about five different packs! So much so that it would have been a miracle if one person could carry it or indeed float!
The folding canoe!