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All boats shown in this gallery are or were, owned by me. Except for my 12' National racing dinghy and the two 10' sailing dinghies shown, which I built for customers, I still have all the wooden boats shown. They were all built in the family boatyard founded by my father in 1909. However, I have enjoyed many other boats in my life. Before it became common for holidaymakers to arrive towing their own boats it was usual for them to hire a boat on arrival. At its peak my father's hire fleet comprised about 50 boats for rowing,sailing and motor. My brothers and I were free to use any boat we wished as long as it was not on hire and we used to go off by ourselves when quite young without our parents having any idea where we were. Sometimes we had left the harbour altogether! These boats which I have retained for my own use even after emigrating to Norway in 2003 are all veteran boats now and I have worked to restore and maintain them all in good condition.
'Atlantic' in 1919 - Her First Season
She is 90 years old this year and the picture shows my father in her soon after launching. Originally powered by a twin cylinder 'Atlantic' engine she has always been in my family except for a short time around WW2. She was commandeered by the Royal Navy and spent the war years taking sailors out to their ships. We got her back after the war in poor condition and without the engine. Overhauled, she became part of our hire fleet until I withdrew her from it in 1984 and overhauled her again with new decks etc for my own use. She is built of English Elm planking on oak and the seats are the original teak, the new decks being iroko. Engine now is 15hp BMC.
Here I am in 'Atlantic' after her arrival in Norway where she has attracted much interest. She is on her third engine now-a marine version of the 1000 cc BMC petrol engine which gives her a good top speed around 6 knots.
My father built this canoe for me when I was 10 years old. It is very fast on a reach but very slow to come about due to its length. I have kept it for sentimental reasons and still have it here in Norway although it has not been afloat for many years. I have decided that I must overhaul it a bit and then try it out again before it is too late!
The same sailing canoe, restored in 2010. I am going to put it on the water again and see if I can still sail it without getting a swim. That may lead to further photos later on.
This is my 12' National dinghy which I got when I was 13 years old. It was a design by Uffa Fox, known as the 'Uffa King' design. It had a vee-shaped hull and went very well to windward if you could keep it upright.This class was not a one-design and later boats evolved into a very different shape so that they could more easily plane for improved downwind performance. In the background you can see my father's boatyard and the house with the white balcony was our family home.
I was a keen dinghy sailor until I took up cruising in 1972. This is my Firefly class dinghy which I raced extensively in UK in the 1950's. With my brother as crew I sailed this boat around the Isle of Wight in 1953 in a dinghy race organised by Uffa Fox. The Firefly is a one-design class and was used for the single handed races in the 1948 Olympic games. At that time it was similar to the 12' National dinghies and they often raced together, but the National, not being one-design, evolved into a very different shaped boat for better planing performance off the wind.
With a growing family I gave up dinghy racing and my father built me a 14' sailing dinghy, identical to the one in the picture, which was more of a family boat than a racer. I sold it when my job necessitated moving away from the sea and later bought my first yacht and started cruising. Years later, after I had retired, I found this example of my father's dinghies lying ashore looking neglected, so bought it and worked on it in my spare time to bring it back to good condition. Father built many of these fast and relatively stable boats and many people learned to sail in them. Mine was built in 1954. In the picture we did not have the jib up because we had a very young passenger.
I have this dinghy in Norway. She is 12' long and built of mahogany in 1978. I also have here a similar 10' boat built of English Elm in 1954 which I have restored to new condition after much work. My father and after him, my brother, built dozens of similar boats over the years.
All my wooden boats have sculling notches but this method of propulsion seems to be a dying art although it is the most efficient method for one person to move a heavy boat single handed. I have used it with good effect to move a 32' Naval cutter which due to its beam and high freeboard I could not have rowed with two oars You need a straight bladed ash oar-this is not the Chinese yuloh which does not require any skill.
Another kind of sculling
Competitive rowing and sculling (as well as sailing) has always been my main sport. I have a racing single which in the picture I am racing in Sarpsborg, Norway. I have rowed and sculled in races all over Europe and also in USA on the Masters circuit.
This was 'Buran', my first yacht - a Sparkman and Stevens 34. She is a sister ship to the one that became an outright winner of the Sydney/Hobart race. I sailed her for 14 years, crossing the English Channel to cruise in N.France and Bay of Biscay many times. I never met up with another boat of her size that could outsail her to windward in a strong wind and she was a superb seaboat in all conditions.
I discovered the S&S designed Catalina 38 on the internet and realised that these boats had to be similar in performance to my earlier S&S34. This one was in Florida after spending most of its life on the Great Lakes. She had a major upgrading of hull deck and rigging in 2001 but I think her 7' draft was a bit much for Florida waters. Exchange rate was favourable and got an 'above average' survey report on her so I bought her via the internet and never saw her till she was ofloaded onto the quay in Norway. I knew from experience that I did not need to test sail her before purchase but my friends thought I was crazy to buy a boat on the internet unseen-until they saw what a lovely boat she is.
Here 'Sierra' is alongside one of our offshore islands. As can be seen, I have not been able yet to bring myself to have the beautiful Awlgrip finish ground off the transom to change her home port to Tunsberg. The previous owner may have had connections in San Diego but to the best of my knowledge 'Sierra' has never been there or anywhere else except the Great Lakes and the East Coast of USA.
Calm sea, not much wind but she still gives me a hassle-free 6.2 knots. The echo sounder shows over 95 metres of water under the keel yet we are only just over a mile from the offshore belt of islands here in Oslo fjord.
In this picture my wife is sailing her at over 7 knots. 'Sierra' slips along without fuss and shows a clean wake. Since the two of us are often the only crew we have many bags of racing sails stashed away ashore. most of these are by Doyle. The newest 'racing' mainsail stays ashore and the jib we use on the Profurl roller is a 130% nearly new Mack sail.
I am an engineer but since I spent my first 16 years living next door to my father's boatyard I learned very well how wooden boats were built My brother took over the yard when my father died and when he also died I, already retired from my own profession, ran the yard while looking for a suitable purchaser. This 10' mahogany dinghy was designed by me in the traditional way by selecting a suitable midship mould and transom shape and doing the rest by eye. The customer wanted to use her as a rowboat too, so all the spars had to fit within the boat. With a plywood centreboard she was very lively to sail even with the small sail shown.
This is another similar 10' dinghy built for a customer and she was the last boat to be built in our yard before it was sold. As can be gathered from the picture I had to take her home and finish her in my garage because the sale took place before she was quite finished. The customer wanted to varnish her himself so she is pictured with only a priming coat on her.
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