Off she goes, Iain Oughtred's slightly foreshortened Penny Fee, at 15ft. Sails by Jeckells, spars by the wonderful Jeremy Freeland at Collars. The rest by Messrs Burke and Morgan (that's Jonny by the way...)

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Inspiration from the Smallest Room

Every morning, regularly... no I won't go there. But let's just say that in the smallest room of the house - actually all the rooms are pretty small, but this one is marginally smaller than the rest - a huge pile of old yachting magazines, which grows by the month, threatens to block access, yet provides inspiration and, occasionally, good advice. The advertisements are probably the best part of the contents, the car ads rodolent of a more leisured age. The Railton Cobham Deluxe saloon, for exampe, at £680. I wonder if any of them are still around? An 18 ton Hillyard for £700;  primus boat heaters from Pascall Atkey; Burberry's Steadfast shoes, made from sail canvas and felt soles for 12/6 a pair... you could wallow in nostalgia for hours.

In the October 1936 issue of Yachting Monthly William Atkin writes from America with comments on Stormy Weather's 1935 Newport to Bergen transatlantic win: "The chipper youngster Rod Stephens, with a slight-built yacht Stormy Weather, went to the north, escaped damage and won..." he writes.

Incidentally, talking of advice, Stephens' autobiography Rod on Sailing; Lessons from the Sea, unpublished, I think, is on free download. Superb reading, full of really down to earth advice, and in minute detail too on everything from bilge pumps to anchors, drawers, galleys, rigging, sails and more. For any owner of a wooden boat of the 1930s to 1960s, and beyond it is as invaluable as Eric Hiscock's old Cruising Under Sail. You can understand why to have Rod on board was so valued. Preparation, preparation, preparation...

Today's gem from the old magazine pile, however, was this: "The only way to become a really accomplished sailor and seaman is to learn to sail in a centreboard boat; and then, when once learned in the art, never again to set foot in one." Having just bought a Flying Fifteen, I can see what he's getting at.

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