The blog will now be devoted not to boat building but to my 82-year-old Vertue, Sally II, now undergoing a well needed refit at Johnson & Loftus in Ullapool (and gliding...)

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Bon Voyage Thembi

All photos please credit Adrian Morgan
Tomorrow four friends set off from Ullapool bound for Jan Mayen Island, 71°N 8°30'W, 950km west of Norway, 600 km north of Iceland, to climb a volcano. Tim Loftus built Thembi, a 34ft Ed Burnett cutter, virtually single handedly in a shed near Cockenzie and she is certainly fit for purpose, being perhaps the best-built modern/traditional small yacht I know.

All the lessons learnt about materials since what I consider the heyday of plank on frame bulding in the 1930s have been incorporated into her structure: bronze floors and engineering, super strong centreline, a well supported mast, and what I like most: simplicity - all the structure visible, nothing hidden. Which means you can not only admire the workmanship, but perhaps more important, get at everything without stripping back layers of veneered panelling grp boat builders use to hide the structure.

Tim's task is to climb the northernmost volcano, Beerenberg, 7,000 or so feet of ice and rock that rises straight up from the sea. He's taking Dan Johnson, who shares my shed, and his partner Charlotte Watters, and marine biologist Stuart Anderson. It's only been climbed, Tim told me, by 16 people and as a non-climber can see why.

They certainly have the boat to get them there, and the climbing team is young, strong and experienced. Not my idea of fun but I admire those for whom it is.

Bon voyage.


  1. Great boat - I enjoyed your post. Just added to I have been following and enjoying your blog. --- TIM

  2. A chart table! Imagine that.