The Beale Park Boat Show
I went over to the Beale Park Boat
Show today, and it seemed pretty good to me, and so here are
some pictures of Corinthian home-built and heroic craftsman-built
Boats on Show was a good show last
year but wasn't well attended despite some good weather, and this
year I think it's fair to say that splits among the organisations
representing small boat designers, builders, hirers and whoever
else led to two new shows. It sounds like a recipe for commercial
disaster, but things don't seem to have worked out all that badly
in the end. I couldn't make the first, which took place last month,
but I'm delighted to say that the show I attended yesterday seemed
reasonably healthy. I would not be surprised to find that it will
eventually win out as our premier commercially-run wooden and
home built boat show in the UK.
Picture a small lake connected
to the Thames, and a boat exhibition connected to that. What would
you expect? Thames skiffs, just to begin with. A classic Thames
steam launch. A heap of very pretty boats from professional wooden
boat shops, of course. The Dinghy Cruising Association. And some
competition entries, of course. I took photos of all of those.
A few didn't come out quite as I'd have liked, but here are those
The first boat I saw was this
gorgeous Thames skiff - a little like the ones my father used
to hire for our family when I was a boy in the 60s - however,
this one has a sail and is generally prettier. Thames skiffs
are not terribly stable boats, so anyone who can sail this in
a narrow, winding river with fluky winds influenced - or ruined,
I think its often fair to say by trees, houses and suuden clearings
has my admiration.
Where there's a wooden boat show,
there is the Dinghy Cruising Association. Here's the DCA's president
Roger Barnes with Baggywrinkle, his remarkable Tideway adapted
for cruising. USA types might be interested to learn that these
people sleep in their boats, partly because they enjoy it but
mainly, I suspect, because British farmers and land owners act
decisively to discourage anyone from camping on their land,
even when they're next to their moored boat. So you have to
sleep on board, or in a bed and breakfast.
Weir's proas were interesting.
The construction of the hulls appeared to be simplicity itself.
I dropped by the Swallow Boatworks
people to ask a few questions about the sligind gunter rig they
have designed into their Sandpiper model - I was interested
because there has been some suggested that a small one could
be fitted to some Mouse boats. I was assured that there's nothing
tricky about this elegant rig, and that it works very well.
The only oddity of this boomless rig with a mast and mast extention
all in line is that it's helpful to use a paddle to hold the
sail in shape on a broad reach. (If any of you Mouse boat folks
are listening, btw, I think some of you should try it!)
Here's a narrow boat. Not home
built, but I think it was someone's accommodation for the weekend.
Lovers of ornate skiffs will
like this pair. Dig that canoe too...
This is Frank and Margaret Dye's
famous Wayfarer, which they've used to cross some fearsome seas.
They're regular attenders of these shows, and Margaret has the
charming habit of blessing the boats in the show that she likes
with little sprays of wild flowers.
Here's a boat that I think is
a kind of gondola, apparently made by stitch and glue. A very
This Laurent Giles-designed Jolly Boat built
by Harwich Boatcraft was one of my favourites. Cute, and solid
and wholesome are just some of the words that come to mind.
I belive the design can be bought and is intended to be suitable
for amateur construction.
I've shown you pictures of this
boat built by Jamie Clay before, but it's such a beauty I just
had to take some more shots.
This is a 15ft Orkney yole designed
and built by two third year boatbuilding students at Lowestoft
And this pram was built by another
Lowestoft student, John Beard.
This is a very woody Wayfarer
- notice the wooden spars and boom. That's something you don't
This is a part-built entry for
the show's competition, a Linnet designed by Woods Design and
built by Ken Norman. Bolger fans will notice the off-centre
daggerboard - maybe this kind of thing is catching on.
(I thought this a rather nice
lightweight skiff, and it reminded me rather of my own design,
the Light Trow, which is aimed at pretty well the same purpose
but is as yet unbuilt. (Lucky Mr Woods!)
The builder had this to say:
"We enjoy our large family dayboat but she does take
ages to get ready for sailing. We wanted a lightweight boat
so we could sail more spontainously, more often. This is the
first boat I have ever built. I found it a really enjoyable
A little boat called Blue Coot
designed by Paul Fisher of Selway-Fisher and built by a Phillip
Cresswell was the next entry in line.
Following on was Tit Willow,
an epoxy ply gaff sloop built and designed by Chris Waite. This
one has a displacement of 1.23 tons, and looks to me as if it's
intended to deal with some challenging passages.
The winner of this year's amateur
boatbuilding competition. Built by its designer working from
a half model made from MDF, it was inspired by Yorkshire cobles,
Suffolk beach punts, Cornish mackerel drivers and the Breton
chaloupe. A very cool boat, but my photo of the builder's explanatory
notice didn't come out, so I can't tell you the gentleman's