Monday, 14 April 2014

Havengore Route

 Having mentioned this route, or the bridge, in a few magazine articles now I thought it might be useful to accompany those with this clip of Shoal Waters sailing through Havengore Bridge.

Monday, 7 April 2014

8' Rowing Boat Converted For Sailing

 Sea Trials. The completed dinghy now ready for sailing.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Wordy whats coming up

A few wordy things to look out for over the coming months. Firstly please do take a look at the Creeksailor Twitter page and say hi, even follow and spread the word if you are able to.

If you missed the Creeksailor feature in February's Sailing Today magazine take a look at next months YachtingMonthly, in the shops this week, for a lovely feature called A Pattern of Creeks.
There is also a feature about sailing the creeks of Essex in a forthcoming issue of the Countryman magazine .

For readers on the USA side of the Atlantic there will be a feature on Thames Estuary cruising in Shoal Waters in a forthcoming edition of Small Craft Advisor Magazine. Copies of the Creeksailor book Ready About on the River Blackwater are also obtainable from Small Craft Advisor in the USA.

On the book front here, Winkler's Tales has been sent out to Australia (including Tasmania), Ireland, New Zealand and the USA. And of course, parts of Britain.
There is another cruising book "in the pipe" as we speak, which should be available by September. But more about this as and when I know of any definite date of availability.  

No doubt with the longer days and brighter weather upon us cruisers are being dusted off, and the necessary paint and varnish applied.
Good Sailing for now, TS

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Tepco 8' Stem Dinghy - The Yachtsman's 'Bawley' Boat


THE TEPCO DINGHY is synonymous with East Coast yachtsmen and fishermen alike. It is quite likely there are thousands of them in and around this coastline.  The boat has lines that hide nothing from the viewer therefore they are an honest craft. With the Tepco what you see is what you get. The eight feet version is as chunky as a butchers dog. It has the full shoulders of a Staffordshire bull terrier, the sure footing of the British bulldog and a layup build quality of a Chieftain tank. What you end up with is an all-round, workman-like tender dinghy that is just as at home ferrying the sailor to his cruising yacht as it is the hard-nut fisherman heading out to his dredger in a Force 6.
  The Tepco is rather obliging too when simply leaving her laying for months on-end as a beach dinghy. If she is full of rain water on your return she will still function as intended after a bail-out. But surely the Tepco is much more than a mere tender dinghy. And sure enough, alone the Tepco is suited for setting a siene net in a creek, or fishing from with rod and reel. I like to scull mine around the creek, and I've rowed her up the Blackwater in open water and with a Force 5 blowing white seahorses off the crests of gnarling chop, from Goldhanger to the Osea Road and back to the head of Wilkins Creek. Not a drop of water shipped.
  They were built at Leigh-on-Sea which has a long history of fishing and goes some way in answering the working boat familiarities. The Tepco can be seen as a type of 'bawley' boat of the yachtsman. It will work for you, carry your tools, pick up the other half, and get the supplies on-board. In use the eight feet version (8' 2") is reliably stable, partly due to her two feet at the stem and 18 inches amidships and her beam of four feet two inches.
Being that the layup is heavy (some, like mine, also have teak inwales and gunwales) they are a relatively heavy boat to handle on land so it's worth considering what your main priorities are before you decide to buy one. There is quite a healthy second-hand market being as there are so many about and they can be picked up for between £100 - £300.
If you have a spare sailing rig then the basic Tepco stem dinghy is a good foundation for a stable sailing dinghy... Here's a Tepco refurbishment, undertaken with a few cannibalized parts and various odd bits of wood, with adaptations to give the option of sailing her as well as sculling and rowing.
Glassed thwart removed and slot cut in central bilge to accept dagger board.

New marine ply keel box set in epoxy and tape.

Mast foot positioning after leveling hull.

Plant-on iroko piece using plywood biscuits and epoxy. The Mirror rudder fittings are adjusted to suit sculling notch.

New oak bilge strip is sikaflex and screwed in place.
New Iroko thwart in position. Dagger board is cut down to suit and oak strips with finger pulls routed before epoxy.
New rowlock blocks were made two inches longer.
Scraping off old varnish with a sharp chisel makes light work of sanding the beautiful teak gunwales.
Pilot holes are made with a braddel for accuracy. Old holes will be epoxy filled.
Repositioning pintel on an ex Mirror rudder.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Winkler's Tales

Smaller Boat Publications
Available to purchase now:
Title:  Winkler's Tales ISBN 978-0-9569030-1-3
Size 110mm x 180mm
120 black and white pages plus full colour cover
19721 words
69 photographs
3 illustrations

 Small boats make the world a bigger place, as Tony Smith demonstrated in his first book, Ready About on the River Blackwater, a charming exploration of the creeks and secret corners of the marshy Essex coast. Now, in Winkler’s Tales, he’s expanded his universe even further, by going even smaller in his home-built 12ft sailing duck punt. Along the way, he’s evolved his own unique brand of “roof-rack” boating, literally sailing to new heights in these enchanting, intrepid adventures that will broaden your horizons, whether you’re at home in your armchair or are inspired to venture forth and delve into the dewy margins of land and water. This is a pocket gem, a companion on a journey into hidden nooks of time, nature and history. DAVE SELBY 
 Book Price £8.49 plus £2.50 UK postage.
 UK buyers please use the PayPal button below. A PayPal account is not needed for UK buyers.

Overseas buyers; Please do not use the above button. You need a PayPal account to make the total payment; i.e. Book Price £8.49 plus £8.00 postage  to  USA, Australia, New Zealand etc. payment to smallerboat at hotmail dot co dot uk  - if in doubt please make contact first using the creeksailor email address on the top right of the site.  Thank you  

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Robert Manry

I've just finished reading Tinkerbelle, Robert Manry's story of his lone crossing of the Atlantic from Falmouth, USA to Falmouth, England in his 13.5 feet cabin cruiser. I find the whole Manry story a fascinating one. What an inspiration he has been, and still is. Having read through the final words of his book and put it down on the table, I come away from the pages thinking "wow", I felt lifted, and inspired. And, if it was'nt already there, with a confounded confidence that in a small boat anything truly is possible.
There is a website called the Manry Project, where his daily log of the trip is a fascinating read. It was interesting to read the log first and then follow that with reading his book.
 The whole story was front page news back in 1965, when literally everyone on both sides of the Atlantic were following news reports of his whereabouts during the 78 day crossing.
The whole concept of what society classes a normal working  man, working a normal job and having a young family, being compelled to take to a path of adventure into the unknown, to realize his dreams. I can fully side with.
  First of all we have to be living a "normal" existence, perhaps being confined to a dreary day job, or possibly a routine of; she brushes her teeth in the morning at 06.35, and you follow at 06.40; the train leaves the station at 07.10 and you're there without fail, waiting for it five minutes earlier at 07.05, to be able to have the dreams in the first place - to want more out of this life. As far as I know, when it happens, as it inevitably will to all of us, we will be spending a long time being dead. Every spring thereafter we will be pushing those daffodils up. It therefore makes complete and logical sense; live life to fullest of your own ability.

Here are a couple of Manry links to be inspired by:
 Pathe News 1965

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Maldon Little Ship Club Table-Top Sale

Ahoy all mariners! Please make a note in your log books.

Sunday, March 30.

 There will be a treasure trove of boat bits on offer when Maldon Little Ship Club hold their popular annual Table-Top Sale on Sunday, March 30.
Buy or sell anything — from fittings to fairleads; boots to books; clothing to compasses - sounding canes and splatchers.

If you have any bits of boating paraphernalia, then why not rent a table for just £5. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a bargain, then just turn up at the MLSC on Maldon Quay on March 30. You never know what goodies there will be.
Embark 10.00 hrs; disembark 16.00 hrs

To book a table ring 01621 891949. 

Free admission; refreshments available; bar open...

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Mud Splatchers and Sounding Canes

The Essex Boat Jumble, held at Ardleigh Showground, Old Ipswich Rd took place last weekend. Everyone was worried about the weather, having had so much rain previously, and hoped it wouldn't be cancelled due to a washout. Hats off to the organisers of the event; Chaddock and Fox Promotions, it must be nightmare having to cancel something like this, being booked so far in advance, specially as they need so many staff for the event run smoothly.
 Creeky Dave took a stall and let me cadge floor space and table corner beside a few thumbed nautical tomes that were going for a song. What bargains you lovely people had.

My line of custom made sounding canes. Orders are now being taken
 I took along a few pieces of custom made East Coast kit - rare as hens teeth - that I let go at bargain basement prices too, to a few non-suspecting boaters. My line of splatchers were popular, and I received many jovial remarks about them.  A few folk even went as far as parting with their boaty cash to be adorned in a pair. It was smiles all round. The 'Creeksailor' sounding canes drew much interest as well with folk intrigued to learn I have a custom made version for each river on the East Coast. You can buy bean sticks anywhere but not like these. These are authentic custom made Creeksailor specials, and I can hand craft a stick or splatcher for any creek or river. Give it some stick...
This is the list of canes that were for sale on the day.
Blackwater Special, Mk I Crouch, Swale Stick 6', Orwell 8', Stour 6', Deben, Ore - Alde Mk IIs,
Mk II Rays'n, Neap-Tider 4' special, Thames Max 8', Roach 6', Colnesider's 6', Mk II Medway,
Walton Poker 6', Butley Wand 6', Spitway Jab, Low-Tide Frenzy.

Splatchers were used by winkle pickers. I always carry a pair on board
PS. I'm producing a new line of 'hand' splatchers, for when you fall flat on your face in mud while wearing splatchers!

Friday, 21 February 2014

Burning Desire

One way to end a day's sailing is to sit quietly at anchor. Here, in this image, we are just below Wallasea Jetty; swamped, and in our element - the low coast. It is time for reflecting on a passage accomplished - to watch as every drop of sun burns away the last of ones desire...
 A little further inland, one tack with a favourable wind, sea winds still echo along the grassy banks of the Crouch. They climb the great clumps of land that rise up, and are swept along its belts. If ever there was a "land of the giants" the hills there, and those that rise from every estuary up to Suffolk, would have been their stepping stones...

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Marigold Public Sail Dates

For those that missed out last year, here's your chance to get out in the wonderful bawley, Marigold, in 2014. Engine-less to boot! For traditionalist it doesn't get much better than this. A sail down the Blackwater really can be a sail back in time aboard Thames bawley Marigold. Her type once shot their nets in the Thames Estuary from the little fishing port of Gravesend, and she comes from a stable whose linage goes back to the days of working sail, smoking chimneys, winkle shells and fishy nets of Maldon's waterfront. Do check out the links and see for yourself. TS

Marigold Charters  Public Sails 2014

Public sails are for those who wish to book individual places on-board Marigold rather than charter the boat. As with our charters, guests are invited to get involved with the sailing and handling of the boat as much or as little as they want. Whether helping us sail or just sitting back and watching the world go by. If conditions permit, you also have the opportunity to experience fishing under sail (not available on tide sails or race days).

SATURDAY 19th APRIL (13:00 to 17:00) Tide Sail from Maldon, Price £25.00 per person. Tea and coffee provided. Please bring your own lunch.

SUNDAY 8th JUNE (08:00 to 20:25) Day Sail from Maldon. Price £65.00 per person, including bacon roll for breakfast, a light lunch, afternoon cake and tea and coffee.

SATURDAY 5th JULY (TBA) Day Sail from Pin Mill, following the Pin Mill Barge Match. Price £70.00 per person, including bacon roll for breakfast, a light lunch, afternoon cake and tea and coffee. FULLY BOOKED.

WEDNESDAY 6th AUGUST (07:30 to 20:00) Day Sail from Maldon. Price £65.00 per person, including bacon roll for breakfast, a light lunch, afternoon cake and tea and coffee.

MONDAY 25th AUGUST (10:30 to 14:30) Tide Sail from Maldon. Price £25.00 per person. Tea and coffee provided. Please bring your own lunch.

SATURDAY 13th SEPTEMBER (TBA) Day Sail from Brightlingsea, participating in the Colne Match. Price £70.00 per person, including bacon roll for breakfast a light lunch, afternoon cake and tea and coffee.

SATURDAY 27th SEPTEMBER (12:15 to 16:00) Tide Sail from Maldon following the Maldon Town Regatta Parade of Sail. Price £28.50 per person. Tea and coffee provided. Please bring your own lunch.

Since ‘Marigold’ has no engine all finishing times are approximate. All times are in BST.

For more information visit our website or contact 07801364135 or email to

Marigold is also available to charter for groups of up to 6 guests for tide or day sails.
All trips are offered subject to the weather. Please refer to our terms and conditions.

Saturday, 8 February 2014


Perhaps the most versatile piece of kit carried on board Shoal Waters, and my punts and dinghies, is the the sounding cane.  It is positively the most used, and relied on tool, as well. Costs for this vital creek sailing aid do vary of course, depending on where you make your purchase. e.g. I ventured into an upmarket garden center and spied the 8' version, stacked upright beside the tomato plants, costing a balaclava clad £1.00 each; while just down the road, they cant give them away quick enough, at 50p each. The 6' version comes in bundles of 10 and can be bought at a very charitable 2 or 3 quid. This equates to 20p or 30p each. When you consider the amount of usage on board, how relied on this tool is; and how naked a skipper suddenly feels when his last one rolls off the coach roof during a hectic "lee ho," then prices like these, for "yachting" equipment, are almost unheard of in the modern world of boating. A boat that floats might do well to carry some stick...

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Mind That Dinghy

Nothin stops me goin sailin!
This scene unfolded before me in the Greek Islands, last summer, when it raised an eyebrow or two. For the whole duration of my stay on Naxos I saw one dinghy, the one on the right, that graced the sunset for us every evening in a bay that spanned about ten miles wide. How I envied that person who sailed the magic hour in a backdrop of godly islands painted by a burning red sun which then sunk behind them every night. I went on to scour the surrounding villages in searing heat, I pretended to go snorkeling for sea shells when really I was miles along the bay coming up for air searching for the lone dinghy and its mooring. I was surprised to find it a few days into the search gracing the corner of a tranquil bay where it lay under shade of some trees on idyllic white sand. The skipper was nowhere to be seen. Lucky for them as I was going to collar them for a sail. I guessed they were locals as they knew the right time to appear, and disappear...
A couple of days later a bush fire raged up in the mountains. Sirens squealed as a squadron of three seaplanes circled our bay before swooping in, each one in turn scooping up tons of water and flying off again, up to the mountains where I could see it drop its cargo of sea on smoking, mountainous terrain.
Strangely, the only time I saw these two dinghies sailing together they happen to be sailing in the path of the emergency seaplanes.  You have to hand it to those pilots who worked tirelessly to dodge these two herberts, and until darkness in order to put out the raging bush fire. And those sailors? You got to hand it to them too as they ain't letting nothing get in the way of sailin!

Friday, 10 January 2014

The London Boat Show

The London Boat show may only be a short hop away but the pre-booking price for three adults in the same family came to £31.75 for an after 3pm entry. Add the £15.00 onsite parking fee and you start to wonder, was this a good idea after all... We arrived at the door at 18.00 for Thursday’s late night opening until 21.00. Three hours of bling would surely be more than enough to cope with.
The brief to my kids were; imagine you had won the Lottery. Now, keep your eye open for a family sized creek crawler with centerplate that we could spend 6 months on and could take the whole family anywhere in the World…
The hall seemed to be larger this year, but then this may have been an illusion. My son noticed straight away that last year’s car section was missing and headed blindfold for the biggest Sunseeker in the building. We had parted ways for a while, and that is fair enough, they know I go straight for the raggy bits that stick up between the gleem.
The sweeping sheer and on-the-floor draft of the Swallow Boat
I couldn’t help but notice a solitary Drascombe among the motor vessels that made up the majority of prominent boats in the hall. With its three tan sails raised it looked to be making a last stand against a tidal surge of Diesel.  I did find a couple of modern-day contenders for an ideal creek crawler in the form of the Swallow  Boats. GRP boats with classic looks but with modern composite spars and performance. The Crabbers were on show too with the ever popular 19ft Shrimper beside a very similar 19ft Adventurer. The Adventurer looked to be a Bermudan rig Shrimper but the bar was next to the stand and I got called away before I could take a closer look.

I heard the kids calling me over. They said they had found the ideal boat - two boats in fact. "Ok, I’m coming" I yelled and made my way over. My daughter then pointed to one yacht that sat four or five feet lower that every other yacht in the line along the back wall. “Look, under there, it has a lifting keel and draws less than 3ft. It’s 42ft long so we could easily sail the Atlantic. Just imagine Dad we could then head up New York Creek? It only costs around 300 grand.” "Oh that’s one of those lovely Southerly’s. Let’s have two of those then!" Phew, calm down dear I thought to myself, does New York even have a creek? This wasn’t a good idea coming here. Quick, let’s get back to the mud of Essex and our little bundle of joy. “Hold on Dad there’s one more” "Do we have to, this is getting tedious, I am simply not used to having so much room in a boat. I would trip over the volumes of airspace."
The voluminous Southerly. Worldwide family creek crawling
“No, you’ll like this one Dad. An Ovni 42. She’s made of aluminum and draws the same as the Southerly but her plate is like that on Shoal Waters and can be lifted easily by a series of ropes and pulleys. At 42ft she is the same length too so we’d all get in and be able to do the World series creek hop. And, price-wise they are similar to the Southerly but you can pick them up second hand at a bargain 90 grand.” "Blimey wed get one of those each then. The dog can have one too. Just think we could sail in convoy and do a raid on New York beach? Let’s have it then…" “Oh, this one's not for sale Dad…"
If I’m honest, for us that was this year’s boat show. A lot of dreaming!