Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Monday, 15 September 2014

Dadson 16' Creek-Crawler For Sale


16ft Classic Clinker 2 berth Centreboard Cruiser

An ideal boat for adventures in shoal waters.

Built by Richard Dadson of Faversham, Kent

Varnished mahogany planks on Oak ribs
Gunter rigged with pine spars
Galvanised centreboard with control line to cockpit
Galvanised tabernacle to make lowering mast easy

Length 16’
Beam 6’
Draft 1’4’’ – 3’

Large oars and galvanised rowlocks
Reliable Mercury 3.3HP longshaft 2 stroke outboard
Trailer with suspension and vertical guides to locate hull when launching and recovering

Fitted bilge pump, generous aft locker, fenders, mooring lines, plough anchor on deck, swimming ladder, boat hook, whisker pole, galvanised deck fittings.

The boat has been at Blackwater Sailing Club since 2000. She has been kept in a mud berth over the winter so the hull is tight. A reluctant sale due to my return to University resulting in a lack of time to sail her.

Richard Dadson started boatbuilding in 1936 and continued in his spare time until 1961 when he set up his own boat shop at his lodge at the Upper Brents, Faversham. His first commission was a 15ft gunter rigged clinker sailing boat built to a design based on a Cremer Barge boat and an Essex One Design. He worked out the design with his friend and client Andrew Osborne who still owns the boat; Lady Ann, to this day. He went on to build many similar boats of which Dragonfly is one; unfortunately an exact date of her construction is not known.

Prior to 2000 Dragonfly was known as Susan May.


Please call or email Rorie for more information or photographs on 077 966 087 94 
rorieash    @   gmail.   com

Located in Maldon, Essex.

Monday, 8 September 2014

New Creeksailor Book: 'SEA-COUNTRY' Available Now

My new book, titled 'SEA-COUNTRY' - 'Exploring Thames Estuary By-ways Under Sail' has just been released and is available from the publisher's Lodestar Books as from today, 08/09/14. If you have appreciated any of the writings on this site then you will love reading this book. This book is for the creek sailor, small boat enthusiast and armchair sailors alike, lovers of the coast and country, those interested to read of the wild and forgotten places along England's East Coast just waiting to be explored. It's not only packed with tales of small boat cruising adventure, undertaken in my cruiser Shoal Waters, but touches on history, traditional boats of this unique cruising area, and more. I really hope you enjoy it. Please support the muddy cause by purchasing your copy direct from the publishers here

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

GO GAFF Post Cards

Go Gaff postcard of Shoal Waters set in her home waters; England's East Coast. This one is to every reader of this site and is titled 'Stumble'.  Enjoy your sailing, Tony

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Dreamy Sail-Art

Couple of colourful and dreamy pics from today's cruise. I think these were RS's sailing downriver, off of Stone SC.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

To Wade or not to Wade

Part Of The ‘Creeksailor’s essentials toolkit’ for Thames Estuary creek-crawling are a pair of sea-boots.

Creek-sailing sea-boots come in all shapes and sizes and, on the whole, keep us dry or mud free when having to traverse a patch of mud, shingle or marsh to get to or from the boat while cruising. This is something quite different from a pair of yachting or dinghy boots that are designed to keep feet dry and at the same time give good grip while on a boat.

My own cruising footwear has gone through an evolutionary phase through trial, error and necessity. The results may be a refreshing surprise to those who are caught up in the midst of an age of technical garb being produced for sailors who can meet the requirements on the mortgage forms to pay for it. In light of all the money we could be spending on cruising wear perhaps we should be thankful that during the warmer summer months we can get away without using any footwear at all, choosing instead to go wading through a patch of mud bare-legged, in the knowledge everything wet dries off in no time - I don’t choose to do this bare footed just in case I cut myself on a buried shell, or who knows what else, but in colder climates it’s important to try and stay dry if at all possible. Anyone who’s been drenched and away from a dry change of clothes will know how much water increases the chill factor - single-handed and alone morale could soon follow; therefore it makes sense for the cruising man or woman to operate with this in mind.

What Type of Boot
The type of boots used for general dinghy sailing, and those which I have tried in the past, have a fine plimsoll-type rubber sole and can make do. But I found these were not quite up to the job of shoal cruising where more durable footwear, one that has to withstand the suction and sink of East Coast ooze, is called for. The dinghy boots I had worn were certainly light enough and, with go fast stripes or a yellow flash, looked the part while hanging around the tender boat rack down at the yacht club, but were definitely not long enough to stay dry in. They had a worthy rubber sole, moulded with good grip, but picked up pieces of grit from every step taken on mud or a beach which then ended up being trodden all over the boat, and that is after rinsing off any mud. Not something you want to encourage on GRP or finished paintwork surfaces. 

Basic Wellies 
For creek cruising, the knee length of the boot is all important too as this is what determines the depth you can comfortably wade about in without getting a boot full of water. Technical garb, and thus unloading heavy amounts of cash, is unnecessary for the creek cruiser. For he or she, the basic rubber wellington, much loved and used by farmers throughout Britain, serve well for most situations the active small boat skipper will come across including any canal work you are likely to undertake in the boat. In use they are light enough, flexible and easy to stow away, and in my own case, the rubber soles work well on Shoal Waters teak cockpit floor-boards and her painted decks which has the ‘all important’ added sand for grip. They are cheap to buy and are universally available in green or black colours.  I’ve found it is worth spending a little more cash, still relatively cheap for a quality brand like Argyle, the cheaper brand made for farmers by the ‘Hunter’ brand of wellies, where the rubber is purer and thus suppler and lasts longer than the substitute mix used to produce inferior, harder and more plastic-type wellies that seem to be more susceptible to the combined damaging effects of sea water and UVB given off by sunlight. I’ve had a couple of pairs of these plastic-type boots that developed cracks and split during the first seasons use. For very infrequent use anything will make do, of course, and theoretically a cheap pair could last a number of years but I’ve found the knee length Argyls, also known traditionally as Bullseye Hood at £30.00-ish when last purchased, are a decent bit of kit that, subject to the heavy abuse of the marine environment i.e. salt water, mud, UV rays, scuffs, scrapes, bending, folding and other general heavy wear associated with climbing over splintered shipwrecks; have at least two or three years of life in them.

Thigh Waders
The old chestnut of the outdoor footwear, and ‘fisherman’s favourite’, is also one of mine. For the owner of a boat on a mud-mooring who uses knee-high wellies to walk out to the boat; donning a pair of these guarantee half hour extra sailing and you could still be able to walk ashore dry! Other pluses of wearing waders are there’s more scope to move around while longshoring with boat ‘in tow’ without getting a wellie-full of green. They are great for dinghy work or punting, and when in the cruiser you can dry out further from the marsh or beach and get ashore sooner if you would like to. And, tender dinghies may well become redundant when using a pair of waders. The down side of waders, I feel, is at approximately £50.00 a time for a cheaper brand they might only last a season without having to patch them up, if not stored properly, and to get the most life out of them they must be stored without creasing. I can do this at home where there is room in the garage to hang them upside down, but in a tiny boat with minimal space one has to compromise and therefore folding is unavoidable. I have a pair of thigh waders in their third year of commission that have more holes in them than a Tetley teabag. The other negative of waders is if you do take a wellie-full it will be a ‘big-un’ likely to hamper movement, and if you would have to resort to any swimming i.e. if you happen to slip over – good luck!
Thigh wading through creek gore
Chest Waders 
Now, I don’t see many boaters, and especially yachtsmen, using these to go cruising in on the East Coast. But it is, perhaps, a different story down south in places like Christchurch Harbour, where I’ve holidayed on numerous occasions. It’s a shallow estuary with a mixture of mud, sand and shingle beach areas, not unlike those we encounter in many creeks and inlets here in the Thames Estuary. The tide there has a double stand and therefore the shoal draft ribs, a popular choice of boat there, can float in a few feet for hours. During my stay I had watched these boats come and go on many occasions and noticed most of the skippers using chest waders to plough a way ashore after dropping anchor and thought that in many instances I end up in the same scenario and could see the application for East Coast creek sailing. But it took a while, years in fact, for me to act on because I thought they were too bulky and would take too much time putting on, therefore I had resisted investing in a pair. Until that is a pair of were gifted to me by my pal Brian who has been using them to launch his boat for a number of years. The reason being I help launch and recover his boat each season and no matter what footwear I donned always ended up wet up to my waist. I don’t mind this at all though as no matter how hard we may try to avoid it, getting wet now and again that is, it’s all part of boating I reasoned. But feeling sorry for me he was adamant a pair of these would look after me better next time.

I kept them in the garage, only airing them for punting expeditions during the winter season but never used them for boarding my cruiser Shoal Waters. Besides, my favored green waders were still holding up with the Sikaflex repairs and cycle inner-tube puncture patches I had made fast on the leaking splits that had emerged from folding them away. And I prefer waders as they are just as easy as knee high wellies to put on and you can fold them down to free up the knee and walk freely. For the punt cruising I was doing I found the chest waders were an ideal alternative for the job. The boots fit well and give excellent grip and the neoprene is not only waterproof but warm, soft and flexible as a piece of clothing so if you lay in the punt and any water gets in it’s not a problem. I’ve been using them for getting out to Shoal Waters more this year than last and have found they give another level of flexibility with regards to the tidal access than I had experienced with the thigh waders. They roll up to a far more compact size than perhaps you would imagine and are therefore as easy to be stored out the way as are a pair of waders or knee high wellies.  They have proved themselves in use as the wait is around 2.5 hours from high water until you can safely walk ashore but I came home one night from a cruise and the wind dropped off but I still managed to crawl over the ebb to reach my mooring buoy an hour after high water. Half hour later, and in darkness, I waded through four and half feet of water to shore, bone dry. They fold up easily and are very light and to date, late in their second seasons use, have not suffered the cracking associated with normal wellies.

There are many benefits with using a pair of chest waders and perhaps the worst possible scenario of any negatives would be to go under and ship a chest full of water...
At £40 – £70 chest waders are great for boat launching and generally any boat handling where one has to ‘step in’.

 chest waders in use launching the boat

The comfort fitting of footwear is a personal matter but I prefer a size bigger. In wellies it means one boot can be left behind in a suction of mud if you are not careful when traversing the deeper goo. But this is far outweighed by the plus point; they are easy to remove when you reach the boat. I simply slide in and out of mine and leave them standing upright in their own mudprint.

To wade or not to wade? Whatever your preference may be, take extreme care when out on the water, always respect the muds and father Neptune’s tides and remember to wear a suitable buoyancy aid or life-jacket in deep water. 
Good wading, and sailing, Tony Smith

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Radio Caroline in the River Blackwater, Essex

MV Ross Revenge, the home of Radio Caroline is back in the River Blackwater. She had been in Tilbury for the last 9 years undergoing various restoration works and left on the 31st July and having just arrived since her last time in the river, back in 1994. I took this, one of a series of photos, on Monday 4th August while heading out of the river. She is anchored mid-river opposite St Lawrence Creek, just up from Bradwell.
For the time being there is talk of her broadcasting on a temporary license and making the Blackwater her new home for the foreseeable future.
The Viking Saga, who once ran trips out to the Essex coast to the offshore floating radio station, will be running trips down from Maldon for those wishing to get a glimpse of her, and public tours of the ship may be available in the coming months as well. For lots more info click through to the following links; http://www.radiocaroline.co.uk/#home.    http://www.rossrevenge.co.uk/
Shoal Waters sailing close by a welcome addition to the the River Blackwater,  Radio Caroline

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Harvest Cruise - Wymarks Creek

Our Harvest Creek Cruise in the Blackwater was cut short this year by electric thunder storms. The cruise began with a fantastic sail in pleasant sunshine on Thursday afternoon, when a strong easterly had us beating on the inside of the moorings at Stone to find smooth water and after a dash northward, taking in Thirslet, Old Mill and Mell Creeks, her nose rolled south to swing round the Tide Pole at the mouth of Bradwell Creek. The ebb was flowing in full force and the notorious Blackwater chop had risen to its more perilous state as it carved a way seaward. If you haven’t slalom-sailed the series of white crested moguls that present themselves in mid-river, off Bradwell, in a small boat; in inshore sailing terms - you haven’t even lived yet!   I coaxed Shoal Waters away from her adrenalin rush and persuaded her to sail in smoother water, further south, and soon found a place to anchor for the night. The ships barometer needle fell like a piece of heavy metal shortly after drying out on the beach at Wymarks Creek.

On hard ground at Wymarks Creek
Wymarks can be found due south of the Nass Beacon and is a small opening in the top of the beach that enters a small area of saltings. The whole place is awash with cockle shells, sea blight and singing birds and comes alive with sand hoppers at dusk.

The area around Wymarks is such a wonderful place to explore and I had an idyllic walk along the shore here as the sun diminished on the far side of the river. I had hoped to detour up to Harwich for a tide, at high water the following morning but after hearing the morning weather forecast instead remained close inshore and played around in the river, surviving two thunder storms that swept a way downriver. The calm before the storm and the sudden change in wind direction from a Force 3 to 4 easterly to a Force 4 to 5 westerly with lashings of rain and lightning was enough to arrange an Elson collection from a pair of sea boots! This was top creek action of the most dramatic ‘perfect storm’ order being played out in my home creeks.   
The second storm had us stranded off Gore Saltings where I turned to run back downriver but was engulfed by the blackest weather front that took all our wind and had to chuck the hook in and let down sail in a frantic few moments. I didn’t have time to lash the tiller and sat crouched in the cabin praying for lightning not to strike us as we were battered once more by a Force 5 to 6 westerly. And then, as suddenly as it all started it had gone leaving us to finish with more of a beautiful harvest sail in the River Blackwater.

Beautiful evening at Wymarks Creek

The view from inside Wymarks.Water is retained in the creek
One of many saltpools at Wymarks
The new day and 1st storm engulfs as it heads east, over Mersea Island
sailing over the ebb after 1st storm
2nd storm rages a couple of hours later- 0730 ish

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

I Name This Boat

WHY PEOPLE GIVE A BOAT a particular name I often wonder. I suspect it can be down to a thousand different reasons, some of them logical others completely mystifying. In some cases we are personalizing the vessel, if you like, almost giving the boat a human-like status. In the case of my own boat the name Shoal Waters is pretty telling that it is relevant to the environment she spends most of her life in and a former boat I named Huffler was given so after the Thames sailing barge pilots “hufflers” as they were known, a local man that new all corners of his creek and its mud shoals, and any other hazards, well enough that they were called on to guide a barge safely along it typically to a farm wharf that lay at its head. One immense pleasure of cruising around the Thames Estuary is being able to sail alongside these majestic spritsail barges of which there are around 30 still in commission. I for one could never tire from witnessing the timeless scene that is the distant sight of a sailing barge, her topsail set, edging a way up the coast before slipping out of sight wending into one of the rivers. 

  Many of the Thames barge names I come across can be a constant source of wonder and intrigue. After the last spike was struck home and the paint tins put away shipwrights, yard workers and the ensemble gathered round to watch the new barge being launched. Many were given female names like Edith, Gladys or Marjorie and became part of the family but they were also given bold, powerful names that strangely seemed to elevate the vessel to a kind of super human level. Take the 81 ton Phoenician – a name evoking visions of a whole chariot-lead army behind her transom in an infinite long line. The British Empire is another. A name that demands far more than for what she was built as she carried hay down to London and would have returned with muck from the capital’s horses but her title commanded she done it standing bolt upright with a taught 32 inch waste, and wide 44 inch chest bulging with all the aura of a job well done! Sadly she has not fared as well as Phoenician for she is now hulked at the top of the River Crouch but at the time she was christened, in 1889, the country she was born to was a powerful empire. Still sailing out of Maldon is Hydrogen, another bold name just oozing the notion she just could make the loudest bang at any moment. Although, in a shallow cut of saltings opposite her berth lays a hulk that ran out of puff, her sister ship, Oxygen
The British Empire

  Then there are the pet names like “Pudge” who also sails from the Hythe, Maldon, or your good mate across the road “Victor” often seen sailing around the Rivers Orwell and Stour. Fishing boats were emblazoned in glory too. The Leigh shrimper Victorious, built in 1945, was named after the victory of WWII and let us not forget the enterprising Pioneer and the forward thinking Excelsior - all three of these vessels are still sailing.    During the late 19th and early 20th century there were well over two thousand Thames barges plying the Thames Estuary so it shouldn’t surprise us that many were given such great names. 

 At the same time there were collier brigs plying the coastal waters too. With a course laid south, from Newcastle and the River Tyne, those colliers brought coal down the East Coast. This was no easy task for after dodging The Wash they had to harden up past Norfolk where the fist of the Thames Estuary awaited them. Its knuckles the massive sand bars completely invisible at high tide. In daylight and at night many fell in the grip of the estuary at places like Shipwash, Cutter and Cork Sands while others fell at Gunfleet, Sunk or Long Sand. For those that made it through the maze of swatchways their cargo of coal fed the brick kilns around the estuary in places like Havengore, Benfleet and Conyer creeks which in turn kept the barges in work carrying loads up to London. In certain instances it wasn’t unknown for two men to load 40000 bricks still hot from the kilns and by hand in less than a day. The type of brick was called a stock and is mainly yellow in colour but red bricks were made too. Today these same bricks are being salvaged from demolished buildings and, after cleaning off the soft lime mortar, are fetching a £1 each and are very sought after by housing developers. Then there was the mud barge that never saw the crest of a wave break outside a creek or rill. In one instance at Conyer it was the job of one man to shovel mud into a barges hold alone.  A laborious occupation where the employee would likely be on first name terms with local curlews.

  Staying south of the Thames the Burham Brick, Lime and Cement Co built a succession of new barges named after the seasons and then days of the week.  In 1879 Spring was built, and  in the same year Summer came off the blocks too. Autumn was built in 1881 and so to was Winter. Monday came off the blocks in 1882, as did Tuesday.  Wednesday was built a few years later in 1885 and just to give us an idea how busy it was on the rivers back then, during the decade 1880 to 1890 a hundred barges came and went from the River Medway on every tide. It must have been a fantastic time to be around the water but heaven help the Harbour Master who had to organize this little lot. Confusion may well have reigned when the Winter came in during a warm summer and the Tuesday came in on Wednesday, or the Monday didn’t arrive until the following Thursday! Around the same time William Lee built barges at Lime Dock with winning names Superb, Swift-Sure and Victory being just a few of many more they built and interestingly, instead of the usual brown canvas, their stumpy barges set black sails with a white jib set off a bowsprit.