Friday, 11 May 2012

Anchors Aweigh!

Before the Morgan was bought, I pursued what has always been an enduring interest in boats and sailed in a variety of sailing craft on Windermere and Ullswater in Cumbria.
'Mirror' opposite Gummers Howe

This was during the period when my wife and I were running the family newsagents business and as a brief respite from what might have been an 'eight day', 5am to 7pm job, I took a day off to satisfy my love of sailing and boating.

My first little boat was a 'Mirror' dinghy that I bought from a friend, repairing and restoring it before spending many happy times sailing Windermere from a base at the southern end of the lake.

The next craft was a 15'6" 'Drascombe Dabber', a much more substantial dinghy with excellent sea-keeping qualities and an engine, for those days when the wind died or was too strong for sailing. The joy of spending a day, almost always alone, amidst the splendour of the lakeland hills was immense, and of course because of my situation these visits were made between Monday and Friday when the rest of the population were at work. In fact, very often I was the only boat on the lake, apart from the steamers!
Picture taken by my father from  a  Steamer

The 'Dabber' at her mooring
Stiff breeze on Windermere

Following the 'Dabber' came my 'Cornish Shrimper', a 19 footer that was also called 'Catherine Charlotte', culled from the second Christian names of each of my lovely daughters. This boat was an entirely different proposition  from the two previous ones, being much bigger but also, in addition to an engine, it had a cabin with sleeping accommodation, cooker and a toilet. Very civilised indeed!

I slept aboard overnight on a couple of occasions and remember on one of them being wakened at some unearthly hour by the noise of a flock of Canada Geese that had decided to roost near my mooring. They are quite prolific on the lake, not only are they noisy but they are very messy indeed and I can well understand the need for a moderate cull by the local Council to reduce the amount of excreta in the more important tourist areas.
'Shrimper' on her mooring
Towards Ambleside
On jetty at Bowness looking north
Eventually, as is often the way of things, it was sold to a lovely couple who now live in Woodbridge, Suffolk and are stalwart  members of the Shrimper Owners Association, We still exchange Christmas cards and it is then that I receive a full account of their adventures in the boat, exploits that have included a Channel crossing, cruising in the Outer Hebrides, the 'Round the Island Race', etc.,etc. The boat is having a much more demanding life now than it had in my ownership!

'Sandpiper' was a 'Sea Otter' double-ended yawl built by David Moss,, a renowned traditional boatbuilder whose yard is just a couple of miles away from my home. It was bought by me when a degree of financial stability once more descended on the 'Chuckers' household, in other words, when the kids left home!
'Sea Otter' at Glenridding, Ullswater

Heading south on Windermere

Built totally of wood and proudly displaying all the skill of its builder I enjoyed many a pleasant day sailing on both Ullswater and Windermere, the boat attracting justifiable attention whenever it was seen. The following is an extract from 'Sandpipers' log dated Friday 5th May 2000.

"Arrived early on a beautiful sunny day. Light to moderate easterly wind. My original intention was to sail at least to the north of Belle Island. This I did quite speedily under full sail and it was when I was opposite 'the Old England Hotel' (Bowness) that I realised that a full-bloodied dash to Ambleside was on the cards. It took approximately 50 minutes. A beautiful broad reach all the way, but it was very cold and as soon as I had picked up a mooring I changed into more appropriate clothing. I'd started off in shorts and a 'T' shirt and my teeth were literally chattering!
The return was equally as excitng with the 6 miles from Ambleside to Storrs Hall (it's mooring) being covered in an hour and ten average speed of around 5 knots or around 6 miles an hour. Wonderful day. Once again I picked up the mooring under sail...I've only used the oars once and the engine never!"

This extract encapsulates the pleasure I had during those halcyon sailing days when I was 12 years younger and somewhat fitter!


  1. I have just come across your blog in my search for a Sea Otter of similar boat. I wondered if you still have the boat or know of its current whereabouts and whether it is looking for a new keeper? Any pointers would be much appreciated. Thanks, Alistair.

  2. A friend of mine came across this blog while looking for something else. Thought you'd like to know that Drascombe Dabber "Catherine Charlotte" is still very much alive and active, and still with her original name, under my ownership for some ten years now. She sails on Windermere and Ullswater, and at various Drascombe Association rallies. I'm in the Preston area - I found her on brokerage at Preston Marina. I'd be happy to make contact with you - email: cbeeson AT cix DOT co DOT uk