Friday, 31 October 2008

SV Coral circa 1902 and built from teak

Coral alongside the Ben Schoeman dry dock in Cape Town,at this stage I think she was round 98 years old,there is a lot of work to be done for sure.

The rudder is not the original,this one was fitted in England for the delivery trip to Germany,from where she was brought to Cape Town on the deck of a cargo ship.

SV Coral where she was off loaded from the deck of a ship next to the Ben Schoeman dry dock in Cape Towns main harbour,it was later moved to Stremple Marine in Tide Street,Lower Woodstock.

Left click on this picture to view in a great full size!

When Stremple Marine of Tide Street,Woodstock here in Cape Town,
took on the commision to restore an eighty foot 1902 classic yacht,they took on a lot of work,probably more than either they or the boats owner realised at the time but thats the way of things in boat restoration.We as (commercial lumber cc) supplied the marine plywoods and teak to the decks,also the clear oregon pine to the mast and spars.The pictures show a later hull service when it was known that frames to keel parts were not as original.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Teak wood genuine Tectona Grandis

Tectona Grandis,or as we know it Teak

We have probably sold more teak in South Africa than all other timber merchants put together,this was as our parent company Commercial Lumber cc,we became the specialists,we always bought the best and the longer lengths too,teak is sold by its length,many merchants buy as short as possible to reduce their financial outlay,we bought to suit teak decks on boats,the cost went up but so did the quality,known in the trade as FEQ,or first european quality,simply the best.We developed certain cutting rules,all timbers when required are 1/4 sawn as is the correct manner,this kind of cut last longer and is less liable to cause splinters,we still bring in quality teak but normally to special order,the pictures are of a Hallberg-Rassey 44 that sailed here specially to have their decks re laid.

Didi 26 to North Carolina,USA

This is the same boat under constuction.

We had a nice order from the USA to send out a Didi 26 kit,we then were asked if we could build it also? looking at the task,it was clear we could,it fits into a container,just! this picture is of the boat being unpacked on arrival.We also made the drop keel foil and produced the mould for the 400 kgs of lead ballast,its in two halves,we still have the mould and will re use it quite soon,as the same drop keel design fits the Didi mini cruise kit we are shipping to Austrailia.

I had just built two Didi mini transat hulls,they take some twelve days (12) to build each,the decks about double that,it took me fifteen (15) days to build the Didi 26 hull,its five feet longer but narrower than the Didi mini transat,so easier to reach the center of the boat while your standing on the floor.

The strange case of Mary Bryant

This is the very same book shop!

The Charlotte

This story is a gem,its really well told in the book of the same name by Geoffrey Rawson,the copies I own must be sixty years old or so,I was in a second hand book shop in Long Street,Cape Town,I purchased a few books,noted the book The Strange Case of Mary Bryant but never bought it.When I got backhome I saw that the Mary Bryant book was writen by the same author as one of those I had just purchased,so I returned to the book shop and bought the one and only copy they had,I have since bought a second copy in better condition on Ebay,it was in Canada,took ages to arrive but its a great find.

Note,there are now a number of books on sale about the same case,I have read only the one by Geoffrey Rawson,I doubt you will find a better told story,read the book before you view the movie!

The story is an easy read,shocking yes,we have no real understanding what those who went out in what was later called The First Fleet to settle Austrailia,went through,one convict,for thats what they all were,was imprisoned three years in a hulk ship,prior to starting his seven year sentence!

Mary Bryant "the Girl from Botany Bay,"

The sea route produced one epic escape in the early I790’s whose notoriety blossomed in London, reached back to Botany Bay and gave heart to would-be absconders for years to come. It was led by a woman, Mary Bryant (b. I765), "the Girl from Botany Bay," as the English press later dubbed her.

With her two small children, her husband William Bryant, and seven other convicts, she managed to sail a stolen boat all the way north from Sydney to Timor, a distance of 3,250 miles in just under ten weeks.

As a nautical achievement, this compared with William Bligh's six-week voyage in a longboat from Tahiti to Timor with the "loyalists" of the Bounty in I789. No one since James Cook in the Endeavour, twenty-one years before, had sailed all the way up the eastern coast of Australia, through the treacherous Barrier Reef, and lived to tell about it.

Mary Bryant, nee Broad, was a sailor's daughter from the little port of Fowey, in Cornwall. She had been transported for seven years for stealing a cloak. She came with the First Fleet, on the transport Charlotte. Before the fleet reached Cape Town, Mary Bryant gave birth to a girl and named her Charlotte, after the ship.

Soon after the fleet reached Port Jackson, Mary Broad married one of the male convicts, who fathered her second child, Emanuel, born in April 1790.

He, too, was Cornish and had come out on Charlotte. He was a thirty-one-year-old fisherman named William Bryant. Like many another Cornishman who kept a boat on that wild and indented coast, Bryant was a smuggler as well as a sailor, and in 1784 he had been convicted of resisting arrest at the hands of excise officers. He had already spent three years in the hulks when the First Fleet sailed, and his full seven-year sentence still loomed before him.

email me if you want an abridged version of what happens next?

What of the ship the Charlotte?

Being 335 tons, 105 ft long and 28 ft at the beam, The Charlotte held 88 male and 20 female convicts. Built in 1784 and Skippered by Master Thomas Gilbert, her return to England saw her doing the London - Jamacia run until she was sold to a Quebec merchant in 1818 and was then lost off the coast of Newfoundland that very same year

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Ship the Charlotte and The strange case of Mary Bryant

The so called Charlotte Medal,read about it below.

Being 335 tons, 105 ft long and 28 ft at the beam, The Charlotte held 88 male and 20 female convicts. Built in 1784 and Skippered by Master Thomas Gilbert, her return to England saw her doing the London - Jamacia run until she was sold to a Quebec merchant in 1818 and was then lost off the coast of Newfoundland that very same year.

The Charlotte was a First Fleet transport ship, built on the River Thames in 1784, and weighing 345 tons. She was a heavy sailer, and had to be towed down the English Channel for the first few days of the voyage. Her master was Thomas Gilbert, and her surgeon was John White, principal surgeon to the colony. She left Portsmouth on 13 May 1787, carrying eight-eight male and twenty female convicts, among them the later-to-be-famous Mary Bryant, and arrived at Port Jackson, Sydney, Australia, on 26 January 1788. She left Port Jackson on 6 May 1788 bound for China to take on a cargo of tea, under charter to the East India Company. On her return to England on 28 November 1789 she was sold to a firm for the London to Jamaica run, and was lost off Newfoundland in November 1818.

Medal made by the first person to be hanged in the new colony.


The Charlotte Medal 1788 - Botany Bay Birthplace of Colonial Art
Posted by: admin in History, News
Further reading on First Fleet.

The Charlotte Medal is believed to be have been engraved by convict Thomas Barrett (first man hanged in the new colony), for Surgeon White, while at anchor in Botany Bay. It is silver(74mm, 37.58gms) engraved on both sides of a thin silver disc, obverse, fully-rigged ship secured to a buoy, sun near horizon to left, crescent moon and stars in the sky. Inscribed in left field ‘The Charlotte at anchor/in Botany Bay/ Jany.th20,/1788′, inscribed on reverse a full description of the voyage from London to Botany Bay (13,106 miles) in nautical terminology. Contemporary in style this medallion was engraved on board the ‘Charlotte’ whilst the ship was anchored in Botany Bay between 20th and 26th January. This medal is widely acclaimed as the first Australian Colonial work of art and an icon of the foundation of our nation and as such is of immense historical interest to Australia. The ‘Charlotte’ was built on the Thames in 1784. Her length was 105 feet, the maxium breadth between her wales was about 28 feet 2 1/2 inches, and her tonnage 38 tons. The ship featured two decks and three masts, but had no embellishments such as a figurehead or galleries, and contemporary records describe her as ’square’sterned.’ She was noted in the official register as ‘bargue-built’. The ‘Charlotte’, along with other ships destined to become First Fleet transports was chartered by the Admiralty late in 1786 from her owner, a Mr Matthews. She was fitted out at Deptford and in January, 1787, after making her way to Plymouth, embarked with her prisoners. The First Fleet weighted anchor on 13th May 1787, at the Motherbank in the Channel. It comprised two warships, ”Sirius” and “Supply”, three storeships, “Borrowdale”, “Fishburn” and “Golden Grove” and six convict transports, “Alexander”, “Charlotte”, “Friendship”, Lady Penrhyn”, “Scarborough” and “Prince of Wales”. The “Charlotte” complement consisted of crew, marines(one captain, two lieutenants, two sergeants, three corporals, one drummer and 35 privates) and convicts (89 male and 20 female). The master of Captain Thomas Gilbert, and the Surgeon, John White. John White was the Chief Surgon of the Colony and a keen sketcher.(Source: Marine Captain Watkin Tench ‘A Complete Account of Settlement at Port Jackson’, London 19793). The Fleet arrived at Teneriffe, The Canaries, on 3rd June 1787 by which time “Charlotte” had 15 men on the sick list, one man had already died, and during the stay, a second death occurrred. On 10th June the Fleet sailed from Teneriffe and during the crossing of the equator, the “Lady Penrhyn”, whose crew were busy playing King Neptune, almost collided with “Charlotte”. On 13th October, and after a stay, began the final leg of the voyage to Australian on 13th November. The Supply finally arrived at Botany Bay on 18th Janury 1788 and Phillip and some of his men came ashore at Yarra Bay at 3pm that afternoon. The other ships arrived over the following 2 days with the Charlotte arriving on the 20th. It had been a somewhat circuitous voyage of 15,063 nautical miles with 184 days of actual sailing time. In early May 1788 “Charlotte” under charter to The East India Company sailed for China from whence she shipped cargo of tea to England. She was then sold to a firm of London merchants, Bond & Co.and began the next stage of her career, the London to Jamaica run. “Charlotte” ended her career under the ownership off John Jones, a merchant in Quebec, Canada. In 1818 she was lost of Newfoundland. (References: Hawkins, J.B. “Nineteenth Century Australian Silver.”, Woodbridge 19, Vol 1, page 31; article by Dr John M Chapman “The Solution of the “Charlotte” Enigma” in the Journal of the Mumismatic Association of Australia, Vol 9, pages 28-33.)

Helen Tew,a memorable lady

Hellen Tew,always wanted to sail,she did eventualy,then wrote a book about it but sadly passed away before her story was published.

HELEN TEW sits at the helm of a very small yacht after a very long voyage from the Solent to the Caribbean, explaining why one should never give up on a lifetime's dream. A few weeks ago, she fulfilled hers by sailing across the Atlantic. And then, here at the harbour on the island of St Martin, she celebrated her 89th birthday.

Helen Tew:'I have lived, really, for sailing and the sea'

It is simply never too late to do the things you've always wanted to do, she says, with a twinkle in her eye. "I am tickled pink. To be here, on this boat, has been my ambition for 70 years. You must never, ever give up. You must always look forward to something."

Her journey may well be record-breaking - the oldest woman, perhaps, in the smallest boat to cross the Atlantic: Guinness is looking into it - but Tew, who has five sons and 11 grandchildren, really does not care. The trip has far more significance for her than that: she set sail to keep a promise made to her husband - and to settle a score with the other significant man in her life, her father.

In 1934, Tew's father, Commander Douglas Graham of the Royal Navy, planned his own crossing of the Atlantic in a small boat. This was a bold adventure, considered outlandishly dangerous at the time, and his daughter Helen, in her early twenties, wanted desperately to go with him.

Father and daughter had been sailing together all her life, and Tew had already accompanied him on an earlier journey, north to the Faroes. He had promised that she could come on the Atlantic voyage but, in the end, decided that the crossing would be too much of a risk to his daughter's life.

Weighing our epoxies,Daves great idea!

We sell a whole lot of epoxy,its been used by us a long time and we know it well,we have the epoxy base code numbered 816 and two cure agents,code numbers 140 and 205the 140 is a thick cure agent,good for constuction and making epoxy fillet paste,while the 205 is thin,thinner than the 816 epoxy,so it runs and wets out really easy,thats what we use for saturation of the surfaces and glass cloth and tapes when required.Both a have a mix ratio that is the same 100 grams epoxy to 65 grams of cure agent,at work we use simple kitchen scales,ours read to 4kgs and the scale is easy to read but Dave,a materials customer for his Didi 34 came up with what I think is a brilliant idea! check out the pictures,its easy to make and we will soon be supplying this as a free issue kit with all of our dinghy and boat kits.

South African Navys,WO Bertie Reed (r.i.p)

Bertie and Voortekker approach the BOC finish line in the USA.

Voortrekker after being restored by its owners,The South African Navy,Simonstown,Western Cape.

Click on the text to read full size

Bertie (biltong) Reed was a sailor,a mans man and a star to so many in both South Africa and abroard,witness his being taken to the Hall of Fame in the USA and being awarded a prize for his sailing acheivements.One of which was to race an outdated and very basic boat called Voortrekker around the globe in the 1983 BOC Race,Bertie came second to Credit Agricole and out an out state of the art brand new boat built specially for the race,Voortekker may as well have come from another planet by comparrison!

I was fortunate enough to know Bertie on a first name basis,he was one of those guys you would always be proud to know,I asked him once about celestial navigation,we were in the mens bar at the RCYC,my mate Alex(notty)Notman had been discussing how good a sextant position at five miles was,Notty thought it not so good,so we asked Bertie,he said 'five Miles!if I am in a ten mile ring,its good enough for me',Notty never worried after that.

Bertie was the person who showed the powers of his navigational skills once in the Southern Ocean,his friend and in this case race competitor,John Martin,on the Open 60 Allied Bank,a design by Angelo Lavranos, had just hit an Ice Berg while in the lead of the BOC race of that year,he was sinking,could anyone find him in the time he had?Now on a new boat named Grinaker,a Roger Martin designed boat, Bertie heard the call for help and altered course to the position John gave,finding him seemed an impossible task but find him he did.It was no big thing for Bertie it seems,even Sir Robbin Knox-Johnston (the first man to race single handed around the world) commented in a magazine story on the huge importance of keeping a detailed log book,mentions the fact that Bertie Reed said very little in words of the rescue in his own log book,the loss to the world was that we have no details writen down.

Overall Results:

First Class: Boats 45-56 feet long

Name - Boat
Final Place
Total Time
Average Speed*

Phillippe Jeantot
Credit Agricole
159d 02h 26m 01s
7.10 knots

Bertie Reed
Altech Voortrekker
170d 16h 51m 21s
6.61 knots
South Africa

Rich. Broadhead
Perseverance of Medina
192d 10h 06m 48s
5.87 knots
Great Britain

Neville Gosson
Leda Pier One 4 202d 02h 18m 25s 5.59 knots Australia

Taken from the web:

"Hamba Gahle" Bertie Reed Legendary South African yachtsman "Biltong" Bertie died at his home in Gordon's Bay on Monday at the age of 63. Stanley John Reed had been suffering from cancer, SABC radio news reported. Reed was born of humble stock in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and was the first South African, and one of only a few yachtsmen in the world, to complete three singlehanded circumnavigations of the globe, during the 1991 BOC Challenge. It was during this circumnavigation in a Yacht named Grinaker, that he also gained fame for his heroic rescue of fellow-South African John Martin, whose yacht, Allied Bank, sank after hitting a submerged iceberg in the Southern Ocean, during the 1990/91 BOC Challenge and dramatically described in long time friend, Roger Williams's book, Reed In The Wind He was awarded South Africa's highest civilian award, at that time, for bravery, the Wolraad Woltemade Decoration, for the outstanding seamanship he displayed during Martin's rescue in extreme conditions. He also received a presidential citation and was listed in the Civic Honours Book of the City of Cape Town. Reed joined the South African Navy in 1961, at the age of 18, and rose to the rank of Warrant Officer during his 22-years in uniform. It was in the South African Navy that he began his sailing career, which led to him achieving world fame in the inaugural BOC Challenge singlehanded race around the world in 1982/83, when he finished second across the line and first on handicap in the 14-year-old sloop "Voortrekker", considered obsolete. This lightweight 50-footer, built specifically for the 1968 solo race across the North Atlantic, was by now - under her sponsorship name Altech Voortrekker - being seen as a spent force, as obsolete, and even as 'a museum piece'. Yet Reed fought his way round the world in the face of adversity that included a spell of acute blood-poisoning, to finish second across the line at Newport, Rhode Island, and first on handicap! Bertie Reed was one of four Inductees honoured with placement in the Single Handed Sailors Hall of Fame, in 2006 along with Ellen MacArthur, Minoru Saito and Jean-Luc van den Heede. Current Hall of Fame Members include such extraordinary single-handed sailors as Joshua Slocum, Sir Francis Chichester, Harry Pidgeon, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Isabelle Autissier, Christophe Auguin and Phillippe Jeantot. He sailed some 170 000 nautical miles competitively รข€” over 100 000 singlehanded. Reed married his wife Pat in 1968, had four children, a son and three daughters and three grandchildren. John Martin and Bertie Reed. Bertie is at the helm of the South African Navy Yacht, MTU Fascination of Power. (Hamba Gahle is Xhosa for Go Well) Full Story »

Tuesday, 28 October 2008


I suppose this is a very good example of how long a wooden boat will last,indeed this boat raced around the world with CPO Berti Reed as its only crew member in the BOC Race,he finished a remarkable second to Credit Agricole,a brand new purpose made boat made just for that years race.The original Voortrekker,named after the original settlers in South Africa,was designed by Van Der Stadt of Holland,she was built at Knysna using an african hardwood species of Blackwood as far as I know.The picture was taken just a few years back at the Simonstown Naval Dockyard,the navy quite rightly restored the boat that gave so much pride to the nation.

March 2009,note,Voortrekker finished 4th in the 2009 Heineken South Atlantic Race from Cape Town to Salvador,Bahia,Brasil,a very creditable result for a 40 year old yacht!

Code Flags

know your code flags:

Know your alphabet !


Argie 10 is just the right size

This dinghy weighs very little,it will easily go on roof racks on an average small car,it will hold four persons,row,motor and sail,what more do we want!At 10 feet long (3.1 mtrs),it may be a little longer than you need,thats ok,cut the bow off flat,like a pram dinghy,its then a 9ft (2.7mtrs) dinghy and as the waterline is not involved,sailing will be much the same,excepting in a seaway,a 2 or 3 hp outboard will power this craft with ease.

Wild Vanilla,a DH 55 Catamaran

Talking about cats,this one is a must have for those wanting good looks and performance at a sensible price,starting around R380,000 ex works and that price includes the epoxies,its a great buy.

Dudley Dix Design - DH550

The DH550 55ft cruising catamaran started life as a design commission received by Dudley Dix from catamaran builder Philip Harvey. Phil was cruising with his family and wanted to move up to a larger boat. Dudley had too much work in progress to be able to take on the new design so the two agreed a cooperative basis to do the design between them. Dudley brings 30 years of design and boatbuilding experience into the project and Phil brings 15 years of professional boatbuilding and catamaran experience. Between them they have produced a cruising catamaran with striking good looks and high-performance potential.

The Proteus 106 design by Angelo Lavranos

I have had the pleasure of knowing Angelo Lavranos for some time,he is one of the very top yacht designers ever to come out of South Africa,some years it was not unknown for his designs to form half the fleet in races such as the South Atlantic and Mauritius races.

Asking Angelo what he had by way of a design we could produce,brought a really modern looking 35ft catamaran he calls the Proteus 106,its a light displacment ocean cruiser,you can travel light and fast in this one.We have sold two kit set to date,on eis in Caracas,Venezuela,the other is here in Cape Town.Priced around R175,000 plus plans,this boat is a bargain.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

How to tell when your boat is too small

Click on the picture for a full size view!

Why we should always look behind us?
Photo was taken from the bridge of an anchored yacht in False Bay,Cape Town.

Hillman Imp competition inlet and exhaust manifolds

Note our single plate across the inlet manifolds,this lines up the carbs better and makes the entire assembly stronger,the mount holes are also pre threaded for 8mm machine cap screws,we supply those too.

With the low cost to buying in South Africa now,its a great time to buy your new full race Hillman Imp exhaust system,copied from a genuine Janspeed manifold exhaust system I bought many years back,we have added the inlets to take a pair of Webber 40 dcoe carburetors (we can offer them as an extra)the system costs R4750 or U$420 and British Pounds Sterling only 265,these prices are based on last fridays exchange rate,the actual cost will be subject to recalculation at time of your order.

Hillman Imp performance and competition exhaust

The silencer box shown in the above picture is not included in our offer.

The Rand currency has taken a tumble,South African banks have not been affected by the worlds financial crash,in fact I hear money is flooding into SA as its a safe place to have your money,the interest rates are higher here too.We can now offer the R3500 costed sport exhaust manifolds at U$310 and British Pounds Sterling 195.00 as long as rates given last friday hold,prices ex works,delivery by mail or DHL if you are in a hurry,we sent an exhaust to the UK,it took about six days to arrive.