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View Full Version : Quay Punts, Pilot Cutters, Smacks, Gasworks Creek mussel-drudgers, etc!



ACB
09-07-2000, 02:30 AM
This is in response to Ishmael's query under "cold moulding".

Some once common types of UK sailing working boat, which were often converted to yachts.

1. Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter. Typically 40-55ft LOA, 13-14ft beam, 7ft 6ins draft, straight keel, good sheer, round bow, usually counter stern but a few had transom sterns, inside ballast, gaff cutter rig with mast well aft, flush deck with small self draining well, heavy displacement (30=40 tons). Renowned for extremely good heavy weather performance.

To convert to yacht - haul down H flag. Drawback...a bit big! Allow about 5 minutes to go about...

2. Falmouth Quay Punt, 22-30ft LOA and LWL x 8-9ft x 6ft, gaff yawl, straight stem and vertical transom stern, heavy displacement, deep draft, flattish sheer, slab sides. Main mast cut off short to get alongside square riggers without fouling lower yards. Used for the same purposes as a Whitehall in the USA (but an utterly different type of boat!) i.e. tending to anchored square riggers - almost all square rigged ships bound to ports in N Europe made "Falmouth, for orders" because they had no radios and Falmouth was the first place they could touch to find out where to take their cargoes.The answer to the trick question "how do you have a transom sterned yawl?" is - the mizzen mast is offset slightly to one side to clear the tiller.

To convert to yacht, build a coachroof over the well where the square riggers' stores went. Drawback - heavy, deep, dare I say slow?

3. Essex Smack - 30-45ft LOA, x 9-12ft beam x 4-5ft draft, hard bilge, straight stem, flat broad counter for working fishing gear, good sheer, low freeboard, tall, "racing yacht style" gaff cutter rig with mast well forward and long spars. No cockpit.

To convert to yacht, build coachroof over fish hold. Drawbacks - precious little headroom, smell of fish....

4. Gasworks Creek Mussel Drudger. Imaginary type invented by J.D. Sleightholme when he was Editor of Yachting Monthly!

[This message has been edited by ACB (edited 09-07-2000).]

Ian Wright
09-07-2000, 04:51 AM
It's well known that the Gasworks Creek Mussel Drudger typified all the best charicteristics of boats owned by the founder members of the OGA,leaky, smelly, heavy and except when reaching in a gale, dead slow.
Old Harry, a well known (to Des)owner of this type kept his layed decks (re-sawn ex church pews)trim by carfull use of an adze and got to windward with the help of an ex-London bus engine with two cylinders removed.

Men were men in those days,,,,,,,

ishmael
09-07-2000, 10:50 AM
Thanks ACB, and you also Ian, I think. 'specially liked the church pew image. And, how can you not like a boat with the name Falmouth quay punt? Good to know a bit more about the types, and their traditional usages.

John B
09-07-2000, 08:48 PM
Falmouth quay punt slow ? maybe it was the skipper but I recall Curlew shaking them up a bit out here in the 80's so I've presumed they were respected for their speed across the board.

ACB
09-07-2000, 11:53 PM
A Colchester smack will leave a Falmouth Quay Punt for dead. A Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter is faster than a Quay Punt and slower than a smack, although larger than either.

Many of the Colchester smacks were built for professional yacht skippers in the late Victorian era; the owners and crew fished the smack in the winter and were paid to sail someone else's big yacht in the summer. The smacks were sometimes paid for out of racing prize money. Their owners knew all about going faster, and they wanted to do so in the local regattas in their fishing boats as well as on the guvnor's yot at Sacred Cowes!

So a Colchester Smack is 50% shallow draft North Sea fishing boat and 50% High Victorian racing yacht - the same tendency is visible in the US fishing fleet where the professional yacht crews were recruited from the fishermen.

All these boats were built as cheaply as possible - pine planking nailed with iron spikes to oak grown frames, with elm keels and underwater planking. The pilot cutters belonged to a grander class of men - pilots are comfortably middle class - and had some luxuries like roller reefing gear, teak coackpit coamings, etc.

John B
09-08-2000, 01:30 AM
the smacks were all plumb bow and counter stern ?and quite a bit of variation between the smacks as well I suppose?

ACB
09-08-2000, 05:58 AM
The oldest ones were not. "Boadicea", from 1808, looks like an eighteenth century cutter ought to look, bows as round as an apple and transom stern. During the nineteenth century the lute stern became common and the counter replaced that, while the stems became vertical due to the need to get more fore gripe as the keels became more raked.

John Gearing
02-26-2004, 11:50 PM
ACB, you have my attention! The Colchester Smacks sound like great boats!

I Googled on the name and this was the first site that came up, and I think one that has tons of additional info to keep this dialogue going re the smacks v. punts v. pilot boats:

http://www.alberta-ck318.freeserve.co.uk/

But since this is a UK site maybe you already were onto it? :D

John B
02-27-2004, 04:12 AM
another nice old thread.
we had a sail alongside Lark ( Curlew's sister)at christmas. There wasn't anything remotely slow about her actually.
Pretty new boat though. all good gear.As I said once before here .. I couldn't believe how deep she was. And the volume for her length and beam was impressive to say the least.

[ 02-27-2004, 04:23 AM: Message edited by: John B ]

John Gearing
03-03-2004, 06:51 PM
Hey, ACB, this fine thread you've started looks to be in danger of languishing down in the bilge. What say we move it to Designs or Misc Boat Related?? Towards that end, I think I'll sashay on over to Designs and put up some material from the Colchester Smacks website. See you there?

Andrew Craig-Bennett
03-04-2004, 03:49 AM
John, I think you are right; its in the wrong place and should be continued in Designs, I think!

Victorious
03-05-2004, 05:08 AM
My obsession is for the Wash smacks.. generally finer bows than the colchester smacks..
Which is faster? .thats a question well suited to hours of "debate" aided by a few beers on deck..... somewhere warm and sunny.
As long as someone gets smitten with an old working boat... and restores, rebuilds or just coaxes a few years more life into one with some oakum and a tube of goop.....wherever the old girl hails from.. somebody loves it and thats all that matters

Russell
Victorious LN196 (http://www.victorious.co.uk)

Smacksman
04-26-2008, 09:57 AM
ACB, you have my attention! The Colchester Smacks sound like great boats!

I Googled on the name and this was the first site that came up, and I think one that has tons of additional info to keep this dialogue going re the smacks v. punts v. pilot boats:

http://www.alberta-ck318.freeserve.co.uk/

But since this is a UK site maybe you already were onto it? :D

Just to mention that my site is now at http://www.smackdock.co.uk/