Monday, 17 October 2016

The River in Autumn

A quick sail up river from Bucklers Hard to Beaulieu today...

I made it right up to the town of Beaulieu on the high tide in tricky conditions.....

With a mixture of sailing, motoring and drifting with the tide.....

The Autumn colours in the trees seemed at odds with the warmth of the sun....

The wind came and went....
I stayed on the river as conditions were trickier in the open Solent with winds reaching f6.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Kittiwake Camps Again

Kittiwake Camps Again by Neil Lawrence.

We had a Norfolk weekend booked for early September and were determined to sail and do an overnight camp if at all possible.  Because of the volume of motor cruiser traffic downstream of Potter bridge on our last jaunt, we decided to explore the Northern Broads and find some quieter water.  Saturday dawned overcast, and forecast promised showers, but the wind looked manageable.    Boat-packing was much quicker this time as we had learned what went where, and we managed an early launch from the Parish Staithe with a plan to sail up to West Somerton and the Red Lion for lunch.  Saturday is hire-boat changeover day, and we were outside school holidays, so the river was wonderfully quiet, with just a few fishermen and fellow sailors.  We had a rapid run down to Martham, only to find that the swing bridge was closed, with trailer loads of cattle being driven on to the marshes for grazing. The very helpful tractor driver opened the bridge for us and a great sail on up to West Somerton for Lunch.      It’s a short walk from the Staithe to the Red Lion and food (and beer) was good. 
After a leisurely lunch, we sailed down to Potter Heigham to buy milk and a picnic for Sunday. The trees and riverside chalets make for some pretty tricky wind conditions, but we had the river almost to ourselves, so plenty of space to follow the clean wind. After cups of tea and shopping in Potter Heigham we rowed back up towards Martham to find a quiet camping spot for the night.  We had determined that we must arrive in good time, as pitching the boom tent in the dark last time was not ideal.   Being moored alongside and some daylight made tent-up much easier, and a picnic tea and a walk across the marshes rounded off the evening.  
And so to bed…. It’s pretty cosy for 2 sleeping aboard, but manageable.  The night was very still and it was amazing to hear the fish jumping after insects.  The cloud cover cleared to give an amazing view of the moon through our tent flap, and it was truly eerie to hear an owl calling in the stillness.   I think I slept better than Paula, and if we do this again, we need to upgrade our old foam bedrolls for some self inflating ones.   A jam cleat in the hip is not conducive to a good night’s sleep apparently.  

We woke early to a beautifully still dawn and after strong coffee and Muesli bars for breakfast ghosted down the river with the tide and plans to head for Horsey Mere.  The cut up to Horsey is very narrow which led to some tricky sailing in the light winds.  
We had hoped to stop for coffee, but mooring on the National Trust staithe is now £4:00 which seemed a bit steep, so we enjoyed some great sailing on the Mere, chasing a Wanderer which was the only other boat out, before heading back down the dyke to a free mooring on the river for lunch.   Then back up to Hickling Broad for some glorious sailing, avoiding the racing fleet from HSBC who were having a challenging time in variable winds.  After two long days in the boat, legs were getting stiff, so reluctantly home to Hickling staithe and tea. 
A really excellent couple of days sailing and a more successful camp than last time.  It really does work better to moor alongside so you can get out of the boat and stretch the legs.  I also feel much safer using the stove outside of the boat!!!

Plans for the winter are some better sleeping mats, a gas stove to replace the current solid fuel burner and a Mk II tent to give us a bit more headroom.  And paint the hull…and re varnish the deck… and fix the leak around the centre board case… ad maybe a little winter sailing as well.  If you have not tried dinghy camping, I would really recommend it.  There is something magical about sailing late into the evening as the light fails, and sleeping on board.  It’s not luxurious, but very satisfying for a couple of days.    

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Aurora's new berth.

 Motor sailing away from Buckler's Hard

 Aurora's new home

 Running downwind to Lepe with jib furled and mainsail reefed

 A quick stop at Lepe.
 Video footage of the strengthening conditions -
I've decided to keep my Gull at Buckler's Hard on the Beaulieu River. I can now sail on the Solent without having to collect my boat from the sailing club and tow it back afterwards. All I need to do now is throw a couple of bags in the car, load up with outboard fuel and head south.
 I managed a quick sail down to Lepe on Sunday but the wind was strong and building to what would become force 7. I made it back up the slip to leave "aurora" to enjoy her new view whilst Jo and I enjoyed tea and cake at the Lepe cafe.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

More videos!

More great videos. This time from Dave Balcombe sailing his shinny new Mark 6 at Alton Water. Don't forget to visit the video library to view our extensive archive.
Video Library -
Dave's videos -


Monday, 22 August 2016

Two of my Favourite Things

Scotland based Gull sailor Steven Paul has combined two of my favourite things, Scotland and Gull sailing. I've never sailed my Gull north of the border but one day I just might...

Friday, 29 July 2016

Rolling Along.

Getting Aurora ready for a trip to the Solent next week I noticed the roller block on the trolley had begun to deteriorate. I don't begrudge buying a replacement as it's given me 13 years of faithful service. I didn't enjoy having to lift the boat up onto the workbench in order to get to it however (see top pic). But this did give me the opportunity to check the centreboard now it has been reinstalled and tighten the screws on the friction brake (small piece of rubber hose inside the centreboard case that holds the board in it's desired position). I've done plenty of sailing recently but only racing my Streaker so I'm very much looking forward to getting out in the Gull again. Plenty of pics next week hopefully.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

After a lovely MkI Gull?

Chris Yardley is selling this lovely wooden Gull. Don't worry, he isn't abandoning ship as he still owns a MKIII. Here are the details....

Gull 2399 Mk1 with wider gunwhales.
Good condition. 
Full racing spec with Jeckells Speejack sails and spinnaker.
Good galvanised Snipe trailer and cover.
Can be seen in North Norfolk (near Wells)

 01328 738705.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Kittiwake Goes Camping

Neil has sent us this excellent article of a proper cruise that includes camping aboard his Gull. Please click on the individual pages for better viewing of the pictures. Alternativly, you can view Neil's original PDF file here - Kittiwake Goes Camping.


Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Testing times.

It's time to head back out to the Solent for some Gull cruising. The outboard has been tested and I've even got a distress flare named after my boat! Now to pick a favourable tide......

Monday, 25 April 2016

Easter Eggs and Sailing!

What could be better than sailing? Chocolate and sailing as Neil Faltod describes.
The forecast for Easter weekend was lousy with wind and rain from storm Katy, but we were booked to go to Norfolk and hopeful of at least one sail.  Others (more sensible) had decided to cancel Norfolk trip until later in the year. 
Good Friday dawned bright and clear, and wind forecast Southerly 3-4.  An early launch from Hickling parish staithe enticed us onto a deserted and sun-sparkled broad.  The wind was lively and had a keen edge, so definitely woolly hat weather, but glorious sailing.  After fast reaching to and fro across the Broad  for the sheer fun of it, we headed down river for hot chocolate and Easter Eggs (a few days early – but chocolate tastes better when you are sailing).  The weather seemed to be holding, so we headed for Horsey Mere for more glorious sailing on deserted waters.  (Where is everybody???)    We decided not to stop at Horsey dyke as it would have been a challenging tack out of the narrow entrance.  As it was, the sail  back down meadow dyke was a challenging one – I might just have hit the reeds once or twice – but we were rewarded by wonderful sightings of Marsh Harriers performing aerobatics as part of their courtship rituals.  The wind was moderating, and sun almost warm, so a lazy picnic moored in Heigham sound before a lazy wander back to the staithe. Pretty much a perfect day’s sailing – If the season starts this well, then we are in for a cracker.  Ok the rest of the weekend was wet with gales, but one good day’s sailing makes the trip worthwhile.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Racing at Crawley Mariners

Steve has sent us these pictures from a handicap race he took part in at Crawley Mariners SC on 17th April. That's him in his Mk3 Jasmine. 14 boats took part in total and from these pictures I'm delighted to see so many double handed boats competing. Lot's of people seem to prefer to race single handers now. I still haven't sailed at Crawley yet. I seem to remember a Streaker open that was planned there last year that I was going to do but that was cancelled. I'm aware that it is a keen Gull sailor's club.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Gulls, a gull's eye view.

Some Gull dinghies seen from above at West Oxfordshire SC. The boat in the bottom picture (with cover removed) is Aurora. She is being prepared for the coming season. The top picture shows a mark I sadly beyond repair! (click on pics for a better view)

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Gull Class Association Website - CAUTION!

A number of you have contacted me recently with concerns about the "official" Gull Class Association. A google search will lead you to the Gull class website. This site has been inactive since 2012 and is very misleading. Firstly, our Gull blog and forum are nothing to do with this site and I would strongly advise against paying any kind of subs to the so-called official Gull Class. Those of you that have paid £7.50 through the Paypal link on the website have complained of no further correspondence from the class and one Gull sailor has opened a refund claim via the Paypal resolution centre. I would urge anyone who has paid to do the same. I am hoping that this situation will not give the Gull dinghy fraternity a bad name.
 The hub of Gull sailing is based around this blog and the attached forum. No fees are taken for any of the information and advice given and organisation of Gull cruises are unofficial. This method seems to work very well. I answer all emails as soon as it is possible for me to do so and I believe that we have amassed a huge amount of useful information on this blog since it began in 2008. However, if Gull sailors would like to have the occasional regatta then an official class association may be required. Any of you can form a class association and I would gladly help in any way that I can. It would be wise to assume that the existing class association has ceased to exist but through this blog we remain an active and healthy Gull dinghy sailing community.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Feeling Groovy!

It's great to hear that the this blog is spreading the philosophy of Gull sailing to the wider world. I love promoting the Gull. I own and regularly race other boats but nothing is quite like loading up a boat midweek and heading for the coast. Feeling the perfectly harmonious balance of wind, waves and tide through the wonderfully responsive tiller of a Gull dinghy as you sail across an open stretch of water is pure Nirvana. The reason for these drink a coffee and eat a pasty on a deserted shore. Nothing could be more simple yet beautiful and we are blessed with some fantastic sailing waters in the UK. The Gull is the perfect boat to explore them.
   It's a pleasure to share my adventures through this blog but I'm always especially delighted when I hear from new people. There have been some great posts on the forum by people awaiting new boats from Hartley Laminates and a few of you have contacted me by email. Scott Verbeke sent me the above picture of his lovely Gull Spirit (I forgot to ask him where it was taken). It very much sums up how great it is to simply arrive somewhere different.
We are very lucky as Gull sailors. Gulls are still being made and sold in decent numbers but how can we make the most of our boats? Firstly, feel free to use the forum to communicate with each other. It's also a great way to find others to sail with. If you want to arrange to meet for a sail you are welcome to promote your cruising or racing on this blog. We also have a Gull news mailing list to keep you up to date with all things Gull. To be added to the mailing list please send me your details by clicking on the blue link to the right of this post. Oh, and I've still got some car window stickers left!

Sunday, 6 March 2016

RYA dinghy show 2016

Another great dinghy show and a good chance to catch up with old friends in all classes. My favourite however, is our trusty Gull. I'm very pleased with the current model. The coloured edges to the sails might not be to everyone's taste but I'm assured they can be ordered without this.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Another dinghy show on the horizon

2006: Porter Brothers introduce the Gull Calypso. The Gull class association has it's own stand.

2007: Dame Ellen Macarther considers Wayfarer cruising.

2014: Hartley Laminates introduce the Mk6 Gull seen here in 3-tone gelcoat as Jo peeks through the jib window!

There's only a few weeks to the RYA dinghy show at Alexandra palace. I never miss it and will be there as usual on the Saturday. If you would like to see the latest Gull and all the other lovely boats visit

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Neil's Christmas Day Tradition

Neil has now sailed his Gull more than once on Christmas day. As far as I'm concerned that makes it a tradition.
"How many times to you have to do something before it becomes a ‘tradition’?  We had managed a sail on Christmas Day last year and were keen to repeat this year if at all possible.  The weather forecast did not look great, but checking on Christmas eve, there was a ‘window’ before the next band of rain swept in.  We duly donned every bit of cold weather gear we possessed and Michelin Man & Woman duly launched from the parish staithe into a  chilly force 4 North Westerly.  The broad is currently being dredged, with a barge parked opposite the end of the dyke and a strange inflatable boom, but once clear of these navigational hazards we had the broad to ourselves for some glorious sailing.  The wind was picking up steadily, and clouds lowering, so after an hour’s sail, a pause for hot chocolate and time to watch marsh harriers hunting for Christmas dinner.  A stiff beat back to the staithe, and time to stamp chilly feet to restore circulation, and swap crew as our son wanted to sail as well.  Paula sensibly went home to warm up, with James and Neil enjoying a howl around the broad with drizzle now starting and increasingly gusty winds.  The cold had really started to bite so after some messing about swapping crews so James could experience the joy of a single handed Gull, it was time to head home in now persistent heavy rain to dry out, warm up and enjoy a full turkey dinner – pretty much a perfect day despite the rain!!!
We have now managed two years sailing on Christmas Day -   Surely that’s enough of a tradition to try again next year? – especially now that Santa has bought me some warmer gloves!!!"    
There's also a great little video to go with this report -