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 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuNwnGw7Nb8
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. 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 journeys.....to 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 http://www.rya.org.uk/programmes/dinghy-show/Pages/ticket-sales-information.aspx

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 -

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Floods in Cumbria.

Chryse on her trolley - 9th July

5m rise!


Mistful, in a sorry state but not leaking.
You will no doubt have heard news of flooding in Cumbria. I've seen plenty of upsetting pictures of Ullswater sailing club under water and the ancient Pooley road bridge washed away. At least one of our Gulls is safe as Simon reports......
Hi Chris – since mid July, I haven’t been able to sail much up here in The Lakes. Certainly since the end of October Cumbria, as you will know, has had more than its fair share of Rain.  I brought ‘Chryse’ back mid September, and she is safely tucked away in the Garage. Not so lucky with ‘Misful’ my wayfarer. The pics attached show a little of the devastation that has hit Cumbria. Many friends from the Club live locally, and they have been flooded out – for some the 5th or 6th time in 10 years!
The day I collected Misful -11 December – was the first day you could get cars in from the main road. I was helping lift Flying Fifteens back onto their trailers.
So when I return in the new year, it will be just with Chryse initially, until I get Misful back into full working order! Another project.
That’s life and a Sailor’s Lot, really.
By the way – we hold an Open Regatta at the start of August called Bass week. It’s quite an event. Look it up on the Bassenthwaite Sailing Club Web site! It is quite an event – Takes place over a week! Well worth a visit!
Cheers & Happy New Year
Simon Thelwall
I'm sure everything will be up and running again for Bass Week and the Lord Birkett which I'm hoping to attend again in July.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Gull Mark 2 for sale then......sail


Malcolm's boat is now SOLD

Malcolm  Lyon is selling his lovely restored Mark 2. These were lovely Gulls and they are quite rare now. If you are interested please use the forum to contact Malcolm (not me!!)
Hello Chris,
It is with great regret that we have decided to sell our nice Mk2 Gull (see pic).  I restored it two years ago with nice alloy spars and good set of McNamara sails.   It has a good combi trailer with new suspension units and hubs.  There is a new flat cover and also an over-boom cover that is sound and re-stitched.
  There is spare set of tired sails.
  We are asking £550 and can deliver by arrangement within about 100 mile radius of Ludlow.The boat is currently at Priory Sailing Club in Bedford.
  It is for sale a it was bought for my grandson who is just too busy with other school activities.  He is able to casually sail the Priory Sailing Club boats - so the Gull is not being used.
 Just letting you know in case you know of anyone looking for a really good little boat with all the trimmings for not much money!
Malcolm Lyon

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Neil sails, Chris dreams of sailing.

We had a very strong desire to escape for a while and escape we did. Ten days on the Scottish West Coast. Four of those days were spent at Rua Reidh lighthouse. Jo and I knew that we would have to drive for 45 minutes each evening to find a restaurant so we were delighted when we realised our host's cooking was exceptional. It meant that after two days of driving we could leave our car parked up and simply stay in the middle of absolutely nowhere and stare out to sea. And stare we did. Staring at the sea looking for whales and otters, staring at the sky and witnessing the Aurora Borealis three nights in a row. That was spectacular. A sky lit with an eerie green glow that danced back and forth. It was wonderful to finally see the phenomenon that my Gull dinghy is named in honour of.
  The best thing about finally allowing yourself to relax and do nothing is that you can let your mind settle on a subject of it's own choice and naturally mine settled on Gull sailing. I started to dream of sailing along the coast that I was gazing at. I could launch at Ullapool or Gairloch and sail out to the Summer Isles or close to Gruinard Island or as I call it "Anthrax Island". The government sanctioned the testing of biological weapons here during the WWII. It is now apparently "clean" again but Jo wants me to not land there.....
While I was dreaming up a possible sailing trip for next year Neil was actually sailing in Norfolk.........
"We had The first weekend in October booked in Norfolk and I had been watching the weather forecast all week.  We travelled up in glorious sunshine  on Friday afternoon and unearthed Kittiwake from the garage and a fine covering of cobwebs. Caught the weather forecast again on Saturday morning, and from the snug warmth of my sleeping bag it didn’t sound too bad.  Breakfast, rig and morning launch from Hickling staithe.  A close reach up the narrow dyke is not the best start when we have not sailed the boat for a while, but we emerged onto the open broad unscathed – to be met by a wall of lowering clouds rushing towards us on the increasing Easterly wind – decision time – turn round and go home for another coffee, or keep calm and carry on?  We sailed on regardless, and experienced the full joy of English weather.  Rain and no wind – rain and variable wind – rain and too much wind.  The plan had been to sail up to Horsey Mere, but that was soon revised, and after enjoying some lively reaches across the broad , we headed down the river (in the rain) in search of shelter.  We found a key heading with Oak Tree, and the picture shows the boat snugly moored whilst we cower beneath the tree enjoying hot chocolate – still at least all the wet makes the varnish look shiny!!!.  Whilst slurping chocolate and starting on an early lunch (why not it’s raining after all?), the rain (if not the wind)  eased, and we enjoyed a storming run back down the river and some cracking sailing across the broad.  The poor weather had kept others at home, and the water was nearly empty.  This gave fantastic bird watching with marsh harriers, cranes and cormorants all unfazed by our passing.    Eventually, the damp from the rain and spray got us cold, so back home for hot tea, dry clothes and happy memories.  An excellent day’s sail after a very unpromising start.  The evening forecast advised “we’ve seen a few showers over Eastern England today” – If that’s a few, I’d hate to be out when it is really raining." 
So, to all Gull sailors from all four corners of the globe. If, like Neil, you can get out on the water do so. If not, then keep dreaming and planning and do remember to send us your stories for the blog as, like Neil's report, they inspire us all.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Life Line.

I've often wondered what would happen if I should either fall out of my boat or become separated from it when sailing at sea. I doubt I'd be able to swim after it especially if, for some reason, the boat were to sail away by itself or be taken by wind or tide. I would then face the prospect of a long and lonely drift out to sea.
 It makes sense therefore, to attach yourself to the boat. I do this by tying a rope from my buoyancy aid to the attachment for the centre main-sheeting block. This works very well as I naturally pivot around this point when tacking and gybing so life line and mainsheet follow me without tangling. The rest of the rope is tucked into the pocket of my buoyancy aid where it is bundled up ready to deploy in an emergency rather than letting it get messy in the bottom of the boat.
The other end is then attached to my buoyancy aid using a snap shackle as can be seen in the picture above. It has been mentioned to me that snap shackles can easily become undone. I use a snap shackle for exactly this reason as I may want to release myself in a hurry under certain circumstances. The reality is that I'm more likely to choose to undo the fitting myself than it releasing by accident.
Midway along the rope at a precisely devised length is a loop that can be used as a foothold that will assist me in getting back in the boat when it is upright. It would also be useful for pulling the boat upright from a capsized position. The loop is made by inserting the rope through a piece of clear plastic hose that will also fold away into the pocket of my buoyancy aid.
  I use this system when sailing in strong breezes in coastal waters or if there is a big swell. You should never assume that you will be able to swim after and get back into your boat should the unthinkable happen.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Faded Gelcoat Repair.

The above photograph shows the nice shinny blue finish of Aurora's transom. An hour before it looked more like a pair of faded denim jeans (not fashionable since the 1980's!). I forgot to take a photo of the transom before I refurbished it. It looked a little like the port side of the boat does in this picture.......
.......and after!
12 years of sunlight had finally started to remove the shine from the gelcoat and it was looking unloved. So I shall explain the method I used to make it look as good as new. Firstly, I'm not sure that this would work on all boats. The Anglo Marine and Porter Brothers Gulls have a nice thick coating of very good quality gelcoat finish which means they can handle having a few layers removed. I don't think other boats I've owned would stand up to the invasive action of removing even the microscopic amount of gelcoat that I did with Aurora. Especially the racing dinghies that I'm now convinced are designed to fall apart within 10 years.
Doing this is not for the faint hearted. If you have any doubts about your DIY skills take your boat to a professional!
Take some 1200 grit wet and dry paper and soak it in clean water for 10 minutes. Then sand only the faded areas. There is no need to do the shinny bits. You will only be making extra work for yourself. Keep applying water as you sand. Then go over the same area with 2000 grit wet and dry. This will make the sanded area as smooth as possible and easier to polish at the next stage. Make sure you sand along the surface in even horizontal strokes. Don't go mad! You only want to remove the top oxidised surface of the gelcoat and do it by hand, NOT with power tools! When you think you have an even sanded area rinse it off with a hose and let it dry so you can assess it. You will now have a very scratched boat (above pic) which is why I stated earlier - "Doing this is not for the faint hearted".
   If you haven't fainted then let's continue. You now need an electric polisher. Don't attempt the next step by hand. You will NEVER do it!
I bought this cheap car polisher on Amazon. http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B004PJUWZU?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00 .I would also recommend some G3 polishing compound. I have tried almost all of the products that say they can remove oxidation from gelcoat and in my experience they simply do nothing.
note: don't use a grinder or sander with a polishing pad fitted. They operate at too fast a speed and will create enough friction to possibly melt your boat's finish!
With a woollen polishing pad fitted to your polisher take some G3 and apply it to the pad then, without turning the machine on place the pad against the part of the boat you previously sanded and now need to polish. Turn the machine on and polish the gelcoat, keeping the machine moving backwards and forwards constantly. This process takes time and is hard work so do no more than 2 feet at a time.
When your arms start to ache stop, get your hose and rinse off the G3. You may also need to wipe of the residue with a cloth so you can inspect your work. Keep repeating this process until the G3 has polished out all of the sandpaper marks and left your boat with a shinny and seamless surface. Then simply give your boat a thorough polishing with a good quality boat polish. I used Meguair's M4516 http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0000AXMDP?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s00
Finally give the whole surface a good waxing with boat or car wax to help seal the surface.
Like the transom and port side, the starboard side now has a nice even blue colour across it's surface.
And after all that work a nice new breathable overboom cover from Trident UK. The cover was custom made to my measurements and has deeper side panels that completely cover the areas that were faded by sunlight. So hopefully, it shouldn't happen again.
UPDATE 6th Jan 2016.
I've also just finished doing this to an old Lightning dinghy and it looks like brand new now! The electric polisher has died though....oh well, it doesn't owe me anything! The Lightning dinghy is sail number 337. Built in 2001 it is about 2 years older than the Gull but the fading was much more extreme. After a couple of days work it looks like a different boat! Both pics are "after" shots. I was so keen to get going with the sand paper that I forgot to take "before" pics. You can also see my Streaker dinghy hiding under it's cover behind the Lightning. Thankfully, this doesn't need polishing as it's only a year old. I ordered it in white. White gelcoat resists uv light more than coloured boats (especially red and blue) and is easier to match if repairs need to be done. I would recommend white or light grey boats if you have a choice. I've learnt this the hard way!