CROSSING THE BAR
Yachting World|April 2021
GENTLEMAN YACHT DESIGNER ALBERT STRANGE MAKES A RISKY BID FOR THE OPEN SEA IN HIS 22FT CENTREBOARDER

The Edwardian period of English yachting is best remembered for the great cutters and schooners of the racing scene. From Cowes to the Clyde professionally crewed yachts competed for big-money prizes while fortunes changed hands by way of wagers on results. But while this extravagant scene raced on, another world was unfolding. Corinthian cruising in boats small enough to be single-handed – or at least sailed without paid men in the fo’c’sle – was slowly coming of age.

With it arose a new breed of amateur and semiprofessional designers, and many of their craft are still sailing today. Among them are designs from Albert Strange, the son of a shopkeeper who dreamed of the sea and made it happen, becoming an enthusiastic member of the famous Humber Yawl Club in 1891. He was a trained artist and a notable writer with a delicious turn of phrase. In this rollicking account Strange is sailing Cherub II, a 22ft centre-plate yacht from his own drawing board. He describes part of a singular cruise from Scarborough in Yorkshire to Brightlingsea in Essex. Having ducked inland via the Humber, he is now on his way to the Wash by way of the river and canal system and is confronting an apparently insurmountable obstacle...

On the banks of the river were many anglers, doubtless enjoying the weather as being the most propitious for their gentle art, and far off awaited us the ruined lock at Bardney and the unsolved problem as to how to get through it. The very faintest of airs gave us bare steerageway, and it was noon before we finally reached the problem which it was necessary to solve or else retrace our way to Grimsby.

Yes, alas and as foretold, the lock was totally shut up, bolted and barred by big balks of timber. The lock keeper came out and looked at us, shook his head, and said he thought we should have to go back. I had forgotten to purchase dynamite, and it really looked as if all progress was impossible. We made fast, however, and Fred, my youthful companion, began to fish for perch, whilst I suggested lunch. After this meal had been completed we sat and looked at the forbidden lock again, more in sorrow than in anger, and whilst we were thus engaged a large Lincolnshire man strolled up. He heard our tale of woe, bit a large piece of tobacco off one of my plugs, and then said, “Might pull her over if we’d some help.”

“Grand, nay, superbly magnificent idea!” But where to get the help? For no houses were visible. Oh, he’d just look up some friend of his who would come along (it being Saturday) and give a hand if there was anything forthcoming for their trouble! Good heavens. I would give untold gold rather than go back, and speeded him on his way with large promises and a three-finger nip of whisky as an earnest of good things to come. So off he went, and we began to strip the boat and carry the things beyond the lock.

HAUL OUT

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