Page updated 20 March 2021

Go to Top Spindrift - Not The Best Yacht

In 1967 I spent a week on Spindrift. It was the last holiday that I took with my parents. I am still to find any photographs that were taken on that holiday and the picture seen here was taken in 2002 and sent to me by Craig Slawson.

Spindrift - One of two craft built to this design

Spindrift - pictured in 2002

Spindift had been built by Eastwood Whelpton in 1965 and joined their hire fleet based at Upton Dyke. On the original version of this page, published in December 2008, I wrote:

They are still to be seen around the Broads today, awkward boats that were pigs to sail. Built of wood, they remind you of a 1950's motor cruiser with a full width cabin, no side decks and a small Bermudan sloop rig. With their huge freeboard they sailed sideways rather than forward most of the time. Best forgotten!

Of course that assessment was based entirely on sailing performance. I recall that my mother enjoyed the size of the cabin, which would have been more spacious than those on many a motor cruiser available at the time.

I am not sure how much longer they lasted after 2008. While preparing Just 17, my SeaHawk for her Repaint in 2011, one of the two craft built to the design was at the same yard in a very sorry state.

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Hamilton's Charts - 1967 Edition

Spindrift - On the cover of Hamilton's 1967 edition.

The one thing I do remember about that holiday was the discovery of "Hamilton's Charts". I strongly suspect I only bought the copy I acquired that year because it had a photograph of Spindrift on the cover but I would have glanced inside and I have no doubt that it was the budding sailor in me that attracted me to this guide. But more about that later!

In the previous two years I had become aware of Jarrold's annual publication "What To Do On The Norfolk Broads". There was a rival publication whose name I can't recall, but both of these were in landscape format, roughly A4 sized and printed on glossy paper. They concentrated on the things that would matter to those taking family holidays and those that Arthur Ransome would have described as Hullabaloos - pubs, restaurants, tourist attractions and places of entertainment.

In contrast Hamilton's was portrait orientation, closer to A5 in size and printed on paper the quality of newsprint with less than a handful of grainy photographs. Unlike the other guides, the maps were not spread across the pages of the book but found on two separate sheets contained in a pocket created by bending inwards and stapling an over-sized front cover.

The front cover claimed there were seven maps "approximately 3 inches to the miles in 4 colours". One of the two double sided sheets covers all the northern rivers and the other the Yare, Waveney and chet to the south. The count of seven maps, rather than four, is because more efficient use of the paper can be had by breaking up the meandering courses of the southern rivers into a number of separate strips. However, the count of seven doesn't include the various insets to cover the extremities of the navigable waters, such as the River Chet, the North Walsham and Dilham Canal and the New Cut, north of Horsey Mere, so you could argue there are ten maps.

So what made Hamilton's so attractive to me as a budding sailor? It was the level of detail of every part of the waterway. While it did what every other guides did by providing tidal information, the height of bridges and tables of distances between points of interest, it paid no attention to the menu available at pubs and restaurants.

Hamilton's Charts Map - 1967 Edition

Thurne Mouth - according to Hamilton's 1967 Chart!

Instead it detailed the features of each half mile stretch of bank to both the left and right. Almost every reach, a length of river between two bends, was named, with that used by the old Wherrymen. Most importantly, I used to think, was how it showed the depth of water close to the banks or mid-river. More recently, I began to think this was probably more helpful to anglers as it provides information overload for a helmsman.

It had a clear definition of what it considered a "good mooring", which were shown as a green band along a bank. Shaded green along a bank indicated where "mooring was not necessarily allowed or recommended". Those that could be used in an emergency, were marked with "EM" in red text. These were defined as "not a good mooring or one to be used for choice for a night mooring – it is shown for use in case of breakdown or other emergency from which a telephone can be reached for assistance"). Dangerous moorings were shown in red.

In the map fragment seen on this page the red arrowheads in section B30L indicate a submerged or partly exposed pile of stump near the shore, while that in B29L is further into the stream. Numbers in red represent depth of water in feet. Sometimes these are prefixed with a "G" for a gravel bottom or "H" for a hard bottom.

There follows a sample of the text found in the book that describes a section of the River Bure by the Council houses found on the A47 a mile out of Great Yarmouth:

B7L Scare Gap
No moorings are recommended. Banks have shelved in.
B7R In this section there is a quay and emergency mooring with 4ft ALW. Above this there is another bath of piling 2ft to 3ft out into the river opposite to the County Council cottages and Scare Gap. Pilings and quays along here are studded with bolts, some of which protrude. Where the bank is not piled it is badly eroded and shallow shelves are frequent so that no mooring should be attempted.

This kind of stuff seemed so much more important to a young Gregory than knowing the kind of stuff you found in "What To Do On The Norfolk Broads", although I will confess copies of those were bought as well in at least one year, but they have long since been thrown away.

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