Erith Yacht Club

The finest sailing water on the tidal Thames

Erith Yacht Club
Anchor Bay,
Erith, Kent, DA8 2AD
Tel. 01322 332943
Secretary (PO Box 231, Bexleyheath, Kent, DA7 9AZ)
Tel 0208 310 2686

Site Updated
Apr 20 2012
Untitled Document

The Hamble Star                          

A.R. Luke designed this remarkable little boat in 1925, but despite its somewhat old fashioned appearance  (some would prefer the word “traditional”)  it combines within its modest dimensions a set of unusually varied attributes.  Baldly stated, the Star is a carvel built, hard chine, gunter rigged centreboard open dinghy of fourteen feet overall, eleven feet six inches waterline length and five feet beam, drawing nine inches with the plate up and two feet more with it down, and having a sail area of a hundred and ten square feet.


Even this brief description betrays one oddity few hard chine boats are carvel built: add to this the use of 7/16” mahogany planking on 1/2” * 3/4” bent timbers and it becomes clear that we are dealing with a rather different "animal” from the average boxy plywood boat encountered in coastal and inland waters these days.


The construction is very strong: but despite its quite considerable weight the Star, being completely open, is easily lifted into the water or on shore.  It is not really expensive to build, and will stand plenty of hard wear for a great number of years.  But in fact its chief merit is in the sailing, for it is surely rare to find in the same class the qualities needed for learning, coastal cruising and team racing.


The lines of the hull show a well lifted chine forward, and there is sufficient round in the bottom to give handling characteristics very similar to those of a round bilge class.  A whole mainsail can by carried in heavy weather, yet the Star is surprisingly fast and lively in milder conditions, and remains light on the helm at all times.


As a boat for learners the Star has proved ideal for the instruction of twelve year olds, who by the age of fourteen can become excellent helmsmen.  Its hundred odd square feet of sail set in a low gunter rig is well within the capacity of inexperienced youngsters, and the small jib of twenty square feet is a considerable safety factor as it will not bury the boat when hit by a hard puff.  The mast can be easily lowered and laid within the boat, making a fine roomy pulling dinghy which behaves excellently in the roughest water no small advantage either, on those other occasions when the wind falls light amongst commercial shipping!  The use of storm sails enables training to continue in weather which would otherwise make it impracticable.


The simplicity of the Star’s rig is a great asset when cruising.  The boats are transported, spars stowed within, on double deck trailers, and up to four of them have made the journey to Holland annually for many years to cruise for several weeks along the waterways. They are sturdy enough to carry camping kit and remain stable,  and the fourteen foot mast is a good size for clearing standard size bridges.  A tent is rigged over the spars and keeps two sleeping occupants snug below. Up to twelve people have been fed in a Star at one time, though half that number gives greater comfort.  The boat’s sailing qualities are such that with experienced helmsmen passages of up to two hours out of sight of land in the Ysselmeer have been successfully undertaken.  A Star, if caught out in a white squall, can be safely nursed through it, and with storm sails set can cope with anything likely to be encountered.  In less extreme weather a young helmsman once completed a remarkable passage from Erith to Pinmill in thirteen and a half hours.

 At Erith, team racing, for which the boats are well suited, makes a welcome variation to the year’s sailing programme.  The Star is also a suitable boat for lending to visitors, and useful exchanges of ideas have been made in this way.  The boats are sailed as a Class Association, an arrangement which has certain built in advantages.  Although the Stars are privately owned most are now bought and sold through the Class.  There is a fund which came into being through the generosity of well-wishers and it is used to further the chief aim of the Class, which is to teach young people to sail.  Necessary equipment is provided and advances may be made to young people buying a Star.  All enjoy the benefit of group insurance, bulk buying of chandlery, and above all an introduction under experienced guidance to the hazards of sailing in a busy tideway.  It is the qualities of particular men and of particular boats which have made this possible.