Erith Yacht Club
The finest sailing water on the tidal Thames
Erith Yacht Club
Apr 20 2012
The Hamble Star
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.
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.
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.
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.
simplicity of the Stars 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
boats 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.
Erith, team racing, for which the boats are well suited, makes a welcome variation
to the years 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.