Drascombe Quirky Page

Drascombe Quirky Page, Drascombe Drifter 22, Bolitho, at East Head

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Drascombe anecdotes, humour & information from Stewart Brown, long time Drascombe enthusiast 

I created Churchouse Boats Ltd in March 1998 & ran it until I retired in February 2013. On my Drascombe by Churchouse Boats company website, I posted my Quirky Page of Drascombe anecdotes & humour, which I have now transferred to this personal website: www.drascombe.me.uk . I hope you enjoy it.

If you would like to contact me, click here:  Drascombe Quirky Page, Drascombe Drifter 22, button

Drascombe Quirky Page, Drascombe Drifter 22, Bolitho 9, by DH








A great picture of Bolitho, my Drifter 22 taken in 2009 by David Harding for PBO


















LATEST UPDATES:

A brief report of our cruise to the Bournemouth Air Show & the 'October the First' cruise. Go to: Happenings

A revised mizzen boom gooseneck for bolitho. Go to: Tweaks & Tribulations

A brief report of our end of season cruise, Yarmouth & Portsmouth. Go to: Happenings

 

GENESIS

I do not have any family background of sailing & originally bought a boat because I wanted to learn to sail and indulge in the ‘Swallows & Amazons’ type of sailing; perhaps even a ‘Toad’ element of simply messing about in boats. I certainly did not want a boat that would tip me in the water every time I made a mistake. I wanted to sail on the water not in the water!

My choice was a Drascombe: a second-hand Lugger, very early Mark 1. I pottered around the Solent and, with occasional guidance from a friend, taught myself to sail.

It fulfilled every one of my expectations and a few that I hadn’t even thought of. Not least of the ‘ones I hadn’t thought about’ was the Drascombe Association. Through it, I was encouraged to use my boat far more than I would have thought. I travelled to sailing waters I would not otherwise have ventured upon and met a wide number of people that I now count as close friends.

As soon as the Drascombe Association was formed, I signed up. This led to ‘The Rally’ - a weekend of Drascombing and the need to sleep somewhere. The B&B option did not appeal, camping on the beach was fun, at times, but the real way was to sleep on the boat.

Drascombe Quirky Page, Drascombe Lugger Mk1 Bolitho 2, tent first night, Warsash 1987

 

 

I soon designed and home-made a boom-tent (yes, a boom - but that’s another story). I did it on the cheap. Saved £100, used my wife’s sewing machine, buggered it up big time and had to buy her a new one for £250!! Just because you chose a Drascombe doesn’t mean you get it right every time! Ten year’s of enormous fun followed. My second son was quite keen (for a while). Two of us slept on the floor boards of the Lugger. Many wonderful evenings of beach barbecues, star-lit skies, good friends & good craic fill the memory and nights under the stars are unbeatable.

I read somewhere that the human being can sleep well provided the head & hip are comfortable. I used a Calipak self-inflating back-packer mattress (only 48” x 18” x 2” but extremely effective) & a good feather pillow. I slept like a log, usually aided by generous measures of ‘recreational anaesthetic’ (usually red wine).

 

 

 

Drascombe Quirky Page, Drascombe Coaster, Bolitho 3, Poole Rally 94

 

Eventually, of course, the desire for a more comfortable berth, dry clothes & sleeping bags, and additional facilities meant an up-grade to a Coaster - a sound move.

The Coaster does not have the cockpit space of the open boats, the side-decks abeam of the cabin are rather narrow, and the forward visibility is not as good. Nevertheless it was a superb boat to own. It has all the shallow water versatility of the Lugger, is perfectly safe in a strong blow off-shore, and has the wonderful protection of the cabin and it’s associated spray-hood to minimize the effect of the green ones coming over the bow.

On several occasions, in company with Drascombe friends, we have been rafted up or on a beach, having a beer or two and a BBQ, and been approached by envious owners of otherwise desirable large craft, such as the Freedom 40, who recognize the Drascombe way as a high-pleasure, low-stress way of sailing. They are not wrong! I still love it!!

There really is nothing to beat a good sail in a Drascombe and, at the end of the day, to nose into a creek or backwater inaccessible to 90% of other craft (& the Harbour Master seeking dues!), break out the beer and the grub, and watch the sun go down while the sea-birds and waders eat their fill, comfortable with your non-threatening company.

It has been said (by me, at least, on many occasions) that sailing is the ultimate environment-friendly activity. We are powered by the wind, consume nothing and, five minutes after we have passed, there is no evidence that we have ever been there. If you want to live in harmony with nature, enjoy life but harm neither sacred planet nor person, buy a Drascombe.

Dawn on quiet waters is one of life’s ecstatic pleasures second only to the smell of bacon being cooked in the open air. The ‘full English’ is another feature of my personal sailing ethos.

On one occasion, I was sailing with the then Chairman of the Drascombe Association, Jim Hopwood, in his well-used Longboat Cruiser on the Dart. We had overnighted up Dittisham Mill Creek at the mouth of which was an absolutely superb thatched cottage. Real chocolate box material & worth an absolute mint - we had met the wealthy owner on the previous evening. After bacon & eggs at 6.00am, the morning was too quiet and magical to shatter with an outboard motor so we hoisted the jib & ghosted down the creek. As we passed the photogenic cottage, the inhabitants rushed out with cameras - and took pictures of us! Tells you something, doesn’t it?  

There really is something special about Drascombe owners. As a breed, they are comfortable, independent people, self confident & with nothing to prove. The French have a saying that someone is 'comfortable in their skin' & that sums up the Drascombe person. As a result, they are generally easy going, gregarious and damned good company. We had a monster 10/30 Rally at Calshot, in the Solent, in July 1997 to celebrate 10 years of the Association and 30 years of the production of Drascombes. Some 90 boats attended including a major Dutch contingent & another from Ireland. The comment of the weekend was from the Manager of the Calshot Centre who, as a keen observer of events and get-togethers, said that he was amazed how smoothly things had gone. "As soon as any incident began, the Drascombe people gathered  round and helped sort it out. No fuss, no gloating, no egos. Just great." And it was. 

In 2007, we did it all again as the 20/40/80 Rally. 20 years of the Association, 40 years of the production of Drascombes, to which we added 80 to mark Luke Churchouse's 80th birthday.  

The boats are fantastic. John Watkinson started it all with a very personal mission to produce a boat that would keep his wife, Kate, sailing with him. The Lugger that he produced met his personal need and went on to meet the same needs of thousands of others. The evolution of the other designs has, each in it’s own way, filled a void in the market need. It is now the most comprehensive range of low-stress, high-fulfillment sailing boats available.

 

EVOLUTION

‘ I liked it so much, I bought the Company.’ said Victor Kiam about the Remington razor.

‘I liked it so much, I bought the Company’ said I about Drascombe, adding ‘and I’m still having close shaves!’

Becoming a Drascomber even influenced my career. In 1998, I quit construction from a senior position to create & grow Churchouse Boats & in 2002 also acquired the sole license to build  new Drascombe boats.

Drascombe Quirky Page, Drascombe Quirky Page, Drascombe Drifter, Stewart product testing for comfort






Once it became my business as well as my hobby, I was forced to devote many hours to product testing.

For example, testing Drifter sidebenches:   Size & fit 100%, comfort 70%! (Courtesy of Des Bennett, Drifter Intrepid.)

The Drifter 22 is more comfortable!




A NEW DESIGN 

As it was my own business, I also had the opportunity for a massive self-indulgence - the Drascombe Drifter 22. Whilst sailing & enjoying my Coasters, I kept thinking of the boat I really wanted. The idea germinated, was cultivated & grew. Once I had joined McNulty Boats & convinced David McNulty that the Drascombe range needed a new boat at its top end, the idea ripened. When I took over the building of new Drascombes in 2002, I naturally took over my pet project as well. It took a while to bring it to fruition, but we did it.  

We completed the wood-epoxy prototype, which was Bolitho 7, & I sailed it for the 2006 season to make sure it was what I really wanted & what it should be; & it was. 

We turned her into a GRP production boat & launched her commercially at the London Boat Show in 2007. 

She has exceeded my expectations & is a really beautiful boat to sail & enjoy. Fortunately, a lot of other people also think it is their ideal boat! 

 

HEALTH WARNING!

If you succumb to the charms of Drascombe & become immersed in the ethos, you may contract a known social disease: Drascomba Anoraksia. It is easily transmitted, quite difficult to cure, but never dangerous!

 

FACEBOOK

I originally got sucked into Facebook as being the only way to keep in touch with what the junior dynasty members were up to! Inevitably, I seem to use it more & more.

There are two strong Drascombe groups you may find interesting:

 DRASCOMBE is a public group with world-wide membership.

SOLENT CRUISING GROUP is a secret group (to use Facebook jargon) so membership is by invitation; specifically as a focal point for Solent Drascombers for co-ordinating informal cruises & get-togethers.

If you want to follow my Facebook musings:  Facebook button

 

FOOTNOTE

I am only a limited wordsmith and my literary skills often cannot properly convey the elation & pleasure that Drascombe sailing has brought to my life.

There is a Drascombe sticker that says:  

Drascombe,

‘The Sail that becomes a way of life!’

 It certainly did!

 

 

 

 

Last updated: 31.10.17