Chuckle made me smile.

Normally confusing blogging is resumed.

Just recently a rather nice English folkboat came up for sale on Ebay and yes, she is called ‘Chuckle’ which i thought was one of the nicest boat names i have seen in a while.     Sadly she is far too far away for me to go and visit unless i could have done the other 2 boat viewings during the same road-trip.  As some members may know i once had a less good East German folkboat but Harry Feltham’s boats are usually good-uns.    Don’t worry folks (ouch) i’m not actually thinking about buying a wooden folkboat, if i wanted that hull shape i would buy a Contessa or  Folkdancer…i just liked the name and the boat.

English Folkboat ‘Chuckle’….not my photograph.


The fun here is that i have been collecting boat names again whilst engaged in my favourite activity which is nebbing around boatyards.    just recently i have been down to Mylor twice to try and catch the boatyards before the big launching season and had a trip over to the east coast.    My own recent boats have all been named ‘WABI’ and the current one is number 3 .  WABI has several different meanings apparently depending on how it is written, my version has the triple Zen meanings : Nothing is complete, nothing is perfect, nothing is permanent…..which pretty much defines boats for me ie never finished, never right and always breaking.  WABI”’ will most likely be the last of my boats to carry that name as Inanda was a properly registered vessel and has a lot of history which goes with the name.  I’m not sure yet whether the name is a reference to a South African township or whether its made up from the first letters of maybe the first owners family names.



I wonder why anyone would name their boat thus :


Many years back i sailed occasionally with a tough Lancashire yachtsman called Urban Taylor, the boat of his that i crewed on was a Farr one tonner called Prospect Of Puffin.  His first racing boat was a Scampi called ‘Rural Tinker’ which i thought was a neat play on the owners name.  I think his last racing boat was ‘Megalopolis’… it out ! as i understand it Urban passed over the bar a few years ago.       At about the same time i was racing regularly aboard ‘Robbery’ , some time i must tell the story of what the very non-pc ex colonel said to our gynaecologist owner about his crew .     Urban used to own a Porsche and often turned up at the Holyhead yacht club when an Irish sea race started from there.  It was quite the done thing after a few beers to slip out and modify his custom numberplate (PEN 15) with some electrical tape.  There is an apocryphal story that the one time he didn’t notice he got pulled over by the local plod.

Boat names i think are easier when the boat isn’t a bog-standard production job and just the same as every other boat that came out of the same mould. Just how the owners of the countless same-y white plastic Westerly’s, Beneteau’s and such like come up with anything meaningful or personal is beyond me. I think they should just have numbers !

There was at one time a fad of changing the owner’s name around to give a boat name, ‘Noryema’ was one (Ron Amey) and another fad was taking the first letters of the owners children (usually daughters) and adding them together to make a name, Inanda could be for example although the name is pleasantly phonetic.   Some of them worked quite well although i did once come across a German flagged folkboat derivative anchored in the Tamar called something completely un-pronounceable because the owner had taken the names of his Wagnerian themed daughters and thrown 3 of them together…..i couldn’t pronounce it at all !

Another boat naming fad that i really don’t like are the joke-y ones, i’m fairly sure that i have seen either ‘Breaking wind’ or Passing wind’ at some time…..surely that joke is going to get real old really quickly.   This ship almost had me crying though simply because no pun was intended and it really is a ship’s name.  Sometimes it really doesn’t pay to both work in Endoscopy and have a totally absurdist sense of humour.     If you have anything like as bad a sense of humour as i do you might also like this :     All i can add is that i hope they find what they are looking for.


Of course i come from a background of corporate sponsored name boats, thus we get Rothmans and Merit (fags) Steinlager (beer) and several banks….Banque Populaire to name just one.  I never did like wearing a sponsors name or having to deal with the corporate guests that were foisted on us. I once sailed a corporately sponsored yacht that had not one but 3 sponsors and somebody had tried to put the 3 company names together to make a race-name for the boat.   I did always hope for the day when a sex-toys maker or racy lingerie store decided to go into yacht racing for advertising…..Durex Ocean Vibrator seems to come to mind… least the crew uniforms would be interesting.    There are also any number of ‘Black Pearl’s’ out there ‘Ship Happens’ etc and so on c’mon people try a bit harder…….pretty please.

Big Bowsprit apparently !


Anyway….its an endless sea to trawl and i always have a lot of fun finding new ones that stand out (oops)

We met this bloke in the Orwell yacht club….he didn’t know what the story is.


The slightly more serious side of today’s post is that ‘Chuckle’ really did make me smile because i had a serious look at the pictures and the specs and then went for a look at the current owner’s blog.  It did bring me back full circle in that my first boat was a Folkboat albeit not a good one and i did wonder about having another one as a cruising boat.  The problem with the wooden folkboats is that they were built ‘light’ and many of them have been totally thrashed as racing boats because many of their owners simply won’t reef….just drive em harder !.  In my boat most of the ribs were broken and i have seen similar on many other boats.  Also for a 26 foot boat they are very slim, low and small inside with a very pointy and wasteful bow space just like a J boat or metre rule boat.  They do sail well though and i still think they are great looking little boats.   In the series that i did about beginners boats i started out by talking about 2 boats that me and a mate of mine had as first boats.  His was an Achilles and mine was a Folkboat, i have covered the Achilles as a bargain basement starter boat several times but never really covered Folboats.  I’m not sure about the wooden ones as beginner boats because they were often lightly built boats that were raced hard.  A nice English one that hasn’t been thrashed would be the best option for a cruising boat as they were mostly built well and have a bit more space that the purist scandinavian ones.

This is Chuckle’s owners blog :

This one sailed into the Helford river while we were anchored there.


My train of thought that starts with the Folkboat then goes quite naturally through the several Folkboat-like boats such as the Stella and then the various GRP folkboat derivatives like the Folk-Song and Folk-Dancer : and then of course on to the Contessa 26.

This wooden Folkboat is an absolute beauty but has almost no interior space, possibly mot even sitting head-room :


I think that the most viable, as a cruising boat, is the Folk-Dancer with its essentially folkboat hull but raised topsides and small doghouse.  I haven’t seen one of these for years and the only one that i ever knew personally had quite a bit of wet and rotten plywood but the interior space had better cruising potential than others in the same basic type.

Don’t…just don’t.


Interesting Junk version : remember that one of the most famous Folkboats was the Junk rigged ‘Jester’



Once upon a time when i was briefly a professional skipper of a maxi yacht my nurse colleague on board (Sophie) ran the ship’s newspaper aptly named the ‘Dropping Standard’…its kind-of a nurses joke.    Had we ran a science column then the headline “Nasa to probe Uranus for gas” is exactly the kind of thing that would have made the edit.


  1. Agree Chuckle a great name, especially for a clinker boat with that wonderful sound coming from the wave action at the bow.


  2. Urban had a Merlin Rocket called Urban Renewal.The owners of Robbery had a previous boat called Fair Exchange after a travel company


    1. I sailed with Urban aboard P of P a few times and was regular crew with ‘JC’ aboard Robbery….i also remember JC’s earlier boat from my Dickie’s days and last i saw of John was at the start of a Fastnet race aboard ‘Paracelcus’. I seem to remember that Urban’s later boats also followed a similar ‘Urban’ theme.


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