Dinghy Sailing The International 14 Sailboat by Uffa Fox

Dinghys Beauty and Function

The Topper. My first Dinghy
The Topper. My first Dinghy
Topper racing in their own Class
Topper racing in their own Class
The Dinghy Scene, one of Beauty.  ...All photos courtesy Flickr.
The Dinghy Scene, one of Beauty. ...All photos courtesy Flickr.

The Beauty of Boats

All my life I have been fascinated by water. I was born in Wales near the Bristol Channel which meant we could easily visit the seaside for day trips or vacations. This naturally led to messing about in boats as Ratty said in "The Wind in the Willows""There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats".

As a teenager I joined the Sea Rangers which entailed a lot of rowing in precarious large wooden boats. My first sailing dinghy was a "Topper", mine was a plastic version, much more durable than the earlier glass fiber one. The clever design enabled it to be carried around on the roof rack of a family car with a mast that divided in two for travel. The family enjoyed sailing around the South Wales coast for many years in the jaunty little craft.

Our front lawn was always the resting place for my Son's latest acquisition, he wheeled and dealed in boats for years. A" Flying Fifteen", a wooden "Tornado" that had sailed in the Olympics, a beautiful wooden canoe and then a true beauty, an "International 14". This sailing dinghy is still in production today as a modern plastic fantastic but this was an original, sadly in need of repair. We struck up a deal immediately as he needed money to enable his sojourn in Ithaca a small Greek island as a sailing instructor. Even in her state of disrepair she was beautiful. Dark wood formed her Hull which was secured with light colored ribs of Spruce all fixed with bright copper nails.

This International 14 was designed and built by the famous boat designer from the Isle of Wight, Uffa Fox. This was the first planning sailing dinghy and demanded much agility to keep her up to speed. The little craft won nearly every race she entered in 1928. My Dragonfly was of that era. Uffa Fox was famous for designing many useful and innovative craft and also for his rare sense of adventure. Uffa Fox sailed with royalty and was made CBE. He started his own boat yard at the age of 21 having spent a 7 year apprenticeship on the Isle of Wight. He designed the flying Lifeboat that was extremely light so that it could be flown out to sea to be dropped down to the water and so saved many lives. He was a legend in his time. (1898 to 1972)

The little boat was immediately placed in the garage for work to begin. Her name is "Dragonfly" and should anyone know of her whereabouts today I would be most grateful to know about her. Firstly her mast had suffered severe damage . I shipped it off to Hengest and Dean near Marlow on Thames to be rebuilt. Making the mast took a long time and in that space of time I became pregnant. It soon became obvious that the old cliché that a boat makes a hole in the water into whih you throw money is very true. The sad decision was made to sell her at the boat auction at Henley on Thames. So ended my love affair with the beautiful nutshell of a craft , the International 14. I miss her to this day. Til we meet again "Dragonfly"!

Vintage International 14 s

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Comments 28 comments

Rose West profile image

Rose West 6 years ago from Michigan

Great hub! I can understand you missing your boat. I've always loved the sea, but have never had my own boat - maybe someday! I'm sure it is a lot of work though.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Hi Rose, they can be a lot of work and usually a lot of money. Fun though. Thanks for the comment.


FGual profile image

FGual 6 years ago from USA

This is a great hub. You were so lucky to do so much sailing

I had a sailboat years ago, but sadly had to dispose of it.

Maybe another someday, who knows.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

HI FGuai Thanks for stopping by. They are expensive to keep aren't they. I hope your someday comes soon!


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

I love the sea but more for swimming. Thank you for a lovely read.


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

Sold at a boat auction? Are there such things in the UK?

I cannot wait for the time to come to retire to the Greek isles and to be able to sail in warm waters. Thank you for this GW ... :-)


Dim Flaxenwick profile image

Dim Flaxenwick 6 years ago from Great Britain

Very interesting hub and beautiful pictures. I love the ocean. There's nothing like it. I hope you get to sail some more.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Hi Hello hello I have to admit that that is all I do now. Also I prefer warmer seas these days! Thanks for coming by


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Hi DG thanks for stopping by. You are lucky to be able to retire to Greece, any particular spot? I stayed on Ithaca with my son for a while. I cried when I left.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Thanks Dim. Glad you enjoyed it. I hope to sail some more too


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

I am flexible about the actual place, as long as I can have a view of the sea from my house. I spend my days now on the Internet looking at plots for sale and also houses for sale. Some places have horse riding close by, which is an advantage, but I shall make the final choice on teh basis of sea view :-))


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Nothing like sea, but one of the islands or mainland? Ithaca was lovely but limited. Not a lot of infrastructure but totally charming. Most of the population emigrated to Australia when an earthquake broke the beautiful stone cisterns by the sea so they had no fresh water. my cottage in Wales has a sea view. Have you read about it?


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 6 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon

A beautiful love affair. I'm sure that some of the love you felt came not only from the fun it gave you, but from the investment of time and money for upkeep.

I had a wooden boat once, but it filled with water so fast that I had to pull it out quickly. I'm sorry I never got to enjoy it.

Nice video too.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Glad you enjoyed it Alexander.Wooden boats are usually a thing of joy and beauty, sorry yours sank (did you make that up?) Thanks for dropping by.


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 6 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon

I wish I did. It didn't sink to the bottom, it was still on the trailer on the first and second attempt. Embarrassing!


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

mendable?


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 6 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon

Maybe it was, but that was when the reality of owning a wooden boat hit me. I sold it and was only sorry I never got to sail her.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Same story!


Linda Myshrall 6 years ago

*Great Hub* Ours, dubbed 'The Happy Destiny,' is like a family member! I think if my husband were forced to choose between ('The Other Woman,' MY name for her) and me... well... The pictures are wonderful too. I can't wait for the weather to sort itself out, as I'm already itching to feel the wind at my back.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

It's a great feeling! Thanks for the comment Linda. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, I say!


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

Sorry for the delayed response Angel Face :-)) I do not have a preference (islands or mainland) as long as I have a sea view and there is a doctor at hand. I shall be a youthful 62 in July and expect to croak any day now. :-))

I shall read about your house in Wales Anon. :-)


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

I cannot find your hub about the house in Wales. Where is it please?


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Try http://hubpages.com/travel/Timeless-Stones-on-the-... I hope you don't croak, you haven't read all my hubs yet!


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

As a joke, I have written a hub under the heading "Advice to Youth". It is a seriously exaggerated, insanely extreme, male point of view on relationships. When you find the time, would you please read it and give me your comments? Many thanks :-)


qwark profile image

qwark 6 years ago

Hi Gypsy:

I've owned several sailboats. The largest was a 41' "Rhodes" rough water racer. used to sail her to Catalina from San Pedro, Calif.

I was an avid skin diver (free diver). Loved to dive into the crystal clear waters of the islands off S Calif.

The most fun tho was a 13 ft, single hull, lanteen sail rig and centerboard. Really fun in heavy water. I understand your love of your boat and for sailing.

Nice hub! :-)


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Hi qwark, thanks for your comment. Sailboats are fun and so beautiful. I have dived amongst the kelp beds round Catalina and caught a glimpse of the underwater world you describe. Thanks for dropping by and your kind comment.


Johnny Parker profile image

Johnny Parker 5 years ago from Birkenhead, Wirral, North West England

I've never found anything as relaxing as dinghy sailing. I used to have a Laser, I suppose that would be the modern equivalent to your 'Dragonfly'.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 5 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

The laser is an improved and bigger version of the Topper I used to take to Wales on top of my car. Great fun! When you're sailing you can't really think about much else. Thanks for dropping in!

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