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Dinghy Sailing The International 14 Sailboat by Uffa Fox
Dinghys Beauty and Function
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"!