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Drascombe Cruise Weekend at Kielder Water Sailing Club

by Nicola Bell on 5 Aug 2011 30-31 July 2011
Drascombe cruise at Kielder Water © Tim Pettigrew

Kielder Water Sailing Club played host to one of the most picturesque waterborne events in recent years, when a rally was held for Drascombe sailing boats. A dozen of these traditionally styled craft with their distinctive tan sails cruised in company around the picturesque lake. Visiting boats travelled from Scotland and various parts of northern England. They joined the resident fleet of thirteen Drascombes owned by members of Kielder Water Sailing Club at Tower Knowe.

The weather was sunny on the Saturday, although winds were light. Local cruises were organised in the morning and afternoon. The visitor centre at Tower Knowe put on an evening meal, which was enjoyed by the visitors and members of the club. Sunday dawned somewhat overcast but remained dry. The increase in wind allowed a full day massed picnic cruise, with a couple of stops to visit some of the artworks around the perimeter of the lake. The visitors all left with a great appreciation of the charms of this beautiful area, and with the growing resident fleet, these attractive boats will be seen gracing Kielder Water with increasing regularity in future.

The design of these vessels has a heritage which can be traced right back to the Vikings. John Watkinson, a former officer with the Royal Navy, wanted to build a boat for himself and his family. The requirements were that it should be stable, as his wife suffered from seasickness, roomy yet compact enough to trail easily and above all seaworthy but safe. He took as his inspiration that workhorse of the North-East coast fishing fleets, the Coble. The similarity is unmistakeable, as can be seen from the lines of his original "Drascombe Lugger". First constructed in the 1960s, the prototype was hand-built at his farm in Drascombe Barton, Devon, hence the name for the class. To date over 5,000 Drascombes have been made by various builders and they are still in production.