05/12/2010 14:11:29
Northern Merlin
One of those now rare merlin books on ebay http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/he-Merlin-Rocket-Book-Jim-Park-and-Ian-Holt-/320626432246?pt=Non_Fiction&hash=item4aa6d318f6  when are we as a class going to get this book reprinted and brought up to date.

05/12/2010 22:06:55
david Henshall
Northern Merlin...

Back earlier in the year there was quite a debate on this. I've spent the summer collecting Merlin details - for instance, the part played by the sailing club at Hayling in the very early days of the class. Despite being an excellent read, the first Merlin book has some yawning holes. The difficulty now is more one of 'direction' for the book: is it is historical record of the development of the class - told through the boats and the people.

But can one book sustain the detailed telling of the story across what be 65 years without becoming an extended 'War and Peace'. The alternative is to dash through the early years then as the record gets closer to today to then dive down into more detail. But go down that route and there is a danger that some of the real 'gems' from the early days will get lost.... a number of the key people have been lost just in the time I've been working on the project.

As an example, later this week I'm spending a day trying to get as much of the story of Jack Chippendale as I can. I'm sure that just the bit of Jack building the early Proctor boats would be worth a chapter to itself - but then this would need to be balanced by a similar overview of Graham Edwards - who hardly got a mention in the first book.

Ditto Nick Truman - then the story of some of the Northern Merlins and Merliners that may well have been missed - we're now at War and Peace Volumes 1 and 2!

All this is very well... seeing that I'd originally started with the idea of doing some form of Coffee Table book, A4 sized, landscape format with lots of glossy high quality pictures.

It will be quite a task squeezing so much into a finite space - a bit like the boat itself!!


06/12/2010 09:24:20
David Gates
As mentioned there is a lot of history, a fair amount of it I am sure is probably lost or mislaid. While creating more work, why not do a two volume set. the fist from the beginning up to 1960 /1970's, and the second volume from the 60's/70's up to current date. I have seen a number of books on motoring marks where this has been done to great success, and each volume having its own flavour due to the styles of vehicles, people etc. However I am very good at suggesting options which create a lot of work for people other than me.

06/12/2010 19:21:05
Chris I
For the relative newcomers to the class, it would be nice to have more understanding of the early history. So if the 'old' book was reprinted at a reasonable price, I'd probably buy a copy. Equally if people can usefully add more material, that would be good too.
A 'modern' merlin book would be nice and would probably sell well if the technical content was good. Other than Bethwaite's books there are not many very technical books on modern dinghy design, and I'm sure a lot of science has gone into our boats.
The characters are obviously important too, balancing the two aspects will make it a better read in my humble opinion.
Please keep up the good work!

06/12/2010 20:53:25
david Henshall
This could be quite a week in the plans for the 'book'! In addition to capturing Jack Chippendale's thoughts, I've now also got sessions booked with Keith Callaghan and Nick Truman.I also spent the afternoon with Rosemary Banks, widow of Bruce who, barring a bad back, could have won the nationals in Rocketoo.

Although the first book was an excellent read, there were a number of noteable gaps in the story - to the point that a simple reprint of the first book would not really help with the understanding of the past. There are though many who would say that the past is just that - the past.....

I'm not sure what the answer will be.... I'm still in story and detail collecting mode.


07/12/2010 08:24:54
Robert Harris
Good morning David

I'd like to talk to you about a new MR book. I have a mass of documents from 1946 to the 80s and had intended to write another article to follow up my earlier one about the first six years. I've other writing projects on the go and have rather run out of steam on the MR one. By chance I'll be in Hamble on Thursday and Friday (sailing would you believe!) and will phone you later.

07/12/2010 09:47:29
david Henshall

Great - yes please, can we meet up. I'm at Bursledon, just up at the top of the river so can be in Hamble in 10 minutes.

As the project progresses, I'm going to try to get around as many of the key people and places as possible, probably working my way around the coast taking in Exe, Parkstone, Hamble, Hayling, Shoreham and the Thames...but then also heading east and north, the midlands and the far North

Covering the 25 years since the first book was written is not the problem as there are good records, plus many of the key players are still with us. I'm very aware that I could be spending time with Stuart and Christian, a task that we can but hope could be done anytime - whilst another Merlin sailor from yesterday is being 'lost' elsewhere.

Thursday I'm up in Norfolk seeing Mike Mac but I am around Friday, hope to see you then


07/12/2010 11:05:08
Barry D
Hi David,
I too, have a fair amount of info, mainly from the late sixties to the mid seventies, when I was sailmaking at Banks and Team. My contact details are mob. 07836 702955 or home 01590 622095 if I can be of any help.

07/12/2010 11:19:04
david Henshall

rest assured that you are high on my list of 'must see' people! I've got to come down to Lymington very soon to see John Claridge and was going to try to drag you off to a pub somewhere to 'pick your brains'.....

Be really good to catch up again, all the best


07/12/2010 18:29:02
Don't forget Whitstable.  Richard Davis was in the forefront of the class in the 60's and 70s and will have knowledge of the Rigden and Anderson boats as well as his later Spud boats (one a flyer, one a dog).  David Proctor was an apprentice at Andersons and still sails Merlins at the club. Their numbers are in the Yearbook.  Good luck!

John Cooper


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