Gaffers Tales Award

The Gaffers Tales was instigated by the late Jon Wainwright, and awarded annually in his memory. It is judged by the Gaffers Log editor, and awarded 'to an OGA member for the best contribution to Gaffers Log during the current year'.

2016 winner: Paul Baker, Solent Area

With only three issues now, there’s still plenty of good material to browse through in order to select a winner for this trophy. The larger format has allowed more lengthy pieces to be published, sometimes in two parts. I am also trying to link articles in the Log with online reports, blogs, extracts from longer contributions and boats in the online Boat Register. This year has again seen receipt of a few ‘unsolicited’ contributions, including one from Bill Gale in Australia, published on the website and in the November issue of the Log (p.39). Sadly, it is the only response to Andrew Wolstenholme’s excellent article about modern gaffers, first published in Watercraft Magazine and featured in the March issue of Gaffers Log. Please don’t wait to be asked, just send in your articles!

As more Members take to cruising, there have been several interesting logs submitted which have reached the shortlist. By their nature, these are longer and have sometimes been split over more than one issue. On the shortlist were two trans-Atlantic passages by Solent members Terry Coles in 'Mahler' (March p.37) and Paul Baker in ‘Zeb' (July p.40, Nov. p.42 and online), an extract from a circumnavigation of Ireland by Alison Cable in ‘Robinetta' (July p.29) and a birthday cruise to the Netherlands by Brian & Lorna Hammett (Dec. 15 p.25 & March p.24).

It’s encouraging that I never find difficulty in filling the ‘NOG’ note, the spot for a ‘New Old Gaffer’ to contribute. This year it has included quests for tales of family boats and new family members at the Yarmouth Gaffers Regatta.  NOG notes from Liam Newnham on his trip to Brest (Nov. p.12) and Paul Eedle (Nov. p.40) introducing us to ‘Guiding Star’ also reached the shortlist.

There are several other contributions that were certainly on the ‘long list’, including some Area Secretary’s reports and other Race reports from around the Areas. It is always a challenge to award just one prize - after all, without the wide range of contributions, there wouldn’t be a Log at all, but - there is a name in the envelope and it is . . . ‘What it takes to become an Old Gaffer: the delivery passage of ‘Zeb’by Paul Baker, Solent Area published in two parts and on the website, this long report keeps us interested throughout, from the first conversations about finding the boat, to bringing her back across the Atlantic and, mid-Atlantic, meeting up with a couple of lads in a rowing boat!

2015 winner: Derek Biddle, Solent Area

Once again, there has been a steady flow of articles for the Gaffers Log. There has also been an increase in the number of ‘unsolicited’ contributions your Editor receives, which is great news. Don’t wait to be asked, just send in your articles. The winning ‘tale’ this year is one of those, which just popped into my Inbox one day in July. However, it was not a foregone conclusion as to who would win the Gaffers Tales award in 2015.

The range of contributions was wide, not always tales, but cruising logs, maintenance or technical tips and experiences as well as race reports and practical ideas. It’s particularly good to hear from our new members, sharing reasons for joining the OGA. New Trailer Section member, Leslie Aldous, was a shortlisted ‘tale’ for 2015, writing about his trip to Morbihan. Good articles don’t need to be long! Another shortlisted contribution was the well-crafted piece capturing the essence of East Coast skies and salt marsh in around 300 words and atmospheric photos from  Solent member, Ian MacGillivray. Amongst the cruising tales, I picked out Mary Gibbs’ two part log of her passage from the East Coast to North Wales in ‘Molly’. Young East Coast member, Josh Masters, was also on the shortlist with his illustrated reports on the restoration of ‘Annelis’.

But who’s name is in the envelope as the winner for 2015? That email in July arrived from Derek Biddle, Solent member for many years. It included ‘Tales of Gypsy Mermaid’ describing fellowship, adventuring and hospitality on a miniature tallship. Find it in Gaffers Log, September 2015, p.32-33.

2014 winners: John Laband and Jacqui Furneaux, Bristol Channel Area

Well, without all the contributors from youngsters and those more mature OGA members, the Gaffers Log would make a pretty boring read! Click on the 'spread' above to read the winning article, 2014 as a PDF.

I’ve enjoyed receiving all the contributions, not always tales, and ranging from the fascinating, illustrated, technical tips by Julian Cable to racing and cruising reports from members around the Areas and further afield. There was an invaluable guide for anyone thinking about ‘going foreign’ in a trailer sailer by David and Sue Pennison. Tessa Hodgkinson shared engaging reflections on the early days of Swallows and Amazons on the East Coast and Viv Head contributed his musings on evening sails in the Bristol Channel. There was a lively piece from Nick Beck, skipper of ‘Amelie Rose’, competing in the St. George’s Trophy, and I could mention more . . .

After re-reading many of the Gaffers Log contributions, the 2014 Gaffers Tales is awarded to John Laband and Jacqui Furneaux for their gripping article, full of practical tips, published in the June Log. It tells the tale of being caught in a Force 10 gale off Lundy, interspersing practical tips with what was happening as the winds increased and critical decisions had to be made.

Thank you to everyone for your contributions, keep up the good work, and remember that good illustrations always add to the tale! 

Beverley Daley-Yates (Editor: Log and online)

2013 winner: Royston Raymond, South West Area

As with every year stories have arrived on the editor’s desk which have merited inclusion in the Gaffers Log. To use the description ‘tales’ for all of them would be inappropriate. Some have been ‘logs’ in a story format, some have reflected historical interest in the OGA and some are simply a good yarn based on the author’s experience. Royston's winning 'Tale', from the Gaffers Log, June 2013, 'The start of something good' may be found on 'Sailing by', illustrated with the photo above.

This year has been no exception. Alison and Julian Cable of the East Coast produced an excellent piece entitled ‘The East Coast Race – now and then’. Although recounting the changes in the race over the years rather than an out an out ‘tale’ it was still an interesting read. Similarly Tim Magennis of Dublin Bay wrote a story around a new trophy presented to the area called ‘The Leinster Plate’. Although about the trophy it recounted the history of RMS Leinster, after which the trophy is named, which was torpedoed during the closing days of the Great War with a huge loss of life. David Grainger of Bristol Channel Area wrote a wonderful piece about a gaffer called ‘Grey Dawn’ which he had known in his younger days and encountered again much later. A wonderful yarn starting with the evocative lines ‘Slowly she came creeping into sight around the headland’.

But after much consideration the award goes to a tale entitled ‘The start of something good’ recounting the author’s introduction to gaffering on the island of Alderney. Simply a thumping good story to read on a winter’s night when it’s blowing a force 8 outside.