News & Events
In the press
Classic Boat Magazine, October 2015
The Neil Thompson service is also a big pull:
Small Craft Advisor USA, August 2015
Sailing Tink is a dream in all types of wind, as she carries her way like a keel- boat, is stable like a catboat, yet shares the responsiveness of a dinghy in a breeze. Handling the tiller and looking up and seeing those classic spars sewn to a small cloud of tan sails set off by the blue sky is unlike any other experience.
Classic Boat, January 2015
The latest addition to the Norfolk series of traditional GRP boats by Neil Thompson is a pretty and capable motor launch, ideal for exploring
Morgan Cars Magazine, January 2015
Everyone dreams of owning a boat, and there’s something undeniably romantic about the sea. Hand crafted to the best possible quality and designed and built in Norfolk, Neil Thompson Boats Ltd creates beautiful ocean going
vessels with modern design and traditional service. James Ball finds out more about these truly British boat builders.
Anglia Afloat, July 2014
It couldn’t have been a more perfect morning at Morston for our Norfolk Explorer test. Although an early start was needed to catch the tide, even at 7am the June sun had enough strength to allow us the luxury of motoring out of the creek in just shorts.
Anglia Afloat, May 2014
Neil Thompson has launched the latest addition to his Norfolk range of traditional-style sailing boats; the Norfolk Explorer is his first motor launch, built on the popular Norfolk Oyster hull. Powered by a 14hp Nanni Kubota twin cylinder diesel she is designed to carry six adults and all their gear.
Classic Boat, April 2014
“The Oyster was designed as the sort of dayboat I wished to own after many years of experience of the type,” wrote naval architect John Leather of the 16ft 9½in (5.1m) dayboat that he designed in the early 1960s.
Anglia Afloat, February 2013
The Norfolk Smuggler is a comfortable, four-berth, long-legged cruising boat capable of some serious passage making yet she is also ideal for creek crawling.
Classic Boat, December 2012
After some years spent mainly maintaining the existing fleet, big things lie ahead for Neil and Richenda, with the launch of the new Explorer next year, an engine launch version of the Oyster; and even some serious interest to build a second Trader. Watch this space, as they say.
Anglia Afloat, January 2012
If you want a boat that will last more than one generation, that the whole family can enjoy, that can be raced, rowed or mechanically powered, that can be safely left on a mooring without fear of damage on drying out, that has class and above all is a delight to sail, then the Norfolk Oyster must be at the top of your dayboat list.
Water Craft, September 1994
The overwhelming impression I had of the Norfolk Gypsy was one of meticulous attention to detail, both inside and out, born out of a love of sailing.
Sailing magazine, September 1993
“Such perfection does not come cheap, but it is worth it to discerning buyers”
Owners Log, Many thanks to Graeme Robinson for this article, enjoy!
Around The Lizard
in Miss Mopsy, a Norfolk Oyster
Porthleven – Mylor 16 September. Helford – St Mawes – Porthscatho
Porthleven to Mylor c 33m. Return passages to Helford & Portscatho c 30m. Total c 63m
16 -21 Sept 2016.
Recommendations from the Sailing Almanacs and others are to round The Lizard at slack water to avoid the overfalls. The Lizard has overfalls in spades. We never know the weather will support our passage plans until we get to the day, but we have to plan it, and slack water off The Lizard on 16 September was at 15.10hrs. We checked with Phil Ward, the harbourmaster at Porthleven, and with Falmouth Coastguard. Phil commented that we were going around on one of the biggest tides of the year, so be careful. Jeremy Warren has sailed around the UK in a Wayfarer and provided passage info’ from Reed’s Almanac over a beer at The Catherine Wheel in Marshfield.
Porthleven is c 9m from Lizard Point. Allow 2.5hrs to get there from Porthleven (?) and we can plan from there, so leaving Porthleven c 12.40hrs. But low water at Porthleven was 11.39 hrs, and the harbour dries out, so we would have to launch at the half tide (08.30 hrs) before the tide went out, and moor in the outer harbour. All that meant leaving very early on the Friday morning. I left Polzeath at 06.30, but poor Antony had to leave Bath c 04.30. Our weather forecasts were all pretty similar, Windguru saying winds of 20-23 knots from 13.00 hrs and slowly declining to 19-20 knots over the afternoon, consistently from the north west, which would give us a following wind to the Lizard, and a reach up to Black Head. XC Weather said 25-28 mph winds, and the BBC 25 mph. The Sailing Almanacs recommend going 3m off the head to avoid the overfalls, or 5 m in strong weather and we had to be prepared to make the detour.
Antony and I arrived within 10 mins of each other at Porthleven just after 8.00. A quick look at the slipway and we decided to get the Oyster in the water before we put the mast up, and before the water escaped the inner harbour. We were still nearly too slow having paid the launching fees and had to push the bow around and shove Miss Mopsy hard to get her afloat. We then had spare time to get ‘Mopsy rigged, and moor in the outer harbour. We put a reef in, and tied on our buckets and flares. We have a rope ladder tied to the stern cleat on the port side. The external petrol tank is tied down with webbing through the small stern cave locker.
Safely launched & rigged, we went to The Harbour View Cafe (strongly recommended) for a full english breakfast and to check the weather forecasts again. We had time to catch up. Since we last sailed (around Land’s End) people were beginning to be able to discuss Brexit in temperate voices, and the Olympics had come and gone. Mo Farah, Andy Murray, our Oarsmen, Dujardin, our Cyclists and many more had brought home medals. Who could forget the joy of the Women’s Hockey team, …or the Irish Scullers ?!
Outer harbour Porthleven – low water
We sailed off our mooring at 12.20 hrs with some friendly shouts from people on the outer harbour wall. The wind was on our starboard quarter with a following sea and a load of white horses. ‘Mopsy took the weather in her stride and her heavy ballast gave us a steady feel and little roll, sometimes surging down the waves and we guessed making 5-6 knots.
We had earlier wondered about going to have a look at Mullion Harbour on the way down, and going land side of Mullion Island, but we were too far out, and did not want to head into Mullion with the wind directly behind us. We realised we were going to be at the Lizard too soon, so planned to anchor in Kynance Cove to wait for slack water.
We arrived at Kynance Cove at 13.50hrs, so we probably had averaged 5-6 knots on the way down. It was well sheltered from the north west winds, but not a safe anchorage for us. We dragged anchor twice before resetting again which finally seemed to hold for our last 20 mins at Kynance Cove. The wind got up between 14.40 and 14.50, and then steadied again. We were still dry at this point.
At anchor in Kynance Cove
We could not stay at Kynance Cove. It would be difficult to go back against the weather to Porthleven. We had bought the ticket, and had better get on with it. We exchanged a look, knowing we had to pay attention, said nothing, and sailed off the anchor at 15.00 hrs.
We briefly had the wind and waves on our starboard side, leaving Kynance, and caught our first few lapfuls of water. We had timed the tide right; the sea was confused off Lizard Point, but not especially rough, just windy with more white horses, so we decided that we could round the point within a half mile, and did not have to travel 3m out. We lost our footing at one point, lurched, and put the gunnels in the water, but ‘Mopsy’s weight righted us quickly and we were off again with an extra bathful of sea water, which put the scuppers to work on the seats. It was too bumpy to kneel down and start pumping the bilge.
Approaching Lizard Point and the Coastguard station
We had rounded Lizard Point at 15.20 hrs and now had the wind on our port side on a reach towards Black Head. Antony on the helm was slipping some of the wind to keep us steady and we had regular face and lapfuls of relatively warm sea water. ‘Mopsy’s weight kept us punching through the waves which did not seem to slow us. We were pretty drenched by the time we got to Black Head at c16.20 hrs, now turning a little more north past Coverack (an escape route if needed) towards The Manacles, a row of rocks leading off the peninsular towards a cardinal point a mile out to sea. The Lizard peninsular was now providing a flatter sea, but the north westerly winds were still strong. We passed The Manacles c 17.00hrs finding a route through the rocks populated by lobster pots used by the fishermen, as we did not want to go around the cardinal point leaving us with wind on the nose into Falmouth. We saw our first other boat, a fishing trawler heading for Fowey. We were otherwise alone all the way round, except for a couple of gannets.
We were not going as fast through the water as the leg down to Kynance but the tidal stream was now getting into play and sweeping us along which we could see by the way the tankers were sitting at anchor once around Black Head. We were now on a long haul up to Falmouth staying as close to the wind as we could. We could see the quarry beside The Manacles (planned to provide aggregate for the proposed Swansea Marine Power plant), passed the Helford estuary (home of Daphne Du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek) and managed our way in between Henry V111’s Pendennis and St Mawes castles by St Antony’s Lighthouse, at 18.30 hrs. Mylor is another 2-3 m north of Falmouth and we were now tacking our way against the wind. By 19.15 we were within sight of Mylor, but it could still take another 45 mins to sail it as the tide had turned against us to empty Carrick Roads. We decided to motor, dropping the sails and using the remaining passage time to stow the boat and pump the bilges as the water taken on was seeping over the floor when we listed. We were staying at the Admiralty Apartments at Mylor. We put ‘Mopsy on an inner pontoon and set off to find our family & friends. It was a memorably fun sail. We had covered 33.2m (28.8 nm) at an average 5.2 knots. The wind had helped us down to Kynance, the tide had pushed us the rest of the way until we got to Falmouth.
The next days we sailed with friends to The Ferry Inn at Helford, to Cellar’s Bay at St Mawes, and to Portscatho, picnicking and playing cricket on the beach in sunshine on the way.
Miss Mopsy in Cellar’s Bay St Mawes. (The green balloon celebrates a birthday)
Miss Mopsy is now washed down, cleaned, polished and back in her garage for the winter…….. time to plan for next year.