Owner’s comments

A collection of helpful and interesting logs and comments from Anderson owners.

Axmouth & West Bay in Anderson Affair, August 2007

A quick intro’, as if one is needed; Anderson Affair is indeed the same boat used in the Mini-Transat by Bob Salmon all those years ago ( see ‘ Articles’ section ) – now restored to immaculate condition and fitted out as a functional cruiser / racer rather than ‘luxury’ mini- cruiser.

Doctor Richard Norris bought her in 1996 ( he has since sold her ) and took her across to Cherbourg twice, plus raced her occasionally in Weymouth Bay.

(Richard has previously owned & sailed trimarans, and has done a lot of serious racing including winning the MOCRA Azores race in the 1970’s and a 9th in the 1978 Round Britain Race – so it’s easy to see why ‘Anderson Affair’ caught his eye ! A.L.

Axmouth is a small drying harbour on the East Devon coast near Beer Head; it appears difficult but with good weather and a little planning there are no real problems and once safely tied up the pleasant town of Seaton with its shops, promenade, cafes and famous tramway is easy to get to on foot.

In unfavourable conditions Beer Roads nearby offers much more shelter than you might expect except from the SE quadrant.

With light northerly winds forecast and settled warm weather I left my Weymouth Sailing Club mooring at 2000 hr and motored across Weymouth Bay in a flat calm.

I was sailing singlehanded and timing was important: in order to catch a fair tide it was essential to round Portland Bill about 4 hours after H.W. Weymouth. In addition I wanted to enter Axmouth in daylight at high tide – there is only an hour or so of slack water, so it was that I chose a night passage.

With my new 5HP outboard I made good time and had to wait for the tide off Church Ope Cove on the East side of Portland. Having been up all day I was glad to doze for an hour in the cockpit as night fell.

I got under way again at 2230 hr which turned out a bit early with a spring tide under me. It is best to keep close inshore rounding the Bill and in the dark I found it tricky to judge distance off – finding myself in disturbed water and anxious to avoid the Race I motored directly inshore to find calm water, passing the darkened Lobster Pot café, the daymark at Portland Bill and Pulpit Rock half an hour early at 2330 hr but on such a calm night it didn‘t matter.

The strong tide rushed me into Lyme Bay and I steered for the lights of West Bay, Lyme Regis and Beer which I could see faintly in the distance.

About 0100 hr a light Northerly filled in and I was glad to stow the motor and make sail at last. The breeze gradually strengthened and I had a wonderful fetch in bright moonlight, arriving off Haven Cliff at the eastern end of Seaton about 0430 hr, I even needed a reef for the last half hour.

Rounding up and dropping the sails I motored slowly past a dredger at anchor and dropped my own anchor 100 yd off the beach near the entrance to Axmouth, settling down for a short sleep while I waited for the tide.

Looking at my Almanac I found high water to be 0900 using Dover as standard port but 0930 using Devonport – I used Dover but in fact Devonport would have been better as it was more accurate on the day.

Around 0830 the first fishing boats crept slowly out under full power against the flood, giving me an idea of the best way in. It was another lovely warm sunny day, the breeze had dropped – ideal conditions.

The Harbourmaster turned out to be at Dartmouth Regatta; his helpful wife (who I had woken up with my early phone call) told me to leave Beer Head directly behind for the best water – she was right.

At 0900 the tide looked pretty high so I got under way and motored in heading straight down the alignment of the jetty – this was too far to the East but with the keel up I floated over the shoal and found myself carried rapidly up river.

The channel changes almost daily (sometimes it does run straight out; I was told this picture shows it particularly narrow) and is impossible to buoy making it essential to get up to date info from the Harbourmaster or the Y.C (phone number’s in your Almanac.

You can see the moorings in the background, the bridge is very close just upsteam of them, tides run at 5 kn or more. Note the obvious strong eddies and the narrow channel – slack water is best.

Arriving in the pool I turned sharp to port for the first pontoon I could see: there is a low stone bridge just above the harbour which must be avoided at all costs. Arrived at the pontoon my lines were taken by some friendly Axmouth Y.C. members who gave me coffee and were very pleased to have a visitor as they get very few. They also recommended a café on the seafront which was excellent.

There is a garage for petrol near the seafront but it is quite a long walk.

(Axmouth Y.C. is very go-ahead, the members have recently extended their clubhouse which is now almost palatial and the pool has been excavated to hold more than the current 70-or-so yachts; it is planned to enlarge it further. The beach behind the pool has also been raised to prevent overtopping in stormy weather.)

Most members sail bilge-keelers with a large contingent of Westerly Centaurs.

I was charged £5 for a night’s stay which included showers & use of the clubhouse.

I left the boat on the pontoon hoping that it would sit upright in soft mud but it was not to be and this picture  tells its own story

After a day resting, eating, drinking and exploring Seaton the kindly Club boatman let me tie up to his boat in the deep water just below the bridge and I left without incident the next morning about 0930 against the last of the flood (strongly recommended – don’t leave it too late and get caught in a strong ebb).

A lovely day once again with hot sunshine and a light Northerly funnelling down the river valley. Setting sail I made the mistake of sailing straight into the wind shadow of Haven Cliff and had to get the motor out all over again in order to obtain an offing!

Another glorious reach took me past Lyme Regis and on to West Bay where I tied up in the new outer harbour about 1130 hr. West Bay turned out more comfortable than I expected, wash from the traffic was not a problem but it was a bit noisy and of course would be horrid in winds from South to East.

I needed to arrive at Portland Bill about 0730 the next morning to catch a fair tide into Weymouth Bay so I was off early at 0500, which turned out fine except that I could have closed West Cliff on Portland earlier – it is essential to arrive inshore well before reaching the Bill so that you can round Pulpit Rock a few yards off, especially in spring tides.

Having safely rounded the Bill I could relax and had a pleasant beat into Weymouth arriving about 1130 hr.

I would encourage anyone to visit these two harbours but next time I shall have beaching legs which will permit Lyme Regis as well.

I was charged £7 at Bridport, I was told I could use the swimming pool showers but didn’t try them out.

There is no petrol at West Bay (nearest garage Bridport 1 mile away) and quite a walk to a garage in Seaton. and for the affluent the famous Riverside restaurant.

Richard Norris

Ed – Please note, ‘ Anderson Affair ‘ has since changed hands and is now in Scottish waters.
Dan Clay, owner of ‘Gemini’ No. 103 since 1982.

Dan is an experienced sailor, having been brought up on a 1922 Albert Strange gaffer ‘Firefly’ ( still in the family after 70 years !) with regular trips to Holland, one to Denmark, and a voyage to Spain in a 10 ton Smack, plus coastal camper-cruising in a 17 foot half-decker. Dans’ wife, Charmian, was introduced to sailing with the purchase of the Anderson, ‘Gemini’.

” We have been looking around for a larger cruising boat, but cannot find anything we like better than what we’ve got ! These are some of the Anderson virtues we cherish:-“

1, Handy in shoal waters.

2, Good lounging space – you can sit with your feet up reading a book while able to look out of the ‘window’ to see what is going on ( we are keen on wildlife ).

3, Anchor work is easy.

4, The cook is never in the way of people passing through the cabin.

5, Spinnaker work is quite manageable for two; this makes for fast passage making.

6, With the engine ( 5hp ) stowed and the dinghy deflated in the cockpit, she slips along effortlessly.

7, A 2hp engine parked on the pushpit is instantly available as an iron topsail in a calm or to push her through a narrow channel against the wind ( if not too strong! ).

8, No cockpit coamings that stick in your back.

9, A small folding fishing stool allows 360 degree vision when seated at the helm, or you can sit on the folded rubber dinghy; on other boats you have to stand all the time.

10, Fast sailing compared with most cruising boats we come across, regardless of size ( 6 knots to windward; 9 knots downwind once ).

11, We have lowered the mast at the mooring happily, without any special modifications.

12, Living on board for two weeks at a time is an annual event; a 4’x4′ plastic awning rigged over an open cockpit hatch is perfect in all weathers.
( see ‘photo album’ shot of Silent Running with awning up – A.L. ).

Some gripes:-

1, A bit small by modern standards, e.g. North Sea crossing; but still fine for coastal work; living space best for two only.

2, No table for scrabble, visitors etc
( there is the chart/cooker table…A.L.)

3, Mainsheet track occasionally painful on shins.

4, A struggle to stow the 5hp engine – but note 7 above-.

5, Previous owner recommended fitting bilge pumps to lockers – we choose our weather !.

( I sealed my lockers with rubber strips, plus closable limber holes allow water to main bilge pumps- A.L.).

6, Starboard bunk not tenable when aground ”
( must be hard ground at Dans’ mooring, my boat settles dead upright in mud…A.L.).

Modifications to Gemini :-

Dan has fitted a drag free, internal transducer for the depth sounder, which works well.

The keel case woodwork is modified to ‘furniture’ standards, with large radii.

The forehatch is a wooden unit, with a small solar panel inside.

A main hatch garage was retro-fitted.


From Isla Craig, who with her husband Bryan owned ‘Orion’, no.163.

” We bought Orion about 5 years ago, and find her an ideal little boat. We use her for day sailing, with our 2 young children. The cabin layout lends itself perfectly to family sailing – particularly, as is mentioned in many of the reviews, the separate heads compartment.

We’ve installed an electronic log, and have been pleasantly surprised at the speeds we record – particularly on a beam reach, even in fairly light winds !

The 4hp Johnson engine serves her very well.”


From George Mees, who with his wife Sarah owned no.140 ‘Physche’.

They are both champions in the Snipe dinghy class.

George ; ” Can’t agree more about speed being a safety factor – when it gets horrid you need to go for it – well a couple of weeks ago it blew up while we were on the lower reaches of the Thames ( wind against tide ) and we went for home – dead into the wind which was so bad the boat would not go through stays” ( George later explained he was having to play the main in bursts in a narrow stretch ).

” Took four attempts to get around as the wind was so strong on the hull – we had two reefs in and only a small bit of jib, motor sailing was out of the question. Stinging spray was being blown over the boat and the ( windspeed ) memory recorded a 50 knot gust.

After three hours we were up to Dartford Bridge and we were getting knocked over again & again – we had to sail as the river is wide there, and we had never seen so many ships on a Sunday for ages ( sheltering ).

Under the lee of the bridge I dropped the sails and cut the topping lift to drop the boom to reduce windage. With the engine flat out we made very slow progress, veering off in the big gusts – the wind lulled for half an hour and we made it back to our mooring. We could not get off into our dinghy as it came back up again and we just sat there. Spray continued to fill the cockpit etc, it was horrid. The club launched a RIB to take us and several other crews off.”

Bearing in mind George & Sarahs’ experience & skills, which would make them a lot better equipped to deal with these conditions than the average cruiser sailors, I think several factors stand out;

The wind sounds at least severe gale force, judging from my own experiences in Silent Running.

The roller reefing jib probably was a liability – setting badly just when a really good shape is needed, and causing a lot of windage.

As George says, his 4hp engine is on the small side, and a modern 5hp would have helped – but as he correctly judged, in open water it’s the sails which will drive you.

The wind always funnels down narrow channels, increasing its’ force, and one can end up with two short tacks, rather than having one favourable tack.

It may sound grim having to stay on a mooring, but it was safe, and if necessary it would be possible to wait out the weather – just imagine trying to enter a marina in those conditions


One from me, Andy Lawson; I’m an experienced high performance dinghy sailor since a boy, and have done quite a few cross Channels.

An experience I had on my Anderson years ago :-

It was Easter, and I had to move the boat from Chichester to Cowes for a month until my club mooring was ready.

My crew was 18 or so, fit and an experienced sailor, I was about 22 at the time. We had a forecast of 5-6 gusting 7, on the nose, but having confidence in the boat & ourselves we thought that within limits.

As we set off at slack water through Chichester Bar, it soon began to get up stronger than advertised – and we could not turn back, Chi’ Bar in a big Southerly wind against the ebb is full of large, chaotic breaking surf.

I once met an American in Alderney, who, finding we were from Chichester, said ” don’t people get killed there? That’s the roughest place I’ve seen !” And he’d just crossed the Atlantic !

Anyway we had to press on, choosing the wide passage between the forts of the Solent, rather than the narrow ‘Dolphin’ passage through the anti-submarine barrier.

We had two reefs in and the storm jib, the only time I’ve ever used it, but it certainly justified itself that day ! My boat uses hanked headsails, rather than roller reefing, and I do think it makes a big difference when the chips are down – even if not so convenient in light conditions.

The boat made good progress, punching through the short steep seas. As we were between the forts the waves were surprisingly big for the Solent – suddenly a bigger one ( maybe ten feet, but short & breaking ) smacked into the side, filling the cockpit. We were okay, being harnessed on, and dumped the sheets dinghy style as she was knocked down by a vicious squall.

With the weight of the water in the cockpit ( I should have had the well plug out as an extra-large drain ) the boat was weighed down and almost lifeless, struggling to get going despite the wind power available. While we were still a sitting duck, another big one came up and clobbered us severely. We were knocked down to around 60-70 degrees ( the mast was never near the water or anything that drastic ) and both crew John and I completely submerged in green water.

Thankfully she sprang up & recovered, getting going and shedding the water before we could have any more fun. It should also be mentioned that the bottom was quite weedy, having spent that winter afloat, so she was really trying for us !

We had both been surreptitiously looking to leeward at Langstone Harbour entrance as a possible bolt-hole, but one glance at the mass of surf convinced us to carry on.

There were no more big waves, but we did go through vicious squalls lasting twenty minutes or so at a time – we flew the sheets, and she stayed quite upright, still making slow progress to windward.

The only worry to appear was that John, having rather poor waterproofs, began to get hypothermia, to the extent that he just curled up in the cockpit corner, semi-asleep ( or unconscious ) – as I say, it was Easter. I tried to get him to go below, but could not move him, and I rather had my hands full – I thought it better to stay on the helm and get us there a.s.a.p, rather than mess about heaving to and then struggling to get John into the cabin, as I would have had to do on a longer trip.

After a while we arrived in Cowes and tied up, whereupon I commented, ” I suppose in retrospect that’ll be a good sail !”

I then accidentally locked us out of the cabin in the wind & spray, but that’s another story !

It later turned out that our boat had been observed by the square rig Brig T.S. Royalist, which recorded squalls of 55 knots at the time. They were so impressed with ‘the little blue boat’ they gave us the privilege of a lift back the next day.

Lessons learned

1, If it’s forecast to be ‘on the limit’, what if it increases ?

2, Buy THE BEST waterproofs – they are a major part of the boat, and on small boats much more important than on larger craft.

3, We were in the relatively sheltered Solent – we would never have dreamed of setting off in open waters, though in longer frequency waves, away from tidal influences( i.e. the Channel ), it might have been okay if caught out.


Daniel Blunden & Nick Martin sailed ‘Aquila II’, No.123, together, and are both very experienced, having fitted out and owned various boats including Medinas, Sonatas, Sandhopper ( triple keel Squib ) etc.

As Nick puts it,

“ The boat has been re-rigged and new sails added, we’ve refitted her generally as a club racer / day-sailer rather than a small cruiser.

She’s been a delight to sail especially in winds of force 3 to 5 and has begun to pick up a few class wins. We believe she’s capable of an outright win despite her age ( compared to other competitors ) in the right conditions.

She is a boat that gives you the feeling, provided you are sensible she will look after you ; many of my friends with larger boats like to come out just for the pleasure of helming her .”

Daniel :

“ We have been very pleased with our choice of the Anderson, Aquila has performed very well indeed.

We entered two ( major ) races this year and came second in the Nore Race against 72 starters in some horrific weather including 40 knot winds, followed by a dead calm.

The other race was the Queenborough Shield which we won against quite stiff opposition.

In heavy weather we fit a bar from the traveller to the bridgedeck as an extra hold.”

( This sounds serious sailing ! A.L. )

“ We designed a cradle to enable us to keep the keel in good order. It still takes a lot of effort to maintain a racing finish with Primocon steel treatment.

We have found Lonton & Gray sails excellent for racing, something learned previously when campaigning a Sonata. I value the rudder balance of the Anderson, having had a Medina which was a disaster!

A chap at Burnham always remembers me for putting him on a sand bank under full sail ( i.e. full spinnaker etc. ). He was sitting in our wind and didn’t think we were close enough inshore – I said ‘you go in, I’ll come out’ at which point he went aground…he had made the assumption that because we looked like a Squib we drew 3’6”, rather than the 2’3” with the keel up ! He had to return in the early hours to retrieve his boat…

It was a wonderful season with some of the very best sailing I can remember. We shall be looking for another ½ knot next season and have a few ideas re. weight re-distribution and reduction.”