5th July  2015

The incredible team that has already built the first new Cuckoo boat, unique to the Chesterfield Canal, for over 80 years continues to amaze.

The latest additions, a sail and an oar, were revealed at Shireoaks Carnival

The sail is 8′ by 14′ and was bought thanks to a very kind donation from Jeremy Ford.

The oar is called a sweep and, like everything else to do with the boat, has been fashioned entirely using hand tools. (No power tools have been used at any stage.) More sweeps will be made later.

Very few narrowboats used sails. Cuckoos used them on the River Trent when navigating up to Torksey Lock to access the Fossdyke in order to reach Lincoln and even Boston, or to go further up river to Nottingham and thence onto the rest of the inland waterways system.

The team has not finished yet. A lee board will also be made to help with stability on the Trent, plus some extra long boathooks, called stowers, to help push away from the banks of the river. Together with the sweeps and a chain, kindly donated by Keith Barlow, the boat will soon be fully equipped to recreate some epic river voyages first undertaken over 200 years ago.

To read about the Dawn Rose naming ceremony, click here.

For a video record of the construction, click here.

If you would like to help to finance the boat by becoming a Friend of Dawn Rose or donating for the lee board, please click here for a membership form.

Some towpath walkers ask what the thing at the top of the mast is for.

The sail is hoisted for the first time in public.

A passing boater expressed astonishment.

Then a lump of wood was passed over the side.

This is of course a sweep that Andy is making.

Other canals had sailing narrow boats in the early days but there is very little information available. The only other well known sailing narrowboat is Shamrock from the Bridgewater Canal which was bought from Rathbone’s boatbuilders at Stretford Junction by Marcus Fox of West Stockwith.

We believe that the Chesterfield and the Bridgewater boats were the best known and may have been the only ones to sail any distance. We also believe that the Bridgewater boats which sailed may have had raised cabins.

Shamrock is pictured here on the right at West Stockwith. The middle boat is a Cuckoo. Rose on the left is a typical lower Trent keel. (Photo courtesy of Richard Allsopp)