Hello my name is Charlotte Watters. My husband Dan Johnson and I have just set off on an open-ended sailing trip aboard Hestur. Over the past two and a half years Dan has built Hestur in his shed, rented near Ullapool on the west coast of Scotland where we have been living.
We are heading south. First down through the West Coast of the UK, stopping at Wales so we can go over to Shropshire to visit Dans’ Parents, then the plan is to head on over the Bay of Biscay to Spain, Portugal the Canaries, Cape Verde? … the Atlantic… All one day at a time. We are not hampered by time restraints other than catching weather systems etc. – A lovely position to be in!
Hestur is a 34’ Junk rigged dory sailing boat. She is built of Plywood, Epoxy, and Douglas Fir and a lot of skill and ingenuity by Dan. He has been keeping a blog throughout her construction starting back in January 2010 – junkdorybuild.blogspot.co.uk/ – It has a lot of information about the processes and stages of her construction. We intend to keep it up-to-date with details of our sail.
Dan and I have sailed for many years; crewing aboard friends boats to Shetland, Norway, Faroes, Iceland, Jan Mayen and attempts for the East coast of Greenland – always seems to have been north! We also have an old boat of our own, Maureen which we keep near Ullapool. We bought her in 2003 with our student loans, we were both studying at Edinburgh College of Art at the time, me Sculpture and Dan Furniture design. We spent many weeks working on her in the summer holidays; refitting keel bolts, replacing ribs and floor timbers and replacing the deck and engine. She was built in 1926 on the south coast of England by Percy M See. She is a beautiful boat, a bermudan sloop, carvel with a canoe stern and so lovely to sail. We have had many happy trips on her around the west coast of Scotland but although we love her to sail we knew that she was too elderly or rather in too much need of a major overhaul to be able to do any long distances in, certainly we would not be confident to do any ocean passages in her – hence the new boat.
Named after the strong, willing, sure footed, fast horses of Iceland. We chose the name last summer when up in Iceland crewing for a friend and after having the chance to ride one of these sturdy little horses.
She is as beautiful as anything Dan has ever made. She was designed by Jay Benford , an american navel architect based on the East coast of the USA. He designed the “34’ Dory” in the late 1970s and there have been several built (12?) – This is the latest one.
She has two masts with Chinese style junk rig sails. She has raised topsides which gives a lot of space down below decks.
We have a little wood-burning stove ( a beautiful slim thing made by Dan from a diving bottle, lovely and cosy in these Scottish Waters), A galley, heads, chart table area, saloon with folding table and seats-come-bunks, up forward a double v-berth, and in the stern below the cockpit on the starboard side My Studio! The Starboard Locker.
I am an artist. Having studied sculpture, I have continued to make sculptural work for exhibition but more constantly I draw and paint and make jewellery under the name Wattermark.
I have take my materials and tools with me on Hestur and have my little studio space on board. I might not be making particularly large work, but I am kited out with my paints, boards and my silversmithing tools. I will be working in The Starboard Locker when it’s calm or at anchor / harbour, other times I will be on deck or on land with my sketchbook.
I plan to send work back to my stockiest in the UK. I have been (and for this year will continue from this distance to be) part of a collective group of artists which formed last year called The Market Street Collective (find them on facebook) operating out of an talla solais the Visual Art Center in Ullapool ( http://www.antallasolais.org and facebook) Through this I have been selling jewellery and drawing and painting. I was also working as the Exhibitions Officer in an talla soalis.
I will also display my work as we travel.
I will try to keep this blog up dated with news and images from my traveling studio
Our internet connection will be intermittent and so too will my productivity in the studio at sea! although I will endeavor to keep sketchbooks going and photos and observations.
We will also keep the other blog going – junkdorybuild.blogspot.co.uk/ so keep an eye on that.
Hope you enjoy this blog,
Thanks for reading !