Baldrick: An Artist’s Boat

So what makes an artist’s boat? In my case, working out what I needed as a boat to be able to access the subjects I wanted to paint, and then building it! When we arrived here in Nelson fifteen years ago we sailed in on Motu Iti our keeler. For the next seven years we sailed  around Tasman Bay and the Marlborough Sounds. I found many wonderful painting subjects only accessible by sea. Good times. Then I got older. Not entirely decrepit but not comfortable on the foredeck handling sails. Our keeler wasn’t getting used as much any more and became a steady drain on our family finances for less and less enjoyment. Reluctantly the decision was made to sell it.

For the next few years I painted at home and overseas, yet I never forgot those wonderful seascapes waiting just overt the horizon. I realised that most of these were accessible by trailer boat, and that a trailer boat stored at home would be much more affordable. I didn’t need a high speed runabout. On the other hand cruising around at 5 knots meant that I would be at sea in the harbour or sounds all day. The weather can change quickly here therefore shelter from the elements was necessary. Also as a painter I would need to protect my gear as well as having a stable platform to work from.

I had read that there was a growing movement to convert old trailer sailers from sail to displacement trawler type launches. I also remembered reading years ago that Richard Hartley, a NZ boat builder and designer, had designed an 18’ trailer sailer that could also be built as a low powered launch. Being made from epoxy and ply they would be easy enough to restore and modify as needed. There was my template. I looked around for a while and finally found a derelict 18’ for the price of the trailer. Fortunately the hull was sound although not much else was. I was fortunate again that Abel Marine in Nelson were able to rebuild the hull, and make new topsides and wheelhouse to my design and specification.

This is the second season that I have had Baldrick out painting. He is everything I had hoped for. Easy to tow and launch. Incredibly economical to run. Loaded with extra buoyancy and redundant systems. Very stable and seaworthy within his intended environment of enclosed and sheltered coastal waters, where my preferred painting subjects are. He has sleeping accomodation in the fore cabin for those overnight trips although I don’t intend to spend many nights at anchor. He has been designed essentially for campgrounds.

The photo is of Baldrick at the Okiwi Bay campground. This season we are exploring Croiseilles Harbour. The next post will be about painting at sea.

Cheers, Ross