HMS at Rudyard Lake, N. Staffordshire.

Post date: Jul 09, 2017 3:22:19 PM

HMS Rudyard Lake

As guests of the Rudyard Lake Trust, and more particularly Ray Perry, the human dynamo who runs the show, we had the chance to try out The Blue Launch away from the pressures of timetables and agendas that re-enactment events inevitably entail.

I felt that the progress we made, however stately, was pretty good considering the weight of the vessel and she certainly looked the part from afar.

The gaff-rig of our launch looks well enough, we feel – it not been used very often - so this was a golden opportunity for us to get to grips with its idiosyncrasies , mainly when tacking. We find that, certainly in the light breeze available over the weekend, we have to wait a good while for the main to start to fill before sheeting-in the fore and jib sails in order to bring her head around. A dinghy she ain’t!

One of the main issues for us is the weight and the set of the launch, it being a replica RN frigate launch from c.1795 that was designed for general purpose tendering, servicing and transporting duties of men and materiel. With having a small keel, the launch has a definite tendency to make considerable leeway - the sideways drift, to leeward, caused by the wind; with the inevitable impact on the distance between the course we steer and the course that we actually run.

Not all in HMS, it has to be said, are regular yachtsmen and women so it was an instructive weekend if nothing else – all in a beautiful setting on Rudyard Lake.

We have decided to make several adjustments; to increase the keel depth by at least 150 mm (6”) to mitigate at least some of the issues with leeway, to consider deploying a lee-board when not using the launch for authentic purposes at events and to redesign the ballast arrangements for ease of transport. Currently we use small concrete blocks which are laid in once on the water but we are minded to use water ballast instead.

We were treated to such wonderful hospitality that I feel that we ought to feature Rudyard Lake here and reproduce some of the web content from their website. Ray Perry was such a magnificent host and he made our stay at the lake a memorable one.


The Lake was built as a reservoir in 1797; even to this day the Lake still supplies the canal system for which it was designed and remains an active working reservoir. Today, of course, it plays a major role in the provision of leisure pursuits as opposed to its industrial origins.

The Lake is the place where Rudyard Kipling’s parents first met, where Captain Webb, the first channel swimmer, came to demonstrate his skills and where The African Blondin (Carlos Trower) appeared several times amazing the crowds 30m above the Lake on a tightrope. Little wonder it became known as the ‘Blackpool of the Potteries’ in its heyday.

The North Staffs Railway used to run along the eastern shores of the Lake and a narrow gauge railway now runs along this track to approximately its halfway point. The steam trains would bring golfers, stopping at a small halt at the northern end of the Lake. The golfers would be met by their caddies, and escorted around the northern perimeter to the western shore, where the golf course was located. The golf course closed in 1926 owing to the competition from other golf courses, which had become established closer to the city."