Poole AB

The Poole AB was designed in the late 1950's by Harry Poole who lived in Poole, so no real surprises with the name! (He also designed a 11' dinghy called the C-Dog or CD). It was promoted as a safe family dinghy although looking back it seemed optimistic to think that two adults and three children could sail an 8'6" long dinghy, but we did.

We bought AB 50 in 1960 and I still remember the test sail I had with Harry. I gather he was impressed that a 5 year old could handle the jib sheets so well. Like all classes the AB's have had their ups and downs. When I raced them we regularly had fleets of 40+ and although numbers later dropped off it's currently undergoing a revival in Poole with several new boats built.

1962 was a memorable year. It was the first year I genuinely sailed by myself (in the upper reaches of the Yar river, Isle of Wight) and also because of the trip I describe below. Cowes, Isle of Wight to Southampton is about 13 miles. I've done it since in under an hour in a multihull (beating the ferry), but it was an ambitious trip in a small dinghy. This article is of historic significance (!) because it was the first one I ever wrote that was published, furthermore I don't remember having any help in writing it.

Me racing the AB with new sails (no 150)

"Instead of the Ferry" by Richard Woods (aged 8) from Poole AB newsletter December 1962

On the last day of our holidays in the Isle of Wight my father and I sailed across from East Cowes to Southampton docks in Poole AB no 50. Whe we started we had the wind on the beam and the tide under us, once we got out of the shelter of the trees it began to get rougher and even rougher, at one point it was very rough because two tankers went up and the Osborne Castle ferry went one way and the Carisbrooke Castle ferry went the other way, also a motor boat went by on our port and a speedboat went by on our starboard.

After all this I saw a catamaran in the distance. It was coming up on us, rather slowly I thought for a cat. When at last it caught up with us my mystery was solved! It was towing a six-foot rowing boat. Then I said to Daddy "Isn't that the Queen Elizabeth in the distance?" Daddy replied "Yes I think it is!" Then we did not speak a word until we got past Calshot light vessel which marks the mouth of Southampton Water. At last Daddy broke the silence by saying "The Queen Elizabeth has turned round now"

We saw the tugs go down to the Queen Elizabeth. Then a man in a harbour launch shouted to us "please keep out of the way of the tanker and the MAURETANIA" (You may wonder at this because we made a mistake it was the Mauretania not the Queen Elizabeth as we had thought).

Then we went on and on until we got to the seaward side of Hythe pier (Hythe is a little town on the port side of the river when you are coming in). We turned in here because we saw some boats there, we thought there would be a place to eat our lunch although the time was nearly four o'clock although we had started out at half past twelve, but there was no room for us to land. We had to go out again where we met some sea rangers who were rowing a 17 foot rowing boat.

Then we went round the pier where Daddy saw a boat on the shore so we thought it was safe to land there. When we got in we found that it was Hythe Sailing Club. The people there very kindly said we could have our lunch there.

Poole AB, 8'6" long, three children plus Dad

While we were eating our lunch we had a good look round. After a time a sailing canoe came in and we had a good look at that too. Soon someone went for a sail in the sailing canoe. While they were getting sails up some people said they wished they had a camera. Soon after that I wished I had my camera becassue as soon as the canoe went out it capsized. He took about five minutes to get it righted. I wish I had that capsize with the capsize of the Duke of Edinburgh I had taken the day before.

Then we set sail ourselves and when we were on the way out we saw the canoe nearly capsize again. As we had some time to spare we sailed up to Eling to almost the bridge, it was about five hundred yards away from us when we turned back. as the tide was running out fast we turned round and went to the boat slipway to land. Then we unrigged and ate our tea and then waited for the car to come to put the boat on the roof.

Thus ended our adventurous voyage, Mummy was so suprised to see us at the pier, because she had expected to go down to Netley to fetch us.