Cobles to descend on harbour for festival

An old postcard showing sailing cobles leaving Bridlington harbour
An old postcard showing sailing cobles leaving Bridlington harbour

The summer season in Bridlington will see the town host the first of its kind Sailing Coble Festival.

The two-day festival, organised by the Bridlington Sailing Coble Preservation Society and The Coble and Keelboat Society in co-operation with the Bridlington Harbour Commissioners, will see one of the largest gatherings of sailing cobles anywhere in the British Isles in recent times.

Festival organiser Paul Arro said: “Due to a number of cobles being saved and restored to former glory by enthusiasts, the opportunity to see once again fine examples of one of the classic inshore working boats of the British Isles will be a sight not to be missed.”

The four locally based restored cobles, regularly moored in the harbour, will be joined by the two new sailing cobles built by John Clarkson and Joe Gelsthorpe in 2014. Further cobles are expected from around the coast to make up this exciting flotilla of sail for the event on 13-14 August.

One sailing coble owner from Cornwall has already given his support to the event and intends to bring his vessel to Bridlington to join the others. It is hoped a 40foot restored seine net keelboat will also make the passage from the Tyne to take part in the proceedings.

Once a familiar sight at all coastal villages and ports from the Humber to the Tweed, the sailing coble was the mainstay of the inshore fishing industry; but was also used for piloting and foying; during the 1800’s and through to the early 1900’s until engines were fitted just after the First World War.

Many sailing cobles were converted to motor and continued to work for further years. These were the forerunners of the motor cobles built in more recent times by the specialist boat builders of Durham, Northumberland and Yorkshire.

There has been a decline of cobles for fishing and potting in recent years resulting in the virtual loss of this tradition of working boat.

“It is hoped interest in this event will bring together coblemen, enthusiasts and visitors alike from all along the coast,” said Paul.

“Sailing will take place over both days of the Festival, weather permitting, creating a glimpse of nostalgia and times gone by.

Sailing coble owners who would like to be part of this spectacular sailing event are urged to contact the organisers for further details.