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1885 classic Mary, ex-Vanity, needs someone to save her!

Boatbuilder Mark Rolt of Bristol Classic Boat Company has written to say that the 1885-built 60ft classic yacht Mary, ex-Vanity, is in urgent need of re-housing and restoration – for otherwise she is certain to be cut up within the next few weeks. The photos above show her in her heyday.

She is one of three similar yachts remaining, the other two of which are Partridge, and Marigold, both of which have been restored and are racing in the Mediterranean. It’s Mark’s firm hope that someone will feel it is time to rescue this astonishing boat from certain destruction.

She was built as Mary at William Black’s in Southampton, Dan Hatcher’s old yard, in 1885 and 1886, for Sir William Romilly, who was later Attorney General, who gave it as a 21st birthday present to his son John Gaspard le Marchant Romilly, (who was usually called Cosmo). She cost 1300 guineas.

Built to Lloyds A1 100 18+ spec, the highest possible at that time, her timber was seasoned for at least 18 years.

She was coppered and was pitch pine below the water and teak above on doubled 4×4 oak frames. She raced very successfully under the Class C category, but the rules were changed in, I think, 1892, at which point she became a cruising yacht.

At present she is in a derelict hauling yard, next door to Mark’s boatyard, where she has been since about 1989, when she was sold at auction by Sotherby’s, and delivered from Canvey Island to Bristol for storage, while the owner decided what to do. He then sold it to my colleague and friend, the late Brian Cumby, who then offered her to Mark.

Mark says that she will need a major rebuild. He’s proposing to sell her for a penny to anyone willing to have us restore her, and reckons that bringing her back to her former glory would cost in the region of £1,250,000-1,500,000.

He believes passionately in preserving boats of this kind and is very, very keen to have the opportunity, not only to restore Mary
but also to train apprentices in the craft of shipwrighting through dismantling and restoring the magnificent old boat. As he says, everyone involved, young and old, can learn old tricks and methods, some of which may have died with the shipwright who performed them.

As Mark says, please forward this post on to any one that you know who may be fired-up by the idea of owning and sailing one of Britain’s first class Victorian yachts, privately or corporately.

 

BBA students build a small faering

The traditionally built faering named Pingvin, was built by Boat Building Academy students Max Stembridge and Ben Walker-Riley, and was designed by Max’s naval architect father Peter Stembridge, whose company, Seawing Europe, works with Sunseeker and similar.  The photos above are by Paul Dyer, Becky Brown and Jenny Steer.

The double-ended boat has laminated iroko stems and solid iroko hog and keel. She is planked in larch with rose.

Max joined the course from Hampshire just after completing his A levels. A practical person, before joining the Academy, he finished restoring a Triumph Tiger Cub motorbike, and for his design technology A level he enjoyed building a pop-up roof tent for his VW.

Taking a gap-year and wanting to do something meaningful in this time, Max came to the BBA to develop his practical skills.

Ben has worked as a photographer’s assistant in Brighton, and also has a degree in marine biology from Portsmouth University. For part of his course he joined the Atlantic Whale Foundation conservation programme in Honduras, where he focused on whale shark and coral reef conservation.  He has PADI Diving certificates and is also a qualified Ski Instructor.  Looking for a career that would combine his love for the water and enable him to work creatively, Ben decided to join the 38-week course.

Max has now been offered a place to study architecture at Greenwich, which he says his time at the Academy greatly helped him to receive, while Ben plans to use his new skills and level 3 diploma to begin a career in the marine industry.

See Pingvin’s build diary.

HMS Pickle is on her way home

Now substantially fixed up with many new timbers, new rigging and other gear, HMS Pickle is now sailing her way in shortish hops along the coast from Portugal to her new home at Keadby Lock in South Humberside. She has reached Santander.

Today’s HMS Pickle is a replica of the celebrated Bermudan sloop HMS Pickle, which famously brought news of the victory at Trafalgar and of Nelson’s death to England. Little Pickle got the job because she was quick and handy, but from reading the original HMS Pickle’s Wikipedia entry she was involved in quite a number of remarkable exploits, including various captures and rescues.

To see her position on the route home, click here. Also, follow her progress on the official HMS Pickle Facebook page.

Old boats, traditional boats, boat building, restoration, the sea and the North Kent Coast – Gavin Atkin's weblog