Bird of Dawning is relaunched, after 80 years

Bird of Dawning is one of the delights of sailing on the Swale – a pleasing and elegant example of the kind of yacht East Coast smack builders would sometimes build when not building vessels for fishing, shrimping or oystering. She lives just off in Oare Creek, just off Faversham Creek, and is a regular on the water.

Julian Mannering wrote this week to say she has been relaunched after some major work, and included a photo from this week’s relaunch together with a shot from her original launch at Paglesham, in July 1937. Here’s what he had to say:

‘Julian and Amanda Mannering’s Bird of Dawning was relaunched at Hollowshore, off the Swale, on Monday 24 April after extensive repairs and refitting.

Bird of Dawning was originally launched 80 years ago this year from the yard of Frank Shuttlewood at Paglesham on the river Roach and was built on the lines, above the waterline anyway, of a Paglesham smack.

‘Time inevitably takes its toll and considerable work had to be carried out this winter on her decks, covering boards, stem and stern to bring her back to strength. Tie bars were fitted under the side decks and some 500 bronze screws employed to refasten her original Siberian larch decks which were then recaulked with oakum and payed with a locally-made pitch. Finally, a new iroko capping rail was fitted and a little sheer added astern.

‘The work was carried out in the black shed at Hollowshore by Dan Tester, owner of Hollowshore Services, and Nick Relf who between them did a brilliant job finding solutions for tricky problem wherever they were encountered. They truly breathed new life into an old ship.

‘She looks like a new vessel now and is fit and ready for many more years sailing.

‘Once back in commission Julian and Amanda plan for some East Coast cruising, including a short cruise up the Medway in July to show a group of military historians the route of de Ruyter’s attack on Chatham 350 years ago. The Swale Match is in the diary for 29 July and then it’s hoped to have a summer cruise to the near continent.’

For the Old Gaffer’s Association’s list of vessels built by Shuttlewood, click here. There’s a recent photo of Shuttlewood’s shed here, and some scraps of history here and here.

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