Category Archives: Motor yachts and boats

Summer New Zealand images of classic yachts

I usually post some summer sailing pictures and videos about this time of year as a reminder of what is now not so far away for those of us in the Northern hemisphere. This comes from Paul Mullings…


Gypsy, the Hornby weekend cruiser with an amazing story

These photos are all (or believed to be) of Gypsy, an impressive 1936 Hornby weekend motor cruiser with an event-filled history.

Michelle Bird has written in to appeal for more information about the boat which is owned by her partner,  David Pannell.

‘We’ve seen a picture of her in front of one of the historic HMS ships at the Portsmouth Heritage dockyard museum, shown to us by the curator there, and would really love to find out whether she was used in Dunkirk, as seems to be suggested.

We know she was originally commissioned by an Admiral and had a steel bulkhead instead of a wooden one, and had two Vosper Thorneycroft engines installed in the 50’s to replace the original Morris engines. We know too that she was owned by the Spragg family of Sparks Marina on Hayling Island but have been told that she was stolen in 1968 as part of the getaway for the Great Train Robbery.

She was rammed by a Customs vessel at some point when used for drug running.

Michael Stiff of Blemheim Road, Ipswich, found her abandoned on the River Ide and took posession after making a deal with the Spraggs and doubtless their insurers.

We have an article from the Daily Express from July 1971 that Mr Stiff sent us. At the time, he was about to embark on a trip to Scandinavia in her, and the article quotes him as saying that an Interpol investigation looking at the question of where she’d been for three years was still open…

Mr Stiff had lots more information and items he’d stored from her that he was going to give us, but he sadly passed away not long after we bought he boat.

Dave has painstakingly cleared inches of oil and gunk from inside her and she’s starting to look great, but she’s still a long way off completion. We’d like to find replacements for a couple of brass portholes that were stolen, and to restore the Vosper engines if possible.

If anyone has any further info about Gypsy, please message me at,  and I will pass the message on.

Nick Smith 17ft carvel 7/8th inch Douglas fir on oak fishing and pleasure boat

You don’t see too many of these. West Country traditional boat builder Nick Smith is selling a new built 17ft carvel built launch fitted with a fully restored 10hp Bukh inboard – what he calls ‘a proper old thumper’.
He started building it from a 24ft, 36in log four years ago, but only completed a year and a half ago.
It’s an offer he’s unlikely to repeat – the centre line went together well enough, but once the planking started Nick realised that building in carvel even at this length and size wasn’t going to be an easy project. Really, he says, it needed two journeymen and was tough work on his own. From now on, it’ll be clinker all the way…
Due to a change in the original customer’s circumstances the boat hasn’t been afloat, but Nick has run the engine on the trailer, and has faired and repainted the topsides, which are still settling in.
The bilges have been filled for a few days so the planking has taken up.

See eBay for prices and details – but be quick, for the auction is only open for another day.