Category Archives: Working boats

The reborn Kathleen & May

Kathleen & May Kathleen & May Kathleen & May

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The Kathleen & May is a boat to make one gasp. Built on the Dee Estuary in 1900, by the time she retired in 1960 she was the last of the merchant schooners to earn her living carrying cargo. I don’t know what happened to her over the next few couple of decades, but in the mid 1990s she was rediscovered in a sorry state without spars or rigging in Gloucester Docks.

The man who found her was Steve Clarke, the enterprising President of Bideford Chamber of Commerce. On seeing the Kathleen & May, he felt that she should be restored and brought back to Bideford as an attraction; the town had been a frequent port of call during the old boat’s long career. His initial intention was to restore her cosmetically, but later decided to restore her to sailing condition.

She was relaunched in fine style in 2002, and can now be seen in Bideford when she isn’t voyaging somewhere – I was lucky enough to pay a visit a little while ago when she put into Watchet harbour, and she made a big impression. My only regret is that the weather was pretty grim and I didn’t come away with a set of nice big photos to share – but there are some nice ones on the website.

Click here to visit the Kathleen & May website:

While we’re thinking about coasting cargo boats, check out the Bessie Ellen, Britain’s last coasting ketch still sailing:

Got your breath back yet? I haven’t…


A mystery boat at Chatham

Chatham mystery Chatham mystery Chatham mystery Chatham mystery

I saw and photographed (very poorly, I’m afraid) this interesting double-ended working boat in a corner of a shed at The Historic Dockyard Chatham but couldn’t find any information or anyone who could tell me about it.

It’s clearly meant for fishing, as it has a live well, and a wonderfully tattered spritsail. But what is it? A Medway doble? A peterboat? Answers by email please to – I’d love to know!

If someone you know might know, please send them this link: