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There’s more on the Gadfly II story – but can anyone fill in the ‘missing years’?

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The Kent-built Gadfly II

Simon Papendick has written to give us an update to the earlier posts about the small cruising boat he’s currently restoring, Gadfly II, and to ask for help in finding more information. (For more on Gadfly II, click here.)

Here’s what he has to say:

Hi Gavin:

Thanks to Classic Boat, I now have some new information about my yacht Gadfly II.

It would appear that the boat was build in the 1930s in Whitstable, Kent for a local builder, and that she was the second of three boats he commissioned. I have information about her first years in Kent from the 1930s through to 1949, and then I have more details about her whereabouts in the early 1960s – but then the trail goes cold from 1964 until the early 2000’s when the last owner purchased bought her.

If anyone has any information about Gadfly II’s whereabouts in the missing years, could they please let me know?

During the World War II I gather she had a small mishap when she was almost destroyed by German bombs that where dropped near where she was being stored.

The original owner of the boat only passed away a few years ago, as did the foreman of the yard that build her.

If any of your readers can come up with more information about the boat it would be most helpful.

Regards

Simon

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Gadfly II restoration makes progress

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Simon Papendick and family make progress on their project to restore Gadfly II

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I’m grateful to Simon Papendick for getting in contact to report on his progress in bringing Gadfly II back to life.

Gadfly II looks very much like a Blackwater sloop but is reported to have been built in Kent rather than Essex, and there are some intriguing clues to her history, including a 1908 coin under her mast. For more on this read some previous posts on this topic.

Here’s what Simon has to say:

‘Hi Gavin,

‘Since I contacted you last I have got on well with the restoration on Gadfly II. We’re getting close to finishing the outside with the deck all but finished. The hull is all caulked up with putty in the seams, the hull has been glossed and the first coat of antifouling is on the bottom.

‘One of the last jobs to do before the boat goes back in the water will be the replacing the keel bolts, which is going to be done in a couple of weeks time at a local boatyard close to our home. Once the keelbolts are done and the boat is watertight then I will fit out the inside with an interior very close to what it would have had when it was first built.

‘After the boat is re-launched I will have the mast stepped and take it for its first sail in many years. From what I was told by its last owner its last sail could well have been 20 years ago or more.

‘It will be a wonderful experience for both the boat and myself to get the boat back to where she should be gracing the East Coast again after all these years. As you can see from the photos it is a family affair.

‘Regards

‘Simon Papendick’

Many thanks Simon. I’m pleased to hear that you’re planning to be true to the original when you start work on the interior, and I think it’s particularly good that you have your family’s help and support – so many people seem to work in isolation.

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Gadfly II – coin evidence could make her older than originally thought

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48-470Gadfly II under restoration – she may be considerably
older than originally thought

Simon Papendick, who is working on Gadfly II (see earlier posts here and here), has written to say that he has found a 1908 Edward VII penny under a grown frame below the mast, which strongly suggests the boat is rather older than previously thought.

She was previously understood to have been built in Kent along the lines of the Blackwater sloops, which I believe were built in Maldon by boatbuilder Dan Webb from the 1920s. (See an example for sale here.)

Simon says: ‘It was the custom to put a coin under the mast step on the top of the keel in a sailing boat or under the base of the stem on a motor boat, so that if the the boat should ever be rebuild of destroyed it will be possible to find out the year it was built.

‘I have always kept this up in all the wooden boats I have been involved in building since the custom was explained to me by my first boss, who was himself told that this was a long standing custom when he was an apprentice. He always did this to continue the custom handed down to him.’

So it seems Gadfly II may well be considerably older than was first thought and, if so, she predates the Blackwater sloops build by Dan Webb at Maldon in Essex. Could it be that Webb saw this boat, liked her and copied and then modified her lines to create his famous Blackwater sloop?

Certainly this story is becoming more and more interesting – can anyone out there shed any further light on Gadfly II’s mysterious background and her obvious connection with Webb’s series of Essex-built boats?

Simon Papendick, who runs J-Star Tuition & Boat Services, can be reached at 07799401650 and info@jstartuition-boatservices.co.uk.

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