Tag Archives: percy mitchell

1908 Falmouth-built rowing boat White Owl is restored and back on the water

White Owl arrives at the Museum White Owl Launch

The 1908 15ft rowing boat named White Owl has been restored at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall.

White Owl was built in Falmouth in 1908, by Jacketts Yard, which priced her at ten shillings per foot – one of Jacketts’ best known customers was the Newlyn School painter and photographer Henry Scott Tuke. See his entry at the Wikipedia website to see some of his works and for his story.

Although White Owl has undergone extensive work, she is said to retain much of her original timber.

The conservation and restoration was started by the well known local boat builder Ralph Bird before he died, and finished by a team of Museum volunteers led by Henry Wylie.

The team is now starting work on restoring a Mevagissey tosher.

Sea Queen was built at Mevagissey in 1924 by legendary boat builder Percy Mitchell – she was in fact only the second boat he built. The first stage of her restoration is being funded by a donation from one of the Museum’s trustees and the Museum is currently seeking funds to purchase the materials for the remaining work.

Percy Mitchell’s son Gary will be giving a lunchtime lecture at the NMMC 3 March next year, where he will be discussing his father’s life and work – he built no less than 360 boats ranging from dinghies to racing yachts. To book seats call 01326 214546.

Sea Queen


Percy Mitchell autobiography to be republished

Percy Mitchell 3 Percy Mitchell 1

Percy Mitchell 2

These photos come from the collection that will be used to illustrate a new edition of A Boatbuilder’s Story, the autobiography of legendary self-taught Port Mellon boat builder Percy Mitchell, who was born in 1901.

I gather he was described by yacht designer and cruising author Dr Claud Worth as ‘an artist in wood’.

A Boatbuilder’s Story is said to include a particularly moving account of the building of the large Cornish fishing lugger Ibis.

Read all about the new edition here.

Marcus Lewis dinghy for sale – and a Percy Mitchell tosher too

11ft dinghy 4


11ft dinghy 3 11ft dinghy2 11ft dinghy1

Fowey boat builder Marcus Lewis has this newly built 11ft clinker-built rowing dinghy for sale.

The handsome little boat is based on a tender to the sailing yacht Veronique owned by Colonel Treffry, of Place near Fowey in the 1930s. It is planked in spruce, with steamed oak timbers, mahogany top strake and seats, and will be supplied complete with a pair of scoop paddles, bronze rowlocks, and a cover.

Marcus tells me he’s currently building two Fowey River dinghies scheduled for completion this spring: the planking is almost complete, the green oak is ready to slice for timbers, and the copper nails are on order.

Also, the 18ft Percy Mitchell-built Tosher Marcus has stored for some time has got to go because he needs the space it is currently occupying.

It needs a complete rebuild, but Marcus says it has suberbly shaped hull suitable for almost anything. ‘The last owner put in a big Lister two-cylinder diesel and went fishing, but the usual treatment these days is a gaff rig, with a 4-5ft bowsprit, jib and staysail, with a topsail if you are feeling adventurous.

‘It bit of time would have to be spent working out the sail plan and centre of effort, and a bit of a calculation about an additional keel – she has no external ballast keel at all, but a 300-400lb shoe well bolted underneath, and a bit of internal trimming ballast would keep her down to her marks, and make her a stiff enough to sail well.’