Do you know the story of the ‘Blackwater sloop’ Gadfly II?

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Gadfly II awaiting restoration by Simon Papendick

Clacton-based wooden boat builder and restorer Simon Papendick is looking for information about a 1939 gaff sloop that he’s currently restoring. Can anyone shed any light on  this boat please? If you can, please comment below, or write either to me at or to Simon at

The boat in question is named Gadfly II, and apparently the previous owner said she was a Blackwater gaff sloop and seems to have many of the same features – however, having contacted a number of sources Simon now believes she was built in Kent rather than the Blackwater, which is across the Thames Estuary, in Essex.

‘I have now got the job of restoring her to her former glory and hope to have her sailing this year. From what I have been able to find out about it, building on her began in 1939, stopped for the duration of World War II, and she was finally finished in 1945-46 and launched in 1946 for a local man in Kent.

‘The name Gadfly II appears on the list of vessels owned by members belonging to the Old Gaffer Association until the 1970s, but then drops off.’

Follow this link for gaff-rigged boats at

Simon Papendick, who runs J-Star Tuition & Boat Services, can be reached at 07799401650 and

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12 thoughts on “Do you know the story of the ‘Blackwater sloop’ Gadfly II?”

  1. No, I have never heard of it.

    But I have one boatbuilder friend in England, Richard Wynne, who probably will come an visit me this spring, to see my boats and my family. We got in contact when we both participated in Raid Finland 2003, and after that I have visited him two times in England.



  2. Gadfly, I dont know if this helps , from Lloyds 1975, Gadfly,26.5 ft o.a,anderson, r & perkins,built Whitstable ,1937, design Harrison Butler, owner Durnford, & Gadfly 3,31.5, o.a,same builder 1949, owner Tubbs

    P Radclyffe

  3. I've just looked at T. Harrison Butler's book Cruising Yachts, and on the evidence I can see the Gadfly II pictured here is unlikely to be an H-B design – the keel seems very un-Harrison Butler.

    I wonder what other leads may come up?


  4. Sorry I don't recognise her, but Newson's in Lowestoft have what they call a BW sloop nearing the end of restoration, and her transom shows a little tumble-home which this boat doesn't, I think.

    I can't tell from these pics how vertical the sternpost is on Gadfly II, it seems almost straight up & down, unlike the Newson's boat. Also the ballast keel has more rocker on the Newson's boat. But all of these differences may be within normal builder's practice 'back in the day'. The name Blackwater Sloop seems to be a 'trade mark' of Maldon builders Dann, Webb & Feasey, but all their examples I found online have raised-deck form.

    But lovely-looking boat whatever she is!

  5. Hi Dick,

    Gadfly's Sternpost is not as raked off the vertical as your one and also the prop shaft is cut into the sternpost like in the picture. The Deck of Gadfly was laid with pine with plywood on top. The forehatch is off the centre line to starboard. The Hull is made of 1 1/4 inch larch and is ribbed with ash timbers and grown oak frames every three ribs and these frames are copper nailed and roved from keel to deck level. From the engine beds that are in the boat it would appear that the original engine fitted to the boat was a Staurt Turner 4hp or at the outside a 8hp. Also what appears to have been done is a 3inch piece of iron keel as been added to the original keel to add more wiegh to the keel.

  6. Hi Gavin,

    I may have got a lead as to Gadfly II basis to being a "Blackwater Sloop". It comes from an piece done in Classic Boat Mag circ Sptember 2004 in the mag there is a 2 1/2 Ton Blackwater sloop called Iolanthe, this boats line drawings bear many of the same hull shape and lines as my boat. GadflyII may be a sister ship to that yacht. Does any one know who build Iolanthe and if she is still sailing today.



  7. Hi Gavin

    Gadfly II was built by Anderson R & Perkins in Whitstable in Kent.

    I have now removed the broken grown frames which the keel bolts go through and I am sourcing some new ones from a timber merchant in East Yorkshire who as got some good english oak ones in stock. He also as some good oak for ribs as well. The inside of boat is now got one coat of primer on and will get some more on over the next week. Then I hope to fit the new grown frames and ribs and fit out the inside back to the way it as origially fitted out.



  8. Hi Gavin,

    I cleared up the other old penny coin which was with the first one, I cleared up and it is an Edward VII one penny from 1908, this predates the first one by 21 years. But seeing as they both came from the same place under the grown frame below the mast step I was wondering if the boat is in fact as old as 1908. It may well be a boat that Dan Webb may have seen, liked the lines and copied the lines and modify to make his famous Blackwater sloop.



  9. Hi, I may have some information for you, by way of a trophy won by the Gadfly II with several names on it. You may want to look into this. Laura

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