The mystery of Gadfly II – Simon hears from the builder’s daughter

Gadfly II on the water pic 1

Gadfly II back on the water in August this year

Simon Papendick has written to remind us that he’s still looking for information about the history of his gaff cutter named Gadfly II, and to bring us up to date with what he’s learned.

For more on Simon’s Gadfly II project, click here.

If anyone can help fill in the remaining gaps, particularly in relation to the 50s and 60s, he would be very grateful. He’s known for some time that she was built by Anderson, Rigden & Perkins of Whitstable, but in the last few days has been in touch with a lady called Tisha – it seems her boatbuilder father, Bob Anderson, constructed a small yacht for himself, Mandamus, to a design of his own, and that Gadfly II was built as a sister ship and launched in 1946. Mandamus had a teak deck, Gadfly II did not, and Tisha believes there were some differences of detail between the rigs of the two boats.

Searching on the Internet for ‘Mandamus’ and ‘yacht’ reveals this obituary for Mr Anderson, who died only a couple of years ago at the grand old age of 100.

Tisha also confirmed that there were at least three Gadflies, which may explain why Simon has collected some widely different stories in relation to Gadfly II, but this one was built for and owned by a Harold Doughty, who Tisha believes was from Thanet and did some building work in Whitstable, including the rebuilding of the Anderson Regden & Perkins yard following a fire in the 1950s.

She doesn’t  know whether Mr Doughty had any children, but if there were she says she did not meet them crewing Gadfly II in her time.

Apparently, Gadfly II and Mandamus regularly raced each other at the Royal Temple Club, Ramsgate for a cup, which Tisha describes as ‘a huge silver thing, and it was later stolen’. She also told Simon that Mandamus usually beat Gadfly II – my guess is that might well be true, given that  Mr Anderson had spent his life on or by the water, while his opponent was an amateur sailor with a busy building business to keep him from practising his sailing.

Tisha remembers that Mandamus had two sets of figures carved into a beam, which she thinks were her Thames and Lloyds measurement tonnages, and that Mandamus was modified after Mr Anderson sold her: a bowsprit was added and the doghouse was moved more amidships. Both Tisha and her father were present at her re-launch.

The last Tisha heard of Mandamus, she was berthed at Cowes, but does not know where, which has led Simon to wonder whether she might be somewhere in the archives of Beken, the legendary local photographers.

So does this story ring any bells for readers? If it does, please let me know at, and I’ll pass the information on to Simon.

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