Early hydroplane, foy boat Ethel and 1956 Enterprise join NMMC ‘flying boats’

Early hydroplane Defender II on the move

Early hydroplane Defender II Foy boat Ethel ramp screen image Enterprise No 2 Speedwell

Early hydroplane Defender II, foy boat Ethel, Enterprise 2

Three new ‘flying boats’ at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall in the past week are Enterprise no 2, a Tyne foy boat and an early hydroplane.

Named Speedwell, the Enterprise was built in 1956. It was designed by the prolific Jack Holt using what was then an exciting new material – waterproof plywood.

Ethel is a River Tyne foy boat built in 1907. Foy boats have been associated with the rivers of Britain’s north east coast for at least three hundred years. Their main task was to tow sailing vessels in and out of the river estuaries during periods of calm or contrary winds.

Under sail the performance of the Foy boat was not exceptional, but under oar it was a different matter – they were excellent rowing boats.

Defender II was built in 1908 for Fred May and was one of the first of a new breed of power boat now classified as an unstepped hydroplane. The boat’s hull is fairly conventional at the bow, but almost immediately flattens out, becoming virtually hollow at the stern. This allows the boat to sit on top of the water when under power, reducing drag and increasing speed. When first built Defender II reached a top speed of 14 knots, an impressive speed at the time.

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