John Macauley-built lugger Freyja needs a good new home in Scotland

Freyja John Macauley 16ft lugger

Freyja John Macauley 16ft lugger

My friend Ian Duffill is looking for a new home in Scotland for Freyja, the John Macaulay-built 16ft clinker dinghy seen at the Beale Park Thames Boat Show.

Here’s the story of Freyja, as Ian tells it:

‘In 2000 iconic traditional boatbuilder John MacAulay, who has his workshop at Flodabay on Harris was asked to build a boat suitable to sail across the Minch to the Shiant Islands.

‘The owner of the Shiants is Adam Nicolson, author and television presenter, grandson of Vita Sackville West and Harold Nicolson of Sissinghurst Castle in Kent.

‘After one epic voyage to the Shiants, described in Adam’s book Sea Room (see below), the boat Freyja was stored and not used again. She is an open16ft transom dinghy, clinker built in larch on oak with sea-kindly and dramatically tight turns to the bilge to make a good deep keel. With a single dipping lug she travels swiftly from A to B.

‘Through sheer serendipity, Adam came to give Freyja to me. We both hoped I would be able to get her sailing again and use her in her element – the sea. Although I cleaned her up and got her in the water, matters conspired so I never managed to sail her on the sea.

‘Now we have moved to North Norfolk, where I find that short tacking into Blakeney Harbour’s narrow, shallow channel with many sandbanks is asking too much of her. She now sits forlornly in a cavernous barn on a nearby farm and needs a new home where the local sailing conditions are more suitable for her.

‘I have spoken with Adam and we have agreed that a return to Scottish waters would be ideal. Most of all she wants an owner who can give her the chance to roam in open water. If she could be made available for youngsters to experience handling this traditional style of boat, so much the better. A youth organisation, club or private individual – it doesn’t matter. She just needs a chance to come alive again.

‘She was given to me and neither Adam nor I expect any payment – just to see her in action once more.

‘She comes complete – mast, oars, rudder, tiller, sail, floorboards and custom built road trailer but has been out of the water for too long and needs to be immersed for some time to take up again. I might be able to deliver – we can talk about it.’

Sea Room is published by Harper Collins, London and is available from Amazon.

For more on Freyja at, see our earlier post.

If you’re interested in Freyja, email me at and I’ll pass your message on to Ian.

PSFreyja’s future has been decided she is to return to Harris where she will be sailed by local groups. She will also be under the care of her original builder, John Macauley.

5 thoughts on “John Macauley-built lugger Freyja needs a good new home in Scotland”

  1. Here is hoping!

    Not one voyage, incidentally, but two summers in the Minch, March to October, and in and out of the sealochs in Lewis and Harris; then in the Sound of Mull for a year or two, but even there the conditions were a little tame for her. She needs some open western water. Her great quality is an extraordinary stability. You can stand on the gunwale and she hardly tips.

  2. Looks great, but I don't think I would like to sail out into the minch in a boat that small. I read Sea Room a couple of months back – it's a good read.

  3. serendipity?

    we holiday'd on Harris this summer, and visited John MacAuley's shed on our travels, but no sign of the man himself. I had read Adam Nicholson's book some years ago, and also "Birlinn" by JMacA so it was a wee bit of a pilgrimage.

    We loved the place so much we're planning to somehow get a foothold on the island, with a view to early retirement.

    I would love to be the custodian of 'Freyja' and ultimately return her to home waters. In the interim, we could offer some familiarisation on Bardowie Loch, the home port of the Clyde Cruising Club, with the odd appearance at Crinan Classics and other West Coast events.

    I do hope this is a serious prospect, and look forward to your reply.

    David and Fran Hanley and family.

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