Restored 1943 type K Montagu whaler, good condition, for sale in London

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Montagu whaler Vancouver is now sold

Dick Wynne is selling his 27ft 6in type K Montagu whaler. I’m sure it has been a painful decision and it’s a damn shame for all those who have enjoyed crewing her, but no doubt two traditional boats like this is too much for one man!

This could be the offer of a lifetime for someone. Here’s what he says about the boat:

Vancouver is an ex-Royal Navy ship’s boat built in 1943 and lovingly restored and maintained over many years regardless of expense.

Construction is mahogany and larch on oak, with gunwales, thwarts etc in solid teak. She is probably the finest example of the type in existence. Her equipment includes:

– five matching 15ft spruce Admiralty oars plus many spares

– full sailing rig – lug main, jib and mizzen

– 6hp Mariner outboard on a lifting quarter bracket, with lock, and separate fuel tank mounted in sternsheets

– two bilge pumps

– ample buoyancy

– 12 x 150N automatic XM lifejackets with recharging kits

– two paddles for tight spots

Admiralty pattern anchor

– mooring lines, fenders, full-length tent/cover

– nearly new four-wheel braked trailer with sealed hubs and brake flushing system

All her external paintwork was renewed in 2008, and all her exposed timber stripped of varnish and oiled (with Deks Olje #1 and #2) for ease of maintenance. Although of traditional timber construction, she is in superb condition and is easily maintained so. A faultless recent professional survey report is available to serious enquirers.

She is a robust, stable and versatile workhorse fully equipped for pulling, sailing and motoring in a variety of applications including raids, races, expeditions, pleasure trips under power, race/committee boat use, etc. She would make an excellent school or club boat.

Vancouver has plied the tidal Thames in London under oar and sail for the past few years, and is a regular in the annual Great River Race. She has been trailed farther afield to locations including the East Coast, Western Highlands, and Milford Haven, and attracts much attention wherever she goes. She is only reluctantly for sale as, rather improbably, she is my second boat and I can no longer find the time to do justice to two traditional wooden boats. She is currently lying afloat in London.’

For a pdf including more photos from last year click here, and for more on the boat and what he’s been doing with it, click here.

Also, if you’re curious about what his other boat might be, this photo and the knowledge that he’s a leading member of the Albert Strange Association will probably tell you all you need to know.

Complete with a full inventory including trailer, Dick is asking for £9,500 or offers. Call him on 07990 573160.

We don’t often see whalers, but for some photos of one I spotted in the Fal Estuary some time ago, click here.

Food for thought from the WBTA survey traditional boat enthusiasts’ buying habits

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Nick Smith traditional boatbuilder at Beale Park Thames Boat Show 2008 Rowing gig Young Bristol sees some action
The launch of the John Nash skiff dscf5402

Boat builders’ projects featured at From left to bottom left: Nick SmithWin Cnoops and the Slipway Collective, Will Stirling and Fabian Bush

Traditional-style boat buyers are life-time enthusiasts who seem to buy a ‘fresh’ boat every three to five years.

This maybe because their life circumstances change often enough to require a different boat, because they like novelty of trying something different – or it may be that they are searching for the perfect boat they never quite manage to find.

Does this any of this describe you? If not, I imagine it describes quite a few people you know!

It’s just one key finding from a survey commissioned by the Wooden Boatbuilders’ Trade Association, which has been sent in return for helping to recruit a significant number of people to fill out the survey questionnaire.

The survey was carried out and written up by Alison Kidd and Peter Williams of

It turns out that some 11 per cent of traditional-style boat buyers’ purchases are new boats, most of which are built using modern rather than traditional techniques, and the vast majority buy second-hand boats that may be either ready to sail or in need some repair or restoration. These are often found via the Internet.

It also seems that second-hand boat buyers are as likely to buy plans as they are to buy boats.

What concerns me more is that just 10 per cent of the survey group who had bought boats since 2000 were first-time buyers. Taken together with the fact that boat buyers tend to be an older group this rather suggests that boatbuilders, magazines and suppliers in this area are failing to make headway in appealing to new, probably younger customer groups.

I think that’s a frightening thought.

However, it’s nice to be able to report that those who do buy new traditional-style boats are heavily influenced by exhibitions in general but particularly by the Beale Park Thames Boat Show, which is a tremendous annual exhibition of fine boat building. However, it’s striking that the Internet isn’t much used as a means of finding new boats, even though it is a popular route to buying older boats.

The survey’s authors therefore suggest that a better gateway site or even a means of searching for and comparing different options, features and prices online would be helpful. I couldn’t agree more, for while the second-hand boat sales sites are well organised and effective, when you’re looking for a newly built boaqt the picture is very different. As the survey authors put it: ‘unless you know the name of the new boat you’d like to buy or the name of its builder, you are unlikely to stumble across it in the Internet. Many of the WBTA boats are not widely known classes of boat’.

Clearly it would be helpful if the WBTA or someone else were to establish a gateway site that would list traditional style boat vendors’ new boats – but we haven’t got that yet. In the meantime, however, we do have For more than two years, we’re been offering to publish stories about boatbuilding and boat restoration projects, and even for sale notices about particularly interesting traditional old boats, and to do this for free.

All we ask for is photos and some information – some sense of the story, of the people and as appropriate about history behind the boat, and its use now and in times past. We’re also interested in technical issues that impact on these things, even down to discussing lines, boatbuilding methods etc. Follow this link and this link to see how it works – these aren’t lectures but in addition to the pictures, there’s usually a little to learn from each post.

In fact, there is a short roll-call of traditional boatbuilders who have made good use of’s offer, and their names will be familiar to regular readers of this weblog. With their help, has become popular and has reached a point where it gets around 500 visitors and a thousand hits a day, by conservative measures.

I’d say thank you to those boatbuilders – and I’d encourage other traditional boatbuilders to get involved.

What’s more, it seems to make sense to set up a page here offering a good list of boat types and specialist types of restoration, together with the boatbuilders contact details and weblinks where possible.

What do you say? Contact me at

Fairey Marine boat owners have a new website

Owners of boats made by Fairey Marine have created a new website and forum at

The Atalanta light displacement drop-keel sailingl cruiser was conceived in 1955 by Alan Vines, a senior executive at Fairey. It was developed with the expertise of Uffa Fox, and made from hot moulded agba veneers

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Atalanta owned by Dominic Dobson. As usual, click on the photo for a larger image

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A white-hulled Atalanta and a teal blue-hulled Titania photographed at
the Beale Park Thames Boat show a couple of years ago

Owners of boats made by Fairey Marine have created a new website and forum at

The Atalanta light displacement drop-keel sailingl cruiser was conceived in 1955 by Alan Vines, a senior executive at Fairey. It was developed with the expertise of Uffa Fox, and made from hot moulded agba veneers using a technology originally developed for wooden aircraft during World War II.

Although the prototype was 24ft long – named Atalanta she is is still sailing the East Coast with the sail number A1 – but by the time the finalised boat went into production, the length had been increased to 26ft in order to improve her accommodation.

The company went on to produce other drop-keel sailing cruisers using the same methods, the Titania, the larger Atalanta 31 and the smaller Fulmar.

Although the hot-moulded agba veneer proved to be strong, light, durable and repairable, the designs eventually became uncompetitive compared with GRP boats, and production ceased in the early 1970s, after some 278 boats of all four types had been built. Today, over 130 continue to be owned by members of the Association.

For a post about some hot- moulded Fairey Marine-built dinghies, click here.

I gather that Atalanta Owners’ patron is ex Fairey director Charles Currey, whose airborne lifeboat converted for racing can be seen here.


Dominic’s Atalanta on Coniston Water shows the benefit of sailing a trailer-sailer


Emma Duck, which I gather belongs to Association member Tom Lawton. Now, is she an Atalanta or a Titania? The teal-blue hull may be a clue – or not!