‘It needed to be stable, so you could stand on the gunwale without tipping over, and withstand the abuse of various feral grandchildren. They didn’t want a centerboard, as the boat would be sitting on the beach at St. Ives—plus they wanted fewer moving parts for kids to get their fingers jammed. And the boat had to be pretty… ‘
A double-ender with a continuous deck, it was 14m long, 4.65m in beam and had a draught of 2.25m. The sails – a main, mizzen, staysail, jib and topsail – added up to 110squaremetres.
The vessel was launched in late July 1893 and named Colin Archer after its builder and designer.
RS1 Colin Archer performed convincingly during her first season and became the prototype for rescue cutters built in Norway over the following 30 years. Over 40 years of loyal service, she clocked up an impressive record: she saved 67 ships and 236 people, as well as assisting 1,522 vessels carrying some 4,500 crew.
At the end of her career in service, in 1961 RS1 Colin Archer was discovered in America. She was now in a bad way, but was brought back to Norway and was used by the Scouts for some years before being acquired in 1972 by the Norwegian Maritime Museum.
1973 the museum concluded a long-term agreement with the Seilskøyteklubben Colin Archer (SSCA) to take over her day-to-day care. Her hull has since been comprehensively overhauled and her interior refurbished and restored to its original colours.
But the there’s more to the well-loved Colin Archer types than seaworthiness and strength alone. In 1983, RS1 Colin Archer was overall winner in the Cutty Sark Tall Ships’ Race of 1983 in a field of 75 ships – but even more strikingly another Archer design, the RS10 Christiania came second, and the Stephansen/Archer design RS5 Liv came third.
In the next race in 1987, RS1 Colin Archer again won over all with RS10 Christiania again second. And in 1993 RS1 Colin Archer was overall winner for the third time, and also took home the Cutty Sark Tall ships’ Races biggest prize, the Cutty Sark Trophy.
Fowey boatbuilder Marcus Lewis has written to tell us about some of his recent yard news:
‘Hi Gavin, hope all is well. I just thought I would drop you an email with what has been happening.
‘Recently I’ve built a lovely little 8ft pram dinghy for a customer, replicating a dinghy of his grandfather’s that had been stored for years and is sadly now beyond economical repair. It is of spruce and mahogany on oak timbers, and was delivered a few weeks ago.
‘Also, earlier in the year, I had the chance of buyng the GRP mould for the Mayflower dinghy. The mould had been around for years, but had not been used lately – even though it is GRP, it is still a real classic, and we can now build the wooden version or supply the grp alternative, fitted out with top quality timber.
‘A friend of mine who has a lot of GRP experience has been renovating the mould, and after many hours polishing and waxing, we are just laying up the first hull.
‘The Mayflower is an ideal rowing boat, or with a small outboard, or as a sailing dinghy as originally intended, and all versions will be available, as customers require, with built in buoyancy and RCD compliance.
Thanks Marcus – it’s good to hear from you. That’s a sweet pram, and I’m looking forward to seeing the first new Mayflower from that mould. I would think it would be quite a desirable little boat, particularly for folks who want a boat that won’t dry out and leak.