The bawley Emma

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Vic Maynard and his lovingly rebuilt bawley Emma in 2009/10. He told me her story over a pint at The Shipwright’s Arms at Hollowshore over the weeked.

She was originally built in in clinker 1845 by Thomas Bundock at Leigh on Sea, probably for the purposes of cockling and shrimping, like other bawleys.

Vic says she was not built by Haywards as has been suggested, as there are no records of similar boat being built at that yard before 1850. Bawleys built after 1850 or so were built in carvel.

Bundock had served his apprenticeship at the Maldon yard of James Williamson at the time that the well known smack Boadicea was built in 1808, and Vic reckons the bawley and the smack have something in common.

Bundock had daughter called Emma, who married her skipper and likely owner, a Henry Cotgrave, who seems to have been locally known as ‘Benson’, probably as a result of a connection with a Mrs Benson in London.

Vic suggests this is the same ‘Benson’ that is mentioned in the excellent 1893 book by H Lewis-Jones Swin, Swale and Swatchway, which is currently available in reprint from Lodestar.

It is thought that Emma came to Kent around the turn of the century, first into the hands of the Jemmet family of Faversham, and that she was then owned from 1928 until 2010 by Jim Gregory.

She remained a clinker-built craft until 1917, when she was converted to carvel. Rather than do the job wholesale, which would have created a completely new boat, Vic had Dan and Barry Tester of Hollowshore rebuild her piece by piece so that she would remain the Emma, and in doing so found that in converting her to carvel all those years ago, her clinker strakes had been filled out with feather-edged boards and tar. She had remained like that for more than nine decades…

These days, he has her beautifully sorted out inside and out, with just a tiny space under the foredeck that suffices as a cabin.

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Building the Colin Archer Emma

There’s plenty to read and pictures to see at the Emma website – but as it’s in Dutch, I suspect many Intheboatshed.net readers won’t understand it too readily. If Nederlands isn’t your favourite language, happily all is not entirely lost – it’s possible to make sense of quite a lot of it using Google Translate and I gather an English version of the site is in the works.

However, there is no Google app that can help you get over the urge to acquire a similar vessel from somewhere and go sailing forever…

The Wikipedia has quite a lot more information about Colin Archer (1832–1921), shipbuilder and designer of more than 200 boats including the design used for building the Emma.

Archer was famous for his durable and safe vessels, and his output included a distinctive double-ended design for the Norwegian Lifeboat institution.

The class of boat remained in service for many years, and some original boats and later builds have been adapted for use as cruising yachts – Emma is an example of a recent build by Tom Pollman from Holland, and is based on drawings of lifeboat RS22, Vardo.

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Colin Archer monument erected in his home town of Larvik, photo by Stig Andersen from Wikimedia Commons