1908 Falmouth-built rowing boat White Owl is restored and back on the water

White Owl arrives at the Museum White Owl Launch

The 1908 15ft rowing boat named White Owl has been restored at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall.

White Owl was built in Falmouth in 1908, by Jacketts Yard, which priced her at ten shillings per foot – one of Jacketts’ best known customers was the Newlyn School painter and photographer Henry Scott Tuke. See his entry at the Wikipedia website to see some of his works and for his story.

Although White Owl has undergone extensive work, she is said to retain much of her original timber.

The conservation and restoration was started by the well known local boat builder Ralph Bird before he died, and finished by a team of Museum volunteers led by Henry Wylie.

The team is now starting work on restoring a Mevagissey tosher.

Sea Queen was built at Mevagissey in 1924 by legendary boat builder Percy Mitchell – she was in fact only the second boat he built. The first stage of her restoration is being funded by a donation from one of the Museum’s trustees and the Museum is currently seeking funds to purchase the materials for the remaining work.

Percy Mitchell’s son Gary will be giving a lunchtime lecture at the NMMC 3 March next year, where he will be discussing his father’s life and work – he built no less than 360 boats ranging from dinghies to racing yachts. To book seats call 01326 214546.

Sea Queen

Barbary piracy in the West Country and more from the NMMC

NMMC Barbary Pirates

Are you sitting comfortably? If so I have got some serious reading for you this morning, published on its website by the National Maritime Museum Cornwall.

The first item on the agenda is a fascinating account of how the famous period of Barbary piracy in the South West during the 17th century worked.

It seems that the captives were often ransomed, that both Catholic and Anglican churches had a large part to play in negotiating and paying ransomes, but would not play any part in returning captive slaves who had converted to Islam. More, it seems that returned captive slaves were often regarded with some suspicion on their return, and some women among them ‘turned Turk’ in order to stay with their children.

The second item is In search of the Queen Transport, a thorough investigation of the historical sources regarding the wrecking two centuries ago of the ship Queen Transport in Falmouth Harbour with the loss of 200 lives, most of them soldiers returning from from fighting in the Peninsular War under Wellington. There’s a remarkable monument to the victims in Mylor churchyard – see it here.

The consensus seems to be that although the ship was in a harbour generally regarded as safe, there were serious questions over how much effort had been made to moor her securely.

J Class yachts racing at Falmouth – photos by Marcus Lewis



Fowey boatbuilder Marcus Lewis wrote to say that he just had to send in these stunning photos of J Class yachts racing at Falmouth – and I’m very grateful he did.

They have a great feel of photos taken in the early part of the last century – it’s partly the J Class boats themselves, but it’s also something about the colour range.

Marcus took them on Thursday last week. He said Valsheda, Ranger, Rainbow and Lionheart were all charging along in a F3-4, and did three laps of a windward-leeward course with a charging reach to finish off Pendennis Castle.

Many thanks Marcus! There’s more information about the Falmouth regatta here.

Marcus runs a boat building and repair and restoration boat yard working on some lovely traditional craft, many of them local types, at Fowey in Cornwall. See his website here and click here for earlier posts at intheboatshed.net.