1940s fifie for sale for restoration

Alex Mears of HJ Mears & Son Boatbuilders has got in touch to say that one of his customers is selling a 32ft, 1944-built fifie for restoration. The owner is getting a little too old to continue with the project and so it must go – see the boat on eBay.

The work has been started but there’s a lot more to do – most of the photos below show her current state at Mears Boatyard, Seaton, in east Devon, though one indicates how she was on the day she arrived at the yard.

The fifie has no engine and all the deck has been removed, with temporary ties in place to maintain hull shape. Her planking is 1.25 inch larch on oak frames.

She was brought to Devon from Ullapool in 2008 when her working life ended as a a registered Stornaway fishing boat. There is a big pile of seasoned timber available for the restoration but at extra cost.

The yard says they would hate to see her end up in the log burner, and I’m sure Alex speaks for all of us when he says: ‘I just hope someone wants a slice of Scottish fishing history.’

Storage can be negotiated with Mears Boatyard, as can cranage onto a low loader.

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Fifie Ocean Pearl has won the Round the Island Race gaffer class

Ocean Pearl raced in the Round the Island Race gaffer class – and won

Emsworth-based boatbuilder and Intheboatshed.net reader Nick Gates has written into report that his fifie Ocean Pearl has won the gaffer division 1 class in the Round the Island Race this year. (I call Ocean Peal a fifie, but her upright stem and somewhat raked stern Nick has other names for her, including half-zulu. It’s a topic that has been aired here at intheboatshed in the past – click here and here.)

Anyway, here’s the story for this grand old lady’s tremendous victory:

‘Hi Gavin – I’m not really one to blow my own trumpet but the old tub Ocean Pearl put on a hell of a show on the Round The Island Race last Saturday. As you have probably read there were plenty of boats entered and plenty of wind. Our start was at 0610, which meant I had about two hours sleep before hand-a combination of too much rum and waking up early listening to the wind.

‘We set of to windward with one reef in the fore (main) and just the small stays’l. Down the Solent we regulary crossed tacks with the pilot cutter Polly Agatha. We had eight crew in total, and they soon had the tacks fine tuned into a neat manoeuvre, although the odd one was a three point turn!

‘At Hurst Castle and the Needles the seas built up and we broke out the genoa to power her through the swells. She was a bit overcanvassed really. The bowsprit was going under, we had water in the scuppers, and the crew on the foredeck were getting vertigo as we dropped into the 15 ft swells of the Shingle Bank. With a reef in the mast puts in a curious bend, and the hard eyes in the 12mm rigging had become stretched…..

‘As we turned the Needles the sheets were eased and we had a sleigh ride to St Catherines Point. Luggers aren’t great on a run and Polly Agatha slowly passed us, her long boom catching all the wind. She was about a mile ahead when we
finally lowered the fore, shook out the reef and set of in pursuit. We were maintaining about 7 knots, but on the big swells we were surfing, with the GPS showing 10.7knots!

‘Across Sandown Bay we kept in closer than most, with a small genoa poled out on the port side, leg-o-mutton style. By Bembridge Ledge we had closed the gap on Polly Agatha, and now it was a beat to the finish.

The majority at this point hug the cost of the Isle of Wight, keeping out of the tide and hoping for a lift as the wind comes off the island, but we did the opposite, staying on one tack over to Lee on Solent, through the flooding tide, and on towards the top of Southampton Water.

A final tack put us back across to Castle Point, and the finish line. Polly Agatha was closing fast, but we pipped her at the post by 5 minutes.

It was a long and exhausting day but what a result! Ocean Pearl was first with an elapsed time 10.36 hours, corrected 11.13 hours; with Polly Agatha second with an elapsed time 10.41 hours and 12.08 hours and Maybird third with  11.32 and 12.22 hours. The pilot cutters Merlin and Morwenna came fourth and fifth, and the pilot cutters Amelie Rose and Westernman,  (pilot cutters) and plank on edge gaff cutter Aeolus retired. Not bad for an old motor boat!

I’m impressed! I get breathless just reading this story – and it’s amazing that no sleep and a generous helping of rum can be so helpful in a race. Full results are of course at www.roundtheisland.org.

Shetland fifie Swan beats Spider T to win National Historic Ships flagship award

Fifie Swan - The Swan Trust

Shetland fifie Swan, winner of the national flagship award

Spider T, winter 2010

Humber sloop Spider T came second in a close contest

The Swan Trust deserve our congratulations on the fifie Swan’s victory in being made 2011 flagship by the National Historic Ships.

Humber sloop Spider T came second in a close contest.

The award presented to Swan goes to the owners of the vessel on the National Historic Fleet with the most impressive seasonal programme of public events in the forthcoming year. The winners receive a special pennant to mark her flagship status, and a grant of £1000 to be spent on the vessel’s upkeep.

A fifie herring drifter, Swan (LK243) was launched in May 1900 at Hay and Company’s yard in Lerwick in the Shetland Isles. Having survived two world wars and then falling into disrepair, this vessel has now been restored to her former glory by a team of dedicated volunteers. The judges were particularly impressed with the breadth of Swan’s summer programme which, starting in her home port, will take her to the Orkneys; along the Caledonian Canal; to Waterford to compete in the Tall Ships Race to Glasgow, and then to Norway, engaging throughout with the large number of young people who will form her crews, and inviting visitors on board wherever she goes.

Swan is one of some 200 vessels of pre-eminent national significance which together form the UK’s National Historic Fleet.

Swan Trust chairman Allister Rendell, said: ‘I am delighted that Swan has won… It is particularly appropriate that Swan has been selected, since the Tall Ships will be visiting Shetland this year.’

Runner-up Spider T receives a £250 grant which will also go towards supporting the vessel and promoting the Flagship of the Year scheme.

National Historic Ships director Martyn Heighton commented: ‘With the flagship award now in its third year, the quality of entries has gone from strength to strength. Swan is a worthy winner in a year of fierce competition.’

Humber sloop Spider T’s owner Mal Nicholson is a regular contributor to intheboatshed.net, usually on the subject  of Spider T herself. For more posts about the Humber sloop, click here.