Itchen Ferry Wonder in the Swale, photograph and comment by Dick Holness

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Wonder photographed in the Swale by Dick Holness

Itchen Ferry Wonder in the Swale, photographed by Dick Holness

Most readers may not have noticed our pal East Coast Pilot author Dick Holness’s comment about the 160-year old Dan Hatcher-built Itchen Ferry boat Wonder, which now resides in Oare Creek, just off the Swale.

Here’s what he says:

‘Strange coincidences at work here.

‘Many years ago my brother (who was a naval architect and old boat nut, and worked for Campers and then Vosper Thorneycroft at Southampton) was one of those who helped look after Wonder for the Nicolay family. In return he occasionally sailed her. I never did, but had seen pics of her.

‘So I’m trundling down Oare Creek in the Spring 2010 in my boat (modern plastic fantastic, sorry!) and passing Tester’s Yard, I idly glanced across and saw a small black bow up on the hard with the lettering SU120. Hmmm, I thought, that rings a bell but I can’t think why. And thought nothing more of it.

‘The very next day I received an email from someone I had never heard of, sent to the secretary’s email address for Hollowshore Cruising Club (I am the Hon Sec this year). “Hello,” it said, “I am the owner of an Itchen Ferry down near Portsmouth, and heard that another, called Wonder, has been sold up your way. Do you happen to know who’s bought her?”‘

‘It was one of those moments when you wonder if there are strange forces at work! The sender of the email was pretty astounded too when I rang him up, and since then he’s been in touch with my brother.

‘In the meantime, I have enjoyed seeing Wonder out on the Swale several times this year – she looks splendid, and whoever the owner is certainly knows how to sail her.’

Many thanks for the comment and photo Dick! I can only apologise for not being able to come to the laying-up social – I’m afraid we just have to put it down to family business, but we are certainly looking forward to spending more time at the club and on our boats when life settles down.

I’d just like to say that Hollowshore Cruising Club at the head of Oare Creek near Faversham now has a splendid new website and that I’ve been looking for an excuse to link to it for a little while:

Young sailing celebrity Jack Daly opens the new Hollowshore Cruising Club premises

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Jack Daly shakes hands with our justly proud commodore, David Williams

The Hollowshore Cruising Club’s new premises were officially opened this weekend by one of its youngest and most venturesome members, Jack Daly.

Fitted out largely by the club’s members, the new premises are a credit to the volunteers who took on the work and to the club’s excellent chairman, David Williams. For more on the club itself, see its website.

I should explain that young Jack has just completed a round-Britain trip in his Coribee, named Padiwak. Some months before his 17th birthday, he left Ramsgate at the end of June this year, determined to get round before school started again. Supported by his amazing parents, who took turns to follow him round by road, Jack made it back to Ramsgate in mid-September after being delayed by weather – so he only missed a few weeks of his first term back. See Jack’s website.

In the process he raised £5000 for the Westbere Sailability Centre.

A pleasant trip to Whitstable and Faversham

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Smack, late afternoon at Hollowshore

A smack, in the late afternoon light at Hollowshore

We took ourselves to Whitstable and Oare Creek just outside Faversham today to see and meet some Morris dancing friends, to mooch around Whitstable and to check on our little boat. As usual, I couldn’t stay out of the second-hand bookshops, and among other things found a copy of The Last Stronghold of Sail by Hervey Benham – a book I’ve been hoping to find for a while. It’s splendid stuff!

We also stopped by at Macnade’s amazing Faversham delicatessen and foodstore, and vowed never to miss an opportunity to buy provisions there, particularly if we’re setting off for a trip.

To celebrate both a nice day out after some weeks of rather hard work, and buying Benham’s book about the bygone world of working smacks and barges , I thought I should post the photo above taken this afternoon – a typical shot of a smack apparently waiting to take its turn in the dry dock at Hollowshore.