1885 classic Mary, ex-Vanity, needs someone to save her!

 

Boatbuilder Mark Rolt of Bristol Classic Boat Company has written to say that the 1885-built 60ft classic yacht Mary, ex-Vanity, is in urgent need of re-housing and restoration – for otherwise she is certain to be cut up within the next few weeks. The photos above show her in her heyday, and now.

She is one of three similar yachts remaining, the other two of which are Partridge, and Marigold, both of which have been restored and are racing in the Mediterranean. It’s Mark’s firm hope that someone will feel it is time to rescue this astonishing boat from certain destruction.

She was built as Mary at William Black’s in Southampton, Dan Hatcher’s old yard, in 1885 and 1886, for Sir William Romilly, who was later Attorney General, who gave it as a 21st birthday present to his son John Gaspard le Marchant Romilly, (who was usually called Cosmo). She cost 1300 guineas.

Built to Lloyds A1 100 18+ spec, the highest possible at that time, her timber was seasoned for at least 18 years.

She was coppered and was pitch pine below the water and teak above on doubled 4×4 oak frames. She raced very successfully under the Class C category, but the rules were changed in, I think, 1892, at which point she became a cruising yacht.

At present she is in a derelict hauling yard, next door to Mark’s boatyard, where she has been since about 1989, when she was sold at auction by Sotherby’s, and delivered from Canvey Island to Bristol for storage, while the owner decided what to do. He then sold it to my colleague and friend, the late Brian Cumby, who then offered her to Mark.

Mark says that she will need a major rebuild. He’s proposing to sell her for a penny to anyone willing to have us restore her, and reckons that bringing her back to her former glory would cost in the region of £1,250,000-1,500,000.

He believes passionately in preserving boats of this kind and is very, very keen to have the opportunity, not only to restore Mary
but also to train apprentices in the craft of shipwrighting through dismantling and restoring the magnificent old boat. As he says, everyone involved, young and old, can learn old tricks and methods, some of which may have died with the shipwright who performed them.

As Mark says, please forward this post on to any one that you know who may be fired-up by the idea of owning and sailing one of Britain’s first class Victorian yachts, privately or corporately.

 

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Ben Wales launches the restory RLYC tender Mary

Ben Wales has launched the ex Lymington Yacht Club tender and tiny Dunkirk Little Ship Mary that he has been steadily restoring over the past few years with the help of his friend Norman Rickman.

We’ve followed his progress on the clinker built 1930s motor launch since this this post in 2011. If you’re interested in seeing them all, this search link will be an imperfect way to find the posts, but should get you there.

Mary went back into the water on Saturday 6th June at 1pm at the slipway next to the Royal Lymington Yacht Club, and the ceremony was performed by Joanna Lowis, great neice of the lady it was named after. The Mayor of Lymington and a crowd of around 30 people turned up to watch.

The final stage will be fitting the engine box and the exhaust system, followed by sea trials. Ben says he hopes to write again with more photos soon.  Meanwhile, here’s Ben’s leaflet about Mary.

Congratulations Ben – she looks great and I’m sure you’re pleased and proud.

 

Ben Wales makes further progress with veteran Dunkirk motor launch

Launch Completed Deck

Launch Completed Aft Deck

Since 2010, we’ve been following Ben Wales’ project to restore a motor launch that saw service at Dunkirk and was for many years used as a tender by the Royal Lymington Yacht Club.

The latest news is that Mary now has her decks… Here’s what Ben has to say:

‘Since the Spring we have been slowly working on the new forward and aft laid decks. Each plank had to be shaped to fit to make a watertight joint when caulked. Well over 150 wood screws were used to fit the deck and covering planks on the launch.

‘The forward and aft coamings have just been fitted, and the bronze fittings for the forward deck have been completed, and two coats of varnish have been applied.

‘The next major job is making two forward seats shaped to fit the sides of the launch.

‘If the weather holds up for September, we hope to fit new floorboards and engine box. Then we can finally fit her out, and perhaps launch her in late October.’

Thanks Ben! She’s looking great and I hope we can look forward to seeing photos of her on the water in the coming weeks!

For more on this story, click here.