RLYC launch Mary likely to launch in late spring, Ben Wales reports

Ben Wales has been in touch to report on the steady progress he and friends have made on restorating of the clinker-built 18ft former Royal Lymington Yacht Club motor launch Mary, which was used in Operation Dynamo, otherwise known as the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940.

Ben and his helpers have been working out of doors until recently, but I’m pleased to say a car port tent has made all the difference.

Here’s what he says:

‘Hello Gavin,

‘Since the Summer we have completed the work in renewing the engine beds and installed one new floor – the original beds were hard-nailed to the bilge planking, which was far from ideal. The new engine beds are now braced with brackets, and are a better fit than the originals.

‘The project had to be put on hold for a few weeks in late August as the weather was too hot and sunny for working on the boat.

‘The next phase of work was to fit new forward and aft bulkheads, and rather than fitting these in the same way as before (screwed to the topside planking) we riveted and screwed them top and bottom. We also made them up in tongue and groove planking to provide stronger bulkheads than previously.

‘In November we were given permission to erect a car port tent over the launch and were able to work up to mid-December, when we had to take down the cover because it was taking a battering from the high winds we have been having.

‘However, we did manage to pre-steam the main rubbing strakes and then fit the top port-side rubbing strake before the weather stopped our work.

‘We hope to resume work in February, when we hope to start laying a new deck and complete the final fit-out ready for what hope will be a late spring relaunch.

‘I will advise you further progress news in the New Year.

‘Regards, Ben’

Working in the open air, Ben Wales makes progress in restoring the Royal Lymington Yacht Club motor launch Mary


Starboard bow 08a

Brave Ben Wales has written in with an update of his ambitious restoration of an 18ft motor launch named Mary. (See earlier posts about Ben’s project here and here.)

‘At the start of June we had began to replace the topside planking in khaya mahogany. I had found it difficult to locate any suitable boards of the width we required to cut out new 20ft planks and also they would need to be planed all round off-site, as there is no power available to us on site.

‘The old planks were carefully cut out using a hack saw, and to release them, the copper nails along the plank lands and  some nail heads were drilled out.

‘Most of the old planks were either fragile or just rotten, so did not make an ideal template to mark out the new planks. What’s more, due to the widths and lengths needed we decided to scarf in three new planks on each plank run. The scarf joint is glued and nailed.

‘Painting will hide the scarf joints – Mary was never finished in varnish – and the only clue will be the extra nails, so while scarfing isn’t usually employed on a new boat of this size, it has saved us a great deal of material and money, and left very little waste.

‘I have attached some recent pictures of the work we have done. The starboard side is nearly complete and soon we have some more timber arriving to complete the port side. After that, the next stage to re-timber the launch, more of that to follow later this year.

‘Regards, Ben’

Thanks Ben – and great good luck. I hope the weather’s good when you get your next batch of timber.

RLYC 18ft yacht tender restoration

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Motor launch Mary restoration Ben Wales

Motor launch Mary in 1960, restoration Ben Wales

Motor launch Mary as she is now, and as she was in 1960

Ben Wales wrote to say that he and a friend have embarked on restoring an 18ft clinker-built motor launch that was found stored under trees on a farm. Apparently she had been there for almost 28 years, so I think the boat’s done well to last as well as it has.

Ben’s research has revealed this boat, named Mary, was previously used by the Royal Lymington Yacht Club and was used as a tender for the club’s yachts and visitors. No one seems to know when and where it was built, he says, but he thinks the early 1930’s would be a good guess.

Here’s what Ben says about the job he’s taken on:

‘The launch will require a major rebuild with new top planking and decking.

‘So far we have moved the boat to a new location for the restoration work, and replaced the stem piece and the transom top. The major problem is locating good long lengths of mahogany planks for the top planks; we are currently looking at western cedar as it is priced well and we can get it in the long lengths we require.

‘Luckily, the rest of the planks are in very good shape and only need cleaning and painting.’

Ben says he hasn’t been able to find much evidence of clinker-built open launches being restored, and says that there are very few still around in his area, so he would be very interested to hear about other similar projects. If you’re doing something similar or if you have any further information about Mary that you think Ben would find interesting or useful, please contact me at gmatkin@gmail.com or use the contact button below, and I will pass the information on.

Thanks Ben – and do please keep us in touch with your project.