Dunkirk Little Ships gather at Chatham and around the Thames Estuary

Medway Bradwell Brightlingsea Pyefleet trip 5

The Dunkirk Little Ships were gathering this weekend for their rally at Chatham, and their planned trip to Ostende voor Anker in a day or two’s time.

They made a fine sight this weekend in the River Medway, at Chatham and off Brightlingsea.

Read about the Little Ships and the amazing Operation Dynamo here.

PS – The Manston campaigners are asking everyone interested in World War II to sign their petition calling for the airport to be compulsorily purchased rather than turned into a large housing estate.

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’

Ben Wales makes more restoration progress on his ex-RLYC motor launch


Ben Wales has been in touch to let us know how he’s getting on with restoring his 18ft motor launch repair and restoration project.

See earlier posts about Ben’s project here, here and here.

Here’s what he has to say just as winter turns to spring:

Winter 2011/2012

We used up the final stock of khaya planks in October and had just two more planks to replace on the port side.

The weather turned against us, so we had to put the restoration on hold until early February and, after a re-stocking of timber and copper nails we started to remove the next few planks.

The top two planks were some of the worst to use as a paten as they were broken on the edges and very brittle – also most of the original oak timbers were broken on the top edge. Making the top plank a perfect fit proved a challenge!

On Sunday 11th March we manage to fit up the last remaining plank and that side will be completed very soon. The next stage is to re-timber the boat.

History research

A few weeks ago the local newspaper in Lymington published a letter I sent asking for information about my launch, and who had it owned it in the past.

Several letters had been received and one was from a relative whose great uncle had purchased the launch from the Admiralty in 1947 and named it after his wife Mary. Both were members of the Royal Lymington Yacht Club in the 1950s. They sold the launch in the 1970s.

I have also learnt that it was used in Operation Dynamo at Dunkirk – a plaque was known to be on the launch, but seems to have been stolen many years ago.

I will send you more progress reports in the near future.

Regards, Ben

Thanks Ben! What a great story! It would be great to know what part your boat played… Would she be the tiniest Little Ship, I wonder?