Norfolk Broads half-decker Jamesia II

Jamesia II

Jamesia II Jamesia II Jamesia II

Jamesia II

Joe Farrow in Norfolk has written to tell us about a half-decker that one of his friends is currently working on. It’s been a while since we last had a Norfolk Broads post, so this was a nice surprise!

I’ll let Joe tell the story:

‘Hi Gavin,

‘As promised, I have rooted out a few details for a honey of a half-decker that a friend of mine is lucky enough to own!

Jamesia II was built by Martham Ferry Boat Building & Development Company in 1953. Her sister ship “Jamesia” was identical, aside from the cuddy.

‘She was exhibited in 1954 at the British Industries Fair, London Section, which seems like a long way away for a little Norfolk lass!

‘Originally constructed of overall varnished mahogany on oak she is similar to the Twizzy Whiz class designed and built by Ernest Woods – see the pic below of one of these boats, Mandi.

‘My friend Mat Gravener nearly purchased her after just one sail around 15 years ago, after she had been in the hire fleet for many years. I think Mat was attracted by her shape, the configuration of the lifting keel and the capability to camp on-board with ease. From what I understand, he just thought ‘there was something about her’, which included how she looked, her sailing qualities and her history.

‘Time passed. Five or so years ago he spotted her in a shed at Martham, with several planks and timbers cut out of the port quarter. To put in bluntly, she looked sorry and timeworn.

‘A little later she was on eBay and then rumour was that she had been taken to Lincoln for restoration. So no-one was more surprised than Mat when he became aware of her location in a barn, no more than three miles down the road from his house at Stalham!

‘He quickly bought her. Jamesia II is now again in safe hands. With careful chocking to replicate the original sheer and a batten or two, 12 green English oak timbers were left to soak in a boat dyke for a week and then steamed for 15 minutes prior to fitting.

‘Nine lengths of larch planking has been let in having been carefully shaped and hollowed. Fastening was by way of clenching on all but the beam shelf fastenings, which were roved.

‘With a new rudder, and ex Yare and Bure One Design rig lined up to be fitted (again, designed and built by Ernest Woods) Jamesia II looks set to return to exploring the Broads and rivers again in 2011.’

What a fabulous story! Thanks Joe – I’d love to see photos of her, and to see her sailing at some point not too far away. I’d like to add that it’s so often correspondents such as Joe that make worth doing – it’s certainly not the peanuts that come from the advertising.

For more Norfolk-related posts, click here.

PS – See the comments for a great story!


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 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.

The effort to take Victorian racing cutter Leila back to sea needs money and help

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great yarmouth, leila, racing, repair, restoration, smack, southwold, victorian yacht, wooden boat, yacht

great yarmouth, leila, racing, repair, restoration, smack, southwold, victorian yacht, wooden boat, yacht great yarmouth, leila, racing, repair, restoration, smack, southwold, victorian yacht, wooden boat, yacht

Leila needs more repair work than expected

A group caring for a rare National Historic Ships Register-listed 42ft Victorian racing cutter at Southwold are urgently appealing for more manpower and financial help.

Leila was built at Charlton, London in 1892. She’s a striking and unusual yacht: above the waterline she looks very much like a smack, but below the waterline she’s clearly a racing yacht with an impressive 8ft deep keel.

In her early years sailed with the Royal Temple Yacht Club at Ramsgate, and won the Round Britain Race in 1904. From 1961 until a few years ago she was kept at Fisher’s Quay, Great Yarmouth.

When restored and brought up to the relevant Coastguard standards, she will be used for sail training local youngsters, and will again operate from Fisher’s Quay. I hope to visit this weekend and take some more photos.

The Leila Trust has so far raised £50,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £2000 from the National Maritime Museum and £40,000 from private donations – but are now having to appeal for an extra £30,000 after finding unexpected areas of rot in the hull that have been caused by leaks around iron fittings around the forward beam shelves.

To find out more, and to offer help etc, contact the Leila Trust via their website:

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