A wee adventure

Witch in the Kerry Kyle, 1930sCourtesy Alistair Randall

Witch in the Kerry Kyle, Firth of Clyde 1930s.
Courtesy Alistair Randall

The Fifes are not the only beautiful wooden yachts paying a special visit to the Firth of Clyde in the summer of 2013.

The old and not so old ladies (shh, some of them might even be plastic and sport triangular mainsails) of the Old Gaffers will celebrate their Association’s half century by cruising in company round the British and Irish Archipelago, stopping briefly at Campbeltown en route; fresh(?!) from meets at Peel (Isle of Man), Ringsend (Dublin) and Belfast Harbour.

Now, many of these ladies are quite old – a very few are even rumoured to have seen-off two half-centuries and countless “owners” along the way – so not all of them will circumnavigate. Some are staying more local and taking part in a relay where the “baton” will be a unique token. For example, the Scottish Area fleet has chosen a specially commissioned gaffer-in-a-bottle.

But whatever way you look at it, it’s an epic: more ‘Cape Horns’ than the Vendée Globe round the world race.

Should the fleet be favoured with good fortune, all six tokens, representing the Association’s fleet areas, will arrive at Cowes, Isle of Wight by 15th August for the beginning of the climax of the celebrations, the Jubilee Festival.

We are not yet aware of any G.L. Watson designs taking part, but would love to hear from any that have slipped our notice.

Bonita - Crossfields of Arnside, 1888.Courtesy Gavin Atkin intheboatshed.net

Bonita – Crossfields of Arnside, 1888.
© Gavin Atkin intheboatshed.net

And, by the way, the two oldest gaffers in the fleet – real gaffers mind – are amongst those planning for the full circumnavigation. Witch, the subject of our beautiful heading photo, designed and built by Dickie of Tarbert in 1898 originally as a Hebridean laird’s “galley”, and Bonita (above), designed and built by Crossfields of Arnside, Cumbria in 1888 as a yacht along the drop dead gorgeous lines of a Morecambe Bay Prawner.

A wee adventure.

~ Iain McAllister ~


About Peggy Bawn Press

496pg biography of Scottish yacht designer, George Lennox Watson (1851-1904). Significant book on the history of yacht design & the development of modern yachting. Beautifully illustrated. Many photographs previously unpublished.
This entry was posted in boatbuilders, boatyards, Clyde yachting, Clydebuilt, Firth of Clyde, G.L. Watson, object of desire, other yacht designers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A wee adventure

  1. Some great images of the beautifully restored Morcambe Bay Prawner type “Hearts of Oak”, built in 1912 as a local pilot vessel by John Randall (Dan) McLester at Ulverston, Cumbria, in 1912 here


    and here


    Many more pics and much more information to be gleaned by Googling Hearts of Oak Ulverston.

    Fascinating story, and the epitomy of a wholesome shallow draft sailing craft.

  2. “Boyhood memories of watching boat-building at Crossfield’s, Arnside”.

    Aural history from the RSPB Leighton Moss Natural Legacy Discovery Project:

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