The blog will now be devoted not to boat building but to my 82-year-old Vertue, Sally II, now undergoing a well needed refit at Johnson & Loftus in Ullapool (and gliding...)

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

A Proper Yacht

That's what I call a yacht, although I'm not sure what you'd call her skipper... In 1936 Philip Sharp of Poole in Dorset approached Jack Laurent Giles, yacht designer of Lymington, to draw him a 5 tonner for his personal use in the harbour and Solent. Sally II was his answer, based on Andrillot, but sloop rigged and lacking the exaggerated sheerstrake that became a Giles trademark. Built by Elkins of Christchurch, she was launched in the spring of 1937.

After the war, these little cruising boats became the Vertue class, named after the cup awarded to Lawrence Biddle in 1939 by the Little Ship Club, first donated in 1929 by the club librarian Michael Vertue, for an ambitious cruise, 745 miles in 16 days, engineless around the Western Approaches that would, even today, tax any modern yacht of 25ft or so overall.

Sally has won a few races under my ownership these past 15 or so years, and has cruised to Brittany and the West Country, throughout The Solent and as far east as Chichester. By lorry to Edinburgh, she transited the Forth-Clyde Canal in 2001, and made her way up the west coast, to Stornoway and beyond, and now lies to her mooring opposite Ullapool.

She is 75 this year, and as sound in timber as the day she was launched, thanks to her tungum bronze strap floors (as used on hydraulic pipes in Wellington bombers), pitchpine planking and oak timbers, two steamed to every grown frame in the standard construction of the 1930s.

Why the post? Mainly to remind myself that there is more to life than building little clinker dinghies, of the beauty of a perfect sheerline (of which more anon) and that the waters of Loch Broom are connected to all the wide seas of the world.

1 comment:

  1. Yes its about the sheer and the way they look( in and out of the water) and the 75 year old planks and, and..... Its also about how they feel, how they welcome you aboard, the sense of calm and timelessness that they bring with them.

    (Cue discussion of "modern" classics?)

    I may be mistaken but an early article in Classic Boat, probably at about the time you bought Sally, asked a number of owners of old wooden boats why they did it...or perhaps how much it cost to do it and then why?

    Was it you who responded saying that in and old boat ultimately one could simply sit below and imagine the King was still on the throne and that beer was tuppence a pint? Ah yes...

    Mystery and romance are not to be sniffed at.