The fifty years of the Old Gaffers Association was celebrated by a voyage around the British Isles. About 20 boats, seven of which were Dutch, sailed right round.
The 54ft cutter Annabel-J, built in 1995 at Falmouth on the lines of Marguerite T, took three months to sail around the British Isles. She left her homeport of The Hamble and visited ports including Dublin, Belfast and Lerwick in Shetland.
The beamy cutter Romilda took part in part of the voyage down the East Coast. James McKain had built this cutter in 1897 at Pleinmont on Guernsey, as a stone carrier. Originally open, the Romilda carried 10tons, and had taken monument stone from Caen to Westminster. In 1926 Camper & Nicholsons, founded in 1782, converted her to a yacht and more recently she lay abandoned in an orchard and had to have her stern rebuilt.
About 40 gaff-rigged boats took part in the 50th East Coast Old Gaffers Race from Brightlingsea. The bawley Bona was the first boat home while the Kent based Itchen Ferry Wonder, built in 1860, won the Old Gaff ers Trophy, on handicap. The Itchen Ferries were small oyster boats that worked around the Southampton area. The Itchen Ferry Fanny, built in 1872, also won a prize in the Old Gaffers Race. She had won the first OG East Coast Race on handicap in 1963, while the first boat home that year was the Corista. Sadly the Corista was later destroyed by f re at Toronto.
I had entered my cutter Sea Fever in the 1963 race, and came second in Class 1 when I skippered my son’s bawley Mary Amelia in this year’s race. This made me the only person to have sailed a gaff boat in both races.