Archives: Sailing yachts

Laurent Giles Vertue

Wooden Ships Comments on this Laurent Giles Vertue

Designed by Jack Laurent Giles and built by Elkins of Christchurch in 1954.  Vertue no. V67.

The Vertue was designed by Jack Laurent Giles before the war and has become probably the most celebrated small cruiser ever, largely due to the amazing voyages made in these tough little ships.  It was Humphrey Barton who made the design’s reputation with his blue water voyages in Vertue XXXV and Hiscock spoke highly of the design. The latter engaged Laurent Giles to design his Wanderer 2 and 3, both designs owing much to the Vertue.

Since the first extended voyages proving that a well-designed and built small yacht could sail safely off-shore, many Vertues have made similar and longer voyages with some completing circumnavigations of the globe.

The early boats had a very short coachroof with sitting head-room below. After the war, the topsides were raised by a plank and a much bigger coach-roof added extending forward of the mast and raised to a dog-house aft so that Vertues are often identified as “long” or “short” dog-house models, there being a few inches difference but seen as a one window or two dog-house. In a little boat, a few inches can make a significant difference.

This is the short doghouse model with a single window in the doghouse and is a very attractive example of the famous Vertue.

Bought by the current owner with a view to local cruising, but unfortunately circumstances have changed and she is no longer a suitable boat.  Sold by Wooden Ships to the previous owner who kept her in France and lavished time and money on the boat to keep her in top condition.  As well as regular cosmetic maintenance, she had a new engine, standing rigging, various sails and updated systems in the previous ownership.  This is an exceptional example of the class with a recent clean survey and ready for her next owner.

With a beautiful teak deck, varnished teak coamings and mostly bronze fittings she is a delight to behold.  Below decks she has 4 berths, a baby Blake sea toilet and paraffin Taylors stove.  The yacht is well equipped with navigation gear, sails and numerous covers.

A super example with a detailed documented history of ownership and maintenance.


Length on Deck                 25’3″

Length Overall                   27′

Beam                                    7’2″

Draft                                      4’6″

Thames Tonnage             5TM

Looe Lugger

Wooden Ships Comments on this Looe Lugger

Built by Pearce of Looe in 1904 to traditional West Country fishing boat lines with a transom and straight stem.  She has very fine underwater lines common to the early boats built for sail only.  At the time of her build there were 60 boats in the Looe fishing fleet, all sailing out to the fishing grounds on a daily basis to haul their nets and lay the long lines.  The design developed from many years of building these boats with ideas and techniques passed from generation to generation, these early sail only boats being exceptionally fast if handled correctly and very sea kindly helping the crews work in all conditions.

Built for George Pengelly, a local fisherman, and named after his seven sons, she was put to work in the family fishing business, drift netting for pilchard and herring or long lining for conger and turbot in the spring.  She has undergone several changes over the years to adapt to the changing fishing industry, including the installation of her first engine in 1912.   During World War 2 she was a guard ship for the Looe fishing fleet, and until the quite recent replacement of her deck she still had the fittings bolted on the foredeck to carry the machine gun.  She fished commercially until the mid 1970’s at which point she was a twin engine motor fishing vessel with a small wheelhouse and gaff mizzen sail to help with directional stability while hauling nets.

At this stage she was sold out of fishing and first converted to a private yacht, but has since undergone several transformations, most recently in 2014 with the current owners who fitted a larger coachroof and a new interior, which at the same time allowed them to inspect the complete interior hull structure.  In 2015 the hull was re-fastened completely with galvanised screws and various planks replaced as necessary.

The rig has been adapted and altered to make it as simple to use as possible, the boat is regularly cruised and raced with just 2 people aboard, and although self tailing winches may not be traditional, they help to make her a practical and user friendly cruising boat for modern times.  She has been cruised extensively from southern Brittany, the Scillies and the south coast of England, and has attended numerous traditional boat festivals and regattas, always a popular boat and won her class convincingly at the 2022 Falmouth Classics.  Our Boys is known to be a fast boat and her pedigree as an engine-less fishing boat is clear to see as she eats up the miles with ease.


Owner Comments on sailing Our Boys

When we were thinking of buying Our Boys, I had heard talk about luggers being difficult to sail and coming from a Gaff cutter background, I thought about converting Our Boys to gaff-rig.  However, on sailing Our Boys, we quickly discovered that the rumours about luggers being difficult to sail certainly did not apply to this boat.  As anyone who has sailed a large gaff rigged yacht will testify, because of the huge boom, running back-stays etc, in particular gybing can be a bit fraught.  As Our Boys is a standing lug on both masts and has no boom or back-stays, when gybing, the sails merely flop across the other side with no effort at all apart from releasing one sheet and taking up on the other.  I believe that the rumours about them being difficult comes from the original dipping lug type rig, which involves lowering and raising the main sail every time one tacks or gybes; however, this is not the case on a standing lug.  We almost always sail with just the two of us so were looking for a boat which could be easily handled by a crew of two.  In this respect, Our boys has been the perfect choice.  All of the sails are sheeted on to winches; the main sail is sheeted just like a genoa, with one sheet each side, led onto winches; the jib (there is no stay-sail), is furling so can be deployed and recovered quickly and again, the sheets are led to self-tailing winches.  The mizzen sail only has one sheet which is also led to a self-tailing winch.  Hoisting the sails again is not too strenuous as the yards are GRP hollow spars so not as heavy as the traditional wooden spars.  Another advantage of he lug rig is that because of the lack of rigging, the main and mizzen sails can be hoisted and lowered without it being necessary to be head-to-wind.  The two of us have now cruised Our Boys for nearly 9 years, from Plymouth to Southern Brittany, the Scilly Isles and the north coast of Brittany, and attended the many classic boat festivals along the way.  We have successfully raced her against the other luggers, again sometimes with no additional crew.  This year we won our class most convincingly in the Falmouth Classics festival.  Owning and sailing Our Boys has been a privilege and a huge pleasure.


Length on Deck                 42’

Length Overall                   70’ approx

Beam                                    13’

Draft                                      6’

Peter Duck Bermudan Ketch

Wooden Ships Comments on this Peter Duck Bermudan Ketch

The original Peter Duck was designed by Laurent Giles for the author Arthur Ransome before the war. The design was revived in 1961 in a slightly modified form and between 1961 and 1970 38 boats were built by Porter and Haylet proving the popularity of this fine little cruising yacht.  This one was built in 1962.

The design is typical Laurent Giles and remarkably similar to the famous Vertue but fuller and bigger.  Long keel, transom stern, good freeboard and beam make her a stable, dry yacht with excellent sea-keeping capability.

She has been the subject of a major and very diligent refit by the current owners which started in early 2017 and saw her launched again in November 2019. The refit included a complete cosmetic overhaul inside and out as well as checking keel bolts, replacing strap floors, scarphing in new laminated oak timbers, replacing engine beds and re-glueing the box section masts among many other jobs.  A full list of repairs is available on request.

Probably one of the nicest examples of a Peter Duck afloat.  Detailed survey reports available done before and after the refit work complete with a full catalogue of the refit.


Length on deck                                 28’6″

Waterline length                              25′

Beam                                                    9′

Draft                                                      3’9″.

Thames Measurement                  8TM

Displacement                                    6.5 tons

Buchanan Gaff Yawl

Wooden Ships Comments on this Buchanan Gaff Yawl

Designed by Alan Buchanan and built by the first owner with help of professional shipwrights at Gweek Quay, Cornwall in 1974.

An unusual design for Buchanan with a fiddle headed clipper bow, short counter stern and gaff yawl rig, she has a very distinguishable profile.  She has a generous beam for her length giving decent volume below decks.

An interesting boat with recent survey, good equipment and full sail wardrobe.


Length on Deck                 32’

Length Waterline             22’

Beam                                    9’

Draft                                      4’6”

Thames Tonnage             9TM

Converted Baltimore Class Lifeboat

Wooden Ships Comments on this Converted Baltimore Class Lifeboat

Built by S.E. Saunders of Cowes for the RNLI in 1921, known as the Baltimore Class life boat, a sailing life boat with auxiliary power.  Launched as the Frederick and Emma, her first station was Wick where she served until 1939, after which she went to Amble until 1952.  During her time in service she saved 98 lives.  She is now listed on the National Historic Ships register.

Her previous owner bought the boat in 1965 as a bare hull then fitted her out with the new deck and coachroof arrangement, new engine, rig and interior fit out, she was then used as a live aboard for many years and then as a family yacht, cruising the east coast and taking part in the traditional regattas.  Although never at the front of the fleet, she was always there no matter what the weather.

The present owner purchased the boat in 2019 and had various repairs professionally carried out to remedy some minor issues found in their survey.  Plans to sail the boat south have been thwarted and she is now being offered for sale once again.

Vessels like this are unusual in their shape and conversion has to be done in a clever way in order to maximise the space available.  The previous owner has managed to fit in an enormous cockpit which is very deep and safe, plus an interior with 7 berths and what feels like a lot of space.  The deck space is vast as well,  despite the large coachroof,  with ample room to move around and work the rig from.

The sailing performance is not her strong point, she needs a good wind to get going as expected but will carry her canvas into very heavy weather and will look after her crew through anything.  The strength, weight and stability of a vessel like this mean there is more to her than simple speed and performance.


Length on Deck                                 45′

Beam                                                    12’6″

Draft                                                      3’6″

Gross tonnage                                  15.26


The below video was filmed in 2017 but shows the layout of deck and down below:

Itchen Ferry Gaff Cutter

Wooden Ships Comments on this Itchen Ferry Gaff Cutter

Itchen Ferry gaff cutter designed by Daniel G. Hatcher and built by Fays of Northam in 1890.

Dan ‘King Dan’ Hatcher was a highly regarded designer of the 1800’s, working from his yard on the shores of the River Itchen in Southampton where he gained experience designing and building fast fishing boats and small yachts for local sailors.  As his reputation grew so did the orders for yacht designs and he was responsible for many of the elegant gaff cutters of the Victorian era that were at the forefront of yacht racing in the UK.

Hatcher also drew the lines for Wonder, a very well known 19’ Itchen Ferry and a near sister to this boat, Freda.

Freda was built for well known racing skipper Captain G. Rowe and was subsequently taken on by Captain Sam Randall, both hugely successful skippers in big yacht racing circles.  She was certainly a working fishing boat, but would have been a very smart example with varnished spars and canvas covered decks, but during the summer months her rig would have been changed for a taller and more powerful set up and she was raced with great success in the Solent regattas by Randall.

After years of neglect and subsequent rebuild, Freda passed to the current owner in 1998 and since has been cruised and raced on the east coast, proving herself as a formidable opponent around the cans.  She has been kept very original without the usual added coachroof and accommodation that is often seen.  She still bears the scars of her years of sailing and retains the low aft fishing deck.  Her finish is very much ‘work boat’ with tarred rigging, painted decks and little in the way of varnish.  However her pedigree, historical importance and sheer performance are plain for all to see, she is a remarkable yacht now in need of a suitable new custodian to keep her sailing into the future.


Length on Deck                 18’4”

Length Overall

Beam                                    7’6”

Draft                                      3’4”

Sail area                               500sqft

Morecambe Bay Prawner

Wooden Ships Comments on this Morecambe Bay Prawner

Morecambe Bay Prawner, commonly known as a Nobby, possibly built in Fleetwood but that is not confirmed, probably around 1900.

She was launched as a fishing boat and would have spent much of her early life at sea trawling nets.  It is not known when she was retired from fishing and when she was first converted to a yacht, but we have records of her from about 1940 onwards.

Bought by the present owners in 2009 since when she has been sailed extensively around the south coast of England, France and across to Spain.  She has served extremely well as a safe comfortable boat for the 2 owners to cruise all summer and has been well looked after in that time.  The previous owner had owned the boat since 1984 and had carried out extensive and major work fitting a new engine, new deck and replacing any hull planks and frames that were not up to scratch.

Another thorough professional refit was carried out between 2019 and 2020 which included an overhaul of rig and spars, new deck seam paying, cockpit rebuild and a complete paint job.  Detailed itemised invoice for this work is available.

She is now in smart and tidy condition  ready for her new custodian.


Length on Deck                                 35’10”

Length Overall                                   47’6″

Length Waterline                             30’5″

Beam                                                    10’9″

Draft                                                      4’6″

Displacement                                    9.5 tons

Windermere Gaff Sloop

Wooden Ships Comments on this Windermere Gaff Sloop

Built by Shepherds of Bowness on Lake Windermere in 1906 to a design by Percy C. Crossley, a naval architect and well known lake sailor.  The design was for a cruising boat but obviously with an emphasis on performance judging by her lines.

The commissioning owner was A.H.E. Wood and historical records show he had built at the same time a slightly larger racing yacht, a very early example of the Windermere 17, a class still being raced today.

This is the only survivor of 3 boats built to the design and was exhibited at the Windermere Steam Boat museum for 25 years, bought by the current owner in 2003 and restored by Michael Dennet Boat Builders of Chertsey-on-Thames between 2018 and 2019.

Since her refit she has not been afloat and needs work to the rig to complete her.  She has all her spars but no sails.

This is a very beautiful boat with a well documented and interesting history which will be a fascinating boat for the right person to cherish and enjoy.  She comes with a trailer and can be towed easily behind a moderate size car.


Length on deck                 21’

Length Waterline             15’

Beam                                    5’

Draft                                      3’6”

Weight                                 1500kg

Sole Bay 35 Ketch

Wooden Ships Comments on this Sole Bay 35 Ketch

Designed by Jack Francis Jones as a comfortable motor sailer with acceptable sailing ability, able to get herself off a lee shore under sail if required.

Built by Porter and Haylett of Wroxham in 1968.

With a well documented history of careful and diligent owners, she was purchased by the current owner about 3 years ago and taken to Harbour Marine Services at Southwold for a cosmetic refit which included and complete external re-paint top to bottom, repairs to the hull planking where necessary and all new upholstery.

The Sole Bay 35 is a perfect cruising boat for northern climates with good performance under engine and acceptable help derived from the sails to ensure you are not totally reliant on diesel.  The wheelhouse is a huge bonus, giving a dry warm space on deck allowing passage making even when the weather is poor.


Length on Deck               35’

Beam                                 10’

Draft                                  4’9”

Displacement                  10.5 tons

Falmouth Pilot Cutter Pellew

Wooden Ships Comments on the Falmouth Pilot Cutter Pellew

Built by Luke Powell and his working Sail Yard in Truro, Cornwall, launched in February 2020.

The lines were taken from the Vincent, a Falmouth Pilot cutter built in 1852 for the Vincent family of St Mawes.  She worked for 70 years as a pilot boat, finally retiring in 1922 and ending her days as a houseboat on the Percuil River very close to the yard where she had been built.

When the idea to build a new pilot cutter of considerable size was born, the lines of Vincent were seen as the ideal basis and the project to build Pellew began.  Her keel was laid in 2017 and less than 3 years later she was launched to begin a career as a commercial charter vessel.

The boat was designed and built from the very start to comply with the MCA regulations and has been constructed to MCA Category 0 standards so that she can operate worldwide.  She is currently coded to Category 2 (60Nm from safe haven) but with extra safety and communication gear she is eligible for Category 0.  She is fastened throughout with bronze and copper and is planked in oak top to bottom so has been built to last from the best available materials.

Pellew is an extremely tough and capable vessel, but elegant and graceful as well.  She works well as a charter boat, offering awe inspiring holidays on the west coast of Scotland, but she could very well be used as a sail training vessel or for expedition voyages to remote parts of the world.

She has 8 guest berths and is licenced for 15 persons in total with a comfortable crew cabin aft, large saloon, guest accommodation forward and 3 heads compartments with showers.  Her commercial grade galley can easily cater for a full complement of crew with large fridge and freezer, dishwasher and oven.

This is the biggest boat to have been built in wood in the UK for many years and was a landmark project, the result is a superb vessel that will survive for decades to come and this is perhaps a once in a lifetime opportunity to purchase a new boat of this size and type

Length on Deck                 68’

Length Waterline             61’

Length Overall                   90’

Beam                                    18’

Draft                                      9’8”

Displacement                    74 tons