Sailing yachts

East Coast Fishing Smack

(REF: 20937)


  • Designer: Traditional
  • Builder: Harris of Rowhedge
  • Year: 1900
  • Location: Essex
  • Length on deck: 43'11"
  • Beam: 11'
  • Draft: 5'6"

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Full specification

Wooden Ships Comments on this East Coast Fishing Smack

Built in 1900 by Harris of Rowhedge for a Mr Martin,  a local fisherman who worked her on the east coast.

She is one of only 3 Harris smacks left afloat and the only stowboater known to still be sailing.  Her extensive history can be traced right back to her launch in 1900 and the owners have detailed notes on much of it.  She has featured in the books ‘The Stowboater’ by Harvey Benham and ‘Saltwater Village’ by John Leather as well as appearing on the BBC while dredging oysters under sail for the Queen.

She worked up until 1937 for the Francis brothers of Brightlingsea.  She was then sold off and went through several owners before being purchased by a member of the Colne Smack Preservation society in 1987 and has been in the same careful ownership ever since.  She is raced often with the smack fleet and is a well known and much loved boat.

Ellen was registered for fishing again in 1993 to retain her CK222 fishing numbers with the Department of Transport, Food and Fisheries who then transferred her documents as a Historic Sailing fishing vessel. Her RSS number is A15754 Colchester. No other fishing vessel now can use her CK222 registered number

The current owners have taken very good care of the boat with major refits including complete refastening with bronze screws and new planking above the waterline in 1992, new deck and engine in 2011 and new rigging and sails in 2019.  She is well cared for, sailed every year and is a lovely example of the east coast fishing smacks.  She comes complete oyster dredges and trawl nets as well as a very large sail wardrobe and is fitted out below with 5 berths.

Length on Deck                 43’11”

Length Overall

Beam                                    11′

Draft                                      5’6″




Planked in 1.75″ larch and pitch pine, all fastened with silicon bronze screws to heavy sawn oak frames at 11″ centres.  Frames are made up in futtocks and through fastened.

Garboards are Elm, all planking above the waterline is Larch and was new in 1992.

External iron ballast keel of 17cwt fastened with stainless steel bolts, new in 2011.

Internal lead ballast of 5 tons.

Grown oak floors across the centreline

Straight laid deck in quarter sawn larch, caulked and payed on oak deck beams and beamshelf, fitted new in 2011.

Flush deck apart from two small fish hatches as per original design with wooden coamings and canvas tops.

Tiller steering with rudder hung on the stern post.




Gaff cutter rig on a solid pine keel stepped mast.  Varnished pine boom and gaff yard.  Hollow bowsprit and topmast.

Galvanised wire standing rigging for the mainmast, stainless steel shrouds for the topmast, all new in 2019.

Dead eyes and lanyards to external galvanised chain plates.  Dead eyes are lignum vitae.

Running rigging all replaced in 2015.  Wooden blocks overhauled annually.

Large sail wardrobe including mainsail, staysail and tow foresail new in 2019 from James Lawrence.  Full  list of extensive sail wardrobe available on request.




Volvo Penta 43hp 4cyl diesel installed new by French Marine in 2011.

Hydraulic drive to a pair of Hydraulic Stiletto leg drives with feathering propellers.  This gives tremendous ease of handling with a prop each side and does not affect her sailing performance.

7 knots cruising speed, 8.5 knots max.

Twin Morse control levers.

Stainless steel fuel tank new in 2011 holds 150 litres of diesel.

2 x 12 volt batteries charged from the engine alternator and a solar panel.

2 auto electric and 1 manual bilge pump.




As with all Smacks the accommodation is limited due to the low freeboard but this boat makes the most of the space available.

5 berths in total.  5’9″ headroom midships, 4′ headroom forward.

Aft cabin with double quarter berth to starboard and space for a portable gas stove to port.

Main saloon cabin accessed from the fish hatch above has 2 single settee berths.

Forward cabin with a further 2 single berths and Lavac sea toilet.




Full specification and details available upon request





These particulars have been prepared in good faith from information provided by the Vendors and are intended as a guide, Wooden Ships cannot guarantee or warrant the accuracy of this information nor warrant the condition of the vessel. The Purchaser should instruct his agent or surveyor to validate all details as necessary and satisfy himself with the condition of the vessel and its equipment.



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