wish I could collate the feelings and thoughts of that time
because It is at this exact point that my life, work, dreams
and most of all, Ambitions changed. I was totally aware
of magnitude of the task and during years as a shipwright
and wooden yacht specialist I had seen all to often the
dejection and defeat in the eyes of men who have tried and
failed in the resurrection of an old and crumbling boat!
But This old boat was too gorgeous to die. Beauty is indeed
in the eye of the beholder and I was immediately hopelessly
I tried to run away. Telling myself that she was simply
too far gone, I drove 20 miles only to return to her (in
tears!) and start planning her rescue.
Victorious is a Kings Lynn (The wash, East coast, UK) fishing
smack built by
Warfolk bros At the turn of the century.(strong rumours
point to 1902 but not yet
She was 41-42' LOD and would have carried some 15 plus Ft
of bowsprit. 11'2" beam and displacing about 15-17
tons. She was abandoned in her home port approx. 1988 and
by the time I met her in Oct 98, she had silted up inside
as far as the deck knees! All spars and rigging long gone,
deck suffering badly from fresh water (rain) damage, Hood
ends had all but let go and had I not rescued her the deck
would have soon fallen in leaving only outspread frames
and homes for the eels! I was soon to discover that the
local council was planning to chain drag the entire quay
as the surrounding area was to be developed.
I owe so much to so many for the assistance and enthusiasm
from all concerned.
Peter and Claire Thomas Having never even met me before,extended
exceptional hospitality over several weekends with accommodation,
excellent food and conversation. Peter arrived at the boat
Saturday morning with coffee and extra buckets and spades
and worked all day in the pouring rain. Claire laughed at
the exhausted muddy loonies as we arrived late in the evening
to clean up, thaw out and refuel! Over that weekend we bucketed
the mud from within and refloated her for barely long enough
to get lifting strops around her, A local crane and haulage
co lifted her onto a low loader, and one week later delivered
her to the south coast.
Its a strange thing,
is the child of audacity"
Four weekends travelling 250 miles each way to throw mud
about, legal hassle to establish that she was "abandoned",
Local council red tape (she had been slowly sinking in council
berth on the Town Quay for 12 years), finding (and paying)
crane lorries, police escorts, Salvage pumps! Can you imagine
the droves of "helpful" local *experts?* offering
all types of advice??? Good advice , bad advice ,JOKE advice
Stupid advice Pessimistic advice "It will never work"....
Advice! All of it Painfully time consuming advice! A lot
of it appreciated but none really needed!!!! The physical
effort has left me with aces and pains that continue to
date! Only three weeks ago, I discovered that I can again
sleep on my right side! When asked "what are you going
to do with her?" I said " I don't know. Dig her
out of the mud I suppose.) I gave It all no thought beyond
solving the Immediate problems as they arose. Finally, In
the pouring rain, (no locals :-) Getting dark, we craned
her onto trailer and I drove 60 miles to friends house,
and bathed and fed, stayed up all night thinking- "HELP
What have I done?" Some weeks
later I realised that I was hopelessly Obsessed!
She comes from a time when things were adapted to incorporate
new technology and worked entirely by sail power until semi
diesels were available as aux in the 1920s (they were little
help and sails were still used until the war produced a
glut of large lorry engines and the rig and sails were redundant.
she then worked for many years until modern vessels and
diminishing local markets forced the smacks out of business.
some 10 months after her rescue, I have consolidated my
own views and ethics and made firm decisions about the style
of her rebuild.
I do not intend to "restore" her but aim to rebuild
her continuing her "evolution" with some modern
ideas whilst retaining her traditional elegance and lines
including traditional gaff rig.
It is physically possible but financially unrealistic to
have her back under sail by her centenary, 2003-4 is more
I have little Idea what I will do with her when she is afloat
again but do strongly feel that " A Smack is for Life!"
and would like to die Peacefully on board her, at a ripe
old age in the sunshine!
"There is nothing common about sense!"