Flum II was designed for Sir John Holder, Baronet, by Laurent Giles and Partners. Required to be a cruising boat, the design drew on ideas from Giles’ previous projects, including Wapipi and Myth of Malham‘s light displacement hull. In Sir John’s own words (Yachting Monthly, November 1953),
I sought a solution to the eternal triangle. A man goes to sea because he likes to sail his on ship. A woman, so often goes to sea only to “get some place” and the quicker the better. Wishing to sail and yet not become a wave-widower, I went to Laurent Giles and Partners for a sports car version of their ocean racers. It must retain the seakindliness and sailing qualities and yet be as fast under power as a motor cruiser we had previously owned. Instead of a large number of berths and crew-lockers required in an ocean-racer, it must have motor cruiser accommodation for four in two compartments, with a separate lavatory between. I was prepared to give way somewhat in the matter of going to windward, in return for which I asked for draught which would allow me to enter shoal harbours, and comfortable headroom below.
The finished boat had a LOA of 36.9 ft, LWL 29.5 ft, beam 9.9 ft, and draught of 4.6 ft. Her sail area was a fairly modest 564 sq. ft.
Built by Stebbings, Flum II suffered disaster when she was launched for the first time. A decision had been made to use the Priors crane. She was raised and swung over the water, when the crane’s lifting cable slipped, causing a sudden jolt. At that moment, the whole crane tore away from its concrete base and the crane’s boom snapped in two and sliced into Flum II, which had dropped into the river.
Wilf Burton, a shipwright who worked at Stebbings, recalls,
I took photos of her launching. When the crane broke off the ground and the boom broke in half, leaving 2-ton top half laying at an angle from the top plank stbd side to one plank above the water line port side. Also there were two 3 inch steel rods still fixed to the crane body now bent over Flum II holding her tight to the quayside like a giant claw.
Fortunately, there were no serious casualties, although a couple shipwrights, who were below decks, had a narrow escape, and a woman had to be treated for a gash to her leg. The boat was towed down river to the Petticrows stage, where the crane boom was lifted from her and the boat hauled out to be returned to the Stebbings yard.
Laurent Giles came to inspect the damage, and the owner instructed Stebbings to carry out the repairs. Flum II was then relaunched from the slip at Creeksea.
Thank you to Wilf Burton for sharing his memories of Flum II, and to Peter Pearson for other details of the fateful first launch.