Summer’s Song

Summer’s Song is an Alan Buchanan designed Diamond class, built by Stebbings in 1963. She is currently ashore in the Humberside area and is for sale through Boatshed Yorkshire. (Thanks to Paul at Boatshed for permission to use the photos. Copyright remains with Boatshed Yorkshire).

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Sagittarius is an Alan Buchanan designed ketch built in 1966. She was originally named Moshulu II. The original commissioner of the boat pulled out before completion (possibly because of a considerable overspend on her construction), so a new purchaser had to be found. She was bought by the Argyriadis family and sailed back to the family’s home waters of Greece.

During the 1980’s Sagittarius changed hands within the family and crossed the Atlantic Ocean twice, to Puerto Rico and Cuba, and the Mediterranean Sea from Spain and the Balearic islands, to Sardinia and the Turkish coast. In 1987 she took part in the Transmed Race from Toulon to Gibraltar where she took line honours.

She has been in the Argyriadis family her whole life, and is today back in Greece sailing in the Aegean Sea.

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Roxana - A Stebbings lifeboat conversion

Roxana is the only example identified so far of a Stebbings lifeboat conversion. She was originally named Zena. Between the mid 1950′s and early 60′s she was kept at the Banks Boat Yard, Stanstead Abbots on the River Lea. According to Peter, whose father owned Roxana, she was “a really pretty and beautifully built boat… [and] won many competitions on the Thames”.

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Launch of Gladoris, March 1903

Launch of Gladoris, March 1903

Gladoris was a 7-ton bawley built for Mr Vanner during 1902 and launched from the slip at The Pound in March 1903. (Thanks to Pete Pearson for the research).

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Alan Buchanan

Alan Buchanan C.Eng, FRINA passed away peacefully at Lakeside Care Home, Jersey, on Monday, 26 January, 2015, in his 93rd year. From the mid-1950’s until it’s close in 1967, nearly all of Stebbings’ new boats were Alan Buchanan designs. Many of these beautiful boats are still sailing and are cherished by their owners. My condolences to his sons Richard and Andrew and their families.

Pete Shepherd
Stebbings Archive

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Stebbings Lifeboat Conversion

Stebbings lifeboat conversion 3
Stebbings lifeboat conversion 2
Stebbings lifeboat conversion 1I do not know whether Stebbings actually sold any lifeboat conversions, but an article appraising the design of such a craft was published in Yachting World in August 1946.

The problem for Stebbings appears to have been that following the end of the war their contract with the Admiralty to produce lifeboats was ended and they were left with a number of craft that were suddenly surplus to requirements. And the majority of these had never been afloat.

The conversion was to be to a standard Board of Trade agreed lifeboat design, 28′ overall in length, with a beam of 8’4.5″, and a draught of 2’3″, and clinker built. The conversion included the addition of single engine and fore and aft cabins providing four berths, a small galley, and a heads. The cockpit was central.

The price was reckoned to be in the order of £400. Although this was a lot of money in 1946 it would have represented a significant saving compared to commissioning the build of a new motor cruiser from scratch. As such, lifeboat conversions are not uncommon, with one of the more famous being Erskine Childers’ Dulcibella, around which the classic The Riddle of the Sands was written.

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Golden Otter

Golden Otter is a Burnham Scow built by Stebbings in the 1950’s – probably around 1954. She is still sailing, and is based at West Wittering, Chichester, having been owned by the Western family for some 55 years.

Golden Otter is understood to have been bought originally by the Chalk family, and then owned by the Ambrose family – both of whom lived in the West Wittering area. Then in 1959, she was purchased by Caption Guy Western RN and has been used ever since to introduce successive generations of Western’s to the joys of sailing.

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Mokoia was designed by Arthur C. Robb and built by Stebbings in 1948 for Major James Murray. She is a 10-ton auxiliary cutter with a LOA of 37’10”; LWL of 26’0″; beam 8’11”; and draft 6’1″. She was designed principally as a cruising yacht but proved from the beginning to be a very capable off-shore racer.

While she came second place in her first offshore race, the Harwich-Kristiansand, Mokoia is perhaps best known for her participation in the 1950 Bermuda and Transatlantic races. Accompanying Major Murray for these races was Wing Commander Marwood Elton. His daughter Jean was also aboard for the Bermuda race. They came 3rd Open in the Transatlantic Race and 10th in Class C in the Newport Bermuda Race. Accompanying Mokoia were two other British entries – Samuel Pepys and Cohoe. The book ‘North Atlantic’ by Adlard Coles gives an account of their races. At the time of the race Mokoia was using sails made by Cranfield and Carter, and Petticrows (of Burnham-on-Crouch) did the fitting-out for the long voyage.

Mokoia alongside HMS Glasgow at Bermuda.

Mokoia alongside HMS Glasgow at Bermuda.

From the left, Mokoia, Cohoe and Samuel Pepys.  From 'North Atlantic', by Adlard Coles

From the left, Mokoia, Cohoe and Samuel Pepys. From ‘North Atlantic’, by Adlard Coles

Mokoia (left) and Cohoe at Bermuda

Mokoia (left) and Cohoe at Bermuda

At some point after, Mokoia was sold to the Watson family and sailed extensively from the Clyde, Scotland during the 1950/60s.

Mokoia on the Clyde, Scotland.  From the Watsons family web site.

Mokoia on the Clyde, Scotland. From the Watsons family web site.

In 1972 she was sailed to Australia and records show that a boat of the same name took part in the 1972 Sydney-Hobart race, skippered by J.M. Tattersall. She finished 34th on handicap, out of 79 starters.

The Australian List of Shipping has her current home port as Sydney, Australia, and she also spent some time in Tasmania. She is believed to have undergone extensive restoration during the last decade or so.

For anyone interested, there was a Design Supplement article on Mokoia published in Yachting World November 1948.

Notes on the designer
Arthur Cecil (Arthur C.) Robb (1908-1969) was a British yacht designer working in London, England, after World War II. Born in New Zealand, by 1930 he was employed at yard manager at the boat building firm of Morris & Lorimers, Argyll, Scotland. During World War II he was a Reserve Officer in the British Royal Navy attaining the rank of lieutenant commander. It was at this time that he worked on the design of the airborne lifeboat.

Arthur Cecil Robb, M.B.E. was born in 1908 at Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, and was considered one of the great yacht designers of his generation. He came from a farming and sailing background, and gained considerable local fame as a helmsman. He also had a good deal of talent as a designer and builder of small yachts and dinghies. In the early 1930’s he was encouraged to make a living as a yacht designer, and, being in the Naval Reserve, chose to go to Great Britain where he became yard manager at the boat building firm of Morris and Lorimers at Sandbank, Argyll, Scotland.

At the outbreak of World War II he went to sea as a Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve Officer, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He worked in both the Admiralty and Air Ministry. In the latter he and Uffa Fox were concerned with the design of the airborne lifeboat.

After the war he set up practice in London as a yacht designer. His wife Susan assisted him in handling many of his contacts with prospective yacht owners and with firms that might supply the materials for the yachts he designed. He was well known throughout the world, but particularly in the United States, for his one-design cruiser/racers. Arthur Robb died after a long illness in London, England in 1969.

From the Arthur C Robb archive, Museum of America and the Sea, at Mystic Seaport.

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Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair - Yeoman Junior - Stebbings.

Vanity Fair was built by Stebbings in 1957. She is Yeoman Junior class yacht designed by Alan Buchanan, with a carvel teak hull and mahogany for the topsides. She is currently for sale at Brighton Marina (link). Thank you to the owner (FN) for permission to use the photograph.

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Photos by Chris Van Der Schyf.

Built by Stebbings in 1948, the 30’7″ sloop Restive was designed by Nigel Warington Smyth O.B.E. for use by himself and his family. The requirement was for a modern cruising yacht, large enough for three people but designed for easy handling by himself and his wife Barbara.

The specification and cruising qualities of Restive were described in detail in earlier editions of Eric Hiscock’s Cruising Under Sail. The designer kept Restive for many years.

Restive has a couple of ‘sister ships’. Black Cygnet was built in 1949 by the Falmouth Boat Construction Ltd (which was owned by Nigel W-S’s brother Rodney Warington Smyth), and nowadays is based on the Tamar. Peter Robyn, by contrast, was built in Sydney, Australia in 1950, without the blessing of the designer, and currently sails from Kettering, Tasmania.

Restive has sailed all over the world and was last known to be in Vancouver, Canada, where her mast was restored (details of which are here).

Nigel Warington Smyth served with the Royal Navy during World War Two. For some time based on the Helford river, and alongside his brother and father, Lieutenant-Commander Nigel Warington Smyth was involved with the operation of clandestine contacts with France, by sea.

Among the activities of the Helford unit, Nigel, along with his brother Bevil, designed surf-boats of various types that could land on French beaches to extricate and repatriate downed allied airmen. The surf-boats were also deployed further afield to support the work of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and its agents.

The clinker-built, double-ended SN1 was 14-foot, and could be carried on a motor gun boat (MGB). The 25-foot SN2 was designed for HMS Minna and was very similar to the 25-foot SN6 surf boat. Many, perhaps all, of the SN surf-boats were built by Camper and Nicholson.

Nigel Warington Smyth was made a Commander of the Military Division of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in March 1945, for “gallantry and great devotion to duty in hazardous operations” (London Gazette Issue 37002).

Posted in Other boats