Designer Alan Pape at the helm off Looe in 1947
She was sold to Mr Norman of West Kirby in 1948. She passed to Eric Slater of Bolton in 1950 and he kept her for over ten years before selling her to Malcolm Welbourne of Lancaster during the 1960s. She then passed to another West Kirby owner who was a teacher, this owner sold her to Sally Pearce in 1978. The West Kirby sailors have a very keen racing tradition. They sail in the Dee and Mersey estuaries and race traditional boats such as Hilbres, West Kirby Stars and Falcons, as well as having a very strong tradition of dinghy classes. Many West Kirby members take their boats down to the Conway and to the Menai Straits for the season. Harkaway’s detailed exploits at this venue are still to be researched. She is known to have spent some time in the Conway and was cruised in the Irish sea. Seven excellent contemporary photographs, kindly provided by Eric Slater show her classic lines, still in white paint, with mahogany strakes and king planks, lying in a mud berth. She wears brown cotton sails at this time.
First recorded restoration
Sally’s father Richard Pearce was building traditional yachts at Franklin-Eldridge, Ferry Nab on Windermere at the time she bought Harkaway. She was married to Dr Andrew J S O’Grady and they took the boat down to his father’s home on the Isle of Wight, where they spent a full year carrying out a thorough restoration. They refitted the boat for cruising, with heavier rubbing strakes, a hatch into the stern locker, a new sliding hatchway and a pulpit, stanchions and lifelines. The Stuart Turner engine must have been removed before this time, as she relied on an outboard engine mounted on a bracket alongside the cockpit, when necessary. Cooking facilities were provided with a primus stove. Inside were some shelves and luggage nets. A contemporary photograph shows Dr O’Grady sailing her in the Solent, the hull in black with teak rubbing strakes and scuppers, the original mast and white Terylene sails.
It must be said straight away that even with these alterations, it would not have been possible to convert Harkaway into any sort of a cruising boat. There is more room under our dining room table than there is inside her cabin, You can just about find room for two people to lie down, but even a complete enthusiast would have to admit to finding a lot more comfort in a diminutive bivouac tent.
Falmouth Regatta 1999
Cruising to Brittany
As Andrew O’Grady (now a regular cruising contributor to Practical Boatowner magazine) said in his excellent published account, which is to be found in her archives, she was not an ideal cruising boat, but she was better than nothing at all. They sailed her across from Bembridge, Isle of Wight, to Braye Harbour, Alderney in the Channel Isles in the strong north westerly winds that followed immediately after the Fastnet disaster of August 1979. They continued via Sark, Northern Brittany , Hern, Alderney and back to Yarmouth, Isle of Wight in an adventure lasting just under two weeks. They raced Harkaway successfully in the Solent over the next couple of seasons before emigrating to New Zealand.
Mudberth ~ 1960
Harkaway went up to Sally’s father’s yard on Windermere where she was sailed regularly until the end of the 83 season. Two photographs kindly provided by Richard Pearce show her being sailed back up the lake that autumn when she was sold to Lee Lyons of Norwich. She came to light, minus her mast in 1986, after spending 30 months under cover in G.C.Fox’s yard in Penryn, Cornwall, and was bought, on her trailer as a restoration project by Phil Ives of St Mawes, Cornwall.
It was Phil who researched all of the historical details recorded here, through appeals published in Classic Boat, Yachting Monthly and Yachting World. He recovered the original drawings from New Zealand, collected the photographs and corresponded with previous owners. Phil has recorded full details and numerous photographs of the extensive professional restoration work carried out for him on the hull by Keith Ferres, a traditional boatbuilder of St Just in Roseland. They had a new 25ft spruce mast made by Pat Crockleford of Falmouth and reduced the sails to make her easier to handle. Phil had sheet winches fitted and a rebuilt 5hp Stuart Turner engine from the specialists Cellar Marine of Porthallow with electric start.
Designer Alan Pape 1987
The designer Alan Pape made the journey down to St Mawes to admire the work and he expressed his surprise and delight that the boat had fared so well after having been built so lightly.
Recaulked and completely restored in 1987
She was relaunched in 1987 and Phil sailed her until his arthritis forced her sale in 1992. Two photographs show Phil at the helm in Percuil river, St Mawes, the hull now green with a new cockpit layout, but otherwise fitted out as in 1978 and the cut down Terylene sails set on the smart new mast.
My wife Robin bought Harkaway in 1992 from Phil, as I was getting a bit beyond racing Firefly dinghies in my mid fifties. We kept her on Phil’s mooring in the Percuil river at St Mawes and raced her with St Mawes sailing club in Falmouth bay and in the Fal estuary for three years before moving her to a mooring at our other club, Restronguet sailing club at Mylor harbour, on the other side of the estuary. We raced in the many regattas in the area, especially Falmouth week, between 1992 and 2000.
Since we have adopted a masthead rig and had a new suit of terylene sails designed and made by a local sailmaker the performance has improved rapidly. She was still quite tender, so we fitted an alloy mast (the new wooden one that Phil bought went into dry-storage). This reduced the weight aloft and reduced heeling significantly, we took the opportunity to increase the height for better light-weather performance, as mentioned by Dr O’Grady (see files). Now we could carry the full rig in higher winds before reefing down.
The boat was immersed below her lines due to the considerable weight, in such a light boat, of the 5hp Stuart Turner engine that Phil had fitted, so out that came, leaving the shaft and folding propeller, fuel tank, exhaust etc. in situ in case of future need; Harkaway came to life! With a swinging mooring we found it was quite easy to get in and out under sail. We used a long-shaft Seagull outboard mounted on a special bracket alongside the cockpit when lack of wind demanded a motor.
We acquired a bigger jib (maximum size for the forestay) and fitted twin forestays to facilitate rapid head-sail changes. Now we could more than hold our own in light winds. Only off the wind were we outclassed by modern boats carrying spinnakers. We got a cruising chute made from a friend’s old spinnaker which plugged that gap and the transformation in performance was complete.
None of the changes we had made were permanent or irreversible, Harkaway could revert to her original rig in a matter of hours if thought desirable.
Third partial restoration
During our ownership we benefited from the substantial amount of restoration work that the previous owner had done. We undertook re-decking as some leaks had developed around the coach-roof. It transpired that the original deck had been replaced with second-hand boards at some time and that these had been overlaid with ply in the past. Our shipwright stripped the layers of old decking, renewed a couple of deck beams and fitted a new ply deck. He refastened the hood ends at the stem and attended to the caulking. We took the opportunity to replace the heavy rubbing strakes with something more like the original and to open up access to the stern locker from inside the cockpit, discarding the stern hatch fitted by the O’Grady’s. The overall effect was to restore her original clean deck lines, and the effect was completed by removing the pulpit and lifelines. The saving in weight would be a further benefit.