Cornish gaff cutter built by Kitto of Porthleven, Cornwall in 1898 as a sailing fishing boat. These little boats from this area were commonly known as hookers and worked a few miles off-shore with long lines. They are documented in Edgar March’s book Inshore Craft of Britain in the days of Sail and Oar.
The design typically features a long keel with considerable drag, straight stem, occasionally even fractionally raked aft and a slightly raked transom stern with transom-hung rudder, good freeboard and generous beam. They carried a high peaked gaff cutter rig on a pole mast setting a large topsail on a yard and the bowsprit was set running. They were working boats so had to be practical and functional, they stood up well to their canvas and the buoyant bows would rise to the swell to keep them dry.
The mainsail was usually loose-footed and the tack could be triced up to spill the wind or they would scandalise the gaff while hauling the lines like the Falmouth oyster boats.
The hookers had a cock-pit aft, a fish hold and net hold midships with the net on a transverse roller and even the smaller boats had a small cabin forward with a bogey stove as they would often spend a few days at sea.
Only a few of these lovely boats have survived and this is certainly one of the best examples, slightly bigger than the average hooker and now extensively rebuilt.
She worked for a while in Falmouth as an oyster dredger but was reckoned to be too deep for the grounds.
In previous 20 year ownership up to October 02, Pat Crockford from Falmouth gave her a major rebuild when the deck was replaced, a new rig fitted, engine and interior replaced, all documented in a 6 page Classic Boat article, December 1993.
Planked in yellow pine fastened with galvanised boat nails to 3” x 4” sawn oak frames in futtocks at 14” centres. This is a very substantial construction.
The appearance of the underwater shape indicates that the draft has been increased by the addition of an oak keel of approx 9” depth below the original oak keel with an iron shoe of approx 4” depth below it, the whole secured with galvanised through bolts checked within the last 10 years.
In addition, there is a quantity of internal ballast carefully stowed in triangular section lead ingots laid across the frames clear of the planking.
Grown oak floors.
The deck laid in the Falmouth refit in solid teak, narrow planks swept in and joggled to the cover-board, caulked and payed in butyl rubber. All new deck beams
New beam shelf. It appears the topsides were raised by one plank when the new beam shelf was fitted.
Varnished margin board round the coach-roof.
9” deep bulwark with varnished teak capping.
Galvanised stemhead fitting takes the fore stay, single chain roller to stbd. bowsprit gammon iron to port.
Bronze fair leads on the capping rail.
Rowlock holders each side of the cock-pit for use with sweeps.
Bronze capping to the rudder stock head, inscribed with the yacht’s name.
Long wrought iron tiller.
The coach-roof was new in the Falmouth refit, built in varnished teak coamings with 3 small fixed port lights each side.
The coach-roof is quite wide taking advantage of the yacht’s generous beam and tapers gently down forwards so does not stand out significantly above the bulwark.
The coach-roof deck is double planked with scrubbed teak externally over internal painted pine boards.
Traditional varnished sky-light with copper drip strips and bronze bars.
Teak grab rails each side of the roof.
Varnished Dorade vent boxes with soft rubber removable vents.
Spray hood with forward window on s/s frame.
Deep self draining cock-pit with high bridge deck at deck level and two teak-laid seat locker lids each
Open shelf under the side deck each side.
The varnished teak cock-pit coamings are raked outwards to make comfortable back rests that do not cut
into the back, bronze capped.
T&G varnished teak lift-out door to the lazarette.
The well is GRP sheathed and fitted with two brass trimmed, lift-out inspection panels, covered in
Wrought iron tiller with varnished hand grip. Pegs in the aft coaming form a simple self-steering.
Stainless steel fuel tank in the port fwd locker.
Manual bilge pump in port aft locker.
Batterries in the stbd fwd locker.
Stowage in stbd aft locker.
Fold-down varnished mahogany table against the bridge deck bulkhead with drop-down leg.
Gaff cutter rig built new in the Falmouth refit on varnished spruce pole mast stepped through the main deck onto the keel. This is a very tall mast, certainly taller than her original working boat mast but allowing her to set the sail which gives her her reputation for speed.
The lower section of the mast is squared to above deck level with a square stainless steel collar box on deck to keep the apperture watertight.
Stainless steel standing rigging about 15 years old.
Twin lowers with soft eyes around wooden cheeks above, swaged Norseman terminals into open-bodied s/s rigging screws with swivels to external galvanised chain plates which reach well down the topsides.
The after lower is set well aft so the running back-stays are not necessary all the time.
Single cap shroud round the spreaders to external chain plates alongside the forward lower chain plates.
Runners on tackles usually set up alongside the shrouds but with deck eyes aft when in use.
Fore stay to a very substantial galvanised stemhead fitting which reaches well down the front of the stem and round over the top of the stem.
Bowsprit gammon iron set to port with opening upper half of the rig allowing the bowsprit to be steeved up.
Bob-stay on chain and tackle.
Fixed s/s bowsprit buys to s/s rigging screws on external fittings.
Jib on leathered traveller.
Varnished spruce main boom with stainless steel end collar pivots on a vertical galvanised pivot post between twin heavy section galvanised steel mast bands very adequately spread the loads of this long boom and powerful mainsail. Belay pins on the lower band take the falls.
Double tailed main sheet with varnished wooden blocks to a stainless steel sheet horse on the aft deck.
Reefing winch on the throat of the boom, stbd side.
Bronze track on the fwd face of the mast with stainless steel ring on bronze car to take a pole.
Varnished spruce gaff with traditional leathered gaff saddle. Peak and throat halyards on varnished blocks.
Stainless steel, marlin served, mainsail mast hoops.
Twin topping lifts to the boom.
Substantial fixed boom gallows on bronze tube verticals with hand-hold turns and scrubbed teak cross bar.
Headsail sheet tracks on the side decks with single cars.
All winches on the cock-pit coamings:
Pair of modern Lewmar 43 self tail sheet winches.
Pair of top-action Lewmar 16
Pair of older design bronze Gibb28.
All working sails by SKB Sails, Falmouth in cream terylene approx 2000:
Staysail new 2007
Older suit of sails for a smaller mast.
Beta 28hp 3-cyl diesel engine fitted new in 2007 with 60hrs (winter 10)
Centre-line installation under the bridge deck with stainless steel shaft angled to 9” stbd off-set prop. Conventional stern tube and stuffing gland.
German SWB bronze 4-blade feathering prop. Single lever controls.
6knts cruising speed.
15 gall stainless steel fuel tank in the port fwd cock-pit locker.
2 x 12v batteries in the stbd fwd cock-pit locker. 12v circuits.
Switch board under stbd side deck, saloon.
Fuse box in the locker below.
Extensive new wiring.
Accomodation 4 berths.
Fore peak with double berth to port, wide shoulders, narrower towards the feet fwd. Single large mattress.
Plastic drain pipe chain chute takes the chain right fwd.
Low seat lockers to stbd allow comfortable seating for socks.
Reduced head-room under the deck but comfortable sitting head-room on the berths.
Very nicely varnished teak deckhead with varnished, carefully shaped and finished deck beams.
Mahogany slats to the ship’s sides.
Fore hatch over with bull’s eye light.
T&G varnished pine bulkhead from port side across to the mast leaving the stbd side open for access.
Heads compartment to stbd by the access opening, fitted with Jabsco sea toilet. The door is skewed so even with the door closed the Jabsco affords a comfortable seat though sitting head-room only.
To port of the mast a Taylor’s drip-feed, diesel fired cabin heater on the bulkhead with lagged flue to deck. Stainless steel fuel tank above in the corner.
Saloon cabin with generous port and stbd settee berths with stowage under accessed either from the front or from above with the cushions lifted. Due to the position of the heads compartment fwd to stbd and the galley aft to port, the settees are slightly staggered.
Upholstered seat backs with shelves and lockers under the side decks above the seat back lockers.
Galley in the after port corner with smart almost new stainless steel Voyageur 2000 2-burner, grill and oven gas cooker, gimballed with crash bar.
Good work surface in the after corner with circular s/s sink pumped overboard, hand pump in the locker under.
Foot pump to the galley sink from 30 gall stainless steel water tank under the stbd settee berth.
Stowage space under the side deck.
Chart desk in the aft stbd corner with short trotter box under and lockers. Electrics and instruments under the side deck above. Pretty turned rail across the front edge.
Engine box between chart desk and galley serves as a seat when working at either and a step down from the cock-pit. Open space under the bridge deck and either side of the engine box for stowage of odd bits.
5’10” under the sky-light
5’6” under the deck
White painted deckhead with varnished oak beams and varnished teak coamings. The cabin top is the full width from seat back to seat back so giving a good feel of space.
Varnished teak sole boards on a wide cabin sole. Plenty of space between the settees.
Exposed beam shelf, varnished half deck beams and side deckhead, heavy hanging knees.
Plastimo porthole compass, stbd of entrance hatch.
Raymarine sounder and log.
4 life jackets
Horse-shoe life buoy
Selection of flares (probably out of date)
Manual bilge pump in the cock-pit locker
12v bilge pump on flat switch.
Manual chromed windlass on the fore deck.
Beaching legs stowed on the coach-roof.
Fenders and warps.
Built for fishing in Mounts Bay, this boat is similar to but slightly bigger than the nearby Falmouth oyster boats and heavier built for the open sea work with double frames all through.
She was in the same family ownership with 3 generations of the Laity family for 80 years until decommissioned and laid up in 1978 during which time she was mostly dredging oysters in Falmouth.
She was bought shortly afterwards by Pat Crockford, a Falmouth fisherman with years of experience with the oyster dredging and took on a new lease of life. The oyster industry had collapsed, she was no longer viable as a working boat so Pat converted her for leisure use. Over the next 10 years he gradually changed and improved her until she became the fastest boat in the fleet and a regular race winner.
A new taller mast was fitted, the sail area increased, the ballast increased, much of the planking replaced, the deck replaced, a cabin top built and the cabin fitted out below.
Much of the work and history is documented in a Classic Boat article Dec 1993.
Sold by Wooden Ships Yacht Brokers in October 2002 to the present Cornish owner. Good regular maintenance has ensured her continued sound condition. New engine. Good sails. Shift of planking replaced in the topsides a few years ago was found to be a non-original old repair in inferior timber, all original planking and frames remain in excellent condition.
She has a reputation for being a fast boat, especially with her new taller rig. Very comfortable, safe deep cock-pit, proper West Country gaff rig, surprisingly spacious and practical cabin and the weight to make her a comfortable boat in a blow.