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Launching “Lovely Mover”

A day I will never forget. Brought back to the forefront of my mind by an old photograph sent by a friend who was very much involved on the day it all happened. In fact the whole saga and my boating experience since stems from this event.

I had been dinghy sailing and crewing on sailing cruisers since my early twenties. I got into a regular crewing relationship with a couple who sailed out of Ramsgate and would probably have carried on in that role if the skipper’s wife hadn’t fallen pregnant. It was then deemed necessary for them to sell the boat to fund forthcoming events and my skipper friend was rendered boatless, a role that didn’t suit him. I was then persuaded to become a boat owner, despite my protestations of inadequacy. Initially my main function was to provide the cash. This lead to me being known as the O-W-N-E-R.

My boatless friend had got to hear of a project that might suit and this was an Anderson 22 being built in Margate to an enhanced specification to suit the Single Handed Trans-Atlantic race which another Anderson 22 had recently completed. The main changes were much heavier rigging than standard and strengthened rigging anchor points. The builder had decided to give up the project and a price was agreed for me to take it over.  At this stage the hull moulding was complete with bulkheads and the lifting keel installed but was otherwise empty. The said friend, who was an expert craftsman himself and ran a building company on Thanet, then arranged for the basic internal GRP work to be completed so that the hull was structurally stable and boat could be launched.

Looking to the future, my friend and I discussed crewing arrangements and we agreed to arrange one each. His contact was a local Thanet man he had known since National Service days named Jim and mine was my dinghy sailing friend John who lived near me in Carshalton.
The agreed day arrived and so did John and I at Margate Harbour where we found my previously boatless friend, who is another Martin, and Jim, together with the previous owner of the project called Nicky. He had kindly made arrangements for the boat to be moved from the Margate Sailing Club boatyard down onto the dried-out sand in the harbour. She was lowered onto the sand and with the aid of shovels was supported, more or less upright, on heaps of sand under her bilges.

At this stage I had the first real indication of the huge determination being applied to the project when Martin calmly drilled holes in the hull for the loo valves and proceeded to install them, including glassing them into the hull. To do this in the face of the soon to be returning tide was an eye-opening demonstration of the sort of confidence I had never personally enjoyed.  Some of it must have rubbed-off on me that day however because in response to the Harbour Master’s enquiries as to where I would like the boat to be berthed I replied that a berth would not be necessary as we intended leaving on the tide and sailing the boat to Ramsgate. Bearing in mind that at that stage the boat had no rudder, spars or rigging, standing or otherwise, it was not surprising that he gave me quite a strange look.

When the boat floated on the rising tide it was moved to the harbour wall and the fitting out continued afloat. The transom-hung rudder was fixed by Jim hanging over the stern as necessary and the mast was carried down from the boatyard and planted on the deck together with its standing rigging. This was cut to length and with Norseman terminals to make the connections to the chain-plates, the mast was stepped. Then sails and running rigging appeared and eventually it was time to leave, despite Nicky’s reluctance to release the last mooring line. A quick shove-off and we set course for Ramsgate, carrying out further fitting-out operations as we went. The course around Thanet, initially downwind, became increasingly windward and eventually required a tack to make Ramsgate. We just managed to fix the appropriate genoa sheet block each time.

The boat was eventually put on a swinging mooring in the Western Gulley (where the marina is now) and we returned to Margate to collect our cars, courtesy of an anxious Nicky who had followed our progress by driving from headland to headland all the way to Ramsgate. A swift beer in the pub and it was time for John and me to get back to London after an unforgettable day.

The fitting-out progressed further over the ensuing weeks. Windows were installed, together with a Blakes’ Lavac loo and eventually a gas cooker which rose out of the chart-table like a Wurlitzer organ. We competed in the Anderson 22 class at Thanet Week that year and did well, despite a protest about us sailing an incomplete boat that was supposedly lighter than our fully equipped competitors. A deputation on board was shown the extensive resident fitting-out tool kit, which must have weighed the best part of a couple of hundredweight, and the protests went away.
Martin subsequently went on to build his next boat, a non-standard Robber based on one of the hull mouldings available when the first tranche builders BEBs Marine went bust and I moved on from crew and owner to become the skipper.

I made my first channel crossing as skipper in Lovely Mover with Jim and John crewing. That night in Calais Maritime was a night to remember. They often had Dodgem cars in the Market Square in those days and we gave them a really good bashing. This trip was repeated several times and it is interesting to remember that there was no Decca or GPS available then. The boat had no electrics, no instruments and no VHF radio, all quite usual in small boats at that time. We were good at tidal vectors and setting courses and sailing them with the help of a 4 inch grid compass. Helming was very careful and disciplined, an hour-on at a time, for each crew member.

The picture which follows shows Lovely Mover at an early, pre-window, stage, probably just before the start of a club race at Ramsgate. Martin is helming with John’s head and just the back of Jim’s visible. I assume the O_W_N_E_R was below decks as usual at that stage. I’m not sure what all the black marks are forward on the hull, but it looks a bit like Ramsgate seagull to me!

The leading light in Anderson 22 sailing at that time was an excellent sailor named John Tribe. We finally managed to wrest the Anderson 22 trophy, a half model presented by the boat’s builders, Anderson Rigden and Perkins of Whitstable, away from him. This was achieved at Thanet Week (now Ramsgate Week) and the picture which follows shows the trophy, plus appropriate silverware, spanning two of the, then, familiar chairs in the bar of the Royal Temple Yacht Club. The sleeping child is Amy Burt-Davies, the result of the pregnancy which started it all.

Martin Richards

Date Published 23rd Jan 2013