1904 Classic Maritime Heritage Oyster Boat “Bessie”

This 1904 classic, maritime heritage, Oyster boat, “BESSIE”, has just arrived at Clovelly . She has been restored by Cockwells Boats, Mylor, for Clovelly Estates.  On completion of the main works at Mylor, she was then sent by road to Instow to have her finished off and launched before she could be sailed to Clovelly on 23rd August last.

Classic maritime heritage oyster boat, Bessie   Classic maritime heritage oyster boat, Bessie

It is the ultimate intention that ‘Bessie’ be sailed around Bideford Bay under  competent skippers during the months from April to October each year. Working from her new home, Clovelly harbour and we hope that many will enjoy the spectacle of her under sail.

She is referred to in the ‘Falmouth Working Boat’, a book by Alun Davies as an original Looe ( Cornwall ) built boat of 19’6″ in length. She was then later named ‘Vivian’ when she moved early in her life to new owners at Falmouth to work commercially on the Helford Oyster beds.

In retirement, she regularly raced with other boats of her class at Falmouth on the weekly summer evenings. At some point before she was moved to her penultimate owner in Mousehole, near Penzance, she reverted to her original name, “BESSIE”’.

There was much effort in Cockwells’ work:  After the ballast, garboards and other hull planking were removed, new frames, floors and other timbers were replaced or beefed up. Further side planking was replaced and re-caulking was done throughout.

The hull was then placed in the sea for a few days to take up.  She was then re-ballasted and placed back in the water to take up further before being painted and anti-fouled. The later work was done at Instow when the temporary rig was assembled to sail her round to Clovelly.  Next winter her full rig will be installed ready for a full new season of enjoyment by all.

Classic maritime heritage oyster boat, Bessie   Classic maritime heritage boat, Bessie

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