Original owner

Susanne

As ‘Susanne’ before the pirates took her.

I managed to track down the original owner of ‘Lucy’ today, although back then she was known as ‘Susanne’. We had a great chat on the telephone, and Mike was able to fill in a lot of the gaps in my knowledge about her, and also to confirm some of my thoughts.

Mike ordered her in 1989 and had to wait until late 1990 for her to be built – which puts my few weeks of waiting into perspective. He went on to keep her for eleven years. It was during his stewardship that she famously went missing from her mooring at Mylor. In July of 2008 Mike went to Mylor to find the mooring vacant. It seemed that no-one knew of her whereabouts, so Mike quickly let the authorities know that she’d more than likely been taken, and that she had enough fuel on board to motor for up to 200 miles. The search was wide, and the Coastguard even called in the rescue helicopter from RAF Culdrose, and although searching and finding a handful of yawls none were ‘Susanne’. She was gone, and there was no trace.

By late October Mike was in negotiation with his insurers regarding a payout, but before this went through she was located – 145 miles away, on a mooring just off Roscanvel nr Brest, Brittany, overlooking the Ile de Longe submarine base. That’s quite a way away. Plans were made, and on 11th November she arrived back in Mylor on the back of a low loader.

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Found. On a Roscanvel mooring overlooking Ile de Longe submarine base.

She wasn’t too damaged during the ordeal, but at one point in a storm whilst in Brest she dragged her mooring and was found crashing against another boat which belonged to the local mayor. It may have been that the mayor trying to sort out an insurance claim for this incident that her stolen status came to light. Other than this hull damage, the ‘pirates’, as Mike refers to them, had, for reasons unknown, managed to lose the door to the heads (toilet), block the toilet, and throw all of the crockery and cutlery overboard. For old time’s sake Mike claims to have retained a tea spoon!

Once back at Mylor she was repaired, and this is when she received her Awlgrip paint to the topsides. Mike and his family had their boat back! However, it’s possibly not as straightforward as all that. Inside the cabin there was evidence that she’d possibly spent some time in Ireland. So it may have been that she was taken from Mylor, round Land’s End and over to Ireland, and then sailed to France some time later. It’s all very possible, and she’s more than capable. Either that, or the ‘pirates’ went aboard her in Mylor with goods obtained from Ireland beforehand. We’ll probably never know. One thing is for sure, my plans to re-enact the passage have been made even more interesting!!

Mike was also able to fill me in on the keel. It would appear that in her bilge keel form the Cornish Yawl doesn’t sail well to windward. I’d heard that already. So Mike did work with Roger Dongray, the boat’s designer, to add the deep keel, which made a considerable difference to windward performance. And it’s also true that Roger then used this experience to increase the depth of the keel on the forthcoming design of the Crabber 24. I was right!

I’m very much looking forward to meeting Mike very soon, as he still lives near to Mylor and is going to come and see ‘Lucy’. I hope he’ll accept my offer of a trip on her as soon as she’s launched too.

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2 thoughts on “Original owner

  1. Russell, she looks beautiful, does’nt she? One of the best yawl photos I’ve seen, as the yawl does’nt usually photograph well from forward of the beam – something about the shape of the coachroof.

    I also can’t help feeling that with some added detail you will have a great story for a magazine like PBO, who ran the story of Suzanne’s theft and appearance in France. As for the missing heads door, the only thing that I can come up with is that one of the pirates suffered a back injury on passage, and the others needed something flat to strap him to to immobilise him!

    Steve

    • I agree, Steve, it’s a lovely picture. I’d like to do some more research into this theft, and I’m meeting Mike soon, and often I hope, so will delve deeper into his memory. It’s a great little story, and perhaps worth covering when I re-enact it!

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