On Friday 25 October, 2019 the Deben Cherub ‘Ariel’ was launched at The Woodbridge Boatyard after undergoing renovation of her topsides this summer. Much of the work was carried out and overseen by Tim Everson, her owner and great grandson of The Woodbridge Boatyard’s founder. With her old caulking raked out, handmade larch splines shaped to go between each plank and fresh oakum caulking in place, she has been repainted and now sits alongside her sisters, ‘Cherub’, after whom the rest of the class are named, ‘Rohaise II’, ‘Lynette’ and ‘Fortuna’ all back in the yard where they were built.
Built between 1924 and 1937 by Everson & Sons of Woodbridge, the Deben Cherub has come to represent the yard for many. Strong, affordable and appealing to families they were constructed from oak and Canadian rock elm with planking of larch or pitch pine, everything fastened with copper. The classically East Coast gaff-rigged cruiser-racer is ideally suited to the confines of river and estuary sailing and became a model for many pocket cruisers to follow.
Half a century since the Cherubs were last seen in large numbers, racing from the Deben Yacht Club under the starter’s 12 bore shotgun, fired by Alfred Everson, they are regaining momentum on the River Deben. Everson & Sons, renamed The Woodbridge Boatyard in 2010, is once again home to a ‘Chorus of Cherubs’ and we hope that the once hotly contested Cherub Cup will soon become a regular fixture again.
‘Sea Pig’, another Deben Cherub, recently moved from Heybridge, Essex, to Devon for restoration with plans to sail back to the Deben upon her completion and ‘Jubilee’ is known to be upriver in nearby Melton. The Woodbridge Boatyard are keen to learn the whereabouts of as many of the Everson & Sons-built boats as possible to safeguard the history of the yard and continue rebuilding the fleet.
The Woodbridge Boatyard Ltd. was founded in 1889 by A.A. Everson and has built, maintained and stored boats on the same site ever since. In 1912 the original boatbuilding shed burnt down and was replaced by a temporary building known as ‘Phoenix Works’ still in use today. In 1969 the yard passed from the Everson family to Peter Darby and changed hands again in the 1990’s to Frank Knights. In 2001 the yard was taken over by a group of local yachtsmen who ran the business until April 2019 when ownership transferred to Eric Reynolds.