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East Coast Gaffers featured boat: ‘Charm’

Our featured boat for November is ‘Charm’, the beautiful Albert Strange yacht built 1921 in Dublin.

‘Charm’ is based at Suffolk Yacht Harbour, Levington on the River Orwell in the ownership of Robert and Lorna Hill, who stand down as OGA East Coast Area President and Secretary in November 2023 after nine years excellent service to the Area.

‘Charm’ was built by Arthur Richardson in Dublin. Building started in 1921, but she wasn’t completed and launched until 1927, in part due to the difficulty in obtaining the correct quality materials in the post World War 1 period. Richardson purchased the plans of ‘Shiela 2’, designed for artist Robert E Groves by Albert Strange from Albert Strange’s widow. Strange had died in the ‘flu pandemic in 1917.We understand that Groves was a friend of Richardson’s and Richardson had an artist (we think Groves) alter the sheer for building ‘Charm’ and altered the angle of her sternpost to improve balance. ‘Shiela 2’ was sailed single handed to New Zealand in the 1950s by Adrian Hayter, as described in his book ‘Shiela in the Wind’.

Owned for three years by Richardson and initially named ‘Barbara’, after his daughter, her name was changed to ‘Charm’ after the his daughter Barbara’s death. ‘Charm’ was then owned for approximately three years by a Mr Beckett (Samuel Beckett’s brother?), before ownership passed to Thomas Cobbe in the early 1930’s. Tommy Cobbe, a descendant of the first Archbishop of Dublin, owned a large estate (Newbridge) north of Dublin and based ‘Charm’ on Malahide River until the 1970s, cruising and racing her in the Dublin area. He also cruised to the west of Scotland regularly. Tommy was very traditional in his outlook and spared ‘Charm’ any ‘modernisation’ as was in vogue in the 1960s. She remains mainly original to this day.

Advancing years forced Tommy to sell ‘Charm’ in 1974 to Harry Murphy, who moved her to the Solent. She remained in his ownership until the 1990s when old age forced her sale to David Still of Emsworth, who had her re decked before selling her to Julian Costley. She continued to be based at Emsworth until Costley sold her to Robert and Lorna Hill.

Rig: gaff yawl
LOD: 9.1m (over spars approx 11m)
LWL: 6.7m
Beam: 2.59m
Draught: 1.52 m
Construction: carvel, pitch pine on grown oak & steamed elm frames, Douglas fir deck, teak cabin & cockpit. Lead keel, bronze keelboats & fastenings.