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East Coast featured boat: ‘Crow’

‘Crow’ is our featured boat for February, 2024 and we introduce this well known East Coast boat with an article first published in Eastcoaster, 2019, written by Bob Berk.

‘Crow’ on the Broads
As a young boy I used to stay with an uncle who moored his traditional Broads yacht Wayfarer outside his waterside cottage at Stalham and later I’d hire Broads yachts with friends from school. Many years and several boats later, approaching retirement, I was ready for a big project.

The result is ‘Crow’, a 38’ yacht ‘inspired’ by Phil Bolger’s Moccasin design. Since I am a member of the OGA she is rigged with a gaff. Spirit Yachts built the strip planked cedar ply, glass and epoxy hull and deck for me. I farmed out the spars and various other bits but it still took me three years to complete her. It was always intended to take her on the Broads so the main mast is stepped in a Broads type tabernacle and the unstayed mizzen mast simply lifts out. Everything had worked out really well except for one thing, the wooden centreboard was too thick and kept jamming the case. The quick solution was a steel plate; I ordered a piece of 10mm steel plate, cut it to shape, had it galvanised and into the boat in a week. ‘Crow’ still had the steel plate in when we took her on the Norfolk Broads which in retrospect turned out to be just as well because we hit something with it.

We had been sailing on Barton Broad on a windy day and would have had a reef in had we been at sea. After an unsuccessful attempt to tack up the river to Stalham, (‘Crow’, with her 10 inch deep full length keel loses too much speed in the turns) we went storming back into the Broad. Suddenly there were two enormous bangs in quick succession causing the Dyneema line which leads from the centreplate to a tackle on deck to jump off its pulley. So what had we hit? There were stories about planes going down in the area during the war but I couldn’t find out anything about them.

I had more of less forgotten the incident when there was a piece in our local news about the remains of a German Dornier bomber being pulled out of the sea near Dover. With my interest revived I phoned the Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation museum. During a most interesting conversation with the proprietor I discovered I had hit a Meteor Jet, that the pilot had ejected but didn’t survive. Since it had crashed during the Cold War it would have been armed. So I had given a plane loaded with explosives a huge whack with a big slab of steel! With her plate right down ‘Crow’ draws 6 feet, which is considerably more than any Broads yacht, so presumably the plane is too far down to bother them and that’s why it has never been removed.

Bob Berk, first published in Eastcoaster, August, 2019

With deepest regret Bob Berk’s children are having to sell ‘Crow’ because of his deteriorating dementia, more details here.