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RIP Paul Webster, 2019

We are very sorry to announce that Paul Webster, long time East Coast gaffer and owner/skipper of the smack ‘Quiz’, passed away suddenly on 17 July, 2019. We send our condolences from the gaffer community to his wife Wendy and the rest of his family. The funeral took place on Monday 5 August at St. Mary’s Church, Stratford St Mary at 13.30.

I first met Paul when crewing on ‘Good Intent’ at the Classic Boat Festival in Shotley, and the first time I sailed on the ‘Quiz’ was when Paul needed crew to get back to the Orwell from Southwold when he had only a young inexperienced lad on board. Following this I spent the next 10 or so years working the foredeck on ‘Quiz’ racing, cruising etc. We had many small adventures and lots of laughs.

Paul was very proud of the fact that ‘Quiz’ was as near original as he could make her, and didn’t like to advertise that we had electronics for navigation and depth. One of Paul’s endeavours was to help bring about the Pin Mill Smacks Race. The first time we entered this race, just after the start, we managed to put ‘Quiz’ on the putty (our home port as well). One of our trips was to Holland. ‘Quiz’ was going to be left there for the season and we would make trips over by ferry to progress the tour of the Dutch waterways, these were full of incidents from the get go.

Coming back from Holland, Paul Graham and myself (three skippers!), as we neared our home port we could see the bow wave from the high speed ferry coming towards us, but it didn’t seem to get to us and I realised that it was waves breaking on the Cork Sands. We had wandered off course catching a favourable wind without reference to the charts, we were on top of the sand. One skipper was on the helm. One skipper said turn round, and I said too late, we were only yards from safe water – but all ended well.

Another time, taking the boat back to Woodbridge we nearly lost Wendy when on a gybe sailing off Felixstowe the top of the mast fell down missing Wendy by inches. There is a picture somewhere showing Paul and Wendy standing with the section of mast (about seven feet) beside them, it weighed quite a bit as well. Woodbridge Cruising Club outings were looked forward too, like going to St Kathrine’s etc. Of later times, after ‘Quiz’ started to become a bit on the heavy side to manage, Paul acquired a nice cabin cruiser with which to continue his adventures, taking her to places like the Broads and London and further up the Thames, also exploring the Deben.

There are so many great memories of my time sailing with Paul I could spend hours relating all happy fun times we had with hardly ever a cross word. Paul will be sorely missed by myself and many others.

Terry Taylor (Tel) who sailed with Paul on the ‘Quiz’ for many years