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RIP Peter Clay

OGA Member Peter Clay has raised jib and (gaff) mizzen, slipped the mooring, and departed on the ebbing tide of the River Deben. In this manner, Pete passed on very peacefully on 16 January, 2023 with friends and family close by.

Pete, long time owner of ‘Nirvana of Arklow’ (44’ over spars, gaff-rigged yawl, Albert Strange-designed, built in Arklow, Ireland in 1925), was well-known on England’s east coast, and further afield, particularly in Scandinavian waters, especially those of Denmark where he often sailed and over-wintered ‘Nirvana’. All those who sailed with him have many stories of adventures and great company.

A very talented woodworker, he first trained as a violin maker and restorer. He always seemed to translate that skill into the joinery work he created on boats; the same precision but on a much larger scale. The beautiful interior of ‘Nirvana’ (which astonishingly he built while living in Switzerland and brought back to the UK in flat-pack form) visibly reveals those origins.

Living for many years in Woodbridge on the River Deben he has always been centrally involved in matters concerning the town and its river. The successful redevelopment of the town’s waterfront is a result of his action group’s tireless efforts in doing battle with the Council and with rapacious developers. In recent years an interest rekindled by time spent at Vikingeskibs Museet in Roskilde, Denmark, has led to a leading role in the fascinating Sutton Hoo Saxon burial ship reconstruction, which is taking shape in the rebuilt Whisstocks Longshed in Woodbridge.

Pete is survived by his wife, daughter, and extended family, by his friends and by the crew of ‘Nirvana’ who will miss him greatly. He was such a great skipper.

The funeral will be held on Thursday 9 February, 2023 at Seven Hills Crematorium, near Ipswich.

Hugh Browton
Bosun to Pete Clay and ‘Nirvana’
25 January 2023