Our roving reporter, East Coast Gaffer Ian Clarke, has been to see ‘Mollie’ and makes a plea from anyone with suggestions about how to save her.
I had heard rumours of a bawley in a shed, stored for many years here locally close to the Walton Backwaters, and started asking around, eventually making contact with the owner via a International Canoe sailor at the Walton & Frinton Yacht Club. The bawley concerned is ‘Mollie’, built by Cann at Harwich in 1890 ish. She is a big bawley too at 41’ on deck, 14’ beam, and very shallow for her size at 4’ 6”.
‘Mollie’ has been in a shed for over 10 years, previously being at Wivenhoe. She was lifted from there and taken to St Oysth, but only a few weeks later was taken to her current location. Rob, the owner, built a shed over her, and there she has stayed. ‘Mollie’ is quite complete, with all the spars, including the top mast, sails and even a replacement engine.
By standing on deck you can see the exquisite shape. Rob is in no hurry, but would like to see her go to a good home, but the initial difficulty will be getting her out of the shed and rolled to a garden wall by the road. I think an army of 20 volunteers would be needed for a morning, including clearing around and inside her hull, then a twenty ton crane to lift her over, quite likely meaning a road closure for a couple of hours.
If somebody or a group did take her on, she would need a complete rebuild. ‘Mollie’ has 1.5” thick pitch pine with obvious nail sickness, a couple of short lengths have been removed and at least one plank sprung away. Rob is in no hurry, he doesn’t want money for her, but if nobody expresses an interest at some stage he would have to cut her up.
My call is to the East Coast Gaffers and wider community.
Does anybody have any good ideas on how to save her?
One of the Trusts, a boatbuilding school, a saviour with very deep pockets?
Contact Ian by email if you’d like to know more or have some ideas to share.
Words and photos: Ian Clarke