A West Country family were reunited with some special boats that were designed and built in Teignmouth for the Royal Navy. Three generations of the Morgan Giles family went sailing at Chichester on the boats that were used to train naval officers from the 1960s to the 1980s.
Jane Shaddick, Francis Charles Morgan Giles’ granddaughter, had never sailed on a yacht before and after steering one of the 43 foot yachts described it as “an experience to beat all others.”
The septuagenarian grandmother of two is the archivist and historian for the Morgan Giles Collection of boats, kept by her brother Richard Palmer, based in Gosport. The Morgan Giles shipyard built hundreds of vessels in Teignmouth between 1920 and 1968.
Along for the day was Jane’s great nephew Jack Palmer, aged 3 and six other family members who were delighted to see the boats sailing together again.
The teak yachts were built as a fleet for the Royal Navy in 1959. Five were delivered to Dartmouth Britannia Royal Navy College and two others were delivered to Plymouth for Royal Navy engineering officers.
They became very well known in the west country, especially in Salcombe where the young midshipmen would often claim to be gale-bound, unable to sail out of harbour in the yachts which were engineless. Meanwhile they were made very welcome in the Salcombe pubs.
They were used until the late 1980s when they were replaced with glassfibre Contessa 32s. Four years ago David Foster, who runs the charter firm Classic Sail, discovered and bought three of the yachts, bringing them back to Chichester to restore and convert for a luxury chartering experience. Last year he found a fourth to add to his burgeoning fleet of wooden boats which includes four West Solent One Designs and three racing Eight Metres designed by Wm Fife. The Morgan Giles family were guests of Classic Sail on Sunday April 28.
Richard Palmer, Morgan Giles’s grandson and Jane’s brother commented that it was an extraordinary sight to see the yachts sailing together again: “It’s a truly remarkable feat to be able to restore these boats as a fleet. They would have been sailed by thousands of Naval officers as part of their sea training. They were built to very high standards by my grandfather’s craftsmen but even so it’s fantastic to see them restored so well 60 years after their launch.”
Classic Sail is part of the HQ Experiences Group based in Chichester Marina. For more information contact Lily Foster