Four years ago Whitstable Maritime rescued a 42ft 1907 Oyster Yawl built on Island Wall by the town’s shipwrights. Since then, teams of volunteers have raised funds and begun restoring the rare gaff rigged dredger, which has been double planked as was the custom when fishing boats started to show their age.
The hull is now sound but the stern, decking and rigging require further work. Known as the Gamecock, she is lying safe on a mud berth at Faversham. Having worked all her life in the Swale, today she is listed as a National Historic Ship because of her significance to the nation and the town.
Gamecock has participated in the annual barge/smack race which Whitstable Maritime helps promote in partnership with the Kentish Sail Association. The race now forms part of the town’s nautical festival organised by Whitstable Maritime. When in the harbour the tall masts add to the picturesque scene of fishing boats, stalls, lifeboats and other craft. Attendance has reached 10,000 and ‘Harbour Day’, this year on Saturday August 3rd, is now firmly established as an annual event.
Activities and features for harbour day include: bands, boat trips, marine environment concerns, sea wild- life, coracle building, life-boats, coastguards, boating pool, frontier force, inshore-fisheries, model boats, steam train rides, town’s maritime history, beach gardens, rope making, tipper trucks, traditional & modern boats, marine archaeology, coastal birds, children’s theatre, sailing, food stalls, gifts and crafts… PLUS the chance learn about the ongoing work on Gamecock and maybe to volunteer in her restoration. The trust’s Gordon Vincent says that while she will attend the Faversham Nautical Festival on the weekend of 6th/7th July 2019, Gamecock‘s stern is too weak to make the passage around the Whitstable. “We need to raise £120,00 that would enable us to tackle the stern, deck and mast, and fit a new engine,” he says.
More at: whitstablemaritime.org.uk