Skip to content

About Phyllis

I'm a 100-year-old (plus) restoration of the Royal Mersey Restricted Class gaff rigged yacht. I was found in a rear garden in Bebington on the Wirral. I'd been modified over the years, and prior to renovation was Bermudan rigged with aluminium spars and two beam shelves, witness to a 14" addition to my topsides. In July 2010, I was re-launched back to my original build based on models and drawings. You can often find me in attendance at the various traditional boating festivals around the Irish Sea.

Well, what a start to the new year. After several visits to PHYLLIS in Largs Marina to keep her ready for returning back home after my last post it's all been delayed due to the current COVID-19 worldwide pandemic.

Phyllis on the hard at Largs Marina

On my last visit to Largs Marina (11-14 March 2020), and finally with the anti-foul and oiling of the toe rails finished the marina lifted PHYLLIS back into the water, on Saturday. Allocated a tidy berth G7, close to shore, on the fuel dock pontoon, very handy.

Woke to find a heavy frost on my car.


The week had been very mixed weather and the Thursday, in particular, was grim. Very wet and windy, some snow on the hills too. Totally unsuitable for doing any work on the boat. I decided to visit Arran and call in at Lochranza, to meet up with an old friend who used to live in the same village and who I've been sailing with several years ago. Alas, the weather suspended the ferries from Ardrossan to Brodick. Therefore I chose to visit Millport on Great Cumbrae, as being only a short ferry trip from Largs town was still running. The town was deserted, in the pouring rain. Stopped for a coffee at a wonderful little cafe which also turned out to be a chocolatier. Bought some chocolates to take home and then caught the bus back to the ferry.

Hebridean Princess at Largs

It was a surprise to find the Hebridean Princess on berth at the end of the Largs Ferry pier.

From Largs, town car park I decided to travel north to check out the chandlery at Inverkip Marina. What a ride, the road at times ran alongside the seafront. Twice I found myself literally driving through waves, no visibility at all and pushing the car onto the other side of the road too. Fortunately, on both occasions, no traffic was on the opposite side of the road.

After launching PHYLLIS on Saturday I drove home, via Glasgow, due to the weather. On arrival at home effectively started self-isolation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. PHYLLIS's stay in Largs Marina was until 31 March, but the Marina gladly extended my contract until the end of April. I await further updates from the government to see when I can get PHYLLIS back to her home berth in Deganwy.

Phyllis has been moved to Skippool Creek on the River Wyre for lift-out 8 Oct 2018 by David Moss Boatbuilders.  After some eight years, she needs some work and where's a better place to do it than at the original boat builders who restored her.

We have always had some difficulty in turning her and often had to opt for a 'jibe' rather than the preferred 'tack', particularly when attempting to turn thro' the wind against an oncoming sea.  We'll be taking a look at the bowsprit to see if by extending the length we can gain some advantage by having the staysail and jib further apart.

Other jobs will include the stopping of a persistent water leak, plus painting, varnishing and antifoul.

Going to look too, to see if we can engineer all our sail control from the cockpit.  I'm sure we can but it will need to 'look the business' without spoiling her lines.

And while she's out a survey for the boat insurance.

Click image for full size picture.

Bank Holiday Mon 28 May 18
Directly following Phyllis's participation in the Liverpool Tall Ships 2018 festival she immediately left to catch-up with them.  The voyage plan was that, rather than go directly to Dublin to rendezvous with the tall ships before participating in the Dublin Bay OGA Regatta the opportunity was taken to visit Caernarfon. A nostalgic return for Phyllis as Caernarfon was her homeport for some 40 years, albeit some 75 years ago.

Menai Bridge. note click images for larger pic.

Therefore the passage plan was to use the Menai Strait passing through the Swellies. With the weather remaining benign it was a lovely motor sail past the Great Orme, Puffin Island, Beaumaris and onto Menai Bridge.  Due to the timings making it not possible to get access to the marina at Caernarfon, we overnighted at the new pontoon alongside 'Porth Madog' on her pier.  This survey vessel belonging to the University of Bangor's marine research department. The newly refurbished Liverpool Arms provided a welcoming watering hole before bedding down for an early rise to move on to a mooring buoy, and another forty winks prior to getting the slack water thro' the Swellies.ago.

Britannia Bridge

Tues 29 May 18 - A Nostalgic Return for Phyllis
A mid-morning passage thro' the Swellies and a leisurely motor down the Straits and into the welcoming Victoria Dock for an overnight stay. Some shopping, then lunch at 'The Black Buoy Inn' and an evening visit to both the Caernarfon Sailing Club and the Royal Welsh Yacht Club both at which we were made most welcome.

Phyllis was certainly now in her home waters.  She had spent some 40 years at Caernarfon with various owners, once she had reached the tender age of 21 yrs old.

For the record:

  • 1934   Dr R Armston
  • 1935 -1948 Austin Lightbound [as a Bermudan rigged sloop]
  • 1949 - 1951 JS Horsefield / F Taylor-Monks
  • 1952   Francis G Critchley
  • 1953 -1956 1953 WA & JF Wood
  • 1957 - 1959 Ronald J Wood
  • 1960 - 1964 Robert W Shaw
  • 1965 - 1969 Clifford Thomas
  • 1970 - 1973 Zdzislaw FIC
  • 1974   John W Gully
Victoria Dock - Caernarfon

Can any reader cast any light on her time spent in Caernarfon? Phyllis would be very appreciative of any previous history. Please post any feedback in the comment box bottom of this page.

Weds 30 May 18 - Porthdinllaen
A mid-morning departure from Victoria Dock to cross the infamous Caernarfon Bar in very calm weather with blue sky and sunshine and a hazy backdrop of Snowdonia. We were Joined for a short while by a pair of dolphins. Too short a time to capture a snap or two of these wonderful creatures.

Mid-afternoon found us at the old fishing village of Porthdinllaen on the Llŷn Peninsula, near Morfa Nefyn, looked after by the National Trust in Wales. To see some aerial pictures of the village visit:

Huge prawn baguettes.

It's still used by fishing boats and after finding a suitable mooring the tender was inflated and a paddle ashore brought us to the beach and the Ty Coch Inn for lunch.

Following our return to Phyllis, it was interesting to watch the local RNLI station going through their training paces and winching the lifeboat back into its boathouse.  Little were we to know but shortly after this, it responded to a 'shout' for a reported missing fishing boat en-route up the coast towards Trevor Pier. To witness the launch down the high angled slipway with all the chains rattling raised hairs on the back of the neck as the boat sped away at full speed into the hazy late afternoon.  Reassuringly the lifeboat returned very shortly afterwards indicating that all was well.

Porthdinllaen Moorings

An early night to our bunks to rest in preparation of a 04:00 hrs start the following morning to Southern Ireland.

Thurs 31 May 18 - Greystones
A surprising benign Irish Sea, mirror calm saw us motor sail across. Great visibility and the flat sea making for opportunities to spot cetaceans and turtles, but alas none were spotted. However, we did recover a pontoon fender, complete with some pontoon attached, which looking at the tides was probably debris from the destruction of Holyhead Marina in March by storm Emma. After being suitably impressed by the unexpected currents during our approach to the Irish shores we homed in on the impressive Wicklow mountains and the distinctive Great Sugar Loaf as we entered the new marina at Greystones. Arriving late afternoon, in time for a Guinness or two!

Fri 1 July 18 - Dublin
A beautiful morning motor sail up the coast, past Bray Head, Sorrento Point and thro Dalkey Sound along with a couple of porpoises, passing Dún Laoghaire and crossing the bay to the entrance of the River Liffey.

TTS Lord Nelson led the Tall Ships Fleet to Dublin

Amazingly we arrived at exactly the same time as the Tall Ships which had been becalmed going around the IOM.  It was surreal to be entering the River Liffey through the early morning mist followed by the emerging magnificent tall ships entering the river.

A few miles down the river to Poolbeg Marina and we caught up with all our friends who arrived directly from Liverpool two days earlier. Tom (our Hon.Sec.) striding down the pontoons to greet us after having literary just arrived by aeroplane as he had to return to Liverpool following his early arrival at Dublin. A kit bag too for Jimmy who had expected to be calling in at Conwy to pick up his passport and 'smalls'. A big grin and 'happy days', let the party begin.

A Short Video


The NOA & OGA together enjoyed five days of celebration during the arrival of the Tall Ships to Liverpool for their Three Festivals Regatta, linking a trio of vibrant port cities – Liverpool, Dublin and Bordeaux – in anticipation of some nail-biting racing across the Irish Sea and Bay of Biscay.

Civic Reception to kick-start the Tall Ships Three Festivals Regatta 2018


Liverpool put on a spectacular show by starting the first stage with numerous civic and maritime attractions and firework display. Each evening a 'Ghost Ship' appeared in Albert Dock, a very special and unique water and laser light display.

On the Friday 25 May 18, the Nobby Owners Association hosted a buffet for all its members and guests from the Gaff Rig Association, including the current national president Alistair Randall and the DBOGA (Dublin Bay OGA) ex-national president, Sean Walsh. An opportunity too for the skippers briefing for the following day activities.

Saturday 26 May 18 and the role of the gaffers was to provide a public spectacle while the Tall Ships were on their berths, showing off our classic traditional boats along the River Mersey waterfronts on both sides of the river. This was a long day covering a full tide from an early morning lock-out to an evening return. The day proved very interesting. Late afternoon sudden and totally unexpected gusts, reportedly up to 50 knots (yes, that's correct 50 kts..!) ensured a Mayday call when a boats steering broke mid-river. Other incidents included an almost full broach and capsize, an engine failure, and a crew mutiny, to promptly reef, made the day's events very memorable. A late evening leisurely dock cruise with supper completed the day's events and a welcomed wind-down!

Sunday 27 May 18 and the fleet were accommodated in Albert Dock for viewing and onboard visits by the general public. The evening concluded with an invite for boats and crews to a BBQ on the Tall Ship 'Morgenster'.

Sean Walsh (DBOGA) with a plastered lower leg remained determined to get around on his little scooter to enjoy the festival and everything it offered. Well done.

Bank Holiday Monday 28 May 18 and the Tall Ships prepared for a 'Prade of Sail' before commencing their race around the Irish Sea to Dublin for the next stage in their festival. The gaff rigged boats departed Albert Dock and led them out of Canning Half Tide Dock into the River Mersey. Several of our gaff rigged boats were to go directly to Dublin and stayed to participate in the parade of sail. 'Phyllis' had other plans to get to Dublin via the Menai Straits, Caernarvon, Morfa Nefyn and Greystones. Remarkably several days later we arrived in Dublin (Poolbeg) just as the Tall Ships quiet literally entered the River Liffey, appearing out of the early morning mist as they had been becalmed in the Irish Sea around the Isle of Man during our voyage time.

View the Liverpool Tall Ships Photo Gallery to see what we got up to in Liverpool.


After a winter of all the usual jobs and a good sailing day today, although a little cold with a northeasterly variable F3 it was time to shake out the cobwebs. Others were out too, to enjoy the blue skies and thanks to Peter Holt I can post these pics.

Joined by a great crew, Steven and Karen we enjoyed the day out.  Oops...! I forgot to drop the topping lift.  Another reason to blow away the cobwebs.

4 June 2017
Conwy Nobbies and Classics return from a day early from Liverpool, missing the 30th Anniversary River Mersey Nobby Race, due to an impending poor weather forecast that would have prevented the fleet from getting back home for several days.