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Heart over Head

Everyone I hope, at some time, lets their hearts rule their head. I've always had a bit of a hankering for a little wooden boat. During one of these moments, I came across an old wooden vessel in the yard of a home on the Wirral Peninsula. Don't ask me how or why! One look and something told me that this was the boat. In poor shape, and under a partial refit, I was told it would not take too much to get her back on the water again!

After arranging for a massive mobile crane we got her out from under the garden tree and the residue of the previous autumn's fall. A heart-stopping, and traffic-stopping, a moment when she cleared the yard fence and hung at a height of 20ft as she was positioned and placed on to the waiting low loader.

I'm a big believer in not going to sea unless I know everything works, how it's put together and what is where. So began the removal and striping out of all the previous work. In other words, gradually reducing the asset value until just an empty shell remained. Then the start of the rebuild, which for various reasons included some later to be abortive professional work, later removed as part of the renovation to her original specification.

Phyllis - Albert Dock Circa 1995
Phyllis - Albert Dock (circa 1995) Vance Crocket at the Helm
Phyllis Bermudan Rigged
Phyllis (circa mid-1900's ?) Bermudan Rigged

"Phyllis" was originally gaff cutter rigged and with a lifting keel, but she was Bermudan rigged with an aluminium mast and cast iron keel when I found her. With some good luck, the mast and sails were sold. A wood mast, boom, gaff and newly procured sails from a sister's vessel from the same class, "Avis" (1906) which was in the process, sadly, of being broken up. During our research, it came to light that "Avis" was the first yacht of the class which made it even more poignant when we found that out. It is, however, good to know that "Phyllis" has been restored using some parts from one of the very first in the class.

Interestingly this rig travelled from Skippool Creek to Cheshire and then back again. The boat was to return some 3 years later to the same yard when it was decided to have an artisan and master shipwright on the job, David Moss. It was David who showed how the vessel had been converted to a cruising yacht with standing headroom and that it would probably be best to return her back to her former glory as a Royal Mersey Restricted Class yacht.