We are thrilled and delighted that Lucy Lavers, our Dunkirk ‘Little Ship’ lifeboat which made a commemorative Channel crossing to France last May, has been awarded a prestigious national prize. Lucy Lavers is the proud winner of the Classic Boat Awards 2016 ‘Powered Vessels Under 40ft’ category, as nominated and voted for by the public.
Classic Boat’s annual awards celebrate the best in the world of classic yachting – new classic boats, restorations of classic boats, the people behind the stories, and more. For Rescue Wooden Boats, this award is a testament to the skills and dedication of everyone involved in Lucy Lavers’ restoration, and her commemorative voyage. Below is her restoration story.....
When Lucy Lavers arrived at Rescue Wooden Boats...
her hull was in quite good condition but her curved mahogany canopy, her engine, spars, sails and most of her bronze fittings were missing. Rescue Wooden Boats is restoring her to her former glory, to take her back to Dunkirk when completed, as well as ensuring she can be viewed and used for posterity. Her restoration is being filmed to capture the story and also the crafts involved, which are seldom used today - for example, steaming and bending mahogany to create the curved canopy. We are also photographing the work as we proceed.
This page details the stages of Lucy Lavers' restoration.
Ben has completed the work on the outside of the hull, removing the rotten planks and replacing them with new mahogany planks which he has steamed into place. George has repaired the bilge keels as well as the internal oak stringers, and these have been bolted together with new bolts made by George. The oak fenders have been remade and fitted, and the gunwhale strengthened.
The bulkheads have been cut by George and fitted by Ben, and the deck beams restored by George and installed by Ben. George has sawn and planed all the wood for the deck itself and Philip Mitchell, a volunteer retired boatbuilder who used to work at Souters' yard in Cowes, has cut and fitted the deck panels and has now started painting the hull. The prop shaft and propeller are in place and the new steering gear pieces have been made. Volunteer Danny Harvey, who is helping with all the metal work procurement and refurbishment, is working on assembling this and making new parts as needed.
The new centreboard case (you can see the old one in the Visitor & Education Centre, it was filled with concrete after Lucy Lavers retired from the RNLI) has been built by local firm Hodgsons Forge (see film below link) to the specification of expert Danny Harvey using the original plans. The galvanised centreboard case has now been installed, the mast tabernacle support is ready, and the centreboard is being finalised after a trial fitting which involved rolling the boat over.
The second-hand engine has arrived and has been stripped down and rebuilt by Clive Dew. We have commissioned the sails from Steven at North Sea Sails, and the spars to be made by Simon Read.
The difficult job of drilling through the keel to fit the centreboard has been completed. Bronze work has been cleaned and, where necessary, cast to make additional parts. More coats of Witham paint have been applied to Lucy Lavers’ hull by volunteers Philip Mitchell, Richard Wilkins and David Pertwee, with more layers to come. The engine, after being stripped and restored, is nearly ready for installation. Work on the new mahogany engine canopy has started, as has work on the sails and spars.
David Hewitt, with his apprentice Tom Gathercole, has started setting out the new canopy for Lucy Lavers. This rare, building-from-scratch of a Liverpool lifeboat engine canopy is being filmed and photographed from start to finish. David has made patterns using the base on Lucy Lavers' hull so he can build the canopy in his workshop with his apprentice Tom Gathercole. The canopy is quite a different process to that on crab boat Auk which they completed in October 2014. The process for making a canopy is similar to that of building a boat, but starts instead with the frame and then the double diagonal mahogany skins to cover it, rather than the planks and then the frames as in Auk. Lucy Lavers' original canopy was stripped in 1997 and used to restore Jersey lifeboat Howard D.
New spars for Lucy Lavers are coming on well in Simon Read's yard in Aldborough, Norfolk. The main mast uses her original fittings - we have her original mast too but it is rotten and damaged so not useable. The sails are nearing completion and further metal working is being finalised.
We are grateful for support towards restoring Lucy Lavers from HLF, Withams Paint, Marine industrial, Geoffrey Watling Trust, Sandringham Flower Show, The Lennox and Wyfold Foundation