HMS Conway - Click here to return to the menu HMS Conway 1859 - 1974

© Alfie Windsor 1998
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SMALL BOATS

Admiralty Class Sailing Dinghies (1940s to 1954)

There were three of these clinker built gaff rigged boats. They were replaced by the MSODs.

Alaunia (1947 to 19??)

Aboard the Conway Captain Hewitt kept a beautifully varnished mahogany sailing dinghy named Alaunia. The Admiralty purchased the former Cunard White Star liner Alaunia in May 1944 to become a depot ship stationed at Devonport. The shipwrights aboard Alaunia at Devonport made the sailing dinghy and her captain, an old Conway, donated her to the Conway in about January 1947. The 14 feet boat was an unusual design and proved difficult to sail. Occasionally senior competent dinghy hands were allowed to sail her in the Strait. Her hull constructed of wafer thin diagonal mahogany strips hand sewn with copper wire, was a masterpiece of the boat-builders' craft.

Bourne Dinghys (1970 to 1974?)

Six boats were purchased with sail numbers 8233-5 and 8431-3. It is thought they were handed on to the Conway Centre in 1974.

Cariad (1904 to 09) Image in Image Archive Sailing album 

Sailing yacht on the Mersey owned by the Chief Officer (Lt H McNeile-Dibb RNR) on the Mersey. Used by the cadets for sailing. A one rater, 28 feet, half decked, centre board boat. All racing was all for cash prizes and as Cariad had won more than her value her handicap was greatly increased leaving her unable to win more prizes so she was replaced by Water Witch in 1909

Cutters 10 oared (1865 to April 1905)

After a long and hard life at the hands of Conway cadets the Ship’s two black and white, ten oared cutters were found to be beyond repair and were cremated in the furnace. Some 4,000 boys had learned to row in them and it was estimated they must have covered over 100,000 miles.

Cutters 12 oared "Bombay Cutters" (May 1905 to 1920)

The 1905 10 oared cutters were replaced by two twelve oared cutters made of teak in Bombay Dockyard. They were a matched pair; 30 feet long by eight feet four inches beam, stepping two masts with a dipping lug forward and a standing lug aft.

In April 1910 The cadet announced that the "2nd cutter" (assumed to be one of the Bombay Cutters) had been rigged with a false keel and was used mainly for sailing. Rigged as a ketch she carried about 360 square feet of canvas. her rudder was enlarged.

"Cutter" 16 oared (1883 to 19?? - at least 1910)   

Useually known as the Barge she was built 1883 but simply hung on the davits and never used because her thwarts were too close together. In April 1910 she was altered to row 12 oars and was renamed the 3rd Cutter and used routinely with the others.

Cutters 12 oared "RNVR Cutters" (1920 to 1926)

The Cadet magazine for April 1920 (page 93) records that the previous "working cutters had been broken up" and replaced. The new boats were RNVR cutters that had been stored in Williams Yard at the top of Rock Ferry pier during the war. They were overhauled and "are quite excellent boats". There was a separate sailing cutter at the same time.

Cutters 10 oared (1926 to 1941 at least)

The previous cutters were replaced by a pair of matched ten oared cutters specially built for the Ship.The design was prepared by the Ship's carpenter Mr Williams. They were constructed by Rutherford & Co, Neptune Works, Birkenhead. They were delivered early in the Easter Term. They were made from the same mould and so were perfectly matched for rowing races. They had a fair turn of speed. They were constructed of well seasoned timber and copper fastened throughout, weighed fifteen hundredweight, were 27 feet long, 7 feet beam with roomy bow and stern sheets. They were no longer around by 1953.

 


Click image to enlarge

Cutter Heavy Duty (at least 1940s)

This was a single 12 oared cutter used when water was too rough to use a motor boat.

Cutters 12 oared (19?? to 1974)

There were two 36 foot, 12 oared cutters in 1941. There were six rows of thwarts, each with two oars, one for each side. A cadet manned each oar so there were two oarsmen per thwart, their feet on wooden stretchers to give purchase when rowing. Oars were held with both hands, inboard hand on the loom, outboard hand on the oar shaft. Oars were named, reading from aft, port and starboard, stroke, second stroke, bertha, second bertha, second bows and bows.

They could also be rigged for sailing using the de Horsey rig. This has short spars and snug sail and mast-plan all inside the boat, a mainsail with perpendicular leech that is boomless for quick handling, and a jib. They were heavy boats but went well in a strong breeze. "There were two sailing-cutters, heavy gaff-rigged wagons with loose-footed mainsails controlled by a sheet running through a murderous block. They had centre-plates on tackles, and were heavily-rigged. The sails were No.2 canvas, which seemed to be woven from steel thread when wet, but they sailed well in a stiff breeze, when it could take two cadets to hold the tiller up against the constant tendency to fly up into the wind. They were totally safe, even when driven hard on the wind with the lee gunwale under and green seas pouring in: junior cadets enjoyed the privilege of doing the pumping, often enough driven to superhuman efforts by sheer terror.”

“Dolly-Tub” see Water Boat (Mersey) (9th March 1908 to 1913)

Emergency Boat (1960s)

Normally moored on an outhall in the dock.

"I distantly recall that it was gray, maybe 4 oared with a rudder & was manned during summer sailing sessions but I may be wrong in that. The out haul was used for adjustment to allow the boat to be kept afloat at the lowest of tides by heaving it out via a continuous heavy warp led through a submerged pulley at the outer extreme of low water. A further pulley on the dock wall just SW of the lifeboat allowed it to in hauled to the dock wall at high tide to negate the need for a tender to access it."

"I also seem to remember that it had copper buoyancy tanks under the seats?"

Eureka (at least 1904 to Summer term 1908) Image in Image Archive Sailing album

Sailing yacht owned by Captain Broadbent on the Mersey. 25 feet long, half-decked with a centreboard. Used by the cadets for sailing. Fitted with a lug in 1908.

Eureka II (Summer Term 1908 to 10) Image in Image Archive Sailing album

Large sailing yacht purchased by Captain Broadbent from Barrow in Furness for use on the Mersey. She was 36' long with a 10' beam and drew about 4' 6". Her cabin and focsle were "roomy and airy". She was raced and took parties of cadets on extended cruises during the Summer holidays, Sister to White Witch?

Fifes (1955 to 1974) 

In 1926 Messrs. W. and R.B. Fife of Fairlie were asked to draw up plans for a new class suitable for the waters of the Conway estuary and Menai Strait. The waterline length to be limited to 16ft. and the maximum draught to 3ft.- 3ins. This was done; the length overall being 24ft.- 4ins., with a beam of 6ft- 6ins. and an 18cwt. lead keel. Fifteen were built by Messrs. A.M. Dickie & Sons of Bangor, and all but one are still in existence. In 1933 the cost of a single boat was £275 complete, which included a £5 royalty to William Fife. An original Fife sold in 2015 for £28K!

Conway cadets first raced the Fifes on 29th September 1948 when No 2 Morwys, No 4 Deryn Gwyrdd, No 10, Beryl, No 11 Medrys, No 12 Coralie and No 15 Nestor were very trustingly leant by the Fife Association of Beaumaris to Conway for the cadets to race. No 5 Thelma, No 9 Kookaburra were not available at the last minute. The race was won by Morehead in Morwys.

Thelma was a gift to the ship in 1955 by Mrs Mabel Lynton-Vicars the mother of the late Mostyn Vicars, a well known offshore sailor. Sail number 2 was 2 Morwys with a white hull. Sail number 5 was Thelma and had a red hull.


Thelma - Click image to enlarge

I'm pleased to report that Fife No. 5 (Thelma)  is alive and well, having been lovingly restored by Bill Thompson (58/61). She has been acquired by another Old Conway - T A Kershaw ('Tak') who lives in Beaumaris.

(April 2014) Morwys was beautifully restored, sold and relocated to Salcombe where she remained for some years. She has now been sold  to a gentleman in Switzerland and is sailed on one of the Swiss lakes.

All but one of the originbal 15 fleet of Fifes are still raced by the Royal Anglesey Yacht Club. They are now called 'Conwy Fifes' - http://www.royalangleseyyc.org.uk/Racing/Fife.htm  They have adapted the Conway ensign as a burgee.

Firefly

There was one of these14 foot boats in the early 1940s.

Flame (December 1959 to 19??)

The sailing boat Flame was purchased for £1,800.

Garibaldi (1940s)

Outward Bound's ketch was sailed by cadets attending courses at Aberdovey.

"The Garibaldi was laid up at Aberdovey when I was at the Outward Bound Sea school there in 1952. We had to pump bilges every day as she was leaking badly," 

"understand she was sold to a Caernarvon company for further trade but on passage sprang a leak and put into Pwllhelli were she became a wreck. She was a French fishing boat renamed Garibaldi in 1941."

"I was at school at Pwllheli 1954-55 when the Garibaldi was tied up in the harbour. She was there for a few years before they moved her to what we used to call the island on the other side of the harbour, she was sadly set on fire and that was the sad end of Garibaldi."

Gig - Tthe Ginger Bread Boat" (1912 to 19??)

This was a replacement for the skiff Mina. Described as a a “brown six oared gig” and reserved for use of Mizzentopmen. She was purchased form "the Daimler crew".

Gigs (19?? to 1974)

Many of us will remember many hours spent rowing these six oared gigs and competing for the Barnes Trophy (as stroke of the Fo'c's'le gig in the mid 60s I seem to remember it was virtually our trophy). They were commissioned from Messrs Winram of Liverpool the Conway Club in 1928 for the renewed Conway - Worcester boat race. The traditional annual Conway - Worcester boat race has been resurrected and is now held periodically in Australia.

Gig races on the Mersey, depending on the stream, were raced from Bromborough Lock gates to the Ship - 1.25 miles, or from Cammell Lairds to the ship - 1 mile. At Plas Newydd races were always from off Port Dinorwic.

What happened to the gigs is a long story with a sad ending. In 1974 when the ship paid off the gigs, with other things, were given to the Indefatigable. In 1995 Indefatigable also paid off and all her property was set to be auctioned. Haydn Lockwood (46/47) who lived locally decided to see if the gigs could be reclaimed and used in some way, even though they were in a pretty poor state. A surveyor thought one might be restorable but that the other was beyond economic repair. Haydn went to see the receiver, told a good tale and was given 24 hours to remove them. “From memory our Gigs were 32’ loa and just under 5` beam so we had problems finding a suitable wagon so we used a static caravan transporter instead”. He recruited friends, OCs and a probation officer with a gang of lusty lads and packed them of to safe keeping in Birkenhead. Haydn started to raise money for their restoration, including seeking government initiative funding, although eventually a private donor said he’d fund the work. Haydn had to go abroad for 6 months and although the gigs were in a secure site when he got back they had disappeared. “I made some discreet enquires and decided that nothing would resurrect them and too much enquiry could muddy the water for other worthwhile projects. A sad ending although what we could have actually done with them is debatable” as they were in such poor condition.

Captain's Gig (19?? to 1974)

There were three 18 foot oars each side and they called for considerable strength because of their length and the narrowness of the gig. The oarsmen sat one behind the other. Steering was by yoke and lines and took some little time to master.

International 18

The International 18 was acquired prior to 1954(also a gift). "I think it might have been called Puff, the class raced at West Kirby and the Isle of Man."

Inknoo (Circa 1908) 

Image in Image Archive Sailing album

A 7 ton cutter, owner by the Chief Officer's (Mr Dibb) brother. Used for racing and sailed each year in the Menai Strait regattas.

Inyala (May 1911 to 19??) Updated!

Image in Image Archive Sailing album

A 20 ton sailing yacht - looked very like Eureka II. She was an "auxiliary cutter" and was bought from Rowland's yard at Bangor. She was 48' overall, 11' 9" beam and carried 1,450 square feet of sail. She had a Smart & Brown paraffin motor capable of 5 knots. In 1912 she was altered to yawl rig.

Joan (1941 - 46ish)

             

In 1941 Mr. Lawrence Holt, chairman of the management committee, presented the Ship with Joan, a Liverpool fishing-boat called a "Nobby". Joan was a six ton, 25 foot by 9' 5", strong sailing cutter with an 18h.p. engine and a draft of  4' 6". She was equipped with a trawl and a cabin that could sleep two. She was very popular addition but seems to have disappeared from the Ship by 1946.Her sail plan consisted of a gaff mainsail, staysail and jib. The photo above left is of Joan but the one on the right is another Nobby included to show her deck layout. The photo shows Rock Ferry slip with the ship in the background.

The Cadet magazine (Oct 1941 page 178) says she sailed "like a witch" and was a "pretty looking craft".

“Groups of cadets would sail Joan into Beaumaris Bay in the summer months, sometimes entering the River Conway and mooring near the castle. I recall an occasion when she grounded on a falling tide whilst making for Conway and, being deep-keeled, she ended up high and dry on her side on the sandbank. There was nothing for it but to wait patiently for the tide to turn and float her off.”     

Juice Barge see Water Boat

Lifeboat (1950s - 60s)

This was normally in the large davits on the side of the dock at Plas Newydd. It never seemed to be used.

Lightning

There was one of these in the early 1940s.

MSOD (Menai Strait One Design) (1954 to 1974)

The MSODs (Menai Strait One-Design), were 20 feet long, built out of mahogony on oak frames, clinker built and half decked. Rumoured to be uncapsizeable. The first four MSODs purchased were numbered and named 18 - Lightning, 8 - Taeping, 17 -Ariel and12 - Flying Cloud. The fifth was 10 - Sobroan

“They were super boats – half-decked, carvel-hulled Bermudan sloops – that put up a good performance without threatening to drown their crews, they were all but impossible to capsize."

There is a great web site at http://www.msod.org.uk/ learn what happened to them all and add your reminiscences.

Motor Boat (?? to Feb 1895) 

No details are known other than this boat was crushed and lost in th Mersey ice in Feb 1895.

Motor Boat "The Launch"  (1895 to, at least, 1905) 

The replacement for the motor boat crushed in thr Mersey ice in Feb 1895. Refered to at first as the steam launch. She was extensively repaired in the Easter term of 1905 making her "quite a respectable looking craft".

 

Motor Boat (June 1914 to ??)

In June 1914 a 24' long open motor boat was acquired. She had a beam of 6' 6" and was fitted with seats all round. The engine was a 2 cylinder Daimler with ideal Reserve Gear, and was powerful enough to tow the unpowered water barge.

Motor Boat No 1 (1919 to Summer 1926)

A "new motor boat was purchased by the Ship in 1919 to replace the original pinnace. She was built by W H Roweland & Sons at Bangor as a motor sea fishing yacht. She was 31' 6" long, with a 7' beam. After one season fishing her builders bought her back, added a new 2hp Brooke Motor and sold to Conway. She motored round from Bangor to Rock Ferry under her own power. She was judged "a very fine able boat with ample power and speed for our needs". She was damaged beyond repair in the summer of 1926 when a Dutch vessel collided with the Ship.

Motor Boat No 1 (Oct 1926 to 1974)

A replacement No 1 was commissioned from Messrs Rutherford & Co, Neptune Works, Birkenhead as they had done such a good job with the new cutters. The cadet magazine Dec1926 page 67 describes her as "a handsome, roomy, able looking little vessel 30' long, 8' 3" beam and a a 20 24 Ailsa Craig engine pushes her along at a good 8 knots. The fore part fro 12' 6" from the stem is is roofed over with a teak wood covering to form a cabin and the sides of this roof have a tumblehome of 45 degrees, which quite precludes the the top of the house hitting against the gangway or ship's side in bad weather. She carries 60 cadets easily without any noticeable difference in draught, and is dry and comfortable in a sea way - the ideal boat in fact for the service for which she is required. Her hoisting weight is just four tons."

No. 1 had tiller steering. She started on petrol and when warm enough turned over to TVO.

“No1 boat had a Ford son engine during my time (1949-51).”

“In 1961/2 the process was: Correct with the ether. Pump up the compression, open the tappet ports, squirt in the ether, release the compression. Failure. Have a fag. Repeat operation, maybe with just a little sniff. Always started second time.”

"I remember sometime during my tenure at Conway (68-70) No1 got a new engine straight 6 diesel I think and it went very nicely a lot nicer to start than cranking over the old petrol/TVO engine."

Thought to have been transferred to Indefatigable. Current whereabouts not known. Anyone know what happened to No 1?

Motor Boat No 2 (approximately 1919 to 1974)

Could not have been acquired before 1919 as that is when the original pinnace was replaced by a new motor boat which was designated No 1.

She was fitted with a new Brook's 8-10 engine in December 1924 - she still had her original Brook's engine dating from April 1917. It was estimated it had run some 40,000 miles

"She was steered with a proper wheel, whereas No. 1 had tiller steering and a petrol engine. No.2 was also a lot smaller." She started on petrol and when warm enough turned over to TVO.

"No.2 had a close coupled forward / reverse gearbox with direct drive. I'm not sure of the starting but I presume that it was a crank handle."

"I was one of No.2 Boat’s engineers and she ran on TVO (Tractor Vapourising Oil). No. 2 started on petrol and after the engine warmed up you had to switch over to TVO. The petrol was in red jerry cans and the TVO in green. The two fuel tanks were placed on each side of the hatch to the cabin in the focsle. The TVO pump stood on the dock near the lifeboat. (which was launched every now and promptly sunk to the gunwales). I used to keep a log of fuel usage and I recall there was a bit of a competition between the various engineers as to the least petrol used. This sometimes meant turning over to TVO too early and the engine stalling much to the chagrin of the cox especially if coming out into a strong tide."

“No2 boat had an Ailsa Craig diesel engine(1949-51). It had a big heavy flywheel on the aft end and a compression release handle. Handle was put over to no compression the engine was then turned over at speed, then handle was put over to compression. The weight of the flywheel overcame compression and away it went. I think it was a 3 cylinder engine.”

“In 1956-7 we did use ether to start the engine in the cold weather. Also, if you remember we had to hand crank a compressor to use compressed air as a starter. This was released into a cylinder which caused the engine to turn over. If you were lucky and with the ether, it fired first time, away you went.”

“ 'Armpit' the ex RN Tiff used to demonstrate an alternative starting technique utilising a lump hammer and a blunt chisel on the flywheel.”

In 1971, a Conway cadet whilst an engineer cadet at Birkenhead Technical College spotted the engine from No 2 motor boat in the college workshops. The crack in the entablature was instantly recognisable.

No 2 is thought to have been transferred to Indefatigable. Current whereabouts not known. Anyone know what happened to No 2? Please email me.

Pinnace (1905/6 to 1919)

The original pinnace was an ex RN steam powered boat. The image above is by Shoesmith from the cover of the Cadet magazine. She was acquired in 1905 or 06, and disposed of in 1919. She was replaced by a "new motor boat".

Pinnace (1946 to 1970)

gnes            eug              scheer

Prince Louis (1944)

Outward Bound's schooner was sailed by cadets attending courses at Aberdovey.

Some believe she is still afloat as the Bel-Espoir but the details on this web site show Bel-Espoir was purchased by Outward Bound as a replacement for Prince Louis 1 (above) and became Prince Louis II.

Rivers Class Dinghies (1911 possibly to 1935) Image in Image Archive Sailing album

These were purpose built 18’ centre board dinghies built at Appledore. They were paid for with the proceeds from the cadets' Canteen. The first two named Tor and Torridge were first raced July 1911. Two more were added later that year. Eventually there were a fllet of six.They were raced in RYMC races and had reed sails.

Sea Mouse - Dinghy


The 10' centreboard dinghy Seamouse was aquired early in 1926. She was described in The Cadet magazine as a "roomy weatherly little craft" built by her previous owner for use weekend cruiising on the Humber. She toook a crew of two.

Skiff 1 - "Mina" (19?? to 1912) 

The skiff "Mina" was declared unsafe. She was replaced by the "Ginger Bread Boat".

Skiff 2 (19?? to 19??)

A skiff can be also seen in the photo of the pinnace above.

"I remember as being slung on lightweight davits on the Dock wall on the PD side virtually above the slipway - I think it was the only varnished boat apart from the MSODs."

"The skiff was still there in 51-52. On one occasion a disgruntled cadet used it to run away from the ship. I cannot, however, remember the consequences. On another occasion, a personal one, after putting a MSOD dinghy ashore on a falling tide, I and the other crew member had to use the skiff to row out after lights out to the dinghy, wait for the tide to refloat it and then tow it to the mooring buoy using the skiff and then return to the ship. There we had to hoist the skiff and then stagger down to the orlop deck and collapse into our hammocks. It was a cold and rainy night and there was no shelter neither in the skiff nor the dinghy and it was about 2230 before we were able to get ourselves back to the ship, wet cold and extremely 'cream crackered' as Rob Tubb would say. It certainly taught us a lesson about going ashore on a falling tide; though I must admit to doing it with small boats a couple of times later in life. Who lives must learn."

Warspite (1940s)

A motor sailing ketch used by Outward Bound at Aberdovey in the late 40s and early 50s

Water Boat (Mersey) (Monday 9th March 1908 to 1913) 

Named the “Dolly-Tub” and described as a “barge type of vessel”, 32’ long, beam 9’ and depth of 4’ 6”. Copper bottomed fore and aft to 8” above the light-load water-line. Fitted tanks that could carry 2,130 gallons which took Conway’s pumps one and a half hours to pump into the ship. The tanks could be lifted out so she could carry all the sea chests or a large number of cadets.

Water Boat/Barge (Mersey) 1913 to 21st May 1941)

When Conway left the Mersey for the Menai Strait the water barge was taken along: "The water boat had been towing alongside the port gangway, but when we got into the channel it was found to be too rough to keep it there any longer. First, one of the tugs was slipped and detailed to take the water boat in tow when we set it adrift. The tug picked it up after some trouble, but was unable to keep up with us. As the water boat was shipping a good deal of water it was decided to leave it with one of the balloon barrage ships anchored along the channel. It sank later that night." It was not recovered.

Water Boat (Menai Strait) (June 1941 to 19??)

Following the loss of the original water barge and after a few weeks searching Conway acquired Indefatigable’s redundant water boat. As Indefatigable cadets had moved ashore permanently due to the air-raids, they were disposing of their ship, boats and equipment. The boat was named the Arthur Bibby (the Bibby Line family were major sponsors of Indefatigable, as Blue Funnel’s Holt family were for Conway) but cadets generally called her the ‘juice barge’. She was built in 1932 by The Enterprise Small Craft Co of Rock Ferry. She was 36' long, 10' broad, had large water tanks capable of holding 1,800 gallons of fresh water and had a very low freeboard had. There was no cover at all on deck; the cox’n stood right aft with a wheel driving chains to the rudder. With a 30 hp Kelvin engine she was not particularly manoeuvrable due to her weight and low power.

She was towed part way from the Mersey by a coaster but made most of the transit under her own power. “When we got the boat, it was greatly admired and appreciated by all! It actually had a telegraph to signal the ‘engine room’, which gave the cox’n a fine sense of being in command of something worthwhile.” The engine room was usually full of tobacco smoke! “The engine was an absolute sod to start using a starting handle which required a particular swing to make it kick in, and could break your wrist if it backfired.”

Whalers (June 1914 to 19??)

In June 1914 the Recreation & Canteen Fund purchased two 17.6" long whalers purely for recreation purposes and for the summer months only. They were for use by "mizzentopmen and other smaller boys". They are the two in the photo above. They appear still to have ben in use in 1932, and one may even have survived as the Emergency Boat (see above) in the 1960s.

White Witch (1909 - 1910) Updated!



She was purchased  by the Chief Officer, Mr Dibb, and his brother in 1909 as a replacement for Cariad.  Described as a 6 ton cutter. Her first race was on 6th June: "a stiff little craft ... her crew thought her rather wet" She is second right above. She and Eureka II may have been sisters as they were both entered in Tranmere Sailing Club's Class A race on 28th Sep 1910. They also seem to have very similar rigs. She did not comptee much although in 1909 she won second prize in ther B class, taking three seconds and one third. Mr Dibb hoped she could do better and was sold later in 1910 when the Dibbs bought Dawk Eeaing.

 

 

 

 

 

 
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