Page last updated: June 7 2013
Ben Nicholson - 1882
Germaine, summer 1882 in the Solent
Picture Beken of Cowes.
Lowestoft, 28 may 2013
The story of the launch is here
Official Number 84243
Signal letters: MJJT
Hunts Universal Yacht List no 1279
I started this page many years ago, when we took Germaine North to Lowestoft so that her revival could start. That was in 1997. Today, 17 years later, Germaine is moored near my house on the Port-Rhu, in Douarnenez, Brittany, and I just sailed her back from the Falmouth Classics. My main problem now is no longer about paying the bills - though they still trickle in - but about finding a crew that will race her, to win.
2 - Restoration
3 - The launch
Germaine was launched on June 21, 1882 by the Nicholson boatyard at Gosport. She was designed and built by Ben Nicholson for F W Leybourne Popham. He was a proeminent figure of yacht racing on the Solent, and a member of the Royal Portsmouth Corinthian yacht Club and Southampton yacht Club. He had a number of other yachts, among them "Bird of Freedom", a five-tonner, and the much larger fourty-tonner "White Slave" . According to his great grand niece, "He managed to consume most of his considerable wealth to feed his passion for sailing yachts of all sizes, and hazardous ventures, like expeditions to Siberia by sea". One can find some more details about Mr Leybourne-Popham's Siberian trips in the book "Polar Gleams: an account of a voyage on the yacht Blencathra" written by Helen Peel and published in 1894. The picture below comes from that book.
Germaine's lines and structural drawings - From the original - François Chevalier 1997
Germaine appears to have raced during the summers of 1882 and 1883, winning a first race on August 26 1882 with "Little Nell", a Camper and Nicholson cutter belonging to Ben Nicholson, taking second place. She won two second prizes in 1883. I have been unable to find any other racing report. It's possible that Mr Leybourne-Popham lost interest into her since she did not prove to be a crack racer, and he was already looking North.
Germaine in a squall - Beken 1885
She nevertheless proved to be a seaworthy little boat: she was reported in the contemporary French magazine "Le Yacht" as having sailed to the Mediterranean in December 1882, quite a bold move in the winter season. According to the same source, she did survive and returned to Gosport via Le Havre during the spring of 1883.
Germaine was re-rigged as a cutter in 1887, then back to yawl rig in 1897. Her second owner appears to have been Mr Harvey A. Dixon. Her third owner was Major Middleton Robinson, member of the Royal Albert Yacht Club. Major Robinson owned Germaine from 1904 to around 1910, and had a series of pictures taken by William Kirk during that period. One of these pictures is featured in the book "The Great Days of Yachting" by Ian Dear.
Germaine then became the property of Mr H.W Whittingham from Goodmayes, Essex. Thanks to the kindness of Ronald Camp, who gave it to me, I now own Mr. Whittingham's personnal copy of the 1926 Lloyd's register, and inside it a copy of a Lloyds' update form for Germaine dated 1930, and a picture of Germaine at Heybridge Basin, probably in the 50's. She was dismasted and apparently served as a house boat.
In the 60's, Anne and Peter Christgau discovered a forlorn and mud ladden Germaine, on the bank of the Blackwater river. They got got her cleaned and afloat again, but had to sell her around 1966.
It then becomes very difficult to trace any further history until Germaine reappeared in Southampton in the late seventies, reportedly pulled from an Essex mudberth and tranported down to Camper and Nicholsons yard at Shamrock Quay. Their intention was to restore her for the bicentennial celebrations of Camper and Nicholson in 1982.
Camper and Nicholson underwent severe problems before the project was started, and eventually folded, and sold their premises and land to Marina Development. This included Germaine, and her rotting hull standing in front of the shops and pubs became a familiar sight to Shamrock Quay visitors. She was eventually moved to an empty parking lot at Ocean Village marina.
In 1996, a small news item about Germaine written by Ian Dear in issue no 100 of Classic Boat magazine attracted my attention. Here's the fateful article:
I then lived in Oxford, the proud owner of a rusting E-Type, and I drove it down to Portsmouth to take a look at Germaine. Two senior ladies, of distinctly British heritage, met on Shamrock Quay. A surveyor I had invited along had a rather grim view of Germaine "at her 11th hour", but I still took ownership of Germaine for one symbolic pound. She was moved to the International Boatbuilding Training College in Lowestoft in 1997 to be restored, following a friend's recommandation. At the same time I moved the other way, to Portland Oregon where I was to stay several years. Another friend, François Chevalier, naval architect and historian, took the lines from Germaine's wheathered hull, and drew a superb set of drawings to assist with the restoration.
After 16 years, Germaine has been launched on May 28, 2013, fullfilling Ian Dear's prophecy:
Extract from "Campers and Nicholsons two centuries of yacht building" by Ian Dear - Quiller Press 2001
Below are pictures shot in March 2013, as we were nearing the launch.
Built from January 1882 to June 1882 under Lloyds supervision by Ben Nicholson at Gosport. Classified under the 10 and 12 years Lloyds material rules.
Length between perpendiculars 341, breadth 94, depth 68. Approximate length on deck 42’ (12,83 meters). Displacement 12 tons Thames Measurement. (19.45 metric tons) Lead ballast 4 tons 17 cwt (5 metric tons) . Approx sail area 1432 sq.ft
Documents in hand:
Lloyds survey report July 1882
Prints of Beken of Cowes plates no 7226 & 7032 1882 and 1885
Prints of William Kirk collection plates no 269 B and 270 B, Ms. Ruth Simpson owner circa 1904/1910. (No 269 B featured page 45 of "Great days of yachting" by Ian Dear).
1926 Lloyds' register cover engraved H.W Whittingham
1930 Lloyds' update form
1950's picture shot at Heybridge basin, found in HW Wittingham's Lloyds' register
"Yachting", The Badminton Library, London 1894 - Race results from the summers of 1882 and 1883.
"Great Days of yachting from the William Kirk Collection" by Ian Dear 1988
"Campers&Nicholsons two centuries of yacht building" by Ian Dear - Quiller Press 2001
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