Page last updated: June 7 2013

GERMAINE

Ben Nicholson - 1882

 

Germaine, summer 1882 in the Solent

Picture Beken of Cowes.

Germaine reborn

Lowestoft, 28 may 2013

The story of the launch is here

 

Official Number  84243

Signal letters: MJJT                                 

Hunt’s Universal Yacht List no 1279

 

Introduction:

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.

 

Content:

1 - History of Germaine

2 - Restoration

3 - The launch

4 - The 2014 Falmouth Classics

History of Germaine:

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.

Extract from H.W Whittingham's 1926 Lloyd's register

Heybridge Basin. On the left, a dismasted Germaine, with its characteristic coachroof with two skylights and the descent amidship to starboard.

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 Nicholson’s 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.

The 11th hour:

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.

 

 . The owner's cabin, aft  

Inside looking forward. Plenty of headroom.

The launch: May 28 2013, Lowestoft

Fair weather for the launch, easterly breeze, overcast skies. The boat was taken out of the workshop two ago ago. The students are busy loading the two tons of internal ballast. The bumpkin is in place but will be removed for the launch.

.

Pete, instructor in charge of the spars, et Nat, director of the IBTC

 

Fitting the 4kg and 25kg lead ingots beneath the forward floorboards.

Once the lead has been loaded, the boat is hoisted and brought to the ramp.

The last few yards. Plumb stem and rounded forefoot.The lead under the keels weighs 5 metric tons. We added a further 3.2 tons of lead ingots inside to achieve the right trim.

 

Carrying the mast to the crane.

At 11:00 Germaine dips in.

Next step is installing the mainmast and topmast, the mizzen isn't ready yet.

A silver coin under the mast.

 

The riggers are busy readying the masts.

 

Installing the mast posed no problem.

Germaine is now ready to cross the river to Haven Marina under her own power. My first occasion to be at the tiller.

A last look at Germaine, lying at Heaven Marina, before I return to France. She's flying the colors of the Société des Régates de Douarnenez, my sailing club. There's still lots of work to be done, mostly rigging and sailmaking. The plan is to leave for Douanenez early August after a few days of sea trials..

 

The 2014 Falmouth Classics:

We left the Port-Rhu at 05:00 on June 11 2014. Despite a weather forecast predicting South Easterly winds force 2 to 3, we soon encountered SW wind 3 to 4 as we arrived at the Chenal du Four, betwen Brest and Ushant. The wind stayed in the same direction but increased to 4 to 5 as we sailed up North. The sea was a bit rough with a 10 to 12 ft swell behind us and as we were reaching we had a number of short surfs. The helm was a bit physical, requiring constant focus as the waves pushed and leaved us. We made very good speed, 22 hours to reach Cape Lizard from Tréboul, about 120 miles in a straight line. We averaged 7.5 to 8 knots over long periods, and reached a top speed of 10 knots. All in vain, since we had to wait until daybreak to enter Falmouth harbour, circling under reduced sails for several hours.

Throughout the event, the weather was warm and sunny, wind 2 to 3 except for the last day when most boats retired as the wind died. In our class, the >36 ft LOD, only Mascotte, the 60' Bristol pilot cutter, crossed the finish line. I was rather upset to be the only French entrant, shame on my fellow countrymen for missing such a great event. Another Douarnenez boat, the Bermudan yawl Kataree, intended to come but did not make it because of engine failure. We did not do too well in the races, a crew of 4 is on the light side, and manoeuvers were sometimes less than smooth.

A few pictures:

Mascotte leading Germaine. We had a bit of an issue with the main topsail and a small crew not used to it, so I decided to do without it and also dispensed with the jib topsail. In light airs, it's a backseat ticket.

A nice cutter, obviously not in a racing mood

This one looks more racy, though the crew is mostly on the lee side, to enjoy the view of Germaine I assume

Germaine trying to catch up. Notice something missing?

 

 

Documentation:

Lloyd’s survey report after the launch of Germaine, July 1882

Beken of Cowes plaques no 7226 & 7032  1882/83 and 1885

William Kirk collection plaques no 269 B and 270 B, circa 1904/1910, belonging toMs. Ruth Simpson's collection.  (Plaque No 269 is featured on page 45 of "Great days of yachting" by Ian Dear).

"Yachting" from the Badminton Library  - Longman Greens & Co Londres 1895 - 1882 Cowes racing report

Lloyd's register 1926 front cover embossed with HW Wittingham's name. He was the owner of Germaine from around 1920 to around WWII, when he served in a senior role in the RAF.

Photo of Germaine at Heybridge basin, found in the 1926 Lloyd's register. Undated, boat disarmed and partly dismasted. Probably post WWII.

Update form for Germaine from Lloyds' register, dated 1930, found in 1926 register.

"Classic Boat" no 100 - 1997

"The Great Days of Yachting from the Kirk collection" by Ian Dear  B.T Batsford LTD Londres 1988

"Le Yacht" revue maritime 1882 et 1883 - "Mouvements des yachts" ("Yachts movement reports")

"Polar Gleams" by Helen Peel edited by Edward Arnold, London 1894. Story of the trip to Siberia of the yacht Blencathra belonging to Germaine's first owner F.W Leybourne-Popham.  

 

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Characteristics:

Built from January 1882 to June 1882 under Lloyd’s supervision by Ben Nicholson at Gosport. Classified under the 10 and 12 years Lloyd’s material rules.

Length between perpendiculars 34’1, breadth 9’4, depth 6’8. 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:

Lloyd’s 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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If you want to contact me:

patrick4port-rhu.com

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