Do you dream of owning a gaffer?

The sky is the limit: sailing with topsail and fisherman
©Nathalie Colpaert

Like many OGA members, I have dreamt of ownership of a ‘proper’ gaffer for a while – but pragmatism forces me to recognise the reality that I am likely to lack both the funds and time to do the job properly for some time to come, if ever. 

To that end, I’ve come up with a proposal which achieves the goal and addresses some of the issues that such a venture throws up: namely to bring together a consortium who collectively will have the funds and the time needed to buy and maintain such a vessel, while providing a minimum of three weeks of sailing in the season, each year plus as much out of season sailing as maintenance schedules and the other members agree to. 

For many of us, three weeks of sailing per year is a pretty ambitious dream. Add in out-of-season sailing too, and that’s a serious proposition – at least to me!

The proposal is to berth the vessel in Jersey, giving easy access to a wide range of great sailing destinations. Easily and cheaply accessible from a good number of British airports, Jersey is within a day’s sail all of the near French Normandy and Brittany coasts, plus the English and French Channel Islands and much of the English south coast. Within two days, that extends to the Scilly Islands, Ushant, the South Brittany coast, and the north Cornish/South Welsh coast. The range of options for a week or two’s sailing from Jersey in a well-found vessel is enormous.

The boat purchased will be a traditionally styled, gaff rigged boat, deep keeled so capable of taking the sea, rigged to be sailed with a competent and experienced crew of three or less if needs be – but able to accommodate at least six in good comfort.

I anticipate an initial purchase price of between £200k and £400k – for a vessel in pretty much ready-to-sail state. Add 20% of the initial purchase price to create a sinking fund and members should anticipate a year one cost of between £24k and £48k. Thereafter the costs are expected to be approximately 10% of the initial purchase cost – so £2k to £4k per member. To the extent practicable, it is also anticipated that members could replace some of the cash cost with their own labour. After all, much of the regular work on a traditional vessel does not require more than elbow grease, sandpaper, a brush and a tin of varnish. For the more complex jobs professionals will be engaged.

So I am looking for enthusiasts to join me in this venture, to make a happy consortium of sailors who value traditional boats and would join me in the dream of owning a great gaff rigger.  

If that is you please do get in touch.

Swithun JK Mason, South West Gaffers
swithun [at] masonbreese [dot] com 

Published: 
22 Jun 2019