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Better to have loved and lost … a boat

November 1, 2011

My father was in the Merchant Navy before and during the war where he learned to be a boat builder. The war over he returned to his home on the Essex coast where he was able to apply his carpentry craft in a factory that made wooden dash boards for the car industry. But his true love was sailing and sailing boats.  So my father and a friend began salvaging and renovating boats not just for sailing but for homes or work sheds,   in particular LCAs (landing craft assault vessels) used for transporting troops to the beaches of the Normandy coast on ‘D’ day.  There was a thriving boating and sailing community around the Blackwater River in Essex, but the Solent and the Hamble as the home of the Royal Yacht Club,  was the place to be for experienced boat builders in the new and upcoming boat yards.

So, having decided to make the move he and his friend prepared two landing craft and his recently acquired boat – a Falmouth Quay Punt, planning to tow them from Heybridge Basin to Hamble to begin a boat building business.  Unfortunately things didn’t turn out how they expected.

Although my father had repaired the yacht, she still was not stable enough for the long journey and she sank on the way  with all his belongings.  He stripped to his underwear and swam out to save her –but all was lost. So, my father arrived in Hamble in 1948 with nothing more than the clothes on his back.

The lost boat

This tragic story was documented in a book called the Blackwater men by Arthur Emmett.  This was not the first time in his life that he had lost all his possessions; he had been torpedoed twice during war. This could not have made it any easier for him especially as during this time my not-yet-mother had arrived in Hamble from Essex where they had met sometime before. She was, I am sure expecting to find a home to come to.

However, he persevered and he did become a boat builder on the Hamble  and provide adequately for his coming family.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 1, 2011 5:31 pm

    Am I allowed a anchor tattoo? 😉

  2. Bekky permalink
    November 8, 2011 10:18 am

    Once again Helen, a lovely blog. I especially enjoy your stories about your family in the post-war years. It chimes many chords with my own family history.

    Thank you.

  3. January 13, 2014 8:01 am

    Reblogged this on Living, Libraries and [Dead] Languages and commented:

    As I fight with the oncoming separation from my daughter when she returns to Brazil; I remember the stories I wrote when I began my journey that began when she left the UK to begin her new life.

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