The Web Site of the 1928 Gaff Cutter Yacht Emanuel

Taking Emanuel into the 21st Century.



Up for a scrub on the beach behind the Maritime Museum in Ramsgate Harbour.  Spring 2008.


About the Gaff Cutter Yacht Emanuel.

Here you will find information about Emanuel including her Designer and Builder, where she was built and some of her owners.  Also information on Emanuel’s restoration and her famous single handed voyage to Newfoundland in 1934.  To navigate your way around use the links above.

 Please note that the copyright of the contents of this website are owned by Robert and Jan Holden unless identified otherwise - as in photo acknowledgements for example.

An introduction:  Emanuel was designed and built by Andrew Anderson and Son at Penarth, in the UK in 1928.  Penarth being close to Cardiff in South Wales and situated on the north side of the estuary of the River Severn.  

Her first owner was Commander Robert Douglas Graham RN. Choosing the name Emanuel - meaning God with us - after a ship of the same name from Bridgwater that sailed in Frobisher’s voyages to find the North West Passage, over the top of Canada. He sailed her to the Færoe Islands and the northern coast of Spain as well as round Britain, winning Royal Cruising Club Cups in the process.   In 1934 he sailed Emanuel single handed to Newfoundland, Labrador and then to Bermuda – the first recorded single handed passage to Newfoundland by the iceberg infested Northern Route.  

Surviving dreadful storms on the leg to Bermuda the whole voyage became a feat unequalled since.  All without any of the fuss and high levels of publicity or multinational sponsorship - or indeed any form of communication - that are prevalent today. That Emanuel survived at all is testament to her builders and to Cdr. Graham for his quite outstanding seamanship.  Afterwards he wrote the very readable Classic Book “Rough Passage” to record this astonishing event.  

This book was reprinted in 2005 with a closing chapter by Emanuel’s current owners and custodians, who have had care of her since early 1980.  This chapter  brings the reader up to date on Emanuel’s survival into the 21st Century, describing Emanuel’s restoration and rebuilding by her present owners in the years 1980 to 1988.  

Emanuel is kept on the Kentish River Stour on the moorings of the Sandwich Sailing and Motor Boat Club.  The entrance to the river being about one and a half miles west of Ramsgate Royal Harbour in the far south eastern corner of Kent in Great Britain. France being a mere 25 or so miles away.

Little is known of


Activities from

1937 to 1980.  

Do you know of anything that would help to

fill in the gaps?  

If so do please let us know

- contact details here.

The cover of the reprinted book

Rough Passage with a closing chapter by Robert Holden - and potted bio’s of those involved.  All to bring the reader up to date on Emanuel’s story.

Sailing on the Haringvliet just north of Willemstad in Holland in the hot summer of  2003.

Emanuel is rigged as a Gaff Cutter.  This means she has a four sided mainsail set or hung on a spar called the Gaff, over which a topsail can be separately set.  

The ‘Cutter’ bit is where a vessel has two sails in front of the mast instead of the more normal (modern) method of just the one sail, which makes those vessels Sloop Rigged.

Particular thanks must go to the following people.

Jack Neale who kindly provided many photos that he took in the 1930s,

for the Emanuel archive, of which only a few are used here, Anne Mason for her

picture of Emanuel sailing, with topsail set, at the head of each of the pages and

Noreen Anderson - Johnny’s daughter and Andrew’s grand-daughter

for her help from her families history.

Restoration work thanks go to the late Dave Stone, who helped put in over

7000 copper rivets.  Engineering model maker Dave Chalk who carried out specialist machining work, for a new lower new rudder hanging and replacement

keel bolts machining, and - to Jan Holden (Joint Owner and wife) who brought up

our family of three children while Dad (Robert) got on with the work of restoration.

Also Michelle Stone (Dave Stone’s elder daughter) for assistance

with this website.

This Website

Copyright of Robert and Jan Holden   

© 2016

All rights reserved.