The Web Site of the 1928 Gaff Cutter Yacht Emanuel

Taking Emanuel into the 21st Century.


Great Britain

Cracking on in Sandwich Bay near Ramsgate in October 2011. Photo:  Chris Tappenden

Sailing the UK coast

Since Emanuel’s re commissioning in late July of this year 2014, following a 25 year in depth overhaul, Emanuel has already cruised to the East Swale and on to Queenborough.  On going through the Kingsferry Bridge - lifted to full height for us - Emanuel entered the span in dry weather and emerged the other side in bucketing down torrential rain driven sideways by an instant gale.  The strength sufficient to fly ‘Bubbles Too’,  Emanuel’s inflatable Zodiac tender, clear out of the water, spin it and dump it back down upside down.  This in just the wrong place to effect a recovery being between the piers of two bridges in howling wind.  Thankfully the tow line held.

Recovery was made about half a mile further on in dying wind by simply putting Emanuel gently into the windward mud, with the engine slow ahead,  for ‘Bubbles’ to be brought alongside, righted and kissed better.

in September it was a dash to Boulogne for an evening meal (with topsail set and 6 knots on the log).  Then motoring back overnight with a replete Sandwich Sailing and Motorboat Club crew of Peter Burnett and Trevor Alison.

Left the freshly painted bilge with the  Lead Ballast ingots back in place.  Above the topsides freshly linseed oiled.  Right topsides in undercoat and the freshly re galvanised original anchor cable newly painted every 5 metres.  One red link = 5 metres, two red links = 10 metres etc.  With eight red links at the stem there is therefore 40 metres of 3/8th inch chain on the plywood.

The 2014 major overhaul after 25 years in commission since the rebuild.


Winter 2014/15 and Emanuel remained in commission, but the weather had other ideas on days planned for a quiet sail locally.  However…

The sunny weather of April allowed good progress on the annual varnish work with a trip to the top of the mast and just enough varnish in the paint kettle to do the work back down to reachable height from the deck. Hull painting to be done after the June OGA event at Chatham - or so we thought!

Departing the Kentish River Stour after dark bound for Queenborough on Friday 29th May, with a 36 hour window in the weather to take advantage of, course was set to clear Ramsgate breakwaters by about a cable.  All was well until abeam of the western end of the Ramsgate port area when Emanuel collided violently with an unlit steel buoy of some size, becoming eerily lit by the starboard light.  Force was sufficient to deflect Emanuel’s course by about 45 degrees.  Hasty inspection forward found no water ingress but torchlight inspection outside revealed serious scuff markings whilst inside inspection in turn revealed three stove in planks that had split down their width.  Also a cracked steamed frame.

Immediate diversion to Ramsgate had to be made to execute repairs. The buoy later found to belong to a barge working on repairing the power cable from the Thanet Array wind farm in Pegwell Bay. It was marking one of it’s extended anchorage points.  Which was in the middle of the Ramsgate Channel fairway.  Unlit and no ‘Notice to Mariners’ posted concerning buoys, both being in contravention of the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) licence for the works.

Balfour Beatty owning the cable, Briggs Marine contracted to carry out the work and Stemat of Rotterdam providing the barge Pontra Maris, whilst Balfour Beatty the holders of the MMO licence. Convoluted or what!

Meanwhile prevarication and ‘slope shoulders’ is alive and well in East Kent.

However Emanuel was lifted out at Ramsgate and the work of repair completed in just a few days.  Surveyor approval Emanuel was returned to the water on a fine and warm Friday 10th July 2015 - and no leaks!

At the time of updating - 29th September 2015 - the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) are carrying out an investigation focusing of the contractors non compliance with the MMO licence.  Hopefully the outcome of all this will ensure other such operations around our coast are better managed with regard to other users of our seas.

The rest of the season saw Emanuel eventually make Queenborough only to become weather bound for a week.  The intent was to then go to Essex but time did not permit so it was back to Sandwich in - as it turned out - splendid conditions, recording speeds through the water of 7 knots.  All very nice but North Foreland had to be rounded bringing Emanuel onto the SW wind over tide and consequent short seas.

Sailing Emanuel like a dinghy we went through most waves and on one of the tacks even took a broadside that put solid water through the closed skylight onto the charts on the table.  Jan very sensibly remained below if a little poorly and was able to dab things into some state of dryness.

Late Septembers high pressure and bright sunshine permitted some pleasant local sailing, and a particularly fine night at anchor in Pegwell Bay, embraced by a spectacularly fine sunset itself accompanying a clear rising moon.  The ‘moon’ that was to provide the higher tides than usual this September due to it’s slightly elliptical orbit bringing it closer to the earth.  In practice the high pressure prevailing depressed sea levels in the southern North Sea and eastern English Channel by about .2 of a meter.  The high tides were therefore not so high, but the extra low tides were certainly interesting.


Above:  In St Katherines Dock London for the Thames Festival 2010.  

The Daffodils on the coach roof are a recognition of Emanuel’s Welsh building.  As is the daffodil carved onto the tiller.

Jan Holden and Claire Hawksford - youngest daughter - in the cockpit.

Above and above right Robert and Jan enjoying the rather hot summer of 2016. The jib topsail doubling as a sun shade for Jan.

Right.  Emanuel is dwarfed by some serious horse power in Woolverstone Marina at Woodbridge - on the River Deben in Essex.

Below the East Coast Old Gaffers Association August Classics Cruise 2016.  A week of gaffer racing, partying and pottering on the Essex rivers Stour, Orwell and Walton Backwaters as well as the Suffolk River Deben - second visit this year.

Right:  The Gaff yawl Cygnet chases Emanuel through the container port of Felixstow.  Other Gaffers trail behind.

The Classics Cruise event finished on August Bank Holiday so it was an early - as in 0300 Monday morning early - departure for the return to Emanuel’s home berth at Sandwich from Suffolk Yacht Harbour.  Sailing solo and with little wind until about 0700 it had to be engine on, motoring into a fine dawn.  Then with all plain sail set and a NNW breeze picking up Emanuel was soon clocking over 7 knots running up Black Deep in the Thames Estuary with the fair tide.

Then through Foulgers Gat and the wind farm for a course south to North Foreland, past Broadstairs and Ramsgate, arriving in Pegwell Bay  at 1430 to Anchor overnight for the midday tide next day into the river.  Night entry into the drying river is unwise.  After such a fine sunrise - Emanuel was blessed with an even better sunset.  The next morning however brought thick fog.  But it did clear in time to allow a punctual and leisurely entry into the river.

SUNNY SUNSET in Pegwell Bay

FOGGY BREAKFAST without moving the anchor