Speedwell of Hong Kong was the first of the Vertues to be built to the drawings that resulted in the cutter rig shown below. She was different from the more usual short doghouse version of the class at that time because she had a long, low, stepped coachroof. The profile of this is so like that of the Hiscock’s Wanderer III that it is no surprise to learn that they were concieved together, in the winter of 1950/51. The drawing below was published in 1951 in the appendix of Humphrey Barton’s book Vertue xxxv following his remarkable transatlantic voyage with that boat in the spring of 1950. It was described as having been prepared for ‘an enthusiast’, who subsequently didn’t go ahead with the project.
The concept drawing which resulted in the first Ocean Vertue.
Another ‘enthusiast’, Eric Hiscock had gone ahead with the construction of a design by Giles for Wanderer III.
Whilst these drawings of the two boats clearly show their very similar hull and deck ‘profile’, Wanderer was nearly five feet longer than Speedwell. However, the accommodation layout is remarkably similar with a much longer galley to port, and chart table to starboard, than the usual Vertue layout.
After sailing Speedwell to Cape Town in 1955, John Goodwin sold the boat to her most celebrated South African owner, Judge Louis van Winson, who kept her for many years. Several owners later the boat was bought by Shirley Carter in 1998 although she was in pretty poor shape. Shirley runs a marvelous blog where much of the recent history of the boat can be found: see the link elsewhere on this website.
Apart from the remarkable, continuous cruising lifestyle that Shirley has embraced for the past two decades, this Vertue has another distinctive attribute in the single masted junk rig that has been developed for her. Shirley was clearly influenced by Annie Hill and Pete Hill, so during the first few years of her ownership, and with some willing help from Pete, she converted to the Chinese rig. It clearly suits her and the enviable lifestyle she leads.
- Laurent Giles design No: 176
- Builder: Wing on Shing Shipyard, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
- Launch Date: 1952
- Hull Material: Teak on Camphor
- Deck: Originally teak?
- Engine: Built without but has one now. First engine fitted in 1963.
- Ballast keel material: Not known
- Doghouse: Ocean coachroof
- Cockpit: Short
- Berths: 2 originally
- Rig: Chinese lugsail (junk) Built as a conventional masthead bermudan sloop)
- Mast: Originally wood now ?
- Heads'ls: None (Originally rigged as conventional masthead bermudan sloop)
- Backstay arrangement: None (Originally built with single to bumkin)
- Home Port: The World
- Current Owner: Shirley Carter
- Contact details: At sea
- Email address:
- Other comments: Speedwell has spent more time at sea than most Vertues.