Back in 2020 our Christmas Newsletter featured several South African based Vertues, including Vertue Carina, seen here in Simons Town. Daniel Brink was in the process of restoring her after some years of neglect under previous ownership, and she looked very smart indeed. This year, on our way back from visiting my brother in Sydney, Australia, our ship called in to Cape Town. Following some last-minute communications with John and Karen Cross, they very kindly picked us up and took us down to Simons Town to look at the boat……

Vertue Carina‘s beautiful teak cockpit.

Although John and Karen live locally they hadn’t been aboard their old boat for years, as she had changed owners and moved from place to place in the Cape Town area. So we were very pleased to be able to introduce them to her new owner, with whom I had been in touch, and who very kindly agreed to meet us at the boat. Following Daniel Brink’s move to Ireland, Carina has suffered again from lack of use and maintenance, so Geoffrey Purcell the new owner has got plenty of work to do to bring her back to her former glory. However, he knows that he’s bought one of the most celebrated Vertues in existence, built largely of teak and ipol in Hong Kong, so sorting out the slightly alarming-looking rust staining from a few ferrous fastenings will be well worth the effort.

John & Karen Cross, meeting Vertue Carina’s new owner, Geoffrey Purcell, in Simons Town.

We had a delightful time with Geoffrey and the Crosses and it was a real priviledge for Frances and me to meet them, and to hear all about their remarkable voyage to Denmark and back, in the early 1970’s with Carina. Some years after their trip, Karen wrote and published her delightful paperback book, The Baby Boat, describing their trials and tribulations during that voyage. Her most important news now is that this is going to be published in a second edition, and as soon as I have full details of how copies of the book can be obtained in the UK and elsewhere, I will add them to this Newsletter. It is an amazing book and should be read by anyone with an interest in Vertues. It also provides a great insight into the way we all used to sail across the oceans in the 1970’s, before the days of gps and other modern ‘indispensable aids to navigation’.

The Baby Boat is to be published again: more details here soon.

Vertue Carina was commissioned by Bruce Dalling, who later became a celebrated South African ocean racing skipper of the 1960’s and ’70s. He sailed her over 14,000 miles from Hong Kong, around Indonesia, and eventually to South Africa, where she was eventually sold to John and Karen. The final passage to Durban, through the notorious Mozambique Channel ended up with Carina being overwhelmed and almost sunk in a violent cyclone.

Vertue Carina’s builders plate.

However, Dalling’s outstanding seamanship not only saved him and the boat, but landed him with the job of skippering the prestigious South African entry in the 1968 OSTAR from Plymouth to Newport, Rhode Island. His boat was called Voortrekker (after the legendary pioneers who trekked from the Cape Colony to Transvaal in the mid 1830’s), and displaced only 6.5 tons, so she was an extremely light boat for her waterline length of almost 40′. A few days before the start of the race Voortrekker was slipped here at Mashfords boatyard in Cremyll, (see below) where I was working at the time, just across the water from the Naval dockyard and victualling yards of Plymouth. I was living aboard my father’s Vertue, Hoitak, at that time and was absolutely delighted when Bruce came aboard for a yarn and a quick beer. He was frantically busy antifouling Voortrekker on the slip, and preparing for the race, but enjoyed seeing another Cheoy Lee built Vertue which was so like his own beloved Vertue Carina.

Mashfords boatyard in May 1968 a few days before the start of the third OSTAR.

My photograph of Mashfords boatyard taken almost exactly 55 years ago shows Hoitak V116, with her mast ashore, and Conor O’brien’s old Saoirse beyond David Lewis’s Rehu Moana on the main slip. Above her, the orange deckworks of one of the two tiny 19’6″ Swedish entries for the OSTAR is also being worked on, whilst another legendary entry, Myth of Malham (No 8) is undergoing some pre-race work. Rehu Moana had just finished her incredible circumnavigation and was up for sale, whilst David and his son Barry Lewis were fitting out their new double-ended ketch Isbjorn prior to setting out for the Pacific islands. They went on to carry out the ground breaking research which was to provide the basis for the rewriting of the whole question of traditional polynesian navigation and voyaging. Unfortunately Voortrekker was just out of shot on the slipway to the right of the little red trimaran!

Vertue Carina’s galley today.

Vertue Carina’s cockpit and after deck.


V153 Patience of the Huon. A CAUTIONARY TALE

By Audun Pedersen

V153 – Patience of the Huon – is a well maintained and well used Vertue.  In the eyes of this beholder, a thing of beauty. Since her launch in late 2009, maintenance has been out-of-water, thorough and annual. That is until the due date, March in 2021, when we, like much of the rest of the world, found ourselves in Covid lock-down.  Up until then I had had no issues causing concern with Patience and maintenance was put off and out of mind until the following March when she was duly put on the slip.

All was well until I noticed a few tell-tale holes, maybe 5mm in diameter, in the keel towards the bottom. Further investigation revealed extensive tunnelling in the deadwood. Toredo worm, not a pretty sight! I had assumed that the dreaded worm was somehow a tropical issue, at least something that occurred elsewhere. I have since been assured that wherever there are wooden boats there will be Toredos.

Our local shipwright Tom made an assessment and arrangements were made to put Patience up on the hardstand at the marina where she is berthed. Removal of the old deadwood, Grey Ironbark, a dense and durable timber widely and traditionally used for structural members of wooden boats, was relatively quick, involving chainsaw and grunt. You know you’re in trouble when parts of your boat looks like this :

Close inspection revealed that the worm was confined to the deadwood, and had not extended into the hull or any adjoining timber. Boat-building quality Eucalypt timber was sourced from a nearby boat builder at Cygnet, and replacement commenced. This was not entirely straightforward, as the keel bolts – 12 of them within the affected timber – are all at different angles to ensure maximum holding as is good practice. This meant that it was not possible for a single piece of timber fashioned into the correct shape to be slipped over the keel bolts and  into place . Hence 70mm laminations were made, each with a slightly oversized hole to slip over the keel bolts and then filled with epoxy and epoxied to the next one. When all was in place the entire replacement was fibreglassed and epoxied on the basis that the wood worm doesn’t much care for epoxy and will go elsewhere for nourishment. Patience was back in the water in a week, the cost in the order of $8,000 which I could happily have done without.

I learned three lessons from this experience;

  • Toredo worm goes where your wooden boat goes – they may meet up.
  • Don’t skip the annual maintenance routine for good reasons or bad.
  • The shape of the bottom of the keel of a Vertue, at least my Vertue is quite flat and long. The boat can happily sit on it on the slip. BUT it also means that there is part of the bottom of the keel that is very hard to get to, and in my case parts which possibly had never had any anti-fouling paint on it. My bad and at my cost. I ensure now that by whatever means EVERY part of the under-water profile of Patience gets a good measure of anti-fouling paint each year.

Back in the water, Bruny Island in sight


Ashiki A Canadian Vertue

ASHIKI sailing in the Pacific Northwest

You would have to have had very sharp eyes indeed to notice that around the New Year another VII had been added to the ‘list’ of grp Vertues in our ‘BOATS’ section. Brianne de Verteuil kindly sent me this picture of her boat, which is kept in Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, just a short ferry ride across the Strait of Georgia from the American city of Vancouver. She’s a fine looking boat and I’m hoping to be able to tell you more about her and Brianne in due course.

We have now been able to name 31 out of the probable total of 42 grp Vertues, built to the early 1970’s VII drawings for grp construction. The database of these boats needs tidying up, and it is my next job after publishing this rather overdue Newsletter. (That’s the trouble when you go travelling for several months, without a proper broadband connection! Aren’t we all spoilt these days, with our digital nomadic lifestyle where this ‘vital’ technology is seen to be a ‘given’! We seemed to manage without it in the 1960’s and ’70’s and 80’s but so many things took much longer. The Vertue Owners Association newsletters were typed out, copied and sent out by post all over the world.)



I am delighted to report that two of the junk-rigged Vertues that were featured in the last Newsletter at Christmas have subsequently found enthusiastic new owners. Craig and Becky wrote to say that Caber is staying in Scotland and will now be based in that most perfect of anchorages, Dunstaffnage, just north of Oban. Meanwhile, Ute has also kindly written to report that her Chu Fa has been sold to an Australian/German owner, and she is hoping to be able to sail aboard her again in the future.

Both these sets of owners have been kind enough to say that they think that the featuring of these boats in the last Newsletter went some way to helping their sale. Now, I have no intention of ever getting seriously involved in yacht brokerage with this modest website, as it’s principle aim is to create a communications hub for Vertue enthusiasts and owners. However, I am continuing to offer the ‘Boats for Sale’ section, where boats can be briefly described, and their owners can then be contacted directly by any prospective purchasers. This costs £200 and the ‘Advert’ remains visible until the boat is sold or withdrawn.

Meanwhile, there are five Vertues for sale in Europe, that I’m aware of at the moment, including Dolly, Pamela Jean and Vertue Fidelis, all with Richard Gregson’s brokerage Wooden Ships, and Serif still appears under our own small section described above. However, just the other day, Hanna Schwendt wrote me to say that they had reluctantly decided to put their lovely Luana on the market. This must be one of the most outstanding Vertues ever, as she is aluminium-hulled, so I could not resist using a stunning photograph of her sailing as this month’s heading image!

Here is Serif, her new paintwork and varnish gleaming, in Mashfords shed where she spends every winter.

Mashfords Boatyard Today

We seem to find an excuse, once or twice a year, to just pop over to Mashfords, as it’s only 25 miles and a short ferry ride away from where we live in South Devon. Nowadays the yard seems to be mainly involved with MOD work, but a visit still brings back happy memories of living and working amongst some of the most exceptionally gifted people and celebrated sailing craft of the past half century: and more!


I’m sorry that this Newsletter is a bit later than usual, as the recent string of Quarterly issues seems to have raised everyone’s expectations. As I have been travelling for several months, this also highlights the fact that I’m unable to hold this all together on my own. So if you would like me to be able to keep up the Quarterly schedule please will some more Vertue Owners send in some photos of their boats and let us have a few more letters and short articles about anything to do with Vertues! In this way we might move on towards creating more of an Association, rather than a loose set of individual boat owners.

This time I’m especially grateful to Auden Pedersen for his excellent piece about the teredo worm infestation aboard his lovely Patience. It is surely a timely reminder to those of us who keep their boats in the water that only the forty-two grp boats, three steel ones, and of course Luana, are immune from this curse of the dreaded ‘shipworm’.

With best wishes for fair winds and following seas!