Mary Lunn (given an ounce of breeze) is a fast cruiser, and she likes discovering new places with genial people on board. Bring a passport just in case... I am happy sailing with novices and experienced crew alike. Life on board is active but the atmosphere is pretty relaxed (except that smokers are customarily keel-hauled and often do not survive the voyage). Skipper plus two is comfortable; plus three is possible.
Here is my Sailing Programme for 20111 [coming soon], constantly evolving, of course, and - like anything to do with the sea - subject to change at short notice. If anything tempts you, do get in touch.
Why "Mary Lunn'" ? you ask. In 1946, one Runciman, scion of a well-known shipping and yachting family, bought the boat – so keen was he to lay hands on her that he gazumped a rival purchaser. He decided that her fisrt name was too soppy and decided to re-name her after a character in a poem by Hilaire Belloc called The Example (a jocular poem - it is for instance the only one I know which manages to include the word psittacosis). It begins :
John Henderson, an unbeliever,
Had lately lost his Joie de Vivre
From reading far too many books.
He went about with gloomy looks;
Despair inhabited his breast
And made the man a perfect pest.
Not so his sister, Mary Lunn,
She had a whacking lot of fun!
The fun-loving sister, Mary, is a 35' fast cruiser designed by Uffa Fox - he is better known for his dinghies (such as the all-conquering first planing Fourteen) but drew quite a few larger yachts too.
Mary was built at the Mazagon Dock Co in Bombay - the boatyard where Sir Robin KJ finished off Suhaili, after a poor experience at another yard. Mary was built in 1940, and a remarkable album of B&W photos survives to tell the tale of the building and launching. She was launched but, because of the onset of war, not put into commission - being shipped back through Suez in 1946 and sold in Yarmouth, IoW.
She is built of slow-grown Indian teak of a quality impossible to find these days. The original spruce spars were built by Uffa Fox himself (he was a master builder as well as designer) but have not survived (by the 1980s, aluminium spars hade been stepped). Today's spars are fairly new, of Douglas fir. Most were built in Dartmouth about 10 years ago, when I kept her on the Dart for 2 years, but the mainmast is by Clare Lallow (of Cowes) - after a hairy incident off the Ile Vierge light in 2003. The spinnaker pole is ultra-light carbon - which Uffa would certainly have used had he been offered it! She is a slim, sleek yawl with long overhangs and a dashingly low freeboard aft.
Mary's home berth is at East Cowes - where, as it happens, she was moored in the late 1940s, long before the marina. And it is close to where Uffa Fox served his apprenticeship at S.E. Saunders (his first job was on the design of the world's fastest powerboat - hence his lifelong interest in planing and speed generally) and from where, at the tender age of 21, he launched his own boat designing and building business from the hull of the old Cowes floating bridge.
Mary is now maintained by Lallows, just downstream from the floating bridge: 2 winters ago, her neighbour in the boatshed was Ted Heath's Morning Cloud II, now called Opposition, a stunning restoration project. One of Lallows' boatbuilders worked both on the restoration and - as a young apprentice - on the original building of Morning Cloud by Lallows in the 1970s.
Mary has explored the East Coast (I bought her near Lowestoft in 1992) but now cruises in the Channel - typically to the Channel Islands or South Britanny. I often take LSC crew aboard, and some have been brave enough to cut their teeth on her, or make a first channel crossing. The accommodation was luxurious by the standards of 70 years ago, but of course does not compare to a beamy 35 footer of today.
The rig. I have re-created a rig similar to the original, without aiming for an exact copy. The 2 masts offer flexible sail-plans, easy reefing options, and unusual opportunities such as a mizzen staysail, which adds a good half-knot in the right conditions. The foresails are hanked on (none of those funny roller furling things that jam when a gale blows up). This is hands-on sailing and there is always plenty to do.
Down below, there is a full set of modern electronics (AIS, chart-plotter, etc.) - just in case the paper charts meet the briny and turn into a soggy mess of blotting paper. But no hot shower - unless you decide to brew up a pan of water on the Taylors stove and tip it upside down.
WIth her traditional hull-form, she is sea-kindly and you will find the motion is quite unlike the slapping characteristic of many modern boats. When Mary gets into the groove (or rather, when the helms(wo)man allows her to find the groove), she can move remarkably quickly - and, slim girl that she is, she often leaves the barest ripple of a wake.
Come and find out for yourself!