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ROYAL YACHTS


BEKEN OF COWES


Rather than scuttle or sell Bluebottle, the royal couple loaned her to the Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC), Dartmouth, to assist the training of the Navy’s young officers. She remained there until 1998 when, in view of her declining use and increasing maintenance costs, it was decided she should be transferred to a suitable museum for long-term preservation. The new National Maritime Museum Cornwall (NMMC) in Falmouth emerged as the best option because she could be displayed on one of their exhibition berths, but first she was sent to Maurice Hunkin’s Fowey Yard in 2001. By taking on the prestigious task of preparing Bluebottle for her new role, Maurice Hunkin followed in the footsteps of his father Charlie, who had undertaken the royal Dragon’s first major overhaul during the winter of 1951-52. As part of this earlier work, Charlie Hunkin replaced her canvas decks and modified the doghouse.


GOLDEN JUBILEE REFIT Half a century later, Bluebottle was still essentially in good condition, but she needed a package of work, including the replacement of several frames and the oak stern deadwood, before she could be exhibited to the public. The refit was completed at the end of April 2002, just one week before the Queen and Prince Philip’s visit to NMMC at the start of their Golden Jubilee tour of the UK. Bluebottle is still exhibited at the museum and can occasionally be seen sailing during the summer months. Bluebottle often shared the limelight at regattas with the Flying Fifteen Coweslip, the wedding gift from the people of Cowes, designed by Uffa Fox while relaxing in


the bath one night in 1947. When Prince Philip was posted to the Mediterranean Fleet in 1949, he took Coweslip to Malta, where he spent many happy hours sailing around the local creeks, and she also joined HM Yacht Britannia for her inaugural global deployment of 1956-57. In home waters, he recorded his first Cowes Week victory at her helm in 1951. She was kept and maintained on Uffa Fox’s quay, which enabled Prince Philip to join her from Britannia during Cowes Week without having to run the gauntlet of crowds ashore. Like Bluebottle, Coweslip appeared at several regattas without her royal owner, usually sailed by Uffa Fox. Each summer, Uffa would load her upside-down onto a custom-made stainless-steel cradle fitted on top of his car, a Humber Super Snipe, and catch a ferry over to the mainland to attend regattas across the UK. Uffa admitted to reaching speeds of up to 80mph with Coweslip on top of his car, and she probably clocked up more miles on the road than she did on her own bottom. Following Coweslip’s retirement from racing, she was on display at Cowes Library until 2004 when a lack of space led to her transfer to the Classic Boat Museum, currently moving into its new home in East Cowes. Coweslip was joined in the royal flotilla by another


of Uffa’s designs in 1956. The 24ft (7.3m) gunter-rigged Fairey Fox was created to satisfy Prince Philip’s curiosity about the merits of using hydrofoils on a small sailing boat. She was built by Fairey Marine, which also designed the foils, but they proved unsuccessful during Uffa’s initial experiments and were discarded. Despite this initial setback, Fairey Fox proved to be an exciting


CLASSIC BOAT MAY 2012 61 Above:


Bloodhound in 1964: yacht clubs could borrow her for just £1 per head per day


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