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Cariad

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Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter

In 1930 Carr lost his sailing partner but found another one in Colonel Drysdale Smith. There was an early season cruise to the Channel Islands. Carr then had the chance to charter Cariad for a month, with one paid hand, to a Mr Cook. It was something he later regretted, for at the end of the charter Cook wrote to Carr to boast that while a gale had scrubbed racing at Cowes, and the Little Ship Club yachts were sheltering in Ostend, he had sailed Cariad from the Continent to Harwich without a reef in. There was damage, which shocked Carr. An insurance claim was made and a surveyor engaged. Cook was accused by the surveyor of "over-driving" the boat. Compensation was paid, but Carr seems never to have chartered Cariad again.

That August took Cariad to Copenhagen through the Kiel Canal, with Drysdale Smith, Peter Courtauld (brother of Augustine) and a paid hand. At Flensburg the sociability of the crew was heightened by the arrival of three female members: Mrs Peterstrong, Miss "Bill" Thomas and Miss Kathleen Grey. To celebrate their arrival, but superficially in honour of Smith's birthday, a seven-course dinner was laid on. The menu card shows there was to be dancing with dinghies at 2 am. In the end, the girls proved too tired to dance, so a romantic dinghy cruise around Cariad was substituted. The cutter returned to Brightlingsea on September 8th, and on October 20th Cariad was taken to Ipswich, where she was hauled out for the winter.

Over the winter of 1930-31 much work was done to Cariad, and Carr thought her to be in the best condition since he had owned her. In the early part of 1931 Carr lived on Cariad while he worked in London. In July he took her to northern Spain, and on the way back he ran into the severest weather he had encountered. A vivid description of it is in “A Yachtsman's Log ". Cariad at last made Dartmouth on August 28th, and was back at Pin Mill on September 4th. It was a 1,620-mile voyage.

Then Carr's life, though not his sailing life, changed when he met Ruth, marrying in July 1932. Ruth's first trip in Cariad was early that season, from Harwich to West Mersea. It is a trip that Carr says she enjoys, and he claims that she turns out to be one of the very few people who can cook a meal at sea and then enjoy the eating of it. A Whitsun trip to Holland followed, and after their marriage a honeymoon voyage took them back to Holland before returning to Harwich on August 10th.

The Last Working Cutter Part 2 by Tim Pratt


There followed a passage to Norway, joined by three other crew. From Norway they sailed to Inverness, where the crew left them; Frank and Ruth took Cariad through the Caledonian Canal to Ballycastle in Northern Ireland, home to Ruth's parents. They then sailed on to the Isles of Scilly, returning to Pin Mill on September 26th. Altogether, they had spent 67 days on board since their marriage, sailing 2,350 miles. It is interesting to note how Carr's glowing reports of Ruth's qualities (including her happiness to cook) compare to her rather different memories of the voyage, written up in the spring 1935 issue of the Seagoer, a short-lived quarterly. She had, she wrote, been expected to be mate, cook, cabin boy and bottle washer. Even when standing her trick at the helm, Carr would pop his head up and ask her to go down below to make the cocoa while he took the helm.

The 1933 season did not start well. Twice on trips to Holland, the engine was damaged by the V-bracket giving out, and each time was repaired by the same local blacksmith. Back at Ipswich, the engine was overhauled and a reverse gear installed. Carr's idea for 1933 was to sail along the south and south-west coast of England studying local coastal sailing craft. This they did: after a week at Fowey, the couple sailed via Newlyn to Ireland, calling again at Ruth's parents. They came back via Milford Haven, Appledore and Fowey.

The following year began with a sail to the Humber, but latter Cariad cruised to southern Brittany, including Belle Ile and the Morbihan. At Concarneau on the way back, Carr was particularly interested in the tunny fishing fleet. That winter Cariad was laid up at Fowey.

The big voyage of 1935 was a late-summer visit to Gothenburg and then along the canals and waterways to Stockholm followed by a return trip round the coast. With the worst September weather in over 20 years, Cariad stayed put, wintering at Limhamn, near Malmo. Ruth's view of this late-summer cruise was to wonder why she had ever taken up sailing in the first place.

After 1935, less information about Cariad exists. No log appears to have survived from 1936 onwards. There is in the Carr papers a list of fitting-out work sent to Harry Ward of Pin Mill in November 1939, so perhaps Carr thought optimistically to sail in the 1940 season.

After that, Cariad was fitted out only once in the dozen years to 1952-53, according to Christopher Ellis writing at the time: he says that Cariad had been laid up at Pin Mill since 1946. By 1953 two pilot-cutter enthusiasts had made offers for Cariad, but Carr had rejected them. He did allow Ellis to take a party of boys from Radley school to Norway that year for a month's cruise. Frank Carr sold Cariad in 1958.

Cariad 1930 - 1957