When I left the Navy in 2001, my wife Cindy and I, had a pleasant year visiting shipyards and looking at various boats at different states of repair. We saw the advert for Penny Jane [from Peter Gregson in Wooden Ships, Dartmouth] and she was lying at Topsham on the River Exe. The day before we had put a tentative offer in on a Sea Dog yacht but thought it would be rude not to continue to Topsham to see PJ the following day. When we saw her, lying rather forlornly against the jetty, it was a question of the heart ruling the head. We cancelled our offer on the Sea Dog and set about the purchase of PJ. This included visiting 2 other Ramparts that were not for sale but whose owners were happy to show us round. The surveyor said ‘You have got a project there’ and what did I want him to say? He could convince me it was a good buy at a reduced price, or he could talk me out of it…. I said ‘Convince me!’
We had the summer of 2002 using the boat as she was; friends were kind enough to enthuse to our faces, but have since admitted that they thought we were mad. We then put her into a Yard and told them to ‘make her watertight from above and watertight from below’.
I gave up keeping a record of what was spent that winter; the only consolation was that Star of Kilarney was in the same yard at the time [Tim Gilmore Dolphin Quay, Emsworth] and sure as hell we weren’t spending what Peter was! We left the Yard looking sparkling; the fibre-glass deck covering means she is completely drip free and her bilges are as tight as a drum – 17 replaced ribs later. However, looking at other 32s, I think we are the least ‘converted’ inside. We have no electrical kit apart from a hand held satnav and a VHF; no fridges, TVs, hot water, fresh water pumps…. so those coming onboard for gin had better bring their own ice!
Since that refit it has been relatively easy to keep her looking good. We always cover her when not onboard; put 2 coats of International Original varnish on all exterior wood every year; cover the exterior brass work with Vaseline/heavy grease when not required to look ‘pretty’; have her hull repainted professionally every other year [Nick Gates, Emsworth]; and wash the salt off the varnish after each trip. After all, I did say ‘relatively easy’.
Our cruising ground is the Solent and we haven’t been very far from there; Weymouth is the farthest west and we haven’t been east at all. Our ambition is to do a season on the East Coast – both Cindy and I are from that part of the world. Maybe we will make Henley and perhaps the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Parade next year. ( Since then 2 seasons on the East Coast have passed)
Penny Jane is owned by Christopher Morrison, Cmdr of ROC and is lying in Chichester Harbour, Thorney Channel.
Penny Jane, (Originally Dorothy May) 1958, Build No: 584, Reg. No: 338625
Draft: 2ft 9ins
Hull: Mahogany on CRE
Decks: Ply, Epoxy Sheathed