THE ADVENTURES OF EX-LIFEBOAT “DENEYS REITZ”
HOW A RETIRED RESCUE BOAT TRANSFORMED THE LIVES OF HER MANY FRIENDS
“Deneys Reitz” is an old lifeboat with a strange name - at least to the average British person. The boat served as an all-weather RNLI rescue craft in Fowey, on the rocky Atlantic coast of south west England from 1954 to 1980, sometimes going to sea in atrocious weather to rescue distressed seamen. Then she went into retirement, and operated as a pilot boat, before being bought by Dave, an ex-merchant seaman, whose dream was to sail her round the world. Lack of money and the absolute refusal of his wife to contemplate such an adventure scuppered Dave's plans. So the boat languished on a mud berth at Canvey Island on the river Thames, in a boatyard that could be appropriately named “The Graveyard of Broken Dreams”. She was discovered by Charlotte and Don Young through “Exchange and Mart” magazine. They were actually looking for a rowing dinghy, but the ad “Lifeboat for sale, £10,000” (much more than she was then worth) touched a chord, for they were planning great adventures following retirement from full-time work.
So began a lengthy and eventful saga:
- The old boat was surveyed and purchased
- A boat-builder was found who was foolhardy enough to take on the conversion to a cruising boat
- The first crisis: discovery that few people had completed such a conversion. Planning and budgeting with any accuracy was impossible.
- But it was obvious that the job needed a team of many talents
- Breakthrough! Shipwright, engineer and boat-builder all agreed to work with Charlotte and Don
- Boat moved to old piggery in Upton, Norfolk and covered with truck canvases
- Serious work begins. Don is part of team, as dogsbody and labourer. He is known as “Putt” for his skill in sanding, applying putty between planks, and painting with noxious substances. Charlotte makes cushions, curtains and plans the kitchen
- Stress and anxiety! Still nobody knows how much conversion will cost - or how long it will take
- 3 years, 1 heart attack and broken ankle later, the work is complete - the boat looks stunning!
- To sea for the first time. It is a wonderful sea boat! But does it roll!!
- Let adventures commence! Round the British Isles in 2000. To the Baltic Sea in 2001, there to stay for 5 years. Onward to Norway, Denmark, the Rhine and Moselle rivers, thence to the Netherlands and Western Scotland.....
Enough! Read all about it for yourselves.....