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Cygnus Vedrae, Black Swan class motor yacht

stuhaynes

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25 Dec 2009
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Thought you might like to see our boat. She was built on the Thames in 1950 and launched in 1951. I've had her for almost 10 years and we live aboard her full time. Built as a 'gentlemans motor yacht' she is 30 feet long with a beam of 9 foot 6 inches. She draws 3 feet 3 inches and is built of mahogany on oak. To offset the sails she has a 2 ton keel. Her displacement weight is 9.5 tons.

To anyone who is considering living aboard a boat I heartily recommend it. We will never move back into a house. I know that 30 foot doesn't really sound much but in fact we have everything on board.



In the stern we have an auto washer dryer, freezer, seperate fridge and a combi oven/microwave/grill. We had a new canopy made to give us extra space and it worked really well.

In the salon we have everything you'd expect, including a multi-fuel stove. We work from the boat so we also house 2 computers.

We rebuilt the old galley leaving space for our brilliant Cobb cooker

We turned the bow cabin into a huge double bed, very comfy.

It always seems strange when we go away without the boat, sleeping in a bed that doesn't move. Something not quite natural.

If you're thinking about living afloat and you think you have the right temperament I really would have a go. My advice would be to go for something in the 38-40 foot range, this is what we'll be looking for as money allows. If you go for bigger than this you may have a problem getting a suitable mooring if you are inland, as we are.

If you know of any more 'Black Swans' I'd be really interested to hear. There were only 5 in the class, as far as I'm aware, and the first of those went to someone in the Shah of Persia's government in 1950. I'd love to find the other 3 if they still exist. They were all hand built, must have cost a fortune, and have a beauty that makes them very special.

Gotta go, dinner ready.
 

ianc1200

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Deglet Nour another of the class is at Bushnells at Wargrave in very good condition, and came to the Trad Rally this year. Interesting it was almost a wreck 15 years ago, and the then owner bought the plans published to build a model of a Black Swan, and rebuilt the real boat from the model plans! Several of the names were in French (I believe) but Deglet Nour had the arabic version of nour/noir (black dates?).

My grandfather had another surveyed - Cygne Noir in about '55/56 - and she wasn't in good condition (the boat we bought was the very similar ARC Everyman we still have) and I last saw Cygne Noir in the Henley area in the late 80's. It had a back cabin or enclosed wheelhouse by then. Fiesole was in the Hampton Court area in the early 90's in a bit of a sorry state. Another one (I believe Gertrudis) featured in large adverts for Shell or BP in Motor Boat and Yachting sometime in the 50's, which typically i can't find just now.

IanC
 
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stuhaynes

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Thanks Ian

You've told me more in your post that's new than I've found in the last couple of years.

I was very lucky when I found Cygnus [though someone had changed her name]. The boat had been out of the water for 2 years being renovated. When I bought her she came complete with lots of photo's, right up to the bottle of champagne at the end. If anyone is interested I'll post a selection.

The picture I posted of Cygnus was taken in 1972

Stu Haynes
 

ianc1200

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Stu

Wood love to see some more photo's. Somewhere I've got a good photo of Cygne Noir in the snow at Weybridge, and the advert featuring (I think) Getrudis. I'll see if I can find & upload.

IanC
 

stuhaynes

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Long time since I last did this;

Hi Ian

Really pleased to see this! I'll get the scanner out tomorrow and post the copy I've got. Your copy is far better than mine though, I can fully read yours where mine is difficult.

The boat in your picture is laid out completely different to ours, but she does look sweet.

Thank you very much for the post. Got any more?

Stu and Kath
 

ianc1200

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George Wilson adverts





Have you got the October 1949 two page review? (if I scanned, won't so good as above as these came from loose magazines, whereas I've only got 1949 bound & so more difficult to scan)

IanC
 

stuhaynes

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Have you got the October 1949 two page review? (if I scanned, won't so good as above as these came from loose magazines, whereas I've only got 1949 bound & so more difficult to scan)

IanC
Hi Ian

Brilliant! I've not seen these before. I've been looking on the internet to see if I could find the review but with no luck. Who knows, someone out there may have it. In the course of the nest few days I'm going to have a look to see what I have actually got and post anything interesting
 

ianc1200

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I think the Wilson history in the 40's/50's/60's is interesting. There was a design published in the December 1945 edition of Yachting World for a design known as the "Jenny Wren" by I believe Arthur Robb. This was a 22' motor cruiser which you could have a small sailing rig, somewhat bigger than steadying sails. The design was taken up and built in numbers by Wilsons, but soon they were building a bigger version the "Grey Squirrel" at about 23' 6". One of these was still around on the Thames called "Fleur". Then they built the Black Swan and the Flying Swan, designed by R Courtney, but if you looked at all four there a very strong resemblance. The Flying Swan in the advert was "Hamonie Three", which was at Freebody's for many years but was sold to Penton Hook, in the early 90's and apart from a couple of Trad Rallys I haven't seen since. Then they built a larger version, the Royal Swan, about 40' with a rear cabin/centre wheelhouse etc. Later another completely different version of the Flying Swan was built, still in wood, and several of these are still around; "Flying Swan" owned until recently by a very active member of the TVBC, "Tamesia" built to the same design in iroko, built for one of the founders of the River Thames Society, etc. Then there was a third steel hulled version of the Flying Swan.
Many original members of the Thames Vintage Boat Club were based at Wilsons, particularly as they had inside storage where members could work on their boats.

IanC
 

capsco

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20 Nov 2001
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Thought you might like to see our boat. She was built on the Thames in 1950 and launched in 1951. I've had her for almost 10 years and we live aboard her full time. Built as a 'gentlemans motor yacht' she is 30 feet long with a beam of 9 foot 6 inches. She draws 3 feet 3 inches and is built of mahogany on oak. To offset the sails she has a 2 ton keel. Her displacement weight is 9.5 tons.

To anyone who is considering living aboard a boat I heartily recommend it. We will never move back into a house. I know that 30 foot doesn't really sound much but in fact we have everything on board.



In the stern we have an auto washer dryer, freezer, seperate fridge and a combi oven/microwave/grill. We had a new canopy made to give us extra space and it worked really wel












In the salon we have everything you'd expect, including a multi-fuel stove. We work from the boat so we also house 2 computers.

We rebuilt the old galley leaving space for our brilliant Cobb cooker

We turned the bow cabin into a huge double bed, very comfy.

It always seems strange when we go away without the boat, sleeping in a bed that doesn't move. Something not quite natural.

If you're thinking about living afloat and you think you have the right temperament I really would have a go. My advice would be to go for something in the 38-40 foot range, this is what we'll be looking for as money allows. If you go for bigger than this you may have a problem getting a suitable mooring if you are inland, as we are.

If you know of any more 'Black Swans' I'd be really interested to hear. There were only 5 in the class, as far as I'm aware, and the first of those went to someone in the Shah of Persia's government in 1950. I'd love to find the other 3 if they still exist. They were all hand built, must have cost a fortune, and have a beauty that makes them very special.

Gotta go, dinner ready.


Is your boat based at Thorne? if so I knew the boat and a previous owner very well, this would be in the mid 70s, she was based at Ripon Motor Boat Club.
 

stuhaynes

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Small world

Is your boat based at Thorne? if so I knew the boat and a previous owner very well, this would be in the mid 70s, she was based at Ripon Motor Boat Club.
Yes it's the same boat. It was owned by Pat Jones who I believe was Commodore there. I've spoken with him. Maybe it was you who showed me the photo and gave me his number?
 
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galeus

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Ipswich
Very interesting to read your post,you are probably aware that your boat gets a mention and glimpse of in 'Navigation on the River Derwent' by Pat Jones.
 

ianc1200

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Following the post about her being part of the Ripon Motor Boat Club, I think I'm right in that she also featured in several photographs in the Ripon Motor Boat Club guide to the Ouse & Trent, and also a (80's?) article in Waterways World about the last flash locks in the country, again with photographs of the boat.

IanC
 

fiesole

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27 Aug 2010
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Hi I saw your note on the black swans I used to own Fiesole in the 90s , I am trying to trace its wereabouts now . the last known licence registration was myself,Last seen moored just up from Kingston bridge.
 

stuhaynes

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Hi I saw your note on the black swans I used to own Fiesole in the 90s , I am trying to trace its wereabouts now . the last known licence registration was myself,Last seen moored just up from Kingston bridge.
I wish I could help but I don't know the boat. As current owners it's been easier for us trace the history of Cygnus and we've been able to get back to 1968 so far. The forum is very helpful, the Black Swan class has been remembered as you will have seen from the earlier responses to my post. They may well be able to help you. Good luck, Stu

We've just got back in the water after normal maintenance. I'll try to add a couple of pics at the end of this rely.
 
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ianc1200

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Last time I saw Fiesole was on the middx side of the river, just downriver from Platts Eyot, and above Hampton Sailing Club, I think perhaps in mid to late 90's.

IanC
 

stuhaynes

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An update on the history of Cygnus Vedrae

I had an email yesterday from Pat Jones who used to be Commodore at Ripon Boat Club. He owned Cygnus from about 1967 to around 1990. He's been a big help when I've needed various bits of advice. I'd emailed him with a few pictures of the recent relaunch and asked him if he knew anything of the boats history prior to him buying her. He told me the following:

She was built for a Dr Browlee and he gave her the unusual name 'Flaxedil'. At least it seems unusual for a non medical person since Flaxedil is (or was) the name of a prescription anti-depressant drug! A Doctor with a cool sense of humour.

She was later sold by a Mr Kippax of Bradford Boat Services at Apley Bridle Bradford, to Felix Thornley of Darlington who renamed her 'Escapade'. Pat bought her in 1967.

The reason Pat changed the boats name was because he wanted to register her on the British Ships Register, but she needed a unique name. We'd always assumed that 'Cygnus Vedrae' translated to 'Green Swan', but no. 'Vedre' is the old latin name for the river Wear, so the correct translation of her name is 'Swan of the Wear'. Not many people know that!
 

ianc1200

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Cyngus Vedrae

A photo from the Ripon Motor Boat Club "Guide to the North East Waterways"
 
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