C. B. Darby and Son


New member
4 Apr 2002
We have recently bought a boat built by C. B. Darby and Son of Oulton Broad Suffolk. It is 25ft Lucky Gleam Class (we think) and was built between 1955 and 1968. It was one of three, the other two being used as hire boats on the Norfolk Broads. We would be very interested in any more information about the boat and/or the company. Thank you.


When doing some research into the history of a half decker I used to have on the Broads I discovered that Ivan Darby ( whom I think must be the son in the company name) was one of the co-designers.

I later discovered that Ivan had drawn the lines on the back of a cigarette packet during a session in the local pub with a well known Lowestoft shipyard owner (Cyril Richards). Mr R wanted a racing half decker as a prototype for a new one design to be called the Oulton Broad One Design, and he wanted it to be faster than the existing Waveney and Broads one designs. They incorporated into the design some feature which helped the boat sail faster on a certain tack to make use of the prevailing winds on the Broad ( I have been told)

Ivan and Richards then set about having the boat built in great secrecy during the war and it was only launched in 1944, a day after D-Day when Richards thought the war was going well and the boatbuilding restrictions would soon be lifted.

The boat was launched and paddled to Darby's yard at Oulton Broad to be fitted out. When she finally did race after the war she proved to be quicker than the Waveneys and even the faster Yare and Bure One Design. After a run of victories against the other classes (and for rather large bets beween owners) the new half decker was blackballed and after that could only race in handicaps.

Ivan Darby, I think, was heavily in to yacht racing while his brother, whose name I cannot remember) was a motor boat racer and extremely successful in his day.

I will try to get more details. Please send me a private message so that I can contact you at a later stage.




Here is another clue

The brother was Alan Darby... do a Google search on the net for the Darby One Design a famous inboard engined hydroplane he designed and raced just after the war.


I'm fascinated by this, and I'd love to know more about your boat, as I'm currently buying one of almost exactly the same size and vintage out of the hire fleet (different yard, sadly - mine was built at Herbert Woods, Gay Lady class, so far as we know).

Do let us know how you get on, or post a pic if you have one. I'm off to Norfolk at the end of the week to see mine hauled out for repairs/repainting. It's always been my ambition to own a Lady class yacht, so I'm delighted to get my hands on her.

I'm particularly interested to know about your rig. Fair Breeze is Bermudan, apparently because it was 'all the rage' when she was built. But I do feel a bit ambivalent about it, even if it is original. Is yours a gaffer?

She was apparently conceived as a halfdecker then converted into a cabin yacht halfway through building when the order fell through. This was achieved by the addition of an extra strake - distinctive because it remains unpainted, which means you can tell her anywhere. It also means she is very small for a cabin yacht at 24ft. Because she's been in the hire fleet, lots of people recognise her.

Hope your purchase/research goes well - sorry I can't contribute anything as useful as the above, and also for going on about my own boat. Like any new owner, I'm still bursting with enthusiasm - cynicism will soon take over I expect. Broadreach has already had his socks bored off by me... ;- ))

But this post is prompted by genuine interest and love of these boats... good luck.

"El manana es nuestro, companero..."