Boadicea is probably the oldest sailing vessel in Europe that is still in regular use. She was built in 1808 as an oyster smack and was worked commercially until 1938 when she passed into the hands of my grandfather Michael Frost, who worked the boat for pleasure until his death. Boadicea has passed through the family and is now in my care and still today she is worked under sail pulling a Trawl or oyster dredges in order to keep the old skills alive and it makes a great day out for the family seeing what kinds of fish and creatures are caught up in the nets. The pleasure of working a boat under sail at your own pace is second to none. During the spring and summer Boadicea can be found regularly racing against other Smacks and classic yachts and if there is a stiff breeze we can hold our own. During the autumn we still drift net for herring.
Boadicea is an unusual boat in that at only 30ft long she is 10ft6 in beam and draws 4ft6 and weighing in at a mighty 12.5 tons. This build with a cod head and a fish tail, allows the boat to draw on either her weight to carry through a sea or her small size to be nimble in the creeks.
Recently courtesy of Oyster Marine we have had a folding propeller and new engine fitted and this has now allowed me to revel in the experience of sailing her as previous generations had enjoyed her with no prop holding the stern down and making her have one good tack and one poor one.
The change has been remarkable and sailing hard the first time was an interesting experience as the shoulder of the boat rolled into the water and the stern started to lift but she then just powered through everything as the buoyancy of her cod head lifted her back out of the water. The term lift may be a bit misleading as she only lifts the stern 6 to 12 inches but before with the old prop we would pull the stern by 6 inches as the prop rotated and refused to release the boat.
Boadicea is solid as a rock at sea even in a hard blow with every one else putting a reef in she comes alive. aft at the helm you can still sit with a cup of tea and bacon sandwich with no fear of loosing either if you put them down.
Some boats have a figure head on the stem head we have a 'hairy' Dave on the fore deck and invariably if you see the boat out sailing you'll see Dave's head sticking up above the rail keeping a eye on the big jib, or on a rough day trying to find a dry moment to roll a cigarette. I mention Dave as I would be lost with out his help, he is always the first to offer help for maintenance and scrubbing and never misses the chance to go for a sail.