Based on Breton Lines, Primrose designed 'Prawle' to J P Harvest's specification from photos taken of a new 1956 fishing boat at Camaret. He had her built and rigged on 1930s lines, complete with Egyptian cotton sails made by Taylors of Maldon. Gear from the period includes hemp. Her deadeyes, horse, tiller and ash blocks are from his late father's ketch 'Powindah', last heard of in the 1960s in British Columbian waters. 'Powindah' is a sister ship to 'Awara'.
Prawle's history was updated after Lance Southern, one of her original builders, kindly got in touch with us. Lance also provided some photographs of her construction. 'Prawle' was built at the former Ferris & Blank Boatyard at Old Mill Creek, Dartmouth. Ferris died in the 1940s. Blank sold the yard to the foreman, Edward Matthews, in September 1970 at a very reasonable price. Shortly before this time Ed Matthews built 'Prawle' based on the lines of a Brittany sailing trawler after first owner, Peter Harvest, admired such a trawler in Dartmouth.
Peter's father, Colonel Harvest, ordered a motor cruiser to be built for himself at the same time. Work on 'Prawle' started in 1965 and was completed in 1966, probably in March. Her cost was £2000, including her suit of four sails which, as far as we know, are the same ones still used in 2013. There have been no significant changes since them, except (likely) a new mast at some stage which replaced the silver spruce original which had a pair of spreaders (the 2013 one has no spreaders).
The only repair to her hull, apart from a couple of cracked ribs, has been an approx. 1ft section of planking let in under the port rubber around 2003 and re-caulking around the engine area, winter 2011/12. Overwinter 2013/14 we replaced the original engine, a Volvo MD1, with a reconditioned MD1b. Prawle had a new rudder commissioned in early 2017 which has now been fitted.
'Prawle' is well known in Dartmouth, especially to the local Distin family. John Distin, who still works on the Dartmouth River Taxi, was at the yard when she was built and his son Dave usually lifts her into and out of the water for us at his yard in Old Mill Creek. John also retrieved her from Brixham in 2011 after her previous engine broke down following the Heritage Regatta.
Unusual features and additions:
1) The long, deep cockpit, offering safe standing room beneath the boom, is continuous with the cabin space, apart from the non-watertight door. She is very stable with her fishing boat design and we have never been in danger of flooding, even in a heavy blow.
2) A later-added cabin hatch obstructed the unusual sliding cockpit cover from opening fully. I adapted this in 2012, cutting down the cover so that it once again opens fully whilst adding two separate, additional sections so that the cockpit can be fully closed if necessary eg. when left on a mooring.
3) In 2012 I also added cam cleats mounted on mahogany and brass assemblies which clamp-on the hatch cover rail. These do not alter the fabric of the boat, but enable the headsail sheets to be controlled from the cockpit. The mainsheet cleats were also moved into the cabin, a small material change.
4) Prawle had a new switch panel added in 2011, mounted on mahogany, and a depth-sounder fitted for the first time. She has no other electronic instruments.
5) 2013 lazy jacks were added, another non-original feature.
6) New Mahogany gallows installed 2015
7) New rudder 2017