Built in Connahs Quay in 1900 and named "Lizzie May". Sold to Martyn Fleming of Youghal Ireland in 1908 and re named after his daughters Kathleen & May". Working the ports of western England , Wales and the south and east ports of Ireland. Crewed by skipper, boy and four seamen, operating under sail only. Bought by Tommy Jewell in 1931 the ship had an auxilary engine fitted, the top masts taken down and the bowsprit reduced. She continued trading in this manner with now only a crew of four up to 1960, bringing her last cargo from Cardiff to Bideford. Bringing to an end centuraries of transporting cargo under sail. Eleven years later the Kathleen & May was partly restored by the Maritime trust and put on show first in Plymouth then in London.

By 1995 the ship was in a seriously distressed state and required major restoration work. Lacking the essential funds the ship was closed to the public and after having the masts & spars removed was taken round to Gloucester docks to await an uncertain end. Saved in time by Bideford businessman Steve Clarke and bought back to her home port for a full restoration. For his part in the restoration and contribution to our maritime heritage Mr Clarke received the OBE.
The full story of the Kathleen & May is available at only £3.00 plus postage.

The ship is of historic importance, and, as the last of her type, is part of the Core Collection of the National Register of Historic Vessels (NRHV).

Drawing of the ship

Drawing of the ship
This is how the Kathleen & May would have looked between 1900 and 1930. With with square sails to the fore topmast and gaff topsails to the main and mizzen.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Delayed return

There will be a 24 hr delay the Kathleen and May returning home to Bideford due to the bad weather in the Irish Sea and Lundy sea areas last night. She rode out an uncomfortable swell on Arklow quayside breaking mooring lines and losing fenders.  A Force 8 gale has passed though leaving a large swell across the start of the Bristol Channel. It is hoped that we will leave Arklow on Friday Morning after a fantastic welcome here.

The crew would like to thank the people of Arklow for the warm and heart felt welcome they received during their stay.  They are hoping for a longer stay next year, when they’ll try to bring the sun to Arklow.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Kathleen and May returns to Bideford

This Friday will see the triumphant return of Bideford's own tall ship the Kathleen and May. After a busy summer sailing the Bristol Channel and Irish Sea as well as across the Channel to France, where she picked up wine to deliver under sail to Dublin for a environment transport company.

This year has been a exciting time for both the ship and the crew visiting many new ports for the first time since her restoration including Padstow, an old haunt she once traded to, as well as Plymouth - her home in the 70’s when owned by the Maritime Trust. The people of Plymouth turned out in huge numbers to see the ship and come onboard, some for the first time, whilst others recalling stories from yesteryear.

"Dartmouth was a great place to visit" said Bill Hudson, ship’s bosun. "We opened to the public there and sold wine from the ship on warm music filled nights to the backdrop of vintage yachts."

Bristol to was a regular drop-off for the ship this year visiting 3 times, once for the Harbour Festival, in the centre of the city. As July became August the crew fought on through the best of British summers and round Wales, stopping off briefly in Milford Haven to take shelter from a passing storm. Once up the Irish Sea Whitehaven in Cumbria was a must-see place to go. The Maritime Festival there saw in excess of 110,000 people come to the town. Crew member Adam Tuck (14) said, "This is so cool I have seen so much this year and done so many new things."
Also on the agenda this year was a little port in Southern Ireland call Dundalk. "The welcome there was so warm from the people there was a large turn-out for such a small town." Charter passenger Lorraine Harris said, "To be involved in bringing this much history back to a schooner port like this means so much to these people."
This year has seen the Kathleen and May sail the Bristol Channel once more in the company of her old sister ship the "Irene," which was burned out in the Caribbean in 2002. She has since been rebuilt and is back to sailing condition. These two ships were once a familiar sight together in the westcountry ports. It was a emotional moment for Sacha Hall, Sail Master who has worked on both ships, when they met again for the first time in more than forty years in the Bristol Channel. “There was a tear in my eye when she rounded the headland and we passed down the welsh coast abeam of each other."
So come down to the town and welcome the ship back in this Friday. She will cross Bideford Bar about 5.30pm and be on the quay at 6.15, returning to her berth at the top of that tide.

She will be open to the public on Saturday and Sunday in the yard from 1200 to 1700. Make the most of her return. We will have wine onboard to sell.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Bristol to Whitehaven

The Kathleen and May is sailing from Bristol to Whitehaven in the company of the Irene.

She had to take shelter once she got to Milford Haven because of a sharp sea and strong winds for 12 hours, before pressing on.

She had a brisk sail up the the Irish Sea till Anglesey where the wind then dropped back to a F3-F2.

She arrived in Whitehaven at 1300 Thursday.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Sutton Harbour Update

This week has seen the old girl return to Plymouth.  She was met by many an old friend.  People came down to see her in Sutton Harbour with stories of how they had helped repair this, rigged that, took her out for filming in the Onedin Line; the connections kept coming.  Even the next generation called in to regale us with the exploits of their fathers and grandfathers aboard her.
The warm summer’s evenings were ideal to open the ship for wine tastings aboard accompanied by music from a travelling window cleaner/accordion player called Andy who sang for his supper.
We had a great response to the wine tasting and managed to sell a good share of the wine we were carrying.  The glorious sunshine was only matched by the warmth of the people of Plymouth; along with the great setting of Sutton Harbour made the stay even more special for the crew and the ship.
After doing an afternoon sail round Plymouth Sound with a very friendly group of passengers we returned to an anchorage in Jennycliff Bay for the night.  Thursday we set out for Dartmouth for a day sail with another group.  By tomorrow evening we should be sitting on a buoy in Dartmouth.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Day Sail from Dartmouth to Plymouth

The Kathleen and May will be doing a day sail from Dartmouth to Plymouth on Monday the 6th July.

Departs in the morning for a day sail round the beautiful Devon coast to Plymouth with a light lunch included arriving approx  17:30 

Cost £95 a head.  No children under 14. Contact 07741 009991.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Kathleen and May in Sutton Harbour

The Kathleen and May is paying a visit to her old home port of Plymouth where she will be staying for the week in Sutton Harbour, where she stayed from 1971 till 1978 before going on to St Katharine Docks in London.

She will be open to the public between 12pm and 5pm and on Saturday and Sunday evening will be holding wine tastings onboard. 

So come try some of the first wine to be shipped into the West Country under sail for over 50 years.
Her next port of call will be Dartmouth for the Classic Channel Regatta.  She will leave Plymouth on Thursday 2nd July for a day sail around Start Point to Dartmouth.  

There will be a limited number of spaces available on board for the price of £95.00 a head.

Please call in at the ship for more details, or call the ship on 07741 009991.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Penzance, here we come...

Day sail, Padstow to Penzance, taking in Lands End. Departs Padstow, Thursday 25 June 07.30, arrive Penzance 19.00. Cost £100 per person, including a light lunch. Return journey not included.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Sailing from Clovelly

Due to Fair Winds Wine cancelling our next trip, with just 16 hours notice, due to lack of orders, our plans for the passage to Bordeaux are currently on hold.

We find ourselves in the unenviable position of trying to recoup some of the costs we have incurred in setting up for the trip.

Fortunately for our local supporters this means that we will be arriving in Clovelly on Saturday morning, and hope to do trips from there.  We are carrying wine from our previous adventures which will be on sale on board.

So now is your chance to help play a real part in the preservation of this wonderful ship by joining us at Clovelly for either 2 hour trips, a day sail or a charter to Lundy.

We are hoping to move on to Padstow at the end of the week and there will be limited space for this 12 hour coastal sight-seeing trip.

For more information please either call Sacha on 07741 009991, or pop down to Clovelly and talk to one of the crew.  The itinerary appears here.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Facebook Group

We've created a Facebook Group, to allow crew members to upload their photos and share their experiences.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Shakedown Sail

Following, what seemed to be, a never-ending winter refit, the Kathleen and May visited Clovelly last Saturday evening for a shakedown sail.

We practiced our safety drills, including firefighting and tightened the rigging - as the masts had all been removed during the refurbishment.

A swift run ashore to the Red Lion on Saturday night before a beatiful sail across Bideford Bay on the Sunday.

As we approached the Fairway Buoy, under full sail, we were hailed by the Westland Wessex, of 22 Sqn RAF who wanted to carry out a Search and Rescue practice with us. It was amazing watching them lower the winch-man onto the whaleback, whilst we maintained our course and speed, for a brief chat before heading off to a real drama in Swansea.

Videos of this exercise appear here and here.

We then lowered the sails and steamed home to Bideford - and as ever, held our collective breath, as we passed under the Torridge Bridge, with the view from the shore here.

More updates soon, as we await a weather window to sail to France for an enviromental transport of wine to Dublin.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Adam Tulk Writes

My name is Adam Tulk, I am 13 years old, and I began working at the Kathleen and May as a volunteer a month ago.

I have been doing all kinds things like servicing blocks which involves taking it apart oiling and greasing up the pin sanding it down and painting it with preservative. I have been able to show other people now how to do this.

We put the three masts back in last week and I was asked to place a coin under the main mast this is a very old tradition and I felt very lucky.

One of the other jobs I have done is to start the main engine, I have done a lot of sanding, painting and varnishing.

As well as working on the rigging. I used to watch a lot of day time television and I wasn't very happy now I get up early to start work at 8.00am all day till 5.30pm. At tea breaks I get taught knots and learn about the sea I have made lots of new friends and we have a laugh together and I am learning a lot.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Scaffolding the Stern

This week saw the scaffolding go up on the stern of the Kathleen and May. Simon, and the lads from Sid Little Scaffolding, arrived on Thursday morning, and in no time had something resembling a deck house and bridge rigged in no time. This was to allow for a clever bit of cantilevered scaffold over the stern.

"It’s not every day that you get to put up scaffolding on board a ship!" said Simon Little, Director of Sid Little Scaffolding.

Work can now begin on minor timber repairs to the bulwarks round the stern before painting begins.

Work is also well underway on the main masts, and the first will be out of the shed next week. There is still a lot of work to do on the standing rigging.

If you have some spare time why not call down at Brunswick Wharf and lend a hand? There’s lots to do, and always something happening.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Artists make a big impression onboard

Monday 2nd February saw the first art class held on board. There was a good turnout for the class which was held by tutor Fiona Balfour, a local artist.

“The students found the setting for the class inspirational with so many different things on board to see and draw.  It really got the juices flowing” said Fiona.

Classes will be held every Monday throughout February, March and April, and are open to all whatever their level of experience.

For further information please contact Fiona on 01237 424494 or email fcb@f2s.com

Monday, 2 February 2009

Snow in Bideford

Snow is rare in North Devon, so here's a quick snap of the spars with a light dusting.

Much more snow is forecast tonight.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

All hands to the masts

For those of you who have been through Bideford this week, it's just possible that you may have noticed something missing from the river.  That's right, we have taken the masts off the old girl. But don't feel sorry for her.  She's getting a good spruce up. They were taken down with help from Kas Crane Hire. We must have been doing something right because on Wednesday morning, as a soft mist rolled off the river,  somewhere up above the sun was warming up for a glorious day.

Shortly after 8 in the morning, the working gang rolled into the yard, one-by-one, all geared up for a busy day. The last last few days had seen Rob and Bill making ready for the lifting of the masts, clearing away the standing rigging,  slacking off the mast wedges, and generally making sure that there was as little delay as possible to the crane.

By 9 o'clock we were ready for our first lift.  With careful positioning of the strops, to allow for the angle of the bowsprit, it eased its way out, not unlike a cork leaving the neck of a fine vintage wine.

Once down on the quayside, and with the sun cutting through the January chill, our attention turned to the foremast.  We were all interested to see the state of the Queen Victoria Silver Sovereign (incidentally it is dated 1900 - the same age as the Ship), which Steve had placed under the foot of the mast some 7 years previously.

As the mast rose up through the deckhead, there, under the foot, lay the Sovereign shining as if it had only been placed there yesterday.

By now, John Crosby had pulled in with the North Devon College minibus and a group of young carpenter students.  They were here to see how things were going, and whether they could become involved.

Once Sacha had given them a potted history of the ship they were soon put to work under Richard's direction,  lifting of the shrouds and laying them out ready for inspection

The remaining mast followed quickly and by early afternoon all the spars were laid out for scraping, once a round of teas had been brewed.  A revitalised crew set about stripping the ironwork off the mast.   Meticulous effort was put into marking them up so as to ease their replacement later this Spring.

As the day drew to an end the gang looked at their day's toil from the deck of the topless old girl, and it didn't need stating that the task ahead is a huge one. But today has seen a large step taken forwards, and tomorrow will bring new problems to overcome.

Photos taken by the owner and local businessman, Cllr Stephen Clarke OBE, of S.E.L. Clarke Plant Hire, Bideford.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Feedback from meeting

Thanks to everyone for the great turn out to the meeting, on Saturday night.

It was great to see all the old faces and a lot of new ones.  A number of great ideas came out of the evening.

These ideas now need to be worked on.   We will hold another meeting in a couple of weeks for updates.

Things look like they could shape up to be a very productive year for the ship.

Monday, 5 January 2009

The Lady Varnishes

Work is well under way on the mast and rigging overhaul.  They are getting an 8 coat treatment from a Coelan product, giving a clear hard-wearing finish. 

"The task ahead of us is huge," said Richard Hall, whilst applying the fifth out of eight coats on one of the three gaffs,  "but the finish is looking very good so far.  But this is one of only 13 spars we have to do and the main masts are 17m long and 1.2 m in circumference.   This really brings home to us the scale of the job."

"Sacha has been working on some minor repairs that come from wear at areas on the rigging." 

"We are looking forward to seeing the ship in top notch condition for next year's sailing season" he continued. 

"Anyone wishing to join us to give us a hand can leave their details on line, or come to the meeting this Saturday evening."

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Open Meeting Sat 10th Jan 2009

There will be an Open Meeting on board the Kathleen and May, at 7 p.m..

Anyone with anything to contribute to the ship in the coming year, whether it be as part of the sailing or maintenance crew is most welcome to attend this meeting.

We welcome volunteers of all abilities.  Please don't be shy - you never know what you can do until you try it!