Ferry Nymph – A Dunkirk Little Ship

A much loved Dunkirk Little Ship

Built in 1939 by J. Harvey and Sons of Poole in Dorset, Ferry Nymph was constructed of pitch pine on oak and displaces 12 tons. She has a draft of 3ft which makes her very useful for most waterways. She is a Dunkirk Little ship of some repute having participated since her original trips to the beaches of Dunkirk in several national events including the Jubilee Pageant in London in June 2012, several returns to Dunkirk, the Thames Traditional Boat Rally and the Nelson Flotilla. She is now berthed on the Thames near Marlow and took her previous owner right up the Thames to Lechlade, squeezing under Osney Bridge to enjoy the upper reaches of the Thames. The current owners have looked after her beautifully since they bought her with a view to using her for charter alongside their country house hotel in Scotland.  The latter is now about to be sold and the vendors wish to explore the Thames in something with more accommodation. The most recent work is obvious to see on inspection with a fabulous open seating area aft and a large dining or lounging area under a midships canopy. There is a bow cabin for the occasional sleep over but mainly this is a fabulous boat for entertaining.

Her war record is well documented and we know that she was requisitioned by the Admiralty in May 1940. She completed two trips from Dunkirk to Ramsgate carrying 72 troops on her first trip and 90 on the second. She is also mentioned in Dispatches so has a very creditable war record. Following the cessation of hostilities she carried on with harbour duties before becoming a ferry in Great Yarmouth before becoming a Thames fisshing vessel under a subsequent owner (see below for more history).

In 2001 Jonathan, the previous owner, bought her and commenced her restoration while aiming to turn her into a privately owned pleasure vessel. A new Perkins Sabre M92 engine was installed with good sound proofing and 2 x 25 gallon stainless steel fuel tanks. She was completely redecked with iroko and new stanchions and mahogany rails were added. The work has produced a large canopied area aft of the wheelhouse which is perfect for entertaining. Aft of the engine housing which has a small table above it to seat four, there is an area which could be turned into an aft cabin as it has no fish storage facility or any other purpose at the moment. The wheelhouse has up to date navigation equipment including a new radar and chart plotter. She has modern heads with a holding tank, an electric water pump with a 25 gallon fresh water tank, a microwave, cooker and fridge.  When I viewed the boat she was shining in the spring sunshine.  A leather bound photo album documents her original restoration and renovation from that previous period of restoration when the pitch pine hull was recaulked. As she has overwintered ashore each year regular work has been carried out from the year 2000 until the present. Jonathan (for whom HSC sold the boat to the current vendor) took the boat to Dunkirk on the 60th anniversary of Operation Dynamo as part of the ADLS fleet.

Ferry Nymph was requisitioned by the government for Operation Dynamo and taken to Dunkirk by Lt-Cmdr Gerrard RN – her shallow draft making her ideal for embarkation of troops from the beaches.

Somewhat battle scarred, she was eventually towed back to her home port of Poole in July 1940 with French sand in her bilges and an abundance of empty cartridge cases. Her sister ship did not survive Operation Dynamo and sank during the crossing.

Ferry Nymph resumed operations as a ferry for the original owners until 1953 when she was sold to the Great Yarmouth Ferry company on the East Coast where she operated for the next decade.  Subsequently she was sold to a local fisherman who renamed her Shedpherd Lad and who bult the wheelhouse and forward accommodation together with fishing davits to the stern and a large winch in the well deck.

In 1985 she was resold on the East Coast I believe. Her new owner started to look into her history having discovered her original name and with it her distiguished war record. This enabled him to join the Dunkirk Little Ships fleet on their commemorative trip to Dunkirk for the 50th anniversary of Operation Dynamo.

Under her current ownership she was taken up to Silvers yard in Rosneath, Scotland where she underwent a substantial 3 year 75,000 pound refit after which she returned to the Thames where she is not moored for viewing.

Works included the following items :

Removal of the original canvas welldeck midships faming and rebuilding with traditional timber while incorporating a full headroom heads with electric toilet, traditional copper sink and hot and cold water.

Installation of a forward jet thruster

Complete sound insulation of the engine compartment

Installation of calorifier for hot water

All new steering hydraulics

All new rudder stock insalled and cast in bronze

Hull stripped, recaulked, antifouled and painted below and above the waterline

All topsides stripped and revarnished and painted including mast

Foredeck lifebelts renewed

All new centra welldeck side screen and fixings

All new welldeck seat cushions

New batteries and fire extinguishers

New bilge pumps

New fresh water anodes

Propellor refurbished

A November 2017 survey is available for any interested purchaser. There is a 218 EA Thames licence and BSS certification valid through to June 2022. Her Small Ships Registration number is SSR90637.

In essence this is a serious motorised vessel with a great history whether for private or charter use.