|Length: 4.27m (14ft)|
|Rig Type: |
Bermuda Sloop Fractional (with jib)
|Sail Area: sq. m|
|Spinnaker Type: |
|Spinnaker Area: |
|Class Association website: |
By Mike Beavis
This 14ft Gunter-rigged sailing dinghy appeared at a time when the Deben Yacht Club was requiring a boat to form a racing class. The Everson brothers Bill and Cyril, happened to hear of a boat (the Norfolk 14ft OD) being used as exactly that, at Wroxham. They acquired from there a set of ‘moulds’, i.e. the flat boards which define the shape of the stringers, when commencing a planked hull.
Bill told me that they purposely altered the spacing of the moulds when building the first Kingfisher to ‘distinguish’ it from the Wroxham version. The resulting dinghy, with a metal drop-keel and solid wood rudder, proved very popular amongst helms, men and women, and the Eversons had a very accomplished shipwright who could produce a hull in a week
My father, who eventually ordered no less than four Kingfishers over a period of 4 or 5 years, often used to confer at length with this shipwright. He found that the fellow was a strong believer in the Communist party (this at a time when that belief was locally considered NPC !). He used to say: “I’m looking forward to getting rid of me tools just as soon as I can afford to retire”. This was painful sacrilege to my father, who had taken great pains to learn carpentry himself, and admired the fellow’s work which far surpassed any that he ever achieved
The Kingfishers underwent only slight modification in their early years, a metal drop-rudder was a great improvement, and the long slender gaff was made thicker (one of the slender originals with a small modification still forms our washing-line prop, and must be one of the strongest and lightest in Suffolk!).
One modification which was never carried out would have been, in my opinion a great improvement, it would have consisted of a triangular canvas foredeck supported on a line from stem head to the mast below the area required by the jib sheets. This would have prevented the bows ‘ploughing-in’ at sea in heavy weather. It would have saved several incidents requiring the attention of the rescue-boat when racing off the tricky Deben entrance. The Kingfisher did not have very pronounced sheer in her deck line, and that was what initiated the occasional ‘ploughing-in’ behaviour at sea. Helmsmen (and women) who did not take risks and hold their boats hard on the wind, avoided the hazard, and also came out dry winners at the finishing line!
Apart from racing, and the DYC arranged a great deal of that for their Kingfisher class, what with ‘evening dinghy’, regatta, and ‘Bawdsey days’, the boats were ideal for picnic expeditions. Their wide stern quarters could provide all the necessary stowage for food and beachwear, all below the long hinged tiller without interference with navigation in any way.
One young lady, still living in the vicinity, identified this property at an early age. She encouraged a party of friends, all with access to Kingfishers, to join in a ‘voyage of discovery’ to Arthur Ransome’s Secret Water – way off Harwich and in past the Pye End buoy – to set up tents on a secret island. The party was a great success, but as far as I know, not repeated.