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Northney 34 Sea Wraithe restoration

“Sea Wraithe”  – Northney 34 Sloop

Formerly “Sea Wraith”,  “Sea Wraith II”, “Meon Maid III”, “Tywi Maid”, “Grace”

“Sea Wraithe” is an interesting little piece of Kim Holman history, and also a piece of Royal Navy history.

Built by Nicholson and Marshall on Hayling Island in 1968, she appears to have originally been Christened “Sea Wraith”, and owned by????? . She then appears to have been Registered on Part 1 of the British Ship Registry as “Sea Wraith ll”.

Purchased by the Royal Navy in 1970 as a training and charter yacht attached to HMS Mercury, the yacht then became “Meon Maid lll” and had an illustrious career with the Royal Navy, teaching matelots to sail proper yachts right up until 1985, travelling widely over Europe and the Med in the process, it appears.

The above period of the boat’s history is still being worked on and anyone who was around in the Navy at Portsmouth or at HMS Mercury at that time (1970-1985), please do get in touch. (former Royal Navy Commander Esmond Skene, in Particular!!)  The boat must have been popular, to have been retained by the Navy for some 15 years, at a time when yacht’s accommodation and “conveniences” were developing rapidly into the modern “floating Caravan” syndrome.

Following her naval career, she became “Tywi Maid” for quite a number of years and lived down in the Med and Adriatic, before returning to the UK and being re-christened “Grace” (It appears the new owner at the time, couldn’t get his head around the Welsh name and said “ohh stuff-it, I’m calling her Grace”!)

Since that point, the yacht’s behaviour appears to have been thoroughly dis”Grace”ful, with engine problems, handling problems, gear failures, leaky decks etc etc. Since taking over stewardship of this very classy lady, KJK has re-christened her “Sea Wraithe” (the original name-spelling having been taken on the part one register) and she is being returned to the full British Ship register in 2016.

Interestingly, the lady is once again behaving herself –  she underwent a full de-naming including full propitiation of the gods of the Sea (with due libations), followed 24hours later by a re-christening in her original name of Sea Wraith(e). She is now registered in Cardiff, based at  Lydney Harbour on the Severn, and sailing to and from Bristol Channel ports very regularly.

The Northney 34 is in fact a plastic replica of Kim Holman’s own very successful Wooden Ocean Racer called “Shaker”, built in 1965. So I suppose one could call these Northney’s  “Plastic Shakers” – if you dare !!  Once you can sort the weather helm they are very smooth and fast however and an ideal Bristol Channel windward boat. (Cardiff Outer Wrack buoy to locked in at Lydney in 4 hours a few weeks ago.)

Sea Wraithe; (Ex Meon Maid lll. 1968 Northney34 by Kim Holman on the slip at Lydney Harbour March 2015
Sea Wraithe; (Ex Meon Maid lll. 1968 Northney34 by Kim Holman on the slip at Lydney Harbour March 2015

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We have now managed to identify most of the 20 or so Northney 34’s built before the moulds were accidentally destroyed. Many of the C.R Holman designed Northney 34 class yachts, including Sea Wraith, were built by Nicholson & Marshall on Hayling Island

The original Names were (there may well be others still unidentified) are liosted below. If you own or have previously owned or sailed on one of these boats please do get in touch with me (Kathykilbey).

Sea Wraith (Meon Maid III) dingbat; Ballerina of Mizzen(Ballerina of Torbay); HibouxII; Sannu-Sannu; Scintilla of the Sea; Spellbinder; Symbol of Lleyn;  Lauric; Marazan; Mar Azul; La Bamba of Beaulieu; Osiris; Silver Tempest; Spellbinder; Tarantara; Streaker; and of course Kim Holman’s own original wooden yacht “Shaker” of 1965, from which the original mould and plug were taken.

Work in progress, watch this space. I have a feeling this is going to be a long job as I am intending to gradually restore the boat whilst sailing her as much as possible.

Come back and see us again soon  – or send me an email and I will send you an invite to join our facebook group.