A QUIET LEGACY
'Mirelle', a 37ft gaff cutter launched in 1937, was a concept derived by her first owner E. P. Allen. His drawings and ideas were later developed and drawn by British architect William Maxwell Blake. The build was commissioned by E.P. Allen's wife as a wedding present to her husband who had been seeking a 'dream ship', that would be precisely how he wanted her.
The lines that would become the yacht 'Mirelle' were the successor of 'Philip' Allen's first attempt at drawing his dream ship. The drawing of the yacht named 'Daydream', won 2nd prize in Yachting Monthly's 1936 design competition.
Since Mirelle's launch at the yard she was proudly built at, Whisttock's Boatyard in Woodbridge which is at the top of the river Deben in Suffolk (England), this yacht has spent 77 years sailing on this same river! In this video, a boat building apprentice Dennis Hales, now in his mid-ninties, remembers her launch in 1937 and also recounts the era – pre Second World War – an era of hand tools and hard labour in yards such as Whisttock's.
Mirelle was owned by just three owners between the years of 1937 and 2014. The Allen's who had all kinds of adventures including sailing over a mine field off Belgian shores by accident! The Mansfield family followed, they enjoyed her for a further 33 years and passed her on to another loving owner, Andrew Craig-Bennett, who is featured in this film. Three owners of one yacht in such a extensive, sometimes turbulent period of time must only be the sign of a sweet little ship.
It was in 2014 that Andrew Craig-Bennett needed to pass Mirelle on, very reluctantly. But he found a suitable owner, one with the appreciation of her history and her humble beauty, this is James Evans. As you'll see in the video, Andrew's parting with this yacht is emotional. He recounts every last snippet of history, her design and build, her cruising stories and owners' tales in a long interview which was shot down below on board Mirelle, while bobbing up and down on a swinging mooring off Walderingfield. The day of the interview was her penultimate cruise on the river Deben, a shake-down sail, the final day of a sort of "handover" between Andrew and James.
Classic Yacht TV filmed her on the water, sailing off "The Rocks", an anchorage not far from Ramsholt. Mirelle's a pretty, well proportioned design, and she wasn't hard to shoot. After this shoot, James sailed her to Plymouth. She underwent a refit at Stirling & Son's and will be present at the 2015 British Classic Yacht Club regatta in Cowes, followed by the Royal Yacht Squadron's Bi-Centenary celebrations in late July. James will cruise her in Scotland.