Monday, 21 January 2013

What is this blog about?

Peggy is a Manx yacht. In fact, at two hundred and twenty two years she is one of the oldest yachts in the world. We know a lot about her because, remarkably, she is still in the cellar of the boat house built for her in Castletown, Isle of Man, in the late 18th century by her owner, George Quayle. George was a notable character on the island and in his early years, something of a rake. His correspondence is preserved in the Manx National Archive, and in it he describes the building of the boat and boat house, and his adventures at sea aboard the Peggy.
Peggy is astonishingly well-preserved and remains substantially unaltered since Quayle's day. The list of her unique attributes is long and quite incredible. If you would like to know more about this and her historical significance, a good place to start is with her entry on the UK National Historic Ships Register ( She also has an entry on Wikipedia (

Since the late 1930's Peggy has been owned and looked after by the Manx Government. The heritage agency on the island is Manx National Heritage, which has maintained the boat house with Peggy in it as a visitor attraction for over sixty years. When the Nautical Museum, as it came to be called, was set up Peggy was righted (she had been lying on her side for 150 years). A small number of her strakes (hull timbers) were replaced, along with her keel and rudder. She was then painted. This is how she remains.

In George Quayle's lifetime, the boat house opened on to a tidal dock surrounded by a curtain wall (the wall remains but the dock was filled in during the 19th century). In the wall were a pair of gates, the remains of which can still be seen today from the quay on the opposite side of the water. These gave Peggy access to the harbour. Windlasses (winding drums that also survive) were used to haul Peggy out of the dock and into the cellar. Peggy was never intended to be far from the water, and accordingly the cellar in which she sits is very wet. Because of this, and notwithstanding her remarkable state of preservation, Peggy has suffered many of the indignities of ageing common to other wet 200 year old objects made of timber and iron nails. I'll use subsequent posts to described a few of these and their effects on the boat.

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