wooden ships

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wooden ships

18ft. ITCHEN FERRY GAFF CUTTER – built 1870 – Harry Feltham – Former museum restored – Lying: Isle of Wight



Boat Details

Overall Length: 18ft 6ins
Waterline: 18ft
Beam: 6ft 9ins
Draught: 3ft 6ins
Displacement: 2.93 Tons
Engine: 10hp Yanmar Diesel
Berths: n/a
Sail: Gaff Cutter Rig
Designer: Traditional
Builder: Harry Feltham, Portsmouth
Year Built: 1870
Location: Isle of Wight


BLACK BESS was built in Portsmouth circa 1870 by Harry Feltham to a traditional Itchen Ferry working boat design. Registered for shrimp and oyster dredging she was bought in 1900 by the Chatfield family of Wooton, Isle of Wight and registered CS32. BLACK BESS fished for three generations of the Chatfield family and was only sold on the death of Charles Chatfield to Norman Gaches in 1974. Norman, a competent carpenter restored BLACK BESS to her original design. In 1980 David & Margaret Moore became the vessels, third owner, before selling to Maurice Wilmot. Maurice was the founder of the Classic Boat Museum in East Cowes and restored BLACK BESS as a working exhibit and promotion vessel for the museum. BLACK BESS was first engined in 1928. Re-engined in 1982 and more recently with a modern Yanmar diesel.

BLACK BESS was laid-up in the museum boatshed in 2008 and is in remarkably good condition.

Pitch pine planking on oak frames copper fastened. Pine decks and coamings. Lead ballast keel.

Traditional gaff cutter rig with timber spars and selection of sails of various age.


In all probability one of the last Itchen Ferry working boat of this age surviving in sailing condition. A historic vessel now approaching 150 years old and still much the same as when originally built.
A vessel of great character ideal for day sailing or with the addition of a small cuddy a weekend pocket cruiser. A rare opportunity.

Currently dry stored. All images dated Summer 2019, plus additional archive photographs.

GUIDE: £6,500

LYING: Isle of Wight