Classic Boat

GOING FOR GOLD

The SecondWorld War had a fundamental effect on the destinies of many boats that had been built for peaceful and personal pursuits. More often than not, it was a detrimental effect as a result of requisitioning and enemy action, or merely from five and a half years of enforced neglect. Few small sailing boats, however, can have had their lives changed in the way that Gometra’s was when, after the German invasion of Norway in the spring of 1940, she was called into service to help save the Norwegian gold reserve.

Gometra actually has her roots in the First World War. Her first owner was James Farie, a Rear Admiral in the Royal Navy who was the captain of the Third Destroyer Flotilla at the Battle of Jutland in 1916. Just days after the end of the war, his armoured cruiser, Cochrane, ran aground in the Mersey and Farie was reprimanded at a court martial hearing. In 1919, he commissioned his friend Alfred Mylne to design an 18ft auxiliary sailing boat, although it wasn’t until 1923 – soon after Farie retired from the Navy – that she was built, by Mylne’s company Bute Slipway. She was named Ganetra, although she was subsequently listed incorrectly in Lloyds Register as “Gometra”.

Farie then commissioned Mylne to produce a bigger sailing boat in which he could go cruising, although he would also race her. Mylne based her on his 1907 design which had been built as a racing boat but, which was launched in 1925 and named after a small island off the coast of Mull. She was built of Norway pine planking on alternating oak and rock elm frames, and she had a Kelvin Poppet Valve Model 6/7 petrol/paraffin engine.

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