Trapped in Facit

Caprella lift

December 2008: Martin Fisher faced huge transport problems in saving the superb double-diagonal mahogany hull of this 60ft former Royal Navy pinnace, built by Groves & Gutteridge on the Isle of Wight in 1943 and operated after the war as a private yacht by Sir Harry Ricardo.

At 18.3m x 4.49m beam, weighing 16 tonnes, she was too tightly laid up in Spodden Mill, at Facit, near Rochdale, Lancashire, to be lifted by a single crane and too long to turn on a 70 foot trailer through the narrow streets of the old mill village. Martin brought in the team from Sealand Boat Deliveries who installed the hull in 2004. They lifted and loaded her to a steerable, extending trailer operated by John Shepherd Boat Transport in Kilmarnock for the long haul to Banff.

Caprella on trailer
CAPRELLA, now listed on the British register of historic vessels, is one of the few wartime power boats to retain her original lines, thanks to Sir Harry Ricardo [1885-1974], the great engine designer who installed a pair of V-8 Dorman Ricardo 8VRM diesels but kept her hull unchanged when he commissioned her as a yacht after the war. Between 1930 and 1950, British power boat designers were leading the world. CAPRELLA appears to be the last survivor of the TRSBs [torpedo recovery and safety boats].

Caprella in Sir Harry's Day

Caprella lifted at Preston 2004

Caprella 2004

Caprella arrives at Facit 2004

In 2004, the Kennedy marine engineering firm commissioned Sealand Boat Deliveries to bring her from Preston Dock to their works at Spodden Mill where they refitted her internally with mahogany, teak, iroko, afzelia, utile, opepe, wenge and oak, installing two Perkins Phaser 6-cylinder diesels and new Newage gearboxes.

According to their appeal, 'We went on holiday and returned to find thieves had taken all the non-ferrous metals, the shafts, the props and the rudders. They burgled the workshops and took our tools. I am emigrating in the spring. Do you wonder why? CAPRELLA needs to be gone from here within two weeks. The engines and gearboxes cost me 6k and I am prepared to let her go for free, if they are taken out, or only 3k if they are left in. She's a beautiful boat and it would be sad to see her cut up.'

CAPRELLA's original Dorman Ricardo engines have been saved for overhaul and re-installation at Banff.

Caprella in Station Road

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