Lady Doris was made by Vosper in 1939 as an RAF Seaplane tender, and saw active service in WW2. She’s registered as a National Historic Ship, along with just 1,300 other ships in the UK. Meaning she can fly a special ensign flag to “show off” her place in British Maritime History…
I’m moving to Uganda, and so with a heavy heart, I need to find her a new home, or new owners who will have the passion, time and resources to care for her properly. With some care and attention she could make a lovely Liveaboard, Spare room (AirBnb) or of course be used for various adventures up and down the Thames, or beyond.
She’s currently moored in Kingston Upon Thames, near London, in a very beautiful spot, so why not come and have a look at her one day and enjoy a coffee or tipple on board. Please make sure you read this advert fully before getting in touch. I’ve made it pretty comprehensive - but would of course love to answer any further questions you’ve got, once you’ve tackled this….
How can you get your hands on Lady Doris:
The price to buy Lady Doris is £35k. However, my main concern is making sure that she goes to someone with the passion & skill or resources, to look after her. She needs someone who can take her to the next level, so that she can carry on being enjoyed by you, and by society at large. I would love to hear from a Maritime Museum for example.
Owning a historic wooden boat, is not something to take lightly. It’s a huge privilege to be the guardian of a piece of History, but it’s also a big responsibility too.
I’m very open to offers - as whilst I have financial considerations of course, my priority is that she’s going to be well looked after. So, if you are interested, please explain a bit about yourself, and make me an offer, no matter how peculiar you might think it is - you never know… joint ownership perhaps? Or perhaps you have a vacant mooring you’d like have her on?
What you could use Lady Doris for:
Fun trips & adventures
* Trips up and down the Thames, from Oxford to central London. Or beyond...
* Henley Trad Boat Festival - entered in 2018. Lovely opportunity for her to meet her contemporaries, and for you to meet other classic boat enthusiasts.
* Art studio / Art gallery - I’m an artist, and it’s lovely to work on Lady Doris!
* DIY Hobby / project - you’ll find there’s still a lot of work to be done on Lady Doris, and to be honest, even when that’s done, you’ll find other things to do. So if you are handy, and like this sort of thing, then you’ll find this ongoing requirement... fun?!
Film and location hire:
* In 2017 she was used in a film called Patrick, and made me many £1000’s of pounds for a few weeks of filming (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VB5cV1VQKz4)
* Lady Doris is pretty unique - there are very few (if any) boats exactly like her left in the UK, and that’s partly what makes her so special.
* You could list Lady Doris on location websites, and potentially make an income from film or location hire for fashion shoots etc.
* Lady Doris also featured on Amazing Spaces
I’ve happily lived on her for a while, and also used her as a weekend retreat
It’s a fantastic experience in Spring & Summer (you might get woken up by Duck though), and trickier in Winter times, but very cosy when the woodburner is blasting out heat
Facilities on her at the moment are incredibly basic - think of it as glorified campling. But you could really go to town on her, and make her absolutely amazing with a bit of effort & money (more on this later)
Spare room / AirBnb income
Depending on where you moor her, she could make you a nice AirBnb income from £20 to £100 a night (if you get her properly spruced up!). You aren’t allowed to do this on the current mooring.
Or if you are lucky enough to be able to moor her near your home, then she’s a rather fun & kooky spare room for guests.
|Vessel type:||Wooden Motor Cruiser|
|Builder:||Vosper (with Perkins S6M engine)|
|Model:||44ft RAF Seaplane Tender|
|Fit Out:||Liveaboard, Spareroom (AirBnb), Day trips & adventures...|
|Registration:||National Historic Ships|
|No. of engines:||1|
|Engine model:||Perkins S6M|
|Drive type:||Shaft drive|
|Length over all:||44'|
|Length at waterline:||44'|
|Maximum draft:||4' 6"|
|Bridge clearance:||8' 6"|
|Hull type:||Wooden, Carvel, Larch on Oak frame|
|Keel type:||Ocean Keel|
|Dry Weight:||14 metric tons|
The engine is a Perkins S6M, and it’s as old as the boat, and is a piece of history itself, being one of the first ever mass produced diesel engines. Many of the military boats in WW2 moved to Diesel, because it ignites at a much higher temperature than petrol!
The Perkins engine is absolutely massive, but looks quite small in the even more massive engine room (see pictures). We think she used to have two engines, as an operational RAF Seaplane Tender, she would have been made for speed. So it’s hard to say if this is the original engine, for this boat, but the date the engine was made, and the age of Lady Doris fits. Here’s a link I found that tells you a bit about the Perkins S6M - http://www.bmpt.org.uk/other_boats_history/Marine-Engine-Collection/index.htm
The engine is still operational. I wouldn’t say she purrs like a cat, perhaps more, roars like a lion, but when the engine is running, it’s quite fun I find, especially when you consider that she’s 80 years old!
Since buying Lady Doris in 2013, I’ve had a bit of work done to the engine, gearbox, starter motor and alternator. And in on of the pictures, I’m paying tribute to amazing & kind Richard from Primrose Engineering, who helped me out massively with this.
I haven’t started her for a while, and it’s good to start a diesel engine every now and again, or they can seize - but this can usually be resolved by sticking some oil directly into the cylinders. The engine is water cooled, and so the hot water sprays out along with the exhaust fumes from the side of the boat.
When I took her from Goole to Hull, we went under the humber bridge, and Captain helping me at the time, former RAF, and knew much more about the boat that me at this time, reckons we were doing about 10 knots.
This isn’t particularly fast of course, but it’s more than enough for tootling up and down the Thames!
The gearbox has forward & back, and that’s it, but the reverse gear is not very powerful. She was designed for the sea, and going quickly, but not really for stopping quickly, or for manoeuvrability. This means, that when you’re on the Thames, it’s good if you know what you’re doing a bit - but you can also easily learn (as i did). And I’m very happy to help you get started, and share what I’ve learned.
If you need to move Lady Doris to a different spot on the Thames, and you’d like a Skipper, I know an excellent guy who’s helped me out before.
The alternator works, but the belt linking the alternator to the engine sometimes falls off, so that should be an easy enough fix for someone who knows what they are doing.
The following pictures are old ones. She’s weathered in the past year, and so I’m showing these pictures to show what she can look like with a bit of elbow grease, effort or money. But, these have all been taken in the last couple of years, not ages & ages ago.
From the stern (back of the boat), you can enter Lady Doris, and go down some steps into the…
This room has wonderful 280 degree views of the river, and can be used to sleep two people, or as a dining room. I’ve even turned it into a mini cinema a while ago.
From the bunk house you enter...
That’s boat speak for kitchen. It’s quite small, and is set up with a sink, gas hob, and fridge at the moment. More on that later.
Before you pop up some stairs, to the left there’s a access to the engine room, and to the right a small toilet, and then you go up the stairs to…
As you might imagine, this is where the wheel resides… and so where the skipper does his or her magic.
However, it’s also a lovely room when the boat is stationary, with 360 degree views, and plenty of space to sit and with pals, and chat about your tales of adventure, or whatever you fancy of course. I’ve had some lovely gatherings and even parties on Lady Doris…
Underneath the Wheelhouse, is the very large engine room. There’s a separate section all about the wonderful old engine later.
Moving towards the bow (front) from the wheelhouse, you go down some steps again, and into the…
A triangular bed into the bow, makes up a large part of this space, plenty of room for two… Other than that, there’s a lovely wood burner, and a radiator… more on this later.
There’s enough space to put a little shower room in here. Something I’ve sadly not got around to doing myself. I’ve got quite a few ideas on what you could do to Lady Doris, and I’m very happy to share them!
You have a flat roof at the stern (back) of Lady Doris over the bunkhouse, and lovely front deck too:
One of the great joys for me, of owning Lady Doris, has been that she’s been the first boat, that many of my friends' kids have ever seen, let alone been on - and of course they absolutely love it! That’s why if you’re fortunate to have your own mooring, at the bottom of you garden, then your kids would absolutely love hanging out on Lady Doris, and having little adventures
As touched on before, the facilities on Lady Doris are incredibly basic. I suggest you come expecting to see, just the boat, and you might then be pleasantly surprised by a few bits and pieces. Some of the equipment I will take with me, but it’s all negotiable. I’m presenting to you here, what there is, and what you could do, to make it better, so you get an idea...
Her current mooring is off grid, and so I set up a decent polar panel on her roof (about 1000w), that charges three 100amp batteries in series. On the dashboard by the wheel, there’s an excellent dial that tells you how full the batteries are and several other things. The only items that run off these batteries are the bilge pumps and a few LED lights around the boat.
There’s a USB port to charge your phone on the dashboard too - and that can be quite handy, especially when you’re using your phone to aid navigation, with google maps for example!
The main source of heating is a lovely woodburner in the bedroom. When this is on, it pumps out heat, and warms this room, and event the wheelhouse a bit too. I say woodburner, but it’s actually a multi fuel stove, which means that it’s happy to burn coal as well as wood.
I half built a radiator system with a diesel webasto heater attached to it, that has a snazzy dial, that enables you to set when the heating comes on and goes off, like being in an actual house. However, as this is half done, I’m planning to take the webasto with me for another project - but this is all negotiable.
Cooking & kitchen facilities:
There’s a simple double gas hob in the galley, that works a treat, and the gas canisters are simply outside at the back of Lady Doris. I’ve made many many sausage (and vegan!) baguettes and cups and coffee for my friends who’ve visited or who have helped me out with Lady Doris!
There’s a fridge that opens from the top, that in theory can run from the batteries or from Gas, but I use it as a cool box basically, and I’m not entirely sure where the connections are for it to be anything other than this. I will take this away with me, but it’s negotiable.
There’s sink in the Kitchen / Galley, that simply uses cold water from the river. So it’s fine for washing things up, but that’s about it. If you’re staying on Lady Doris, then you need to bring bottled water with you.
However, again, I have most of equipment on Lady Doris, that would enable you to purify the river water, but I’ve not put it together! A friend on the mooring has the same equipment, that is a 3 part filtration system, that makes the water clean enough to shower in, and a final stage involves a UV light, that even makes the water drinkable.
So, there’s a fun project for you, if you want to be able to have easy access to clean water when you’re on Lady Doris, and moored in fresh water of course!
And you can then store the water in a tank, and of course heat it up, to make washing dishes easier, or for a shower of course - so it’s definitely worth doing. I’ve researched this A LOT, and i would recommend you put in a Morco, gas water heater, which are very safe indeed, and great for boats.
I've largely gone up and down the Thames between Reading & Canary Wharf.
I used my iphone with google maps, and I can plug this into a USB port on the dashboard board to keep it charged, and use this to know where I am.
I also used a River Guide to the Thames, that gives useful information on where you can moor for the night, refuel the boat or find a nice pub for example.
I have fitted some very basic navigation lights (port, starboard, bow & stern), which are vital for night time travel, but these could do with being beefed up a bit to be honest.
I have a walkie talkie, that you need to turn on when you're in the tidal Thames. But it doesn't work at the moment, so it's probably best if you get another one - about £30.
I have fitted a depth finder to try and avoid running aground. But it's not particularly useful - you're much better off, knowing about the tides, or the way a river deposits it's load, or staying in the middle of the river, if in doubt.
On a river, you "drive" on the right hand side of the river, so if you're coming towards a boat, you pass it on your port (left) side.
Boat safety, Mooring fees, Environment Agency & Insurance:
* Boat Safety Certificate valid until October 2020
* Mooring fees, (if you keep her where she is): £270 per month
* Environment Agency License (use of the Thames): £750 a year
* Insurance: circa £350 a year (depends what level you opt for)