Cowes Harbour Handbook 2019-2020 2019-2020 - Page 27

EVENTS SHORESIDE Dolly Varden arriving at the Classic Boat Museum workshops NEW AT THE CLASSIC BOAT MUSEUM The Classic Boat Museum saves many important local boats e Classic Boat rescue of the year must be Dolly Varden, once arguably the most famous little yacht in Cowes, and fondly nicknamed the ‘Queen of the Solent.” She was launched in 1872, from Whites, now the site of the Classic Boat Museum, from where her fame reached across the globe, largely because of her owner Tom Ratsey, whose sail making business, on both sides of the Atlantic, had set the gold standard for all the great racing yachts of his day. Tom was old-school but forward-thinking, a scientist by nature and a technical perfectionist for all his clients’ needs, as well as one of Cowes’ best loved and respected characters. Aer Tom died in 1935, the Ratseys continued racing her; then she was used by as a houseboat by Clare Lallow. Eventually she was sold on, and spent 25 years forgotten in a field, before Weymouth diving expert Grahame Knott identified and preserved her. en, last summer, news came that Dolly had to leave her shed with nowhere else to go. Mooring and storage rates were cripplingly high. She was under imminent threat of being broken up. Cowes Conservation specialist Adrian Stone, who had surveyed Dolly, appealed to the Classic Boat Museum for help. It was an emergency. Amazingly COWES 2019 – 2020 they answered the call. She came with no dowry, and they have no budget for her, but she belongs on the Island, and with the generous help of Red Funnel and Kingswell Heavy Haulage she has come home. Adrian says she could sail again, given a few hundred thousand pounds, but this is not the important thing. She is safe, and every credit must go to the Museum who have been brave enough to take her on, and preserve her for generations still to come. e Classic Boat Museum operates from 2 sites, the Gallery in East Cowes and the Boat Shed near the hammerhead crane in Cowes. ere's more maritime history at the Sir Max Aitken Museum, a treasure trove of artefacts and memorabilia in the 18th century former sail lo on Cowes High Street. e collection is free to view during the summer. Cowes Library and Maritime Museum in Beckford Road also houses an interesting collection of items and models documenting ship and yacht building in Cowes and East Cowes from the 17th century to the present day. Open during library hours on Monday, Tuesday, ursday and Friday. 27