SPIT­FIRE OF THE SEA

Lind­say Phillips cel­e­brates 30 years of fun, travel and friend­ship aboard his Hagg 36 Kyanos

Motorboat & Yachting - - Contents -

Owner Lind­say Phillips ex­plains why his Hagg 36 isn’t just a clas­sic Bri­tish icon from the pen of a fighter plane de­signer; it’s also a won­der­ful boat that keeps on giv­ing af­ter 30 years of own­er­ship

One of my ear­li­est mem­o­ries of mo­tor boats has never left me. It was 1942 and I was eight years old, liv­ing in Trinidad where my fa­ther was ad­mi­ral in charge of the naval base dur­ing the war. I went to school in the morn­ing but in the after­noon, I was free to do my own thing. One after­noon, much to my sur­prise, my fa­ther in­vited me to help drive the fleet of fast mo­tor launches used to ferry sup­plies to and from the as­sem­bled ships wait­ing in the gulf for the next convoy to England. Need­less to say I never looked back, and have had the boat­ing bug ever since. As an adult, I worked my way through a va­ri­ety of boats both sail and power. By the mid-1980s, my Bel­gian wife and I were liv­ing in Lon­don. She was 12 years my se­nior and rather less keen than me on spend­ing wet days in oil­skins tack­ing against the tide. How­ever, she un­der­stood me well and as we were both try­ing to get over the sud­den death of our el­dest son three years pre­vi­ously, she recog­nised that I needed a fresh fo­cus to cheer me up. She sold a bit of land in Bel­gium and lent me the money to buy a boat on the un­der­stand­ing it was large enough to stay on and fast enough to get places quickly.

ROYAL BLOOD

I was a big fan of Nel­son boats but even back then, they were too ex­pen­sive. It was while look­ing for some­thing sim­i­lar that I stum­bled across Kyanos. She was al­ready 20 years old but she was in good nick and a lit­tle re­search re­vealed that she had an in­ter­est­ing pedi­gree. She was built in 1967 at the Dorset Lake Ship­yard in Poole as one of a series of craft penned by the late air­craft de­signer Arthur Hagg.

Hagg had worked for De Hav­il­land for most of his life and was the lead de­signer of the Mosquito twin-en­gined fighter bomber. Af­ter leav­ing De Hav­il­land in the ’50s, he be­gan de­sign­ing boats and moved to Poole. His air­craft back­ground was ev­i­dent in the smooth shapes above and be­low the wa­ter­line as well as the beau­ti­fully engi­neered hull (the Mosquito used a sim­i­lar wood frame con­struc­tion). One of his boats, a 42footer called Spirit of Ec­stasy, won the first Cowes to Torquay power­boat race and an­other was used as the Queen’s launch on the royal yacht Bri­tan­nia.

Kyanos was 36ft long and one of the first Haggs to fea­ture a GRP hull. Her teak deck­ing and cock­pit had re­cently been re­placed but there was some wick­ing on the GRP hull, so we agreed on a price of £23,000 to al­low for a re­coat­ing of the un­der­sides. The twin Perkins 6354s were orig­i­nal but ran well enough. All we needed to add were a few crea­ture com­forts like pres­surised hot and cold water, a fridge and warm air heat­ing. We found a berth at the then re­cently com­pleted Ocean Vil­lage Ma­rina in Southamp­ton and used her as our week­end es­cape from Lon­don. She was a joy to use in any weather and proved to be ex­actly the tonic we were look­ing for.

Two years later in 1989, our plans changed again. My wife was suf­fer­ing from back pains and had found some­one in St Tropez who guar­an­teed a cure. I took three months un­paid leave from my job at IBM so I could be with her and looked into ways of tak­ing Kyanos with us. Go­ing down through the canals was pos­si­ble but would eat into our three months. A chance meet­ing with a re­tired rear ad­mi­ral called Sefton Sandford and his wife Sue led to an of­fer from them to take Kyanos down through the canals to Port Gri­maud, if I could get it as far as Paris. We ar­ranged a ren­dezvous in the Ma­rina de la Bastille and sure enough they were wait­ing for me on ar­rival. I helped take her through the first two locks to show them the ropes, then climbed ashore, wished them bon voy­age and caught the next plane back to Lon­don.

In ret­ro­spect, it seemed rather reck­less to trust my boat to two peo­ple I barely knew on a long pas­sage through France’s no­to­ri­ously tight, shal­low canals, but I needn’t have wor­ried. When we ar­rived two months later, we found Kyanos spot­less with ev­ery­thing ex­actly as I had left it, even the bot­tle of whisky in the drinks locker!

It turns out they had been pushed through the Canal du Cen­tre at record speed due to heavy rain on the down­hill legs. Anx­ious to keep the water lev­els down, a lock keeper had es­corted them the whole way on a mo­tor­bike, open­ing each lock prior to their ar­rival and ush­er­ing them on to the next one. They made it from Paris to Chalon sur Saone in just six days. I had al­lowed three weeks! We kept her in Port Gri­maud for the next two years, spend­ing as much time on board as pos­si­ble, but as I was still work­ing for IBM in Chiswick, I even­tu­ally de­cided to bring her back to Lon­don where I’d found a berth in a small ma­rina near my of­fice. So I called upon Sefton and Sue again to bring her back up through the canals. We shared the first leg to Port St Louis and up the Rhône to Mâ­con. As it was a chilly evening in May, I proudly switched on the diesel heater and re­tired to my nice warm cabin. Next morn­ing, I was hor­ri­fied to find the star­board side cov­ered in black soot. I had for­got­ten to re­move the can­vas side screens I had care­fully rigged to pro­tect the top­sides from scratches. It proved im­pos­si­ble to shift, so I was obliged to find a kindly pain­ter and leave him to it while we flew back to the UK.

HOME AGAIN

Two months later, we ar­rived back for the next leg from Mâ­con to Paris where Sefton and Sue were on hand to pick up Kyanos for the final part of the jour­ney back to Lon­don. I joined them for the last leg up the Thames, stop­ping at the fuel barge close to HMS Belfast where Sefton ca­su­ally dropped into con­ver­sa­tion that he’ been the last serv­ing cap­tain of the mighty bat­tle­ship now tow­er­ing over us. We al­most got our fuel for free! We spent the next 18 months ex­plor­ing the tidal Thames with the long sum­mer evenings prov­ing the per­fect ex­cuse to in­vite my work col­leagues on board for a glass or three of wine in ex­change for a lit­tle light sand­ing and paint­ing.

BAR­DOT BECK­ONS

I had been hop­ing for a while that IBM might make me an early re­tire­ment of­fer and had al­ready started look­ing for houses in France within 40 min­utes’ drive of a port where we could keep Kyanos. We started in the Vendée and slowly worked our way south. I wanted a farm. My wife wanted a château. At last, in 1994, we found our dream house in the cen­tre of the Var in Lorgues: an old bastide, quite bro­ken down but with great charm, and a small vine­yard that would keep me too busy to spend my en­tire time on Kyanos. Again, Sefton rose to the call and brought Kyanos down to Fréjus but as I hadn’t yet found a suit­able berth, I re­luc­tantly had Kyanos lifted out and moved to the gar­den of my son’s house near Lorgues as the lane to our place was too nar­row.

Fi­nally, in 1998, I was lucky enough to find a berth in the port publique at Sainte-maxime where she has been ever since. We use her all year round for trips along the coast, usu­ally with friends or fam­ily on board to en­joy the ride. Be­cause she doesn’t draw much, we can sneak into some of the shal­low bays the larger yachts can’t get into. One of our favourite spots is di­rectly be­neath Brigitte Bar­dot’s house in Canou­biers near St Tropez, where there is just enough depth for us to an­chor in a per­fectly calm pool pro­tected from the wake of pass­ing craft by a sur­round­ing shoal. We’ll have a swim, pre­pare lunch bought from the mar­ket and set­tle down for a feast in the cock­pit. I also host reg­u­lar boat trips on board Kyanos for a friend of mine, Ian Callen, whose com­pany Go Provence Sup­ported Hol­i­days runs won­der­ful ac­tiv­ity breaks for peo­ple with learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties. It gives me such plea­sure to see his guests en­joy Kyanos as much as I do. Ten years ago, I did se­ri­ously look at buy­ing a more mod­ern boat but af­ter at­tend­ing count­less boat shows in France and the UK, I came to the con­clu­sion that there was noth­ing around that could match the space, com­fort and style of Kyanos for any­thing like the bud­get I had, so I de­cided to spend the money keep­ing her in good shape in­stead. In 2011, I re­placed the Perkins en­gines for a pair of nat­u­rally as­pi­rated 150hp Iveco en­gines. They are built for com­mer­cial fishing boat ap­pli­ca­tions and can run for­ever at a com­fort­able 15-knot cruis­ing speed.

DOUBLE AN­NIVER­SARY

Last spring, al­most by chance, I was check­ing my old blue Part 1 ship’s regis­tra­tion and no­ticed that my name first ap­peared as the owner on June 24, 1987. Then it struck me that she was also launched on April 27, 1967, so not only had she be mine for 30 years, but she was also about to turn 50. Given the joy she had given me over the years and the num­ber of silly scrapes she’d got me out of, we couldn’t let her birth­day pass with­out a party.

She has be­come some­thing of a lo­cal celebrity in Sain­teMaxime, so a chat with my friends in the cap­i­tainerie re­sulted in us book­ing the salle d’hon­neur for June 24. That left us just a few weeks to en­sure she was look­ing the part. Care­ful in­spec­tion re­vealed quite a lot to be done, in­clud­ing re­paint­ing the cabin top and the decks that had been so well re­paired 33 years pre­vi­ously. Af­ter talk­ing to sev­eral dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies, I booked her in for a com­plete re­paint in Awl­grip at a yard a lit­tle way up the coast.

Mean­while, a won­der­ful friend of ours agreed to paint the in­te­rior while Michele rolled up her sleeves and did a ma­jor clean-up. We re­launched her on the morn­ing of 23 June, just in time for me to mo­tor her back to her berth in Sainte-maxime.

We in­vited as many peo­ple as we could think of who had worked or been out on her over the last 30 years. Not ev­ery­one could make it and a fair few had passed away, but come 24 June, my friend Peter, our Angli­can vicar, said a prayer while my grand­daugh­ter Vir­ginia sprayed the fore­deck with cham­pagne. The rest of the day passed in a bit of a blur but I’m told it in­volved a fair few glasses of fizz and much happy rem­i­nisc­ing – the per­fect way to toast the last 30 years and look for­ward to the next!

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